Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Goth Music

I just discovered another group which has been around for a long time: Within Temptation. Which reminded me of a point I've thought of making on this blog regarding Evanescence. There is a bit of a renaissance going on with regard to Christian music that with the exception of the emerging church is going completely unnoticed by the broader Christian community.

In 1959 African American Chicago musicians like Ray Charles, Little Richard and James Brown combined the gospel music with R&B to create a new form or rock called soul. Musically there was inspiration from gospel, but lyrically soul music was about the same themes as rock is typically about. With goth music there is often a rock sound, while lyrically inspiration seems to come (perhaps subconsciously) from hymns. Arguably a great deal of goth music is a hymn put to rock music. For example Our Solumn Hour by Within Temptation (Santus espritus is latin for holy spirit):
Sanctus espiritus redeem us from our solemn hour
Sanctus espiritus insanity is all around us
Sanctus espiritus! Sanctus espiritus! Sanctus espiritus!

In my darkest hours I could not foresee
that the tide could turn so fast to this degree
Can't believe my eyes
How can you be so blind?
Is the heart of stone, no empathy inside?
Time keeps on slipping away and we haven't learned
So in the end now what have we gained?

Sanctus espiritus, redeem us from our solemn hour
Sanctus espiritus, insanity is all around us
Sanctus espiritus, is this what we deserve,
can we brake free from chains of never-ending agony?

Are they themselve's to blame, the misery, the pain?
Didn't we let go, allowed it, let it grow?
If we can't restrain the beast which dwells inside
it will find it's way somehow, somewhere in time
Will we remember all of the suffering
Cause if we fail it will be in vain

Sanctus espiritus, redeem us from our solemn hour
Sanctus espiritus, insanity is all around us
Sanctus espiritus, is this what we deserve,
can we brake free from chains of never-ending agony?

Sanctus espiritus, Sanctus espiritus
Evanescene's Fallen (which has sold around 20 million copies) is essentially an exploration of salvation (Arminian theology), though the band has played that down the religious language is striking. The top single from the album Bring Me To Life reads like a salvation prayer (well actually its poetically far better than most of them): just to excerpt the song (which has overlapping lyrics) the chorus reads as follows with the male chorus in in parenthesis and the female chorus without parenthesis:
(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
before I come undone
(Save me)
save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life
(I've been living a lie, there's nothing inside)
Bring me to life
Christianity today has covered the issue of Evanescene's lyrics twice (on the band's lyrics, and on the group Skillet). Another example from the album is the song Tourniquet which was originally authored by Soul Embraced (part of the Christian death metal movement):
I tried to kill the pain
but only brought more
so much more
I lay dying
and I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
am I too lost to be saved
am I too lost?

my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation
my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation

do you remember me
lost for so long
will you be on the other side
or will you forget me
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
am I too lost to be saved
am I too lost?

my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation
my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation

I want to die!!!

my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation
my God my tourniquet
return to me salvation

my wounds cry for the grave
my soul cries for deliverance
will I be denied Christ tourniquet
my suicide
I'd invite readers to comment. Clearly the goth movement is one of the ones that has come under the greatest deal of attack and music an issue that children are frequently disciplined (at least at home for). Its hard to argue lyrics like the above are not glorifying.

Moreover I've even seen gospel outreach towards goths be attacked. For example Karen Ward (abbess of apostle's church in Seattle, leader / one of the founders of the emerging church movement) runs a very successful outreach to goth teens / 20-somethings called the Santorum Mass which is essentially a 16th century high episcopal mass done very traditional, very high church style (podcast link). The kids love it, and it consistently draws huge crowds of people that would otherwise not go to church. I would consider this to be successful evangelism. Yet this has been specifically cited as an example of the "engage but don't critique flaw" of the emerging church. I suspect most readers would agree with the "successful evangelism" position. And if so then the fact that the goth movement is spontaneously creating fantastical scores for prayers and hymns should be something to be applauded.

6 comments:

david r. mccrory said...

Greetings.

I thought I'd hop over and take a look at your site since you've been active over at mine. I apprciate your input. But I have one concern about your overall purpose here as stated in your header,

"This is a blog for people interested in church discipline with a focus on the mechanics and the practical impact, not the theology."

The problem with this statement, and since you're a confessed non-Christian I don't expect you to know is, that right orthodoxy drives a right orthopraxy. In other words, if we do not view church discipline as a theological issue then we fail to address it in terms of it's true sense and purpose. This is why I believe there are many incidents of failed or misapplied church discipline; in a word, a wrong theology of it.

Sincerely,
David R. McCrory

CD-Host said...

I appreciate you being willing to address the questions on your blog. For that matter having an open blog. Most patriarchal supporters don't have open blogs but practice heavy censorship.

In terms of the header thing. I might not disagree with you. I don't address church discipline in terms of its true sense and purpose at all. I don't claim any kind of theological truth. So yes, I'm not addressing it in its normal context at all. My point is that the "inside the theology" view is fairly well covered. This blog plays a defense council role. It helps people to honestly assess what they really value and then determine how to achieve those ends. A theological system is a set of values. So within a theological system a person can't make those sorts of broad determinations. They are assumed.

Worse yet orthopraxy assumes competence among church leadership and assumes benign intention. I'd argue that in the majority of cases one or the other is often lacking. You actually, given your career path, might be in a good situation to do something about that. While I've read most of Jay Adams I haven't critiqued it here. But Jay is remarkable good at writing about the easy cases and not dealing with complexity in all its ugliness.

David R. McCrory said...

I have to disclaim something here that might surprise you. I'm not a "patriarchial" supporter as much a staunch Christian Biblicist. That's what I advocate. Biblical Christianity. I think you'll find then most of your disagreements with be with God's Word, not me. I'm merely the messenger. :-)

As a note: I see you pressing the matter of women's sufferage a great deal. I might point out, this is not an issue of biblical patriarchy, but possibly an outworking of some sort. I for one, leave it as a matter of conscience.

CD-Host said...

I don't think I've ever argued that given:
1) your hermeneutic
2) your interpretative tradition
3) your canon
your conclusions are out of line.

I happen to think all (3) of the above are highly debatable. But I don't see much evidence that these kinds of debates go anywhere. That's why I stick to easy stuff like history and law.

I see you pressing the matter of women's sufferage a great deal. I might point out, this is not an issue of biblical patriarchy, but possibly an outworking of some sort.

Its a point explicitly rejected by Phillips that was heavily written about by religious leaders. I'd say if you are rejecting Phillips doctrine on suffrage you are rejecting his theory of state to family relations. And not to fork this discussion into two pieces but Dabney and Mather both agree with Phillips. Careful there :-)

David R. McCrory said...

I have to admit I'm not familiar with Phllip's state to family view. I would argue that a vote (pun intended) against woman's sufferage is not in and of itself directly derived from the NT ethic.Like you mention, it is found in most patriarchy literature, but I can only see it as some form of application, not exegetically evidenced.

My view of patriarchy is that of the Biblical family stucture as given mostly in Paul's epistles and Peter's first letter. There is only so much we can say from Scripture (which is a great deal), but the rest of it has to be applied in various historical and cultural settings. I don't think Phillips can apply Mather's or Dabney's views consistently today, as I understand them.

Corrie said...

CD-Host,

I was just playing Evanescence's "Fallen" and then I stumbled upon your post. :-) It is one of my all-time favorite CDs. I love the music and the depth of the words. I haven't heard of Within Temptation but I will check it out.