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Christ and some crackers

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Christ and some crackers

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Some of the most beautiful music that man has ever created was written in the service of religion.

I was raised as a Christian (United Church of Christ, or as I like to think of it, "The Generic Faith") and, ironically, my confirmation ceremony marked the end of my belief. In those 14 years, I never experienced anything close to rapture or religious ecstacy or, really, anything that changed my life at all (if I had, I might still be a Christian today) but I do remember what it felt like to talk to God and think that God was listening.

Rejecting those ways didn't remove the memories, though time has dulled them to a whisper; in my adult life, there are occasional moments when I find myself back on those paths. Every once in a while, I will hear a piece of music - not the 8, 8, 8, 7 cadence of the songs from the hymnals at the back of the pews, but real art, compositions of the sort that turn men into immortals - and be transported. Massed instruments and voices raised to the glory of God wrap around me; I get caught in an onslaught of beauty, and joy makes my heart stutter and my breath stop as the ghosts of faith surround me. I forget who I am, what I believe and disbelieve, and it's almost as if, in those moments, I am about to be touched by God.

Well. Funny thing about that... I was moved by the soundtrack of Jurassic Park, too. That one moment - you know, when Sam Neill crests a hilltop and is suddenly confronted with living breathing specimens of creatures he previously only knew and loved through pale conjectures built upon their dusty bones, and the John Williams swells into that sweeping main theme? Yeah, I cried over it. Didn't go out and become a paleontologist afterwards; it didn't even make me decide that it was the best movie evar (definitely isn't). What it did is showcase that I am a person who is reliably susceptible to consensual temporary emotional manipulation by art that achieves its goals. Strip out the various implications that give religiosity its much greater impact (the guilt, the fear, the old habits that died easy but didn't decay clean) and as far as I can tell, it's the same exact process. To indulge in a particularly rich Heinlein phrase, when I feel this way I am being "...bathed in a catharsis of schmaltz." It can feel wonderful to be moved that way, but it has all the long-term significance of reading a Chicken Soup for the Soul book or an article in Reader's Digest.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

All that being said, not all religious expression is created equal.

I checked my friends list before heading to bed tonight, which was a mistake, because I followed a YouTube link from xanthophyllippa's comments, and now I'm all can't sleep, Jesus will eat me. The only way to alleviate this kind of response is by sharing it with my friends - oh, my lucky, lucky friends!

Dude. I am astonished by this video on so many levels. For one thing, it made me travel, York Peppermint Patty style - I take a bite, and I'm transported to the basement of a church in a small Midwestern town, circa 1982, during a potluck - I'm surrounded by friends, family, a lot of old people I vaguely recognize as being neighbors, many many carbohydrates and rearrangeable walls made of either fabric panelling or accordioned vinyl. The most subversive thing in this room is the Rocky Road ice cream - I mean, come on, there is a swirl of marshmallow fluff going RIGHT THROUGH IT, you guys!!

I see that keyboardist moving her hands around, she is clearly playing the thing - and yet, my brain is telling me again and again that she is not really playing, she is actually hitting the demo button - for Jesus!

Then there is the lead singer. Oh, lead singer, you are so serious! Even your smiles are stern, and only meant to enhance the lyrical import - I can tell by how you chop them off when they are over. This man is clearly dedicated to his art - he is really giving it his all. I am kind of wondering if there is a return address to which we can send the unused portion of his all; I would like a refund.

As for the matching outfits on the rest of the gang... no. It's not even shooting fish in a barrel, it's shooting fish in a display case where they are filleted and wrapped in shrink wrap. It's a waste of ammo that would be much better spent going down the sugar aisle and using Twinkie the Kid for target practice.

Also, the lyrics are seriously... something:

Once I tried to run, I tried to run and hide
But Jesus came and found me and he touched me down inside
He is like a Mounty, he always gets his man
And he’ll zap you any way he can!


Uh, yeah, about that - that does not... quite... sound like the Jesus I remember the pastor telling us about back in the day. Maybe I just blocked it out, but I do not recall the sermon that went, "Point to the place on the dolly where the bad deity touched you." Yeegh.

Lastly, I kind of wonder if this group might happen to like the moon - you know, coz it is close to us. I see certain compositional similarities. Just sayin'.

Some of the most beautiful music that man has ever created was written in the service of religion. Some musicians, however, prefer to think outside that particular box.

Now it's time for sleep. I am really hoping I do not dream about this.
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