Sunday, April 7, 2013

Some Nights . . . Korea . . . and Indy-Christian . . . and Sadness for the Warrens

I am usually late to the table when it comes to discovering great music.  About three weeks ago I was up late and caught Saturday Night Live. I saw this incredible performance by a band and I had no idea who it was.

Then about a week ago my ear caught that same song on a airline commercial. I did a search for the song and found out it was Some Nights and the band, Fun.  I, being this old "square" (even that word dates me) man had never heard of them. But I became obsessed with them for a few days. I found their SNL clip and watched it over and over. Then I found their official music video on Youtube and watched that over and over.  The vocals are tremendous, the emotion, the drumbeat  and the rhythm (like a Paul Simon's Graceland tract) that moves you most inward parts and then . . . of course . . . the lyrics.  I will connect you to the lyrics here so you read them for yourself.

After I read the lyrics and then watched the official music video once more I had this strong recollection of an old Don McLean song . . . The Grave.  Both are powerful in their capture of the insanity of fighting and dying.  Where in the midst of the hell you loose your convictions.  You loose them because they have been de-cloaked and you see the insanity in a raw way.

To recruit a country and a soldier to go to war, you have to create a grandiose narrative.  "You are going to fight to protect your babies from communism, Islam or some other evil empire."  The wise military (and I use wise in a pragmatic way here) now realizes that you can't make a soldier fight on these grand premises anymore.  I do think my dad fought to free Europe from the evil of the Nazis but even he went because he was drafted and fought to survive on Normandy. So the military has created the psychological bonding of the "Band of Brothers" where, when held down on a rocky outcropping in Afghanistan you fight to save your friends, your brothers and your hide. You don't fight to kill the evil Taliban who wants to steal your babies and make them Islamic martyrs.

But here is where I digress.  First of all I will say that war is the epitome of evil and sin in the world. When two countries go to war, Satan is laying on the floor belly laughing in an intense victory.  In war, all sides loose. But when we talk about these grandiose ideals, it appears that the Christian community buys them the most.  They honestly believe that we are in this great crusade to rid the world of evil through the nozzle of a gun or the laser of a smart bomb. But I've said before, you can never kill all the people that hate you.  The complexities of why countries go to war are complex. No, I don't believe we invaded Iraq to make the Bushs more money though Iraqi oil. That is the grand narrative on the other side. But I do think we did because of the narrative that we are on the great crusade to crush evil . . . but create it by doing so.

I don't want to go to far in this war thing but I will clarify that I'm not a total pacifist. I mean I would fight to save my family and there may be other inevitable situations.

Facebook for me has become the one place that I have my finger on the thinking of the Evangelicals.  The chatter is consistent.  They post pictures of disfigured American soldiers and have poems about their heroism.  I see a great tragedy.  Of course the Taliban have evil (and very dualistic) ideas and those ideas should be opposed and of course anyone who suffers like that is a hero.

So then comes Korea.  While I hear this chatter from the evangelicals about how N. Korea is a Satanic stronghold of atheism and that S. Korea is the most evangelical country in the world, therefore we should give our sons and daughters to go and fight and die for Jesus.  Are you freaken kidding me?  Here is an insecure leader who is trying to make himself look better (maybe he was weened too early) and there is no higher idealism involved here. This is not Lord of the Rings with a noble journey to rid the earth of evil. Then, on the American side, there are layers and layers of political complexities, people positioning themselves to run for president (a position they just have to have because they too were weened too young, or are too short or have a small penis).  I'm sorry but this is the psychology of why these horrible things happen.  Hitler was a sociopath.

But we have to be very, very careful here.  The consequences of war means the horrible deaths, burning to death, having your body members blown off and you bleed to death under the rubble of your home.  This would happen to tens of thousands of Korean men, women, children and babies.  Listen to the lyrics of The Grave and Some Nights.  This is insanity on march before the mad king.  What do we stand for? In the horrors of war no one knows anymore.

Okay, moving on.

Speaking of Fun (the band) they are listed as an "Indy band."  I have five children and three have been in and out of bands over the years.  One, Tyler, has taken this the most distance.

A few years ago I went to watch Tyler's band play and it was a "Indy Music Festival."  I got there and I was trying to pigeon-hole people.  I saw a Goth group getting out of their van. Then I saw punk people but they were walking with a guy in a business suit (think early Four Seasons, men in ties and coats).  Then I saw a cowboy and an old man like me wearing work clothes.

So, when this was over I asked my son to explain the genre.  Tyler started laughing, like he often does when he thinks I'm being stupid.  "There is no genre or style. That is what is meant by indy or independent.  They do not follow a style."

But of course there is no human way for someone not to follow a style. I'm sitting here in jeans because of Levi Strauss invented the pocket copper rivet that made them tough and James Dean looked handsome in jeans about 50 years ago.  So the Indy people strive very hard to do their own style or thing, but they work hard at not looking like a uniform subculture.  The music is the same. It could be a blend of hard rock + gospel + classical.  I can hear the old "Negro Gospel" in their vocals, the rock and etc.

But I was thinking, I would love to see a Indy Christianity.  I'm speaking of sub-culture. After all, the church was originally called the "called out" ones, because they came from all parts of the Roman world.  Slaves, rich, workers, soldiers, sailors, merchants and prostitutes.  Modern evangelicals are very monolithic.  I hear the same quotes from my evangelical friends in Ga or Michigan or CA or Washington state as if they are reading from a script.

I'm not speaking of relativity.  I do believe that doctrine is important and not all doctrine (even opposing doctrine) is equally true. But I also know in our fallen minds we can never achieve pure truth.

So for some of us, we can't fit into evangelicalism without being hated for non-conformity. Say for example my strong belief that war, all war, is insane. The evangelicals will label me as a liberal for that.  They drank the Cool Aid that our forefathers were all saints and that our country was a Christian country until the Democrats got into power.

Lastly, I heard the sad news this morning that Rick Warren's son committed suicide.  I can not get my head around the grief of the family. Years ago, when I was an evangelical, I would have been very critical of that. For me then, mental illness was not compatible with loving Jesus.  Then I personally walked through that horrible place, where I pondered for days if I should hang myself . . . or not.  It wasn't about loving Jesus or not loving Jesus. For me, it was about emotional exhausted and wanting some kind of respite.  I hope that society is kind to the Warrens.  I hope that mental illness is taken for what it is and not as some sign of moral failure or sin.

The closes I even came to killing myself was after I talked to a pastor of a mega church in Houghton, Michigan.  I was sitting in the vestibule. He was sitting beside me (prior to the service).  He asked me how I was doing (I didn't realize that for him it was superficial small talk). I told him I was struggling with depression. He didn't bat an eye. In 15 minutes he was standing in front of his church of 900 people. Almost the first thing out out of his mouth during his sermon was, "I'm sick and tired of Christians telling me that they are depressed. Do we serve a depressing God?"  The congregation shouted a definitive, "NO!"  I started to think were I could get some rope.

Sorry again about typos but I had to type fast without proofing. I will come back and fix it later if I get the chance.



Trevor said...

Good points about the importance of the 'Grand Narrative' when convincing people to go to war, and how that narrative must sometimes change.

Before Stalingrad, Joseph Goebbels' rhetoric apparently conjured up the imagery of the new, modern German state sweeping aside the rotting remains of the old ways of doing things.

After the defeat at Stalingrad and the loss of the entire 6th army, Goebbels switched to a narrative about the proud German people being the only ones able to defend the free world from the Russian menace.

I also remember Hermann Goring's words on the ease of dragging a country into war.

"...the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

jmj said...

That quote is profoundly true. When I try to have any of these discussions with my Christian friends they tell me that my head is in the sand, that the Islamists are coming to take away our Bibles . . . oddly, I heard Talaban supporters in Pakistan saying the same thing. They were saying that the Christian Imperialist were coming to take away their Korans and replace them with Playboy magazines. Such hype on both sides can inflame the emotions to the point that you give your sons and your daughters to go and be martyred as some type of hero. I watched a Frontline program on Syria last night. They were able to penetrate both sides. It is amazing how each side was identical in their thinking. Saying, "We are the lovers of peace. It is the other side that has created the violence. We will kill them because they killed our children first." Satan laughs. He is the father of lies.

Virginia said...

Would Jay Bakker be an example of a INDY Christian?

I totally agree with you on a view of war. The evangelical support of wars is a religious tragedy, and also a human tragedy. To cloak war in the guise of God against Satan is a similar error as it is to think that God told Joshua to kill every man, woman, child, animal, etc of the canaanites.

I prefer to intend that their are sane persona on all sides who can reason together when the time comes.

Be very blessed today.