April 15, 2010

The Small Hours

Apparently, a religious priest who grew up as a Heavy Metal kid is considered an oddity. So much so, in fact, that someone who writes about Metal music professionally is coming to meet and interview me tomorrow. He's thinking about writing a book about the Metal ethos, or something.

In my curiosity about this situation, I have been reflecting on what connections there might be between my conversion to Heavy Metal around age fourteen and my conversion to Catholic Christianity six years later. Perhaps they are more and deeper than I had previously imagined.

For whatever reason, I was reflecting on the lyrics to "The Small Hours" by Holocaust, a song famously covered by Metallica.

Look hard at the darkness,
And you will see,
Just call my name and I'll be there.
You cannot touch me,
You would not dare,
I am the chill that's in the air.

And I try to get through to you,
In my own special way,
As the barriers crumble,
At the end of the day

This is such a vivid description of my experience of prayer. Peering into the obscurity of being, of one's own existence and that of the world, Something is found, Something that is more a Who than a what. But this finding is itself an illusion, and as "barriers crumble" you realize that is you who are being found and Sought all along. Nevertheless, the One Who finds us will not be possessed or grasped: "You cannot touch me." Noli me tangere. But this retreat draws us further in to the Mystery, and ultimately to the goal, the eschaton, the resurrection destiny of the New Jerusalem, the "end of the Day."

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post brings back memories of visiting my brother up in New London, CT in the early 1990's for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display (the weekend after). We were sitting on the rocks by the beach and there was this bare chested kid running wild across the sand screaming METALLICA! He finally calmed down after he ran head first into the ocean water. I have no idea what this kid was on. We were wearing sweatshirts; the cold apparantly didn't seem to bother him. Good times. And yes, I can relate to the searching void inherent in prayer. Sometimes I find myself apologizing to God for offering him such feeble prayers.

Brother Charles said...

And how about those concerts on the pier in New London!

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles - priests these days are themselves an oddity. Traditional priests, though making a comeback, are odder still. Traditional priests who were raised on Heavy Metal are an infinitesimal subset of that oddity. You are an oddity within an oddity within an oddity.

And how's that working out for ya?

Brother Charles said...

It seems to be working out great!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of heavy metal ethos, if you get a moment, listen to the song, Christmas, from the album, Tommy The Who, from the perspective of an aborted child.

Qualis Rex said...

Father : P


Now THAT is good to hear!

Kevin F said...

It does seem odd, on the surface, that someone who listens to heavy metal as a kid would grow up to be a priest. Afterall, didn't heavy metal bring the world bands like Slayer, Merciful Fate, Mayhem, etc, etc. I have read comment from some in the metal community that it is impossible to be into metal and be a Christian.

At the same time, I think that heavy metal has always had a very deep interest in spiritual and religious matters. It may not always be phrased in the best of ways, but its there. I think heavy metal is the one form of pop music that takes for granted the existence of a soul.

I also think heavy metal inspires imagination. A lot of the drama and the lyrical content is pretty fantastic and other worldly. I think that imaginative music can push the basic drive to transcendence.

I have noticed a lot of heavy metal songs that could be termed anti-abortion. Interesting.