April 17, 2008

Singing a New Song

Well, I think it's finally happened. I've had a falling out with punk rock. A while back I had discovered a new band, and I was listening to them on their MySpace page. I liked their attitude and their message, and so I sent a "friend request." I included my appreciation for their work in my note as they were very much into a consciousness of social justice and critique of our systems. I got back a very nasty and insulting response, and it shook me for a couple of days for some reason.

It helped me to remember something I often forget: Even though it is my belief that Christianity is a radical social and political stance in the world, other people often don't see it this way. I see Catholic Christianity's confession of God's Incarnation as a radical affirmation of the human person over and against systems of oppression and injustice and dehumanization, but sometimes others only see the outer layer of human traditionalism in the Church.

I have to admit, though, that alternative forms of music have been an important part of my journey. When I first heard Metallica's Master of Puppets when I was 15, it really changed my life. It was so different from anything I had heard before. And it was better. If this music was so much better than what was on the radio and the "Top 40" I had been listening to up to that time, why wasn't it on the radio instead? The seed of a counter-cultural stance was planted. I think it was from that day that I began to realize that the dominant tastes and values, the things that were presented for entertainment and devotion were perhaps not always the best choices, and one had to search "underground" for the real thing, the good thing. Later on when I got into much more politically oriented bands like the anarcho-syndicalist Subhumans of the U.K., I was all ready to reject the whole system of values that the world presented and to begin to look for something different. From there I was set up to seek an all-encompassing radical response to finding myself existing in this world. By Providence I eventually arrived at Christianity.

But merely human forms of radicality are doomed to failure. Without an ultimate end in God, all of them, from the adolescent exuberance of Punk to the reasoned plan of a secular eschatology like Communism, are doomed to burn out or turn against themselves. Even so, there are forms of the punk culture that became very advanced morally and socially. Some of those who were "straight-edge" and didn't use drugs or alcohol began to find in their stance an affirmation of life. From there it wasn't too many steps to the Hardline movement, which even arrived at a Pro-Life position and a consciousness of Natural Law.

But without God, it was all destined to burn itself out.

1 comment:

Garpu the Fork said...

Geez. You'd think they'd be flattered that someone "got" their music.