The continuing adventures of a slide into heresy…

The Welcome Wagon ‘Deep were his wounds and red’

Bruce Springsteen ‘Reason to Believe’

The Prodigy ‘Invaders must die’

…all played next to each other on random shuffle. So, so wrong and yet at the same time so right. My whole life randomised and put back together in dissonant sections and yet seeming to ‘work’.

At the weekend, our group of churches (in Methodism we call it ‘a circuit’) were looking at Genesis 17:1-8 and the story of Abram/Abraham. As I get older I find his story incredibly life affirming. His story is riddled with inconsistencies- you get everything ‘warts and all’ (I am sorry- I am not a great writer- I use cliches).

His story is a long way from the hagiographies of my early Christian experience: come to God, be saved, onwards and upwards and get rid of all worldly things. Being weak, I learned to pretend/cover up my inconsistencies and dissonances. I suspect others did too: that bit is holy and that is not- therefore I will hide it: lets sing another bouncy song about God making me h-a-p-p-y. Eventually the screaming inside got too much and I stopped pretending….but traces are still there.

I’m grateful to Abram/Abraham for waking me up to reality and not some imagined holiness. I’m grateful to my ipod too for hiding nothing and putting the dissonant together: sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that I guess is the story of my life…

I’m thinking about Grace part 45

Go on, read this sentence and what image does it conjure up?

‘A 60 year old church member phoned me up and offered me a free ticket to a concert’.

Hmmm….. Cliff Richard, the London symphony Orchestra, Il Divo maybe?

If Grace is unmerited, free and offered without earning it, I had an experience of suprising Grace yesterday.

A 60 year old church member phoned me up and offered me a free ticket to ‘The Prodigy’ (with Dizzee Rascal as support) yesterday. Going on WC Fields’ famous quote, to wit : ‘I’ll try anything once apart from incest and morris dancing’ , I said ‘Yes’ (At 43, I am increasingly becoming aware of my own mortality and trying to say ‘yes’ a lot more).

On one level the sound that The Prodigy make live is equivalent to someone with Tourette’s syndrome shouting over a jet taking off (the member of the sound crew that we knew offered us free ear plugs and the language wasn’t the kind that you would normally hear in an average church meeting even if people got very cross about someone taking someone else’s seat). On another level- see yesterday’s post– even if it is not fully ‘my thing’ it is really well done; 10,000 people leaping in the air, condensation misting the air and soaking the floor and the sheer visceral energy and excitement of ‘Firestarter’ is an experience I will not easily forget.

So where was God in all this?

On one level- it is hard to see. I could not hear many words, but the one I could began with ‘F’ and ended in ‘k’ . It was used so frequently that it became almost comic to me by the end.  The gig seemed ‘intimidating’- the light show, the body language, the flying beer……….. but maybe some things just seem intimidating as we don’t properly listen to their story.

So try this for starters………music of its genre well done and done to the best of it’s ability….unrestrained, unconscious celebration……the genre means that performers can’t posture so much, rather they invite us into the beat and they seek to release the spirit (small ‘s’) rather than dominate…. Something else- their 2nd album caught a mood: ‘Music for the jilted generation’….

Music for the Jilted Generation

..on the evidence of this concert, the jilted generation are still there- some of them now drive cars with ‘little people on board’ stickers in. They have bought into the system they rebelled from, but don’t feel part of it and may never do so…welcome to a growing part of British culture…welcome to my age group… where language of ‘church’ and ‘authority’ has lost its currency…. in a few days we will enter into the story of someone marginalised and jilted and killed by an oppressive regime. Sometimes the way we coat that message speaks of anything but…

Ok- maybe I’m pushing it too much- I don’t know the genre very well, but I’m also aware of the human and church tendency to condemn first and listen later.

Would I go again? Not sure! But at least I’ve seen them, experienced them and my hearing is still only 15% affected. My biggest impression: the gift and the unexpected experience. Perhaps I won’t, just yet, be exhorting my congregation to ‘F**k all this s**t’, though…..


lunchtime update: a man just delivered my U2 tickets……hooray!!!