Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American Gothic Second Cousins who can talk about death.. in church, even

Here I am (uh, in the second photo, and the I am the one on the right...circa 1974, mind you) with my cousin, posing in

front of the house made famous by the forever-parodied painting "American Gothic."

The house is in our common grandparents' stomping ground of Eldon, Iowa...a town in which I hear there are ironically (inevitably) some young people who connect with the "Goth" or "Gothic" movement.

What that means is debated, but for some it means "we wear black and talk about death."

The "Gothic" of American Gothic was a reference to the house style,and the goth of the current movement is tied to other elements of "Gothic" history..

But my point for today is:

I would love to get

some old school, older people (people who might go to a church like the one pictured here in the painting "American Gothic Church,"often dress in white, and fear talking about death)
in the same room with

some new school, younger people
(people who, if they go to church at all, would avoid churches like the one pictured,who often dress in black, and enjoy talking about death).

Then I would ask both groups what they can learn from one another.

You probably aren't surprised to hear there is quite a movement of Goths who are Christians
Check out a website for Christian Goths, and a funny (but serious article) on
"How to Be Goth at Church" (without offending everyone).

Their emphases may or may not be related to what is classically meant by "Gothic Christianity,"
but we need their voice.

Especially when it scares us.
I thought death was not supposed to scare us anymore, anyway:

Leave it to the church, with the keys to overcoming death, to not even pass them out, or even talk about “the truth.. that human beings are concerned with nothing else but death…though that be seldom realized.” (William Stringfellow, “An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land,” p. 69)

"So, why church? The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death"
( Eugene Peterson, "Practice Resurrection)

From a website that lists Gothic bands (both) Christian and general market, check out this category (the page lists members of categories related to Goth, and includes names of prophetic types like Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen...)and especially the last band on it:

Second Cousins (bands that aren’t exactly gothic, but are likely to come up in conversations at goth clubs and coffee houses):
Adam and the Ants, Balaam and the Angel, Cocteau Twins, the Cramps, DeadCanDance, Devo, Duran Duran, Erasure, Eurythmics, Legendary Pink Dots, Lydia Lunch, Gene Loves Jezebel, Lords of the New Church, Moby, New Order, Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Soft Cell, Tones on Tail, Velvet Underground, XTC, U2.
- link

Hard core Goths, of course, would laugh at that list of "second cousins" as being far more than "twice removed" from Goth. But at least that last band can indeed talk honestly about death, knowing all the time that its " rule has been disproved...and graves are now grooves"/groovy.
(see "U2 Can Overcome the Death Bomb", and watch this classic "death wail" of Bono after the death of his father")

Which is one thing that the American Gothic generation didn't teach us to do.

About death.....Like Rob Bell quipped about sex:
"Where do you WANT people to talk about it? is common in days like this (Len Sweet: "It could be that for the first time in history, God is more active in the church than the world"), God uses, and sometimes sends, bands that open up the conversation, and call the church back to being the church.

You might explore Saviour Machine, or (seriously) "Christian death metal."
(I googled it to see if it existed...of course it does!)
You might want to read Mike Furches' interview with Rob Zombie ( here).
You might want to accept that some are calling post-conversion Anne Rice a Christian Goth hero.
You might want to read Ernst Becker's "Denial of Death."
For a bit of a "safer" venture, try out the Gothic "second cousins" list.

So, looking back at that photo of my first cousin and me,
and listening to the second cousins of Goth music, I am thinking:

Hmmm, folks who "wear black and talk about death" are either at a funeral..


I am willing to talk about death...even if I do ocassinally where white to a funeral:

"If you meditate on life you start with death.” -Bono

Related, see:

Join me on another prophetic Iowa trip

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