Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tom Waits and the dys-angelion

Ben Myers on Tom Waits:

I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to describe Tom Waits as a “theologian” – as long as we add that he’s a theologian of the dys-angelion, the “bad news.” His songs conjure up a swirling chaos of monsters and madness, devils and despair – and on the horizon of this dark world we glimpse the first faint glow of dawn, the surprising appearance of grace “de profundis” (Psalm 130:1).

God himself suddenly breaks into these songs as a strange and threatening – even monstrous – presence, as an unaccountable interruption of the world’s (dis-)order.
... Grace interrupts, it shatters and strips things bare to the bone. And so Waits portrays grace in a way that is uncompromisingly – often shockingly – menacing and grotesque.

..But this “bad news” is indeed “good news” – the best and happiest news! – for the undeserving, the criminals, those riddled and rotten with shame and doubt. As Waits puts it in one of his more conventional gospel songs: “Does life seem nasty, brutish and short? / Come on up to the house!” At the world’s dark end, all that remains is grace – grace for the ungodly, which is therefore the grace of God..
-Ben Myers

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!