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Why being a Christian in a room full of people shouting “hail satan” isn’t always a horrifying experience

April 6, 2010

When I first heard The Mountain Goats, I didn’t like their music. They were on the Colbert Report, and I listened to them because Dave and Joel like them. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the Goats, you need to know that John Darnielle, the singer, has a very strange voice. So, it being my first time listening to him, I didn’t enjoy it.

I soon figured out that they were one of those bands that grow on you. I planned on going to see them at The Social, and the lovely Dave and Joel made me a CD sampler, because they think I’m OK. I started to like the Goats more. Then that show got canceled.

Fortunately, it was rescheduled as a John Darnielle solo show. So, last month, I got to see him live. After you get used to his voice, something else you need to know is that he sings this song, “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”. It’s really great. But if you’re like me, and used to songs with a choruses of “Praise Jesus”, you might be a little shocked to hear that this particular song ends in a heaping spoonful of “Hail Satan”s. I don’t consider myself an overly sheltered person, but it was still pretty weird to me, until I realized that “hail satan” can mean more than it says. Now, before you try to exorcise the devil’s music demons out of me, hear me out.

“The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” is a two-minute, thirty-seven second long commentary on adults who crush children’s dreams with their false judgment and self-righteousness. I know this because the song says so: “When you punish a person for dreaming his dream, don’t expect him to thank you or forgive you/The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton will in time both outpace and outlive you”. The story is, two kids want to be rock stars, so they form a death metal band. They get in trouble for drawing pentagrams and such, and one of the kids gets sent to a school for kids who need discipline. The two then formulate a plan to get even for all the wrong things done to them. Of course, John played the song at The Social show, which was fantastic by the way. The end of the song came, and the whole room was yelling “hail satan”, except me. What would usually be very uncomfortable and somewhat threatening really wasn’t so bad. Those crazy college kids were praising the prince of darkness with more conviction than I’ve seen in some praise and worship sessions, even though most of them probably weren’t satanic (just a guess).

Although I don’t think the song is talking about religion specifically, it can easily be applied to it. I went to a Christian school for 14 years of my life (true story), so I know we’re not perfect. But maybe if we all decided to be more like Jesus and less like a 17th century witch hunt, people would be a little more open to what we believe. This doesn’t mean I want to pin this problem on institutions. After all, institutions are made up of individual people. Maybe “hail satan” is a wake-up call, a plea that we should listen to. You know that verse, John 3:16? The one about Jesus loving everyone? It seems pretty popular. Well, right after that, it says that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. He would have loved the death metal kids. If He didn’t condemn people while He was here, what makes us think that we can?

In short, I’ve realized that us Jesus people can learn just as much from churchy things as we can from the seemly unchurchy.

Of course, the song is more about society in general than religion, but I wanted to throw that in there. It’s saying that instead of actively trying to help people, we send them away or medicate them. I think it’s time we think of better alternatives to people’s problems. Maybe being in a death metal band would have been good for those kids in Denton. I guess we’ll never know.

Amy

Colbert Report Interview and Performance
http://www.mountain-goats.com/

Also, here’s the Eternal Knights story from the CFF online. They used the photo I liked best, so I’m pleased!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Crystie permalink
    April 6, 2010 11:18 pm

    I agree Amy. I think being a Christian is about showing God’s love, not His wrath. Well done.

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