Tag Archives: Satanic music

Should Christians Listen to Ghost?

antiquiet.com

opuseponymous_2

ghost-official.com

Ghost (formerly Ghost BC in the U.S.) is a hard rock/metal band from Sweden. I started listening to them when I discovered their debut album, Opus Eponymous, on iTunes; it was rated best metal album of 2010. Back then my Catholic faith wasn’t very strong, so I looked past the whole anti-Catholic/Christian/religion image of the band.

Their music wasn’t run-of-the-mill rock/metal; it was good: a retro 70s vibe, and the mood and lyrics were haunting, like my Halloween trick-or-treating experiences from my youth.

However, the more my mental illness was taking me to those dark places (as mentioned elsewhere on this blog), the more I realized that, tongue-in-cheek stage gimmick or not, Ghost’s lyrics and inverted crosses just weren’t conducive for my walk with God.

Now, before you brand me a “typical Christian right-wing-nutjob-prude,” consider this: I have been a metalhead since the 80s. My first concert was KISS, and Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil was the first cassette (an early version of a CD for you young’uns out there) that I ever owned. One of my favorite live shows in the past couple of years was Kvelertak at a hole-in-the-wall booze hall in Dallas. My latest CD purchase was Cattle Decapitation’s The Anthropocene Extinction.

And I own all of Ghost’s CDs. I even have tickets to see them live in October.

And you still call yourself a Catholic, Topaz?

Yes, I do. And that’s why I finally came to the realization that I had to write this blog post and (reluctantly) cut off ties with this band once and for all.

Since their debut album, I have used every excuse to listen to and jam out to Ghost’s CDs.

Oh, fans say, the Satanic Pope imagery, ghoul robes, masks, and Satanic lyrics are all part of the fun. It’s no different than watching a horror movie.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But my conscience is finally taking the bull by the horns… since my intellect sure as hell isn’t.

Lucifer

We have come

For your praise

Evil one

These are the opening lyrics from “Con Clavi Con Dio,” the first track off their debut album. Oh, it gets worse than that.

I’m not here to rail against Ghost or to tell you not to listen to them. Believe me, up until today, I have found every excuse to listen to their songs. Hell, I even had two different Ghost t-shirts up until last year when my wife finally made me get rid of them.

I could quote all kinds of Bible verses about reasons not to listen to this sort of band. But I like the simple mathematic formula-style argument that my college students are so fond of:

Blatantly Satanic lyrics + anti-Catholic/Christian imagery = not a good idea for Christians to be involved with

I keep telling myself: Just go to the show. You’ve already bought the ticket. It’s on the mezzanine level! Take some Christian tracts and go under the guise of “meeting sinners where they are.”

But that’s just a bunch of BS. I would be going for my own selfish reasons whether I wanted to admit it or not.

Plus, with my fragile state of mental health, anything dark or negative sends me over the cliff. (Actually, I was just there this afternoon, contemplating suicide again.) As I said, I could quote all sorts of verses; however, there is one quote by Alice Cooper, the classic shock-rocker, that states it better than any verse I can think of:

Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion.

~t


Me(n)tal Health: Christianity, Depression, and Metal Music

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Before I finished my intensive outpatient program at the psychiatric hospital, I had to fill out a worksheet that was sort of a plan of action: list three individuals whom I would contact if suicidal ideation came back, list ten coping mechanisms for me to implement when I have problems, and list all things that would act as triggers for me.

Some triggers that I listed included people (the lady who I used to be infatuated with), places (the bar where I had carried out my plan), and things (music).

“Music?” the counselor had asked, perusing my worksheet.

“Yes. Certain kinds.”

“Such as…?” He lowered his glasses a bit and peered at me from the top of them, eyebrows raised.

“Just some types of metal.” I didn’t want him to know exactly. I needed my music. It was a coping mechanism!

“Scott. Spill it.” The counselor was a former drill sergeant in the army, so the next step probably would have involved shouting.

“Okay. Black metal.” There it was, out in the open. People unfamiliar with this subgenre usually assume it involves the musicians’ skin color.

The counselor continued staring at me. Explain! his eyes were saying.

“It’s, uh, dark, gloomy, and anti-Christian.” I averted my eyes from his.

“Scott, you are Catholic. Why would you listen to that?”

I wanted to tell him that black metal lyrics were usually written in Norwegian or Swedish, so I couldn’t understand them anyway. I wanted to tell him that I connected with the raspy vocals, insane drum beats and eerie walls of guitar noise. I wanted to tell him that the inverted crosses and pentagrams were purely for shock value. But I didn’t.

After I was released from the outpatient program, I quickly lost all desire to listen to black metal. Is it truly satanic? Is it anti-Christian? Is it steeped in pre-Christian Scandinavian paganism? Yes, yes, and yes.

Am I being judgmental like the fundamentalists who burn virtually all kinds of records in bonfires? No.

Sounds like it to me.

Well, then here would be my (hypothetical) response: In any search engine, enter the term ‘black metal,’ then look at the satanic imagery, scan some of the lyrics, and read about the beliefs, practices, and/or criminal acts of a lot of these bands.

It’s not judgmental if it’s fact.

Anyway, last night I received a brief text from a friend with whom I have had zero contact with for the past year. He’s extremely intelligent, has a high-paying job in the IT industry, and is a loving husband and father of two.

Besides the latter point, we also have had one other thing in common: We both loved extreme metal including black and death — and other sub-subgenres that I’d rather not get into.

Hey, Scott. How are you doing?

It was good to hear from him, so I happily replied.

Then another text from him: Do you want to meet me at the Slayer* show next month?

Uh-oh. One of my all-time favorite metal bands (up until 12 months ago) was touring again?! Then I tried reasoning with myself: Slayer has been around forever. The members are all fathers, and the band has become so commercialized. They sell Christmas ornaments with the band logo on them, for cryin’ out loud!

Looking back, I can’t believe that I had considered it. Commercial or not, stage theatrics or not, stepping into the world of Slayer, even for just a few hours, would take me back to that dark, miserable place inside my head.

Not to mention the fact that the band still uses satanic imagery:

Credit: slayer.net

I politely declined, and we mentioned that it would be good to meet up again at some point. I felt a bit guilty, though.

There are two reasons why I stopped listening to certain types of metal:

1. It damages my relationship with God.

Being a Christian means dying to self and living for Christ. He has a special plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). In order for God’s will to be done in our lives, we have to give ourselves over to Him.

Black metal — and other types of extreme metal — has turned me off because it goes against everything that God desires for me.

I don’t want to befriend someone who is constantly talking bad about my wife. When a person begins to know the joy and riches of the Lord’s grace, worldly desires pale in comparison.

2. It damages me.

In my very first computer class back in college, one of the first things we learned was GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I used to be so confused as to believe that the darker the music, the more it would make me stronger. That was a lie straight from the depths of hell. The music and the live shows were feeding my negative thinking, and I didn’t even realize it.

The forces of evil are powerful indeed. Don’t open yourself up to its influence. Personally, I don’t want to be antisocial and depressed anymore. Believe it or not, some people actually do want to be miserable; I know because I used to hang out with them.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Bible passages:

…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus… (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

~t

* Slayer is considered a thrash metal band.


I Have No (Online) Friends

Well, I completed the deactivation of my final two social media accounts yesterday.  After much internal deliberation and feedback from my wife, I deleted my personal Facebook account.  Gosh, I had had it for ages.  I also got rid of my Untappd account.  For those of you who don’t know, Untappd is like Facebook for beer drinkers/connoisseurs.

Facebook was hard for me to purge.  I had collected tons of photos from various places that I had traveled to.  All of my sons’ photos from when they were born were displayed on my page.  For the most part, I don’t miss a lot of my “friends” on there; however, there were a few contacts from my past whom I will miss.  At least I can keep in touch with my family through email and texting.

I had been considering starting anew for the longest time.  This Independence Day weekend clinched it for me.  It really hurt when I would find out the hard way that someone whom I considered close to me had “unfriended” me on Facebook.

You know, I have enough drama and difficulties in real life; I don’t need double the amount (the real world plus my cyber world).  Individuals from the younger generation will probably read this and assume that I’m an idiot.

I disagree.

I benefit from not having grown up with all this technology.  I never even became interested in LinkedIn although all of my older colleagues use it for networking.  To me it just seems like another juvenile way to show off and incite jealousy and unnecessary stressful competition.

Man, Topaz, you are one messed-up dude.  I don’t think that at all.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Well, that’s because you’re not struggling with a head full of crap.

Untappd required lots of money, and I risked continued brushes with the law.  See, last summer I was charged with a DWI after my suicide attempt.  The police found no trace of alcohol in me (because I had been passed out in my car for ten hours prior to operating my vehicle); only a crapload of Xanax in my system.

Yeah, I know: You could have killed someone, you piece of ****!  That’s what the paramedic kept screaming at me, too, as I lay semi-conscious in the back of the ambulance, babbling in my stupor, on that fateful morning late last August.  For what it’s worth, I never expected to wake up from my deadly cocktail of tequila and benzos, nor do I even remember operating my vehicle or intending to.

Untappd was just like the other social media distractions: Trying to keep up with the Joneses.  

I couldn’t keep up with IT computer geeks and web developers who were making at least double of what I make per year as a college teacher.  I just couldn’t keep up financially.  Drinking gourmet Belgian brew every other day is rather expensive.

I shouldn’t have been drinking so much anyway.  Luckily my wife cared enough to make sure that I only drank at home. For my DWI, we spent thousands of dollars just on the attorney alone.  Plus, I’d rather not do any jail time; I’ve seen too many scary episodes of Locked Up.

And it hurt to give up those social media accounts.  Oh man, did it hurt.  Talk about a blow to my already low self-esteem.  (My virtual self is way cooler than my real self.)

I got rid of my personal Twitter account and Instagram (I loved my photos) a few days ago.  The funny thing is, I don’t really miss any of it.  I feel lighter.  Happier.  (I think.)

Last.fm helped me stay connected with other outcasts (and web developers who “work” from home), sharing new black metal and death metal bands that we had stumbled across, trying to find the most evil Scandinavian misanthropic noise creators.

I don’t regret deleting all of those things:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Untappd, Last.fm, Rdio, Spotify.  I’m pretty sure it was God’s will.  All of these things were hindering me from getting closer to Him and carrying out His will for my life.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, dude.

~topaz