Monday, December 19, 2005

Back From Mexico, Ready to Debate

Metal Pundits, I am back from my short, but awesome, trip to Mexico. I partied with my cousins every single night. We got wasted nightly by killing a bottle of Jack Daniels each! We had tequila during the day as a thirst quencher! Luckily, I got laid by a gorgeous young lady (she was actually one year older than me, 24), which comes as a surprise considering how out of shape I am! Anyway, I wanted to discuss Christmas, now that the holiday is approaching. I'm interested in everyone's religious background/beliefs as well as thoughts on the supposed "war on Christmas" by liberals like me! Read on below the fold.


There are a few issues I think we must address. These came up from reading Osgiliath's and BlackLabelAxe's comments.

The first issue is the alleged "War on Christmas", or how Osgiliath put it, "battles fought against Christmas". Many conservative pundits have used the "happy holidays" phrase as evidence corroborating their argument of forced secularization in the Christmas season. As for the phrase itself, I will agree with Jon Stewart when he asked whether it ever occurred to people that Christmas and New Year's are two holidays close together. Therefore, the phrase "happy holidays" makes sense. It's significantly easier to say the phrase rather than "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year". I guess my larger point is that many people, mostly Evangelical Christians, have begun to take notice of these petty things, thus making a huge commotion, which makes them forget why they love Christmas in the first place. I think it's hardly the left trying to remove the Christmas label from American public discourse, but indeed the fundamentalist right making sure the label remains there and making a strong effort to expand it. In a season where Christ should be the focus, Christians are engaging in a bitter feud with America's values. On Christmas Day, I will pray for those troubled Christian souls who, rather than celebrate the birth of Christ, mudsling America and pick fights with the public. BLA said it best:
I think that a lot of Christians are waging a war against their own holiday. The season has nothing to do with Wal-Mart, lawn decorations, or harvesting pet evergreen trees. It's hardly a religious holiday anymore.
In other words, Christians are also responsible for the secularization of Christmas as they fill the aisles at Walmart, Target, Nieman Marcus, or wherever you purchase goods.

The second issue we must address is relationship, or lack thereof, between heavy metal discourse and religion. Heavy metal music is, at its purest, a form of expression with roots in liberalism. Conservatives haven't been nice to heavy metal throughout history. And I know the PMRC was created by Tipper Gore, but she is far from being liberal. Black Sabbath, the originators of heavy metal, praised the darker side of things, or the alternative to the status quo. They bashed war in their lyrics and created a sound deemed to be that of the devil himself.

Heavy metal has been kind to a homosexual legend, Rob Halford. Would country music be as kind to a gay Tim McGraw? There is more leftist activism in heavy metal while conservative activism is nonexistent. My greater point, however, is that the majority of heavy metal fans are not religious. How can a religious person enjoy heavy metal when the lyrics and images projected are non-religious or anti-religious? I'm not saying I stopped practicing religion because of my love for metal. But I find it hypocritical to attend mass weekly while I listen to Slayer during the week.

Yet another question, is music to be taken as seriously as I suggest above? Or am I confusing the line between reality and the musical/art world? You guys make the call...

First of all, we have heard Bill O'Reilly attempt to make a case against liberals and non-Christians being anti-Christmas. While such allegations are complete bullshit, I think the subject of religion and its role in heavy metal cultural discourse is worth discussing. I'll begin by offering my views on the subject.

I was raised Mexican Catholic. I say Mexican Catholic because being Mexican is almost equated to being Catholic, and Mexican Catholics tend to be ultra-faithful and not-as-conservative as the Evangelical cabal. Therefore, my parents had me attending mass every Sunday and participating in traditional Mexican events such as the Posadas and Homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe. As I grew older and became educated, I realized that many self-proclaimed faithful people are only so for the sake of it. In other words, this is similar to a driver getting car insurance just because the law requires it. I became detached from religion, that is, the organized aspect. I no longer care for most priests, churches, or the rest of the holy plutocracy. Nevertheless, I still firmly believe in the teachings of Christ, despite my profound admiration of Norwegian black metal. Nowadays, I loathe the fact that religion has been hijacked by the radical right for political gain, making me more skeptical of organized religion.

Religion has never been kind to heavy metal. The conservative nature of relgious people has placed hurdles in the progression of metal music from a subterranean powerhouse to a mainstream juggernaut (although this isn't bad at all!). Nevertheless, metalheads are typically scrutinized and wrongfully profiled as treacherous vagabonds. Of course, not only religious people do this, but a large portion of them do. At this point, I will open up the discussion to everyone else. Share your thoughts on religion, Christmas, and heavy metal. I'll add more thoughts tomorrow as I read everyone else's. Cheers!


Osgiliath said...

Lefty - I'm not sure that there is a war on Christmas per se, but I do see evidence of many battles being fought against Christmas . From companies throughing 'Holiday parties' and displaying 'Non-Denominational Holiday Trees' in their lobbies, there is something of an effort to remove the Christmas label from public life. I really couldn't say if these efforts are organized to the extent that I owuld call it a war on Christmas, but there you are.

As to religion in general. I went through a decent period much like the one you are currently in. For the sake of simplicity I'll refer to it as disillusionment. During this time I still had my faith, but had a general dislike and mistrust of organized religion.

These days I attend church sporadically, maybe two or three weekends each month. I don't do this in an effort to "get closer to God", but generally to hear another persons (my pastor) take on Scripture and see if they can help me understand it in a new light.

One of my favorite things about my church is that we have a 'Biblical scholar' who speaks Greek and is working on Hebrew so that he is able to read the original source material and cover how the meaning of the Scripture changes dramatically based on how you translate it, he then provides examples... It sounds boring, but it's quite fascinating while in church.

As far as religion and metal, they've always butted heads. Hell, just look at Blabbermouth comments everytime there is a post about Mustaine and somebody will inevitably begin denigrating Mustaine for his religious beliefs. I'll leave that Korn guy out of this because he's gone insane and deserves the ridicule.

BlackLabelAxe said...

My beliefs are very similar to Osgiliath. I'm a Christian, and I don't worry too much about denominations. I don't go to any one Church regularly, relying more on my tribe (closest friends and family) as a congregation of faith. I can appreciate the original text translations greatly, because those books are far too important to rely on archaic translations. Especially considering the treachery of the Catholic Church of the middle ages, I find it vital to my faith to hear the word as it was intended.

The war on Christmas is not nearly as serious as it's made out to be. I don't even think 1% of the population is offended by Christmas to the point where they're trying to take down all the tradition. I don't get offended by "Happy Hanukkah", or whatever Muslim holidays they want to celebrate, therefore I would appreciate it if others would respect our holidays as we respect theirs. If you're celebrating, I'm happy for you. If people are seriously offended by Christmas, they need to remove themselves from the situation. Less than 1% of the population is waging 100% of the war against Christmas, which is why it's ridiculous that we're losing.

I think that a lot of Christians are waging a war against their own holiday. The season has nothing to do with Wal-Mart, lawn decorations, or harvesting pet evergreen trees. It's hardly a religious holiday anymore.

I find it highly awkward to call a Christmas party a "Holiday Party", and who cares about a "Holiday Tree"? Why pretend? There is no "Non-Demoninational Holiday" reason to cut down a Frasier Fir tree and put it in your living room covered with tiny lights and shiny ornaments.

The truth is that Jesus was probably not born on December 25th, and the Three Wise Men weren't gathered around while he was born, and there was probably very little fanfare altogether on whatver night he actually was born. They may never find the real site of the nativity. What matters is that he was born, which is a miracle by itself. The gifts we give each other are small token reminders of what Jesus gave to us: a heart of love whose ransom has been paid from the slavery of evil. Basically, we get together to remember Jesus and all he did for us. If that offends you, then you're obviously just looking for a reason to be offended. You don't have to participate in anything but the traffic.

BigNewsDay said...

From a liberal athiest point of view, I don't really see a war on christmas. I'm not the slightest bit offended by Christmas or any other religious holiday. I feel a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree, and I feel any athiest that attempts to trample on anyone'r religious freedom is just as big of a fuckhead as someone who tries to force their religious beliefs onto me.

But as far as thgis current "war on Christmas", I believe this is something that cocksucker Bill O'Reilly made up to increase his ratings. He stated on his radio show that some town in Michigen had banned people from wearing red and green clothing, and called for Christians to take Christmas back. What a fucking joke! The town thought it was pretty funny as well, since they have their townsquare all decked in christmas decore.