Just to keep count, the current Republican Presidential frontrunner is a convicted sex offender, with 2 companies convicted of 17 counts of tax fraud. He has been indicted for 95 federal crimes. He and his allies have lost 62 voter fraud cases, winning 1. (A PA judge ruled that voters can’t return with ID 3 days after an election. It didn’t change the PA outcome.)

Still mad at me for suggesting it’s un-Christian to support him?

The Devil’s Music

Watching this performance for the first time today, I’m literally choked up about how much amazing, powerful music I missed out on as a teenager simply because my mom and stepdad thought rock was the Devil’s music.

It wasn’t until my stepdad forbade me to listen to the Carpenter’s, because “Goodbye to Love” ends with an “edgy” guitar solo, that I simply stopped letting them hear anything I enjoyed. You’ve likely heard me praise my stepdad for the patience he showed in teaching me electrical and mechanical repair, instilling and encouraging common sense. But in this regard, he had none.

That may have been the beginning of the end of Evangelical Christianity for me. But the damage to my musical innocence had been done. As much as I loved the music of Seals & Crofts for example, there was always a squirm factor I had to work through because their religion wasn’t Christian. A shadow across the beauty of Cat Steven’s work, because of what I perceived as Buddhist imagery.

Rock in the 1970’s was a voice of protest, a tide of social rebellion carrying on from the Civil Rights struggle of the previous decade, now with youth’s unwillingness to be caught up in the Vietnam War. You can still find its bitter skepticism in nearly all of Trent Reznor’s work, in much of Maynard Keenan’s, in Zack de la Rocha’s and Tom Morello’s, among others. But nothing matches the widespread vocality of the 1970’s.

I think the rushing power of that social protest was ultimately diluted into the swamp of status quo. And I wonder how much of that was because youth like me, on the tail end of that decade, were indoctrinated to distrust that rebelliousness.

I’m no Satanist. But I’m of the Devil’s party, as William Blake described Milton, “The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when he wrote of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”

It took awhile for me to recognize the jail cell of Evangelical Christianity not as a place of safety but of timorousness. I resent being taught hymns of blind faith while denied music of much-needed change.

“Did you think I wouldn’t recognize this compromise? / Am I just too stupid to realize? / Stale incense, old sweat and lies, lies, lies.”

The trickster gods get a bad rap in every mythology. Lucifer maybe the worst of all. But he definitely has the best music.

World on Fire

Jennifer made a comment that with the drought here and July 4th, she hoped no one’s fireworks set a field on fire, and I had a flashback to my childhood.

When I left Evangelical Christianity 30+ years ago, it was due in part to religious sentiments like those in this song, which cheerily sings, “And rejoice with Him, as the sun grows dim, and He sets this world on fire!”

Too often I’ve heard the book of Revelations used as an excuse for environmental irresponsibility. “God’s going to burn up the world anyway, very soon, and in the meantime He gave us all that oil and coal!”

Pair this with teachings of the “Rapture” (a capitalized term found nowhere in the Bible), and you have a happy tale of prostrate worshippers being carried to Heaven while everyone else is left to suffer the depredations of the Antichrist on earth and then burn in Hell for eternity. I’m of the opinion that the Book of Revelations was tacked onto the end of the New Testament pretty much because the Book of Jude isn’t much of a climax. Every story needs a dramatic ending, right?

In my experience, Evangelical Christianity flips the message of Jesus on its head. He instead spoke little of a hell, and pointed it specifically at those who fail to help the needy. Mostly he spoke of love and not casting the first stone. To my ear, it’s increasingly difficult to tell a difference between hellfire Evangelicals and the ravings of the Taliban.

Anyway, listen to this cheery tune of the apocalypse, and imagine little Lester singing it at twelve years old. It’ll explain why I left as an adult, and why I keep telling Evangelicals, “RTFM.”