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Sorry Rivers You Are Not God

This blog was originally written on October 30, 2010.  The reason for postponement is in the update below.

Tonight was a definitive night.  Why should I make such a bold statement about a cool night in late October on the eve of Halloween weekend?  You might expect some earth shattering revelation or some revolutionary idea that will change the way we see the world.  In fact, I simply chose not to worship the music.  My favorite band, a band I’ve admired, at times I wished to be in, and at other times just plain worshiped plays as I type, in my hometown, for the first time since my knowledge of their existence.  They are not playing an ordinary show, just another stop on the tour.  No, they are playing the Voodoo Music Experience.  Where “spirituality” meets the music on the weekend of all hallows eve.  Ghosts and goblins and witchcraft all come together for the sake of the music.  All come to “worship the music” as the Experience’s slogan proclaims.

I have experienced the Voodoo Music Experience twice in my life.  First in the fall of 2001, the buddy that came with me fled a sentence of house arrest he received from his parents.  We worshiped the likes of 311, Eminem, a young Black Eyed Peas, and the Stone Temple Pilots.  We left in ecstasy (not drug-related) from such a vast experience of music.  It was the greatest musical experience of my teenage life.

This trend of not fulfilling obligations continued.  My second “worship service” occurred seven years later when I chose to not fulfill some requirements of presence at a certain function.  Instead, I chose to listen and adore the great deconstruction and reconstruction of music that comes from the mind of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco.

Music seemed more important than responsibility, as if music superseded responsibility and became the categorical norm.  If it was musical it was more important.  I was indeed following what had been taught to me by MTV and VH1.  I was so influenced by this worldly concept that it in some ways cause spiritual turmoil in my own heart.

I speak this candidly for a purpose.

I chose tonight to forgo what would undeniably be the greatest musical experience of my life, Weezer playing live in New Orleans.  I chose this for my own virtue.  I have no obligations tonight.  I could have gone and not skipped on anything.  Instead, I chose to not “worship the music.”  It is a step of many steps towards freedom from the concept that music supersedes responsibility but more importantly freedom from being bound by a created reality whereby I can more freely worship He who alone is worthy of worship.

Rivers Cuomo is second from the left

Sorry Rivers you are not God.

Update: I have been reading The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.  In his chapter, he specifically speaks on rock music.

“Rock,” on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. (p. 148)

Cardinal Ratzinger’s quote confirms my thoughts that evening.  I previously was a reticent in posting it because of its candidness, but after reading that, it seemed appropriate.

Music can easily become a source of idolatry.  One can worship the creator of the music, as seemed to happen with the overly popular acts like The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Elvis to name a few.  As Ratzinger says it even holds worship services, known as rock concerts.

There’s a certain rite, if you will humor me.  One pays a tithe for entrance.  After entrance is granted, one either moves to the assigned seat or finds the best place to participate in the service.  There is an entrance rite performed by a local DJ.  This is followed by open acts, who are usually of lesser notoriety and do not deserve full worship.  They are the lesser deities that get you emotional revved up for the deity you came to worship.  Finally, after waiting, the time arrives when the sound waves hit your ears that excite those elemental passions and bring one over edge into musical ecstasy.  This is a communal experience.  Libations are present as ways of preparing for the ecstatic experience.

The cultic character is no doubt present.  No man, or creation, deserves that worship.  God alone.

So I repeat again.  Sorry, Rivers, you are not God.

About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.

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