Jun 19, 2015

Reading: Charleston & the Confederate Flag, Christopher Lee, mewithoutYou, the IKEA Church, Punk Rock Sells Out & More

Also: Terrible dads in fiction, DuckDuckGo, and more Charleston-related links.
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Emanuel AME Church
Digital Journal (Creative Commons)

In light of the horrific church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a young racist man killed 9 people gathered for prayer and Bible study, Austin Channing has come to the only logical conclusion: “Though the weapon is the same, gun violence, this is different because the driving force was white supremacy, this act the epitome of racism, the goal to kill black people. The level of terror that black people feel in America at this moment cannot be underestimated. Because when the driving force of such a massacre is the very thing imbedded in the roots of America, thriving on the branches of generation after generation, sitting in the pews unchallenged every Sunday morning in white churches — there is no reason why black Americans should feel safe.

I’m glad the police caught the killer, and I hope he comes to repent for his evil actions, but I’m bracing myself for unending coverage about him. Doing so only gives attention and validation to his wicked deeds but unfortunately, we’re fascinated by depraved individuals in this day and age. We’re fascinated by sickos and murderers like him because it’s sensational and edgy and shocking. But as a result, it’s easy to lose sight of the victims and their stories, as well as their community and loved ones. I hope that we can focus on these (sadly prophetic) words from Clementa Pinckney, the pastor who was martyred along with his congregation by that wicked act, and what they represent.

Confederate Flag
A racist symbol

Powerful words from Russell D. Moore: the cross of Christ and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist. “The Confederate Battle Flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night… The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is what the Gospel of Christ in action looks like: “A witness to the Charleston church massacre and several family members of the victims had a dramatic and tearful encounter with the 21-year-old accused shooter at his court hearing Friday, saying they ‘forgive’ him and that he needed to ‘repent’ for his alleged crime.” Rod Dreher has more: “How do two teenagers respond with such amazing grace in the face of their mother’s murder by a white supremacist? It’s staggering. Those teenagers have the peace that passes all understanding.”

Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee

Movie icon Christopher Lee died earlier this month at the age of 93. Two of my Christ and Pop Culture colleagues consider Lee’s legacy of depicting villains and monsters. “Lee’s Hammer horror villains, especially Dracula, were so memorable and effective because he identified with the characters he was portraying. It seems that Lee’s experience of real human horror had allowed him to search out the potential darkness in himself and to have compassion on those who, according to his own words, ‘cannot stop… doing what [they] are doing.’”

Just in time for Father’s Day, The A.V. Club lists the worst fictional dads. “While fictional moms are generally, if not always, a cheery, accommodating group, fictional dads are another stereotype altogether. Often distant and aloof, if not cruel, the dads of TV, film, literature, and video games are a dodgy bunch.” Unfortunately, there’s a rather glaring omission from their list: Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Gendo Ikari, who really was a special kind of bastard to his son.

mewithoutYou
Amie Santavicca

I’ve been listening to mewithoutYou’s latest, Pale Horses, quite a bit lately. It’s a dense, dense album, and arguably the most ambitious mewithoutYou release to date. In this extensive AbsolutePunk interview, singer Aaron Weiss discusses the new album’s themes and origins. “There’s just so much from the Bible that has so much vivid imagery and so much that’s a part of my psyche. I’m sure there will never be any getting around that, but this is probably the most deliberately Biblical record we’ve made. Well, maybe when I look at it I’m just trying to round out some of the other ideas I’ve taken from the Bible of some of the more uplifting messages. This time I tried to take some of the darker images of the Bible and come to terms with them in my own little way.”

Steven Greydanus wonders about a trend to make churches look more like IKEA than “traditional” Church architecture, and the larger ramifications for art. “What about those raised in spartan IKEA-style churches, with blandly soothing music and genially anemic homilies? Will they produce artists inspired to create great art? More importantly, will their people be inspired to lead heroic, virtuous lives? And, if so, will it be because of those IKEA-style spartan spaces, or in spite of them?”

John Lydon
John Lydon

Punk rock just ain’t what it used to be: icons like John Lydon and Iggy Pop have sold butter and insurance, arguably some of the most “punk rock” items in existence. There’s even a punk rock credit card. Of course, an 18.9% APR doesn’t exactly promote anarchy and rebellion but even punks have to make mortgage payments these days.

If you’re concerned about the amount of info Google is acquiring about you, consider using DuckDuckGo as your default search engine. From this FastCompany profile: “The premise of DuckDuckGo is simple: It doesn’t track your searches or any other online activity. Whereas Google has built a $66 billion dollar-a-year business around knowing more and more about its users’ every click, tap, and scroll, DuckDuckGo prefers ignorance. It doesn’t have user logins, it doesn’t log your search history or IP address. Even if they wanted to hand over data about your search history, they couldn’t. That data just doesn’t exist.” I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine, and while there are some “advanced” features that I miss, I’ve generally found it more than adequate.


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