Don’t know exactly where this should go. But for some reason, this is something that has been on my mind a lot, lately.
I’m not religious. I don’t believe in the existence of supernatural entities. It’s just a matter of belief and you have no choice over what you believe or don’t believe, so I don’t have opinions about religious people for their religiosity. Like everything else, some beautiful things and some atrocities are done in the name of religion. However, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the beauty of religion.
One of my first experiences with the beauty of religion was through Adam raised a Cain. There was some powerful imagery on that song that I could relate to. I was able to see that religious stories will often focus on eternal issues and can be beautiful metaphors.
By the time I read Steinbeck’s East of Eden, I was completely convinced. There was something there. I think there’s an extreme kind of beauty in defining and questioning one’s relation with a supreme being no one really can be sure exists but so many people believe their lives should be led according to this being’s wills. It gives room for stories about human nature that can be relevant and beautiful today.
You can extract the divinity from Jesus and create a song like Jesus was an Only Son. You can use a known metaphor and use it brilliantly in a movie like the brilliant “Mother!”. You can sing about Jesus Christ as if you were singing about Jesse James like Woody Guthrie did. You can write lyrics like “My Jesus your gracious love and mercy / Tonight I’m sorry could not fill my heart / Like one good rifle / And the name of who I ought to kill”.
One of my favourite bands are 16 Horsepower. I don’t think they have one song that is not religious. David Eugene Edwards, the singer and lyricist, is deeply religious and the way he explores his belief is (it was, the band is no longer active) something that inspires me.
Bruce, of course, uses religious imagery. Sometimes it’s just too on the nose and I don’t like it, but when it really fits the character and helps tell story, there are few things more beautiful.
@Accountant Pete I'm laughing ... I'm an accountant & tax consultant as well. I have to say that we are definitely not the typical representatives of the profession. Most accountants are boring as hell. Or presumptuous as fuck.
We can volunteer for bookkeeping for the Lake. 😉
Count on it.
I am not religious but I can still appreciate religious art and music. A Gregorian chant is spine tingling. I can't abide gospel music though. "Jesus your gracious love and mercy / Tonight I’m sorry could not fill my heart / Like one good rifle / And the name of who I ought to kill”, is simply staggering as a piece of writing.
The religiosity in many of Bruce's songs doesn't put me off his music in the slightest. I can be moved by Jesus Was an Only Son and Across the Border despite not being a Catholic the same way I can be moved by Moonlight Motel despite being aromantic. Great music or art is great music whatever its origins.
I'm not religious at all, I'm the kind of person who goes to church for weddings and funerals only. Though I'm definitely agnostic as opposed to atheist.
But I love gospel music. Some of that is just hair raisingly joyous. When The Saints and Little Light Of Mine are close to my two favourite songs on the Live In Dublin release.
U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is another piece of music that immediately comes to mind as a song I love informed by religion. In fact, much of the best of U2's music is underpinned by Christianity.
It certainly is a powerful driver of some incredible art.
Spiritually, I'm like a cross between an an insomniac, an agnostic and a dyslexic person.
I stay up all night wondering if there's really a dog.
In writing, when it comes to conveying universal beliefs about right and wrong, redemption, forgiveness, judgement and such, religious imagery works better than almost anything else. I draw on the Bible, my early Catholic upbringing and later Christian excursions often.
Interesting post TJ. As you know, I am a religious person, in as much as I want it to be true rather than know it to be true. I find it hard to accept that this is it, there Is nothing ahead of us.
i agree with you that sometimes Bruce's imagery can be s bit too obvious, but sometimes I find it very moving. I love Jesus Was An Only Son. I have never heard of 16 Horsepower, but will check them out.
The beauty of religion for me is to be found more in paintings than music - two paintings have reduced me to tears the first time I saw them, Fra Angelico's Annunciation in Museo de St. Marco in Florence and Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan.