photo by Flowkey
As I reflect back at my youth at times when I didn’t necessarily take my faith seriously, Art that I once enjoyed in my youth—and still may enjoy—that isn’t necessarily Christian, or tasteful for that matter, I am having to rectify with my serious reflection on how it applies to me and my Catholic faith today.
I was born in the mid-eighties, so, naturally, the nineties dominated the formation of my childhood. To be honest, in my youth—ages 10 to 15—I wasn’t really a music fan. In seventh grade, I had been introduced to Metallica by a friend and I was intrigued by some of the bands more melodic tunes such as “Fade to Black, “Nothing Else Matters,” The Unforgiven,” The Unforgiven 2” etc. Now, looking back as a mature man who is heading the natural course towards an old man, I believe that my fascination with the melodies and lyrics of these songs was the lyricist’s poetry ordered toward what Christians call “Original Sin.”
Examining the lyrics to “Fade to Black:”
Life, it seems, will fade away
Drifting further every day
Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters, no one else
I have lost the will to live
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me
Need the end to set me free
Emptiness is filling me
To the point of agony
Growing darkness taking dawn
I was me, but now he’s gone
No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try.
Pretty Dark for a child not even able to drive. However, it’s real human emotion, it’s an experience with the dark voids of human nature that finds its source in Original Sin. Of course, some may stumble across my words and be puzzled at the expression of ‘Original Sin.’ GK Chesterton once quipped that the most striking evidence for Christianity was to view the evil in the world—cause by Original Sin. Furthermore, I once read an article about GK Chesterton that I reported asked him about what was wrong with the world to which he replied, ‘I am.” There has been a lot of great achievements in our collective human history from the idea of individual freedom; however, the idea breeds the idea of individualism in which the only thing matters is my ‘rights’ to do as I please, so to hell with anyone else. In a way, with the rise of individualism, modernity has created a cultural selfishness that becomes the antithesis of culture itself. In a culture merely rooted in “I am,” we have lost the ability to see another individual sitting beside us.
If one looks at the lyrics presented by this particular Metallica song, one will notice a whole lot of “I” and “myself” in each passage. In fact, the lyricist declares “No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late.” The Christian perspective will perhaps see some of the symptoms of what is ailing this particular person. The person has turned inward towards himself as stated “getting lost within myself.” Remember in Exodus 3, God expresses his very nature as his name “I AM.” In many ways, modernity’s stress on individualism has always been rooted in the human distortion of “I am” in “The Fall” of Genesis 3—Genesis 3 and Exodus 3 coincidence? Now, of course, this doesn’t reflect fault in the lyricists, as others around him could have alienated him to where he believes “he” is his only source of salvation. Indeed, as Christians, we need to reflect on our duty to see those who are marginalized and approach them with the Gospel.
Christians must also see from this loss of will that any sort of “self-centering” methods promoted by other Christians is also not in accord with orthodox Christianity as it focuses not on outward search for the Incarnation of Christ who is the way, but rather instead of an inward removal from the physical world into a more gnostic spirituality. Christianity by its very nature brings hope to those who desperately are searching for their restless hearts to be at rest. Pope St. John Paul II June 29th, 1978 wrote extensively in his diary about Christian community and the right order toward Christ:
“As for Christian existence, it begins with Jesus Christ, who Himself constitutes a ‘communion.’ First and foremost, he alone is the unity of God and man, having in Himself full grace, that is, full power to reconcile man with God.” (In God’s Hands pg. 134)
We must reach out to our neighbors, it’s not our duty to serve as judge to whether those who look to be in need will abuse charity, as for many this is an excuse not to help. It begins with “Hello” and a shaking of hands. It begins by seeing a homeless person walking over to them asking them their name. It begins with seeing people as people rather than an identity of culture, race, sexual preference, gender ideology, etc. Do these things, where an object of the faith, and if they ask, “What cause you to stop by?” You say: “Jesus Christ.”