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September 2017
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In the world of Rock and Theology, my interests have hovered around the relationship of underground music cultures, social movements, and religion. In particular, I’ve been interested in the relationship of DIY punk music cultures (broadly defined) and spirituality/religion and have done some writing on this, most recently in an essay in the new Rock and Theology book, Secular Music and Sacred Theology. In my essay on “staying punk” as a theologian, I spend a good deal of time discussing one of the “patron saints” of punk rock, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi and Minor Threat, whose distinct voice within the many discussions of “punk ethics” has made me think not only about my own musical practices but about the practice of theology.

In December of last year, MacKaye and his wife Amy Farina released their third album as The Evens. The album, The Odds, is another great batch of MacKaye and Farina’s “quiet,” but still uncompromisingly political, punk rock. As I was preparing final edits to the chapter I submitted for the book, I was also reading the press’ discussion of MacKaye and The Evens, and I realized that, had I had more space, I could have discussed The Evens as great example of the traditioning of punk, of the way punk evolves — “grows up,” even — but stays true to its commitments.

The Evens’ recent string of interviews contain some discussion that might help to push forward some of the ideas I’ve been tossing about on theology and punk rock. (more…)

While I am working on an update about my time at SXSW this week, here is an interesting story on an Episcopal priest, Rev. Bertie Pearson, who used to be a punk rock drummer and sees no need to cut off that part of himself now that he’s a full-time minister. He must be in the .000001% of clergy who know about Minor Threat. And the .0000000000000001% who like them.

I think it is important that church workers are public about Holy Thuribles! Take a look at the EpiscoDisco that Rev. Pearson and others at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco helped organize in 2010:


That is Daniel Higgs of Lungfish playing there. Does anyone know of any other examples of punk musicians playing in churches or other self-identified religious spaces?

And in the video, listen to Rev. Pearson’s striking vision, which he reports is shared by his bishop, about making the church “permeable to people outside [their] religious tradition.” This is exciting theological thinking/performance, and if the video is any indication, it was tastefully undertaken. As I argue at the end of my most recent book, Witness to Dispossession, the opening up of Christian churches to their interreligious/intersecular past and future is one way of thinking about how Christianity can creatively inhabit its own history in the service of the larger world.

Tommy Beaudoin, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York