Last September I introduced a series I wanted to discuss called “Gospel According to Punk Rock” and I am just now getting to writing a few of these posts. Please click the link above to read the introduction to this series as it will help you get a framework of where I am landing with this topic. Before I share this post I wanted to give you another bit of a disclaimer about what I am sharing. First of all, I am not stating that these artists are in anyway “Christian” as many are philosophically anti-Christian. I think you might even make the case that the genre of Punk Rock, being fundamentally anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian, already lends itself to butting heads with Christianity. I get that. However, many Christians I know only listen to “Christian music” like the stuff you hear on K-Love and other Christian radio stations.
Secondly, where I may disagree with many Christians is that I hear streams of the faith in “secular” songs as well (I hate the secular/Christian argument). Yesterday I was on my bed listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Sound of Silence” covered by Disturbed and I could not help but think how that speaks to many Christians. So these songs I am sharing hopefully speak to some at the truths in God’s narrative spoken but some unlikely witnesses.
Millencolin – Sense and Sensibility
Millencolin is a Swedish punk rock band smashing hits since the mid 90s that have upbeat overtures and powerful lyrics. I first heard this song a year ago while working out listening to the Face to Face Pandora station. I stopped my workout just to focus on what I was hearing. Powerful. Here are the first few lyrics to this song:
I’ve got ideas how this planet works
It gives perspective on all the racist jerks
Like yin and yang there’s a certain balance to everything we know
Some brains are fast means that some brains are slow
This is the rational side of me I guess
The same side that I use when playing chess
Lex yin and yang there’s also the other side of me
Acting based on emotion and sensibility
And that’s the side of me I turn to
When I read about your worldview
That’s not my cup of tea
Yeah, it’s a side of me I take on
It tells me you got it all wrong
And how clear we disagree
You’re just a racist clown to me
In a 2015 article Michael Haskoor talks with Millencolin’s Frederik Larson about their album “True Brew” which contained the song Sense and Sensibility. He asks a pointed question about the song and Frederik’s response is awesome (Haskoor’s question is in bold):
Your single “Sense & Sensibility” was written about the growing problem of nationalist and racist political parties in Sweden. How interchangeable are politics and punk rock?
I think when it feels right and you know what you write about, it’s great and really important. With ”Sense & Sensibility,” it’s a very dark and sad matter — we’ve talked a lot about this and it feels natural and very important to write about. (For another interesting article read Punktastic’s interview of Millencolin here.)
Where is gospel in this song?
Without knowing the ins and outs of institutional racism in Sweden (read article here for more) I do know that Millencolin is speaking to injustices in the cultural milieu they find themselves in. One thing both the U.S. and Sweden struggle with is rampant Islamaphobia. What I hear in Sense & Sensibility is a plea for us to treat humans equally without prejudice. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). We all bear the imago dei which means that just as their is unity among the Trinity there is also unity among creatures.
A second bit of gospel that I hear in this song is that there comes a point in which we must stand up to the injustices of this world and refuse to idly sit back. Sometimes Christians get lost in being nice people who attend worship, read their bibles and pray. While those are good things we also are called to respond to the egregous plight of the oppressed. The vast amount of verses in Scripture about this is more than a post could handle but a few to spakr your concern:
“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever” (Jer. 7:5-7).
“May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, Save the children of the needy And crush the oppressor” (Psalm 72:4).
“He who mocks the poor taunts his Maker; He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished” (Prov. 17:5).
I am grateful to have heard this song and believe it is a challenge to all of us…Christians included. Thanks for teaching me Millencolin!