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Forum LockedReligious Imagery and Metal: Sacrilegious?

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Akolouthos View Drop Down
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    Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 23:18

SmileI am a Christian; those of you who have any knowledge of me know that this is so.

That said, a great part of my cultural development took place entirely outside of the ideological matrix of Christianity -- my musical taste represents a part of this development.
 
I have always had a particular affinity for gothic culture, and my musical tastes reflect this. In addition to this, I have always enjoyed a good-ol' bit of metal. Over the years, I have removed several bands from my collection, due to overt or implicit blasphemy; often it is not difficult to decide whether or not a particular song or group crosses the line.
 
Still, where that line is represents a question that is a good deal more difficult to answer. Is religious imagery ever appropriate outside of a liturgical or semi-liturgical context? For my part, I feel that it is, but I would be interested in hearing the opinions of others. That said, how are we to determine whether or not a particular song or video falls within an appropriate Christian context? The examination of this question is the purpose of the present thread.
 
Below I have posted some links to videos, upon which I would like to hear a bit of feedback. Not all of the videos are strictly "metal" -- although they're totally all metal. (speaking of which, how about another emoticon, North?) Wink Anyway, please examine the videos and post your thoughts. Also, please feel free to post other videos that fit into the context of the discussion. There is no shortage of blatantly sacrilegious music, and I would request that we refrain from posting it in this thread. Let us, instead, stick to the topic and seek to determine what is and what is not appropriate, within the context of Christian doctrine and praxis. Looking forward to hearing from some of you.
 
And here are the videos:
 
A group called Nightwish, before they lots their wits and ditched Tarja:
 
A group called Within Temptation; they seem to be rather fond of rosaries:
 
A group called E Nomine, which did an entire album with explicit Christian themes in an... er... interesting manner:
 
Looking forward to your thoughts. God bless. Smile
 
-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Menumorut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 00:08
I have a similar taste for metal, in a lesser measure for pop.

I have feeled that the melodies that have a satanist message or reference in text are disturbing me, even they are sometimes genialy, clearly divine inspired. Also I observed that melodies with satanist text are having a rythm that also disturb me.

I think these melodies are introducing in the souls of those who listen them something malefic, practicaly are destroying those persons.


I disbelieve that can exist Christian rock or any other kind of Christian music than the liturgical one.

Also, I mention that I think one should renounce to anything which is not made for God, so listening to music for pleasure is bad (for that person). Personaly, I listen to music when remaining in prayer lead to this.

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Quote Is religious imagery ever appropriate outside of a liturgical or semi-liturgical context?


Well not really because religious imagery should provoke feelings of spirituality, so any time any religious imagery is used it automatically becomes semi-liturgical, because bringing God into your mind and heart is the same thing that prayer is.

Anyway, if you couldn't tell HR Giger is one of my favorite artists. Here is one of his works done in his typical gothic style. I ask you if you would place this as appropriate religious imagery.



See to me I have no problem with it's dark themes, since God did not create light from darkness as in pagan mythologies, but he separated light and darkness from the same substance so each has the qualities of the creator inside of it.
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Quote That said, how are we to determine whether or not a particular song or video falls within an appropriate Christian context?

a) Find an old bearded conservitive - I recommend a Palestinian, but a Greek is probably the Orthodox equivilant
b) Find out how much he condemns it and what he won't allow in his house
c) Decide he is an old conservitive and to be slightly more liberal. Treat his opinion as rules to be bent, but not broken

That is how you find out what is blasphemy and what is not.


Edited by Omar al Hashim - 22-Jan-2008 at 06:46
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 07:52
Good responses all! Thank you for participating. Smile
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

I think these melodies are introducing in the souls of those who listen them something malefic, practicaly are destroying those persons.
 
I agree in a qualified sense; you have definitely struck on a patristic theme. I think the eminent ethicist Fr. Stanley Harakas summed it up best:
 
In general church leaders do not look favorably on rock music because of its anti-religious associations and frequent encouragement of immorality. Examine the effects of particular songs or, generally, the music of particular groups on you, from the perspective of Christian values [incidentally, this is what we are doing Clap]. You will be able to tell for yourself which ones are ungodly.
[Harakas, The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers]
 
He continues -- and I think this is of particular importance, as it highlights the point which you so aptly cited -- to state:
 
... the musical rhythyms of rock 'n roll are very pronounced in their obvious intent to artificially stimulate and arouse the sexual passions of those who listen to music intently -- something the church feels is not helpful to Christian growth.
[Harakas]
 
Harakas encourages each of us to examine songs in light of their effect on our Christian spirituality, which is, as you noted, extremely important.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

I disbelieve that can exist Christian rock or any other kind of Christian music than the liturgical one.
 
I don't fully agree here. I definitely think that a liturgical context is the fullest expression of Christian imagery -- indeed, it is an actual participation in the heavenly. Still, I think I would apply Harakas' standard here -- what does this music do to me? does it excite wrongful passions? etc.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

Also, I mention that I think one should renounce to anything which is not made for God, so listening to music for pleasure is bad (for that person). Personaly, I listen to music when remaining in prayer lead to this.
 
I would be interested to see you elaborate this cogent point; I think it gets to the heart of the issue.
 
Originally posted by Janus Rook Janus Rook wrote:

Well not really because religious imagery should provoke feelings of spirituality, so any time any religious imagery is used it automatically becomes semi-liturgical, because bringing God into your mind and heart is the same thing that prayer is.
 
I agree, and, more importantly, I think it fits with Christian ethics.
 
Furthermore, I think the art you posted must needs be examined on an individual level; it could certainly mean different things for different people, and it, like all art, will affect individuals in different ways. One thought I had, when viewing it, was of the old patristic analogy of death swallowing the theanthropos like a hook, and being thus undone; Christ trampling down death by death, and bestowing life to those in the tombs. I think it could be viewed as an iconographic precursor to the image of Hades bound found in the icon of the Anastasis (Resurrection). That said, it could also be interpreted in a demonic context.
 
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

a) Find an old bearded conservitive - I recommend a Palestinian, but a Greek is probably the Orthodox equivilant
b) Find out how much he condemns it and what he won't allow in his house
c) Decide he is an old conservitive and to be slightly more liberal. Treat his opinion as rules to be bent, but not broken

That is how you find out what is blasphemy and what is not.
 
LOL
 
An oddly practical way of dealing with the problem, but one that is bound to be largely successful. I don't know that this principle would always be applicable, but it certainly has merit.
 
Once again, thanks to all who responded. Let's keep this discussion going; I will likely be making personal life choices based upon the information gleaned from this thread, the which should provide proof that I value your opinions. Smile
 
-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Felis Lakonia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 09:08
Though I do feel more than a little bit out of place within such a thread, being a Sinatra fan myself, I shall do as I am bid and plague the board with a bit of my endless ramblings. You have your friend Akolouthos to blame for this provoked torture. ;)

Within such an issue, I believe that the actual purposes and contexts of music should be considered. In many cases, music is strictly a recreational luxury that we are fortunate to be allowed to enjoy becuase we don't have to worry about hunting our food or escaping from carnivores. We have both time, as well as extra resources to bother with making music; music that does absolutely nothing in the way of supplementing our vitality or providing any mechanism for survival. It's a treat! ... and possibly and under-appreciated one.

Music can occur in other contexts, as well. Even religious contexts can have multiple outlets. Imagine, for example, a tribal population that is creating a musical chant to plea for rain and good hunting. If belief alone is considered, that music is a token of exchange. The music is made in exchange for survival and not for recreation. Music can also be offered to a divinity without the hope of anything in return; a sort of offering, a symbol of adoration and respect.

No matter what the context of this music is, it should, not necessarily reflect, but certainly respect the moral value expected within one's faith. If it is offered to god, it should be clean. If it is a recreational bit of self indulgence, it should be clean. If it is not clean, than one is soiling one's self with the music and thusly is no longer presentable to god. I'm not saying that everything you listen to should beable to be offered to god I certainly would not serenade god with Fly Me to the Moon; but I would not be ashamed if god happened to hear what I was listening to. The content isn't really relevant to offering one's self, service, prayer, and adorration to god... but it also does not undermine the moral principles that make one pure enough to have the opportunity to offer one's self, service, prayer and adoration. Not every piece of music on listen's to or sings has to be a melodic prayer, but no piece of music should have the capacity to soil one so that they are no longer presentable to their god. It would be something like a poisoned or deformed offering.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Menumorut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 09:31
Quote

1
I think the eminent ethicist Fr. Stanley Harakas summed it up best:


2
... the musical rhythyms of rock 'n roll are very pronounced in their obvious intent to artificially stimulate and arouse the sexual passions of those who listen to music intently -- something the church feels is not helpful to Christian growth.


1
I think is not about ethics. Etics are an artificial concept, especially in the field of religion. As I sayed, many of the rock melodies are changing people in a (very) bad way. We, who have a spiritual culture and repers, can distinguish the danger of these melodies but most people don't have these repers.

Also I think all of God's commendments are not gived as ethic establishments but they stop us from the things hurting us.


2
I rather think the rock doesn't stimulate the sexual instincts but the vanity and aspirations of dominations. Its fascination is gived by the illusion of power one have during the listening.



Quote I don't fully agree here. I definitely think that a liturgical context is the fullest expression of Christian imagery -- indeed, it is an actual participation in the heavenly. Still, I think I would apply Harakas' standard here -- what does this music do to me? does it excite wrongful passions? etc.


Music anyway exalts passions and revery, this is its attraction. It cann't be the support of a Christian message because the two are at the opposites, Christianism promoting lucidity and self-restrain.



Quote I would be interested to see you elaborate this cogent point; I think it gets to the heart of the issue.


Is the aspiration for living a life of unceased prayer, but when I say prayer I don't refer to repeating some verbal formula but to remain with the mind not scattered in wordly activities (even not in the so-called vital ones) and deliberated thoughts.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 09:44
First, I would like to thank my dear friend Felis Lakonia for posting upon request; she is always insightful, and seldom boring. Wink She actually summed up a rather enlightening conversation we had via instant messenger.
 
I would also like to thank Menumorut, for sticking around to discuss this topic with me.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

I think is not about ethics. Etics are an artificial concept, especially in the field of religion. As I sayed, many of the rock melodies are changing people in a (very) bad way. We, who have a spiritual culture and repers, can distinguish the danger of these melodies but most people don't have these repers.

Also I think all of God's commendments are not gived as ethic establishments but they stop us from the things hurting us.
 
Here I think we are simply dealing with an issue of semantics. When I speak of ethics, I certainly ascribe their foundation -- indeed, their very essence -- to Christian spirituality. It is simply a term used to describe the application of that spirituality to our daily lives. I certainly agree with you that any system of "ethics" that does not derive from the heart of Christian spirituality is, in fact, no system of ethics at all.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

I rather think the rock doesn't stimulate the sexual instincts but the vanity and aspirations of dominations. Its fascination is gived by the illusion of power one have during the listening.
 
I wholeheartedly agree, and think you summed this up brilliantly. Smile Anyone who has listened to Metal should be able to understand the feeling of which you speak. In Harakas' defense, I believe he was dealing with rock music which played on a different set of passions; the excerpt from the book was based on an article that was, as I recall, from the 70s.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

Music anyway exalts passions and revery, this is its attraction. It cann't be the support of a Christian message because the two are at the opposites, Christianism promoting lucidity and self-restrain.
 
I don't necessarily agree fully here. I think that music can be used to glorify God, although music that "exalts" the passions is certainly not of this sort. Our liturgical hymnology is the most perfect example, but it is, in my humble opinion, far from the only one. Music can be one of many things in the created world that lead to God. I feel that this gets at the sacramental nature of creation itself. We need only look to the Theophany to see how wordly things, once sanctified, can be used to glorify God.
 
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

Is the aspiration for living a life of unceased prayer, but when I say prayer I don't refer to repeating some verbal formula but to remain with the mind not scattered in wordly activities (even not in the so-called vital ones) and deliberated thoughts.
 
And here, once again, you have penetrated to the heart of the issue brilliantly. Anything that distracts from our relationship with God -- our theosis, or continually growing communion with Him -- must be discarded.
 
-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 10:04
Originally posted by Menumorut Menumorut wrote:

I have a similar taste for metal, in a lesser measure for pop.

I have feeled that the melodies that have a satanist message or reference in text are disturbing me, even they are sometimes genialy, clearly divine inspired. Also I observed that melodies with satanist text are having a rythm that also disturb me.

I think these melodies are introducing in the souls of those who listen them something malefic, practicaly are destroying those persons.
Well, I'm no believer so bear with me for a few seconds.
The music I like ranges quite wide, but I'm a fan of several types of metal: heavy, gothic and industrial. Since I'm not religious, the lines of the songs impress me only if I consider them worthy. That means a lot of things but the point is that whatever the message is I try not to act as if it were an imperative. Music is certainly not one of the things I guide my deeds upon. From this perspective, the text of Maiden's "The Number of The Beast" has as much impact as Verdo's "Nabucco" on me.
On the other hand, I use music for emotional purposes. That means I'm listening to the kind of music I'm in the mood to listen. Though I'm not always consistent.
I think music all by itself cannot destroy a person. The influence of music is as much as a person allowes it to be.
As a side note: one of my neigbours complained that my music disturbed him. I was listening Beethoven's Pastorale (I think of it as the ultimate musical creation ever). What made me wonder was why Rammstein and Die Krupps, that I have been playing quite loud for two days before,  didn't disturbed himConfused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 10:31
 
Originally posted by Akolouthos Akolouthos wrote:

I certainly agree with you that any system of "ethics" that does not derive from the heart of Christian spirituality is, in fact, no system of ethics at all.
Akolouthos, you disappoint me.
 
Any system that lays down rules - or even advice - on how to behave is a system of ethics. It could be from my or your point of view totally evil, but it would still be a system of ethics.
 
Identifying something as "ethical" - i.e. "good" - is subjective, but identifying a system as a system of ethics is totally objective.
 
You would have done better to have finished "is, in my judgment, not an ethical system at all."
 
More on the topic, at one time the Roman Catholic (I don't know about the Orthodox) anyway banned all instrumental music from liturgical use. I can't myself see that any instrumental musical style has inherent moral content. Lyrics are of course a different matter.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 10:56
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Akolouthos, you disappoint me.
 
Well, I'm sure it isn't the first time, although it was never my intent. Wink
 
Quote
Any system that lays down rules - or even advice - on how to behave is a system of ethics. It could be from my or your point of view totally evil, but it would still be a system of ethics.
 
Identifying something as "ethical" - i.e. "good" - is subjective, but identifying a system as a system of ethics is totally objective.
 
You would have done better to have finished "is, in my judgment, not an ethical system at all."
 
Aye, but since you derived my meaning from my words, I don't really see a problem. I meant the statement precisely as you surmised: a system of ethics which is based upon false premises is no proper system of ethics, at all; that is to say that it lacks some of the underlying characteristics that would make the designation meaningful. It is similar to saying that a man who fails to honor his commitments is no man at all. Surely he may still be identified as a "man" by his gender, but he is morally deficient, and cannot, in this sense, properly bear the title. Aye, it is still very subjective, but the phrasing is common enough.
 
You read it appropriately, and if you prefer, your phrasing is more precise; for my part, I have always been a bit wary of precision. Wink
 
Quote
More on the topic, at one time the Roman Catholic (I don't know about the Orthodox) anyway banned all instrumental music from liturgical use. I can't myself see that any instrumental musical style has inherent moral content. Lyrics are of course a different matter.
 
Aye, that and they did. In fact, the early Church was not at all fond of instrumental music in worship. The overwhelming majority of Orthodox choirs are still unaccompanied by any musical instruments -- although there is one instrument which is gaining in popularity, mimicking, so they say, the tones of the human voice (I forget what it is called; ison, perhaps?).
 
-Akolouthos
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Quote Music is certainly not one of the things I guide my deeds upon.


Ypu are not influenced consciously, but your subconsciousness is influenced.


Quote From this perspective, the text of Maiden's "The Number of The Beast" has as much impact as Verdo's "Nabucco" on me.
On the other hand, I use music for emotional purposes. That means I'm listening to the kind of music I'm in the mood to listen. Though I'm not always consistent.
I think music all by itself cannot destroy a person. The influence of music is as much as a person allowes it to be.
As a side note: one of my neigbours complained that my music disturbed him. I was listening Beethoven's Pastorale (I think of it as the ultimate musical creation ever). What made me wonder was why Rammstein and Die Krupps, that I have been playing quite loud for two days before, didn't disturbed himConfused?


Number of the Beast is a parody, see the video. But it has a malefic effect But there are songs like Mourning Palace which are strongly dangerous, because Satan is mentioned in a solemn context, even the band takes it as an artistic manifestation, not a cult of Satan.

The effects of such songs is stronger than me or you and over the teens and other weak people has a devastating effect.

Simfonic music also can have a bad effect, in fact our life is much build by the influence of music, this is why contemporary people are much more driven by phantasms than the anterior generations.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goban Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2008 at 17:07
IMO, the quick and dirty answer is that if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it is not conducive to your personal relationship with your religion, and may prove to be unhealthy in that respect.
 
However, this relationship is a very personal thing. Some would not feel as uncomfortable as others and it does not necessarily diminish their religious determination, i.e. "they are just words." And these words in no way reflect what is in my heart, but the music is jamming!"  
 
And such a conjunction could be healthy, under careful consideration, but again it depends on the individual...
 
 
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I watched this clip a couple of months ago and I think it answers the topic of the thread. Music is a form of art and expression, and one must be prepared to properly understand what it is the arist attempts to express. Here Marilyn Manson explains to Bill OReilly what it is he is doing when he creates his music - and he does a very thoughtful job of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6n5Oi4714o

A person needs to ask themself: Is this really offensive, or am I just so stuffy that I dismiss it without trying to understand it. More than a few well-to-do Hebrews back in 1st century Judaea must have been more than a little shocked to see a preacher from Bethlehem hanging out with a fan base of prostitutes and the destitute, without actually taking the time to understand what it was he was trying to do. A decent comparison, I think.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian J Checco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2008 at 17:13
Good point, Constantine; based on his associations, without a context of understanding, plenty of people mus have thought Jesus was pretty shady.

Ak,
I'd really not worry too much about blaspheming by the music you listen to; belief, when it gets hung up on the semantics, becomes more like a bureaucracy than a faith. For another thing, I highly doubt that heavy metal ever condemned a fellow to hell (though my mother, back in the 80's, was convinced that punk music would spell the death of my generation); and if it did, whole generations of long haired, tattooed men are inhabiting some special corner of the abyss, which just doesn't seem too logical. Certainly, there are far more interesting reasons to be condemned to the Pit- I bet the other denizens of the underworld would call you a bit of a 'nancy' if that was the only transgression:
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I just hope this discussion doesn't go the way of so many stupid debates concerned parents have about everything these days. Examples;
-"Video games make people violent." (no, stupid, people have been violent since way before Super Mario Brothers)
-"Rock & Roll is corrupting the youth; Steven Tyler in particular, with his tight pants and long hair." (Admittedly, this one has come a log way, from people condemning all rock & roll because of Elvis' dancing and "negro" influences, to just worrying about rock that routinely features demonic murderers and such...)
etc.

For some reason, there is a tendency within some religious types to become very proscriptive; but I think that if religion is truly about belief and love, as opposed to a system of control (which I definitely believe it can be), one ought not to get hung up on the semantics, live one's life, and just try to get the gist of it. No one is perfect, and there are very few saints out there, so I think just give it a decent shot and the Big Guy Upstairs will understand. Hell, He probably expects you to screw up every now and then. I wouldn't worry about it too much.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2008 at 19:59

Brian,

I may have been misleading in my initial post; I have been guilty of this, on occasion, before. LOL
 
The issue isn't over whether these things should be proscribed -- although I suppose that is an incidental question; the issue is whether or not these thing are spiritual beneficial or destructive, and in what ways. Whether or not they can mean different thigns to different people, etc.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian J Checco Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2008 at 22:57
It's just music. Not terribly good music, but it's hardly the first step on the road to hell...

Personally, I always dug punk rock, which many people believe to be "spiritually destructive," but those are the kind of people I usually tell to go to hell anyway, so... <shrug>

I'd say just take it with a grain of salt. If you like the sound, if you dig the vibe, just go with it. I wouldn't worry too much about it's impact on your soul though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adalwolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Jan-2008 at 23:18
Many times the artist's point was to be sacrilegious, and shocking in order to grab attention. Most want people to dig deeper and look for meaning behind the songs, however. 
Concrete is heavy; iron is hard--but the grass will prevail.
     Edward Abbey
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Illirac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jan-2008 at 14:47
I would not consider it sacrilegious, it depends on your morality
For too long I've been parched of thirst and unable to quench it.
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