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Metal Vicar Rachel Mann: Why Jesus Would Have Been A Pussy Riot Fan
Rev Rachel Mann , August 17th, 2012 13:41

As Pussy Riot begin their two year prison sentence, lady of both the cloth and the rock the Rev. Rachel Mann gives a Christian critique of the actions of the Russian Orthodox Church

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The world is full of idiotic and inexplicable things: Geordie Shore, One Direction and the ongoing success of the Daily Mail. However, from the perspective of many lovers of rock & roll, perhaps there is nothing as crass, small-minded and anti-progressive as religion, and specifically Christianity. The two year sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” handed down to Fem-Punk outfit Pussy Riot is only the latest example of what many will perceive as Christianity’s fear of Rock. After all, from the moment Elvis wiggled his hips in a suggestive manner c1955 and Southern Baptists swooned in distress, the relationship between popular music and Christianity has so often been portrayed as antagonistic, one might reasonably be permitted to yawn.

Clearly examples abound and they are almost too tedious to be listed. Everyone knows how Lennon’s off-hand remark suggesting that The Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” led to album burnings by the Christian Right. Equally, the absurd manoeuvres of the Parental Music Resource Center, a US Christian lobby group in the 1980s, underlined the apparent ‘conflict’ between Christianity and Rock/Metal’s ambitions. They portrayed rock and metal acts as a threat to the young and to Christian values, leading to Tipper Gore’s (Al Gore’s other half) notorious list of 15 ‘acts’ categorized (bizarrely) as ‘Porn Rock’. Acts on this list included Madonna, Mercyful Fate, W.A.S.P and, I’m not making this up, Cyndi Lauper. To the joy of bands and record companies alike, record sales rocketed, especially as the PMRC was buying LPs specifically so it could burn them. If the PMRC was essentially a group of absurd ‘Washington Moms’ backed up by their politician husbands one of the key effects of their campaigning is the existence of parental advisory labels on ‘offensive’ records. Rock & roll lovers – instinctively wishing to side with the outsider, the rebel and the revolutionary – have got an awful lot of evidence to show that Christianity is the religious face of ‘The Man’ who wants to stifle our human spirit, creativity and desire to be free.

The treatment of Pussy Riot is just one symptom of a deeper malaise demonstrated over and over again: that Christianity is the enemy of all right-thinking people. Consider, for example, the famously embarrassing encounter in 1979 between Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark and two members of Monty Python over the blasphemous content of The Life of Brian. The very worst of the matter was that the self-styled “defenders of Christianity” hadn’t even bothered to see the film; watching their feeble attempts to prove the innate nastiness of the film only gets worse with each viewing. Equally there were protests about Jerry Springer the Musical, although they emerged less from the bosom of the National Church, but from a marginal, if noisy pressure group called Christian Voice. Others will cite Church responses to the caricatures of Muhammed published in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten as examples of its antipathy to free speech. The then Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Revd. Richard Harries, said that newspapers that decided not to publish the cartoons had acted wisely. He told The Sunday Times: ‘Freedom of speech is fundamental to our society, and all religions need to be open to criticism, but this freedom needs to be exercised responsibly with a sensitivity to cultural differences’.

I’ve spent a huge part of my life involved in three different things: firstly, listened to and loving rock music, often of an extreme and brain-curdling nature; secondly, being a Christian disciple and then a vicar and finally...

...The full version of this article is available in Point Close All Quotes: A Quietus Music Anthology. Buy it now in the Amazon Kindle store.

John Calvert
Aug 17, 2012 8:48pm

Is there a music site in existence that would think to publish this? You gotta love the Quietus. Also, as a surviver of Northern Ireland's theocratic hellscape, it's nice to have my..uh faith..restored in Christian folk.

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c.r.
Aug 18, 2012 4:11am

The Orthodox Church's general attack on gay rights is also extreme.

I'd suggest that all this has to be read against the backdrop of Christianity as a living thing being closed down by the Party throughout the cold war, and then coming back in this graceless ersatz form after the fall of Communism (You know like the plastic aristocracy in 19th century France?), where 'Christianity' just means 'not gay', 'not Muslim', 'not Jewish', with an extremity to match the SUVs, anorexia and fast food of the free market.

It doesn't look like Russian Christianity is going to produce another Mikhail Bakhtin any time soon.

Bit of a heavy comment this, but the more you find out about the events leading up to this, the heavier it gets.

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keith serle
Aug 18, 2012 6:14am

Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark had seen 'The Life of Brian' before the debate. They didn't see the central message of the film as being the one that Palin and Cleese say they were making but that's the beauty of human beings - we all see and hear different things in music, art and philosophy.

I don't know enough about the Pussy Riot case to comment deeply on it but I do find it odd that this particular case of state bullying has grabbed the bloggersphere more than the countless other daily acts of suppression that are going on in Russia and many other countries.

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Mark
Aug 18, 2012 7:13am

Agree with Rachel, and support Pussy Riot in their protest against enculturated religion. Where are the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England? Why aren't they protesting loudly about this verdict from their palaces - or perhaps they are part of the problem and not the solution.

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John Doran
Aug 18, 2012 8:39am

In reply to keith serle:

Oh come on Keith... you literally have no idea why bloggers have picked up on this story of a lesbian punk band who play guerilla gigs in State Cathedrals during mass while wearing brightly coloured balaclavas? Perhaps if you tried a little less hard to be withering and concentrated more on the fact that attention being focussed on Putin being a good thing and not on whether you think this meets your 'seriousness' requirements, you'd see the full picture.

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Horacio
Aug 18, 2012 1:12pm

IN Dostoyevski's 'The Brothers Karamazov', the father Karamazov warns that "If God is dead, then all things are permissible". Later S. Zizek would remind us, quoting Lacan, that "if God doesn't exist, then nothing at all is permitted any longer. Neurotics prove that to us everyday". Putin and the Russian govt. repressive practices proved that to us as wel

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keith serle
Aug 18, 2012 4:38pm

In reply to John Doran:

Yes John, I'm fully that it's a lot more fun and cool to wear a "Free Pussy Riot" t-shirt than "Free Alexi Shovanov" T-shirt. I guess I shouldn't have said "odd" and maybe said "typical". I'm not saying protest has to be serious - I think protest against people like Putin needs to be in all forms. It just seems that in this case we have a cause celeb that lets a lot of people seem all hot and bothered and then when the novelty wears off they move along. Putin is very shrewd in his viciousness and is fully aware that all these musicians and bloggers from other countries will soon move onto other things. "Free Tibet" anyone?

Anyways, it was an interesting piece by the Rev and that's why I like the magazine - The Quietus reminds me a lot of way the NME used to cover Music, Art, Film and Society back in the 80s - always with a nod towards the common link - music. Hope you don't hate that comparison it is meant as a complement and at least you don't have Morrisey featured on the cover every second week.

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Aug 19, 2012 11:27am

here here, but it should really be of no surprise that the church aligns with the state on any occasion. emperor constantine converted the church from being for the people to being for the power. You get a few renegade priests and a few instances when this is not the case, but that's rare. whats new blue...

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John Doran
Aug 19, 2012 5:59pm

In reply to keith serle:

No, I take that as a compliment. We are supposed to be (a little bit) like that. Thanks.

I think it's a shame if people get het up about Pussy Riot and then move on to the next cause celebre as you call it but that isn't the band's fault and certainly not reason enough for people like us not to write about it.

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Bryan Ferry Across The Mersey
Aug 20, 2012 10:04am

The fact that they have been convicted of charges trumped up by political elites has been consistently forgotten or ignored.

Technically, the band broke no Russian law by playing in the church. When they did so, 5 girls entered the church, without masks. After starting to play they were simply asked to desist and leave by the church's security, which they duly obliged.

Had the security wished, they could have detained the band for arrest; they did not. A week later 3 of the girls were arrested based on the CCTV footage because of the political furore the video had caused; despite knowing the identities of the other 2 memebers, the Russian authorities have not saught to detain them.

Since they broke no specific law regards public performance, a broad interepretation of hooligansim and incitement to religious hatred have been used for political ends. This is also not the first time Putin has silenced political activists in this way.

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Apop
Aug 20, 2012 8:06pm

Complete rubbish, all of it... the website, the article, the comments (from both sides as well!), rubbish. You know why, i don't have to explain.

Sorry, having a bit of fun with Gavin.

Great article Rev Mann, I'd attend your church any day. How about a book on the subject? The Church, any church for that matter, needs to hear more from the likes of you. It's always been a bit of a head scratcher for me that Christians forget the LARGEST SINGLE THEME running throughout the New Testament, love. Now I'm no tree-huggin' hippie who loves everyone, but I do think everyone deserves respect to begin with (tho they can certainly lose it). Funny how that gets lost in the religious right.

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David
Aug 24, 2012 5:58am

Here's a related message:
‘Talking Pussy Riot Jail Sentence’ is Michel Montecrossa’s New-Topical-Song in honor of the Pussy Riot ladies, their freedom love, their art and humanity which is not only good for Russia but for the people of the whole world.
Video Link: http://vimeo.com/47962235
Michel Montecrossa says about ‘Talking Pussy Riot Jail Sentence’:
“I wrote this song to honor the Pussy Riot ladies for their freedom love, their art and humanity. They give hope to us – the people of the world – that a time is near when the people will take care of the need of the people, when love will rule and not power crazed politos and their soulless state machineries.
The Orthodox Church was right when she expressed forgiveness and Mr. Putin will be right when he wakes up and sets Pussy Riot free.”

Song Lyrics
Talking Pussy Riot Jail Sentence
New Topical Song about Pussy Riot of Art & Humanity

The Orthodox Church has forgiven
the Pussy Riot ladies.
Now it’s time for Putin to do just the same.
Pussy Riot sang from the heart of free people.
Pussy Riot sang in a church for free people.
I’m a-singin’ about the Pussy Riot jail sentence.
Pussy Riot didn’t sing in favor of Vladimir Putin.
He’s the strong man and put them in jail for two years.
Come on, Mr. Putin! That’s not the way of a strong man.
Pussy Riot are the people and they are to be honored
for showin’ they are free people, showing their freedom.
Set them free and understand: they are Russia,
the free, the young and loveable Russia
and not the dark Russia of the dangerous old.
Pussy Riot are the people of the future
and the future is young and rich with love
and with laughter.
The Orthodox Church has forgiven
the Pussy Riot ladies.
Now it’s time for Putin to do just the same.
Pussy Riot sang from the heart of free people.
Pussy Riot sang in a church for free people.
Pussy Riot says: “We are more free than the one
who sentenced us!”

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Sep 10, 2012 3:07pm

Jesus went into the temple and blew a fuse
Upset some tables and upset some jews,
Next day the temple was nice and quiet
Till Jesus came back with Pussy Riot

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Sep 26, 2012 10:00pm

I guess the problem is, that worldly music developed through christian music. I mean singing through individual human roles in music has been forbidden outside of the church, before the first operas developped from there

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