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Suffering Redeemed in Music and in Jesus

But it is not enough that a rock musician becomes suffering. He could scream out of his window and achieve the same effect. It must be redemptive. Suffering sung is suffering that has been separated from the singer’s life and given a new life as an object apart from him and the turmoil with which he lives it. As song, the ugly, lonely, unbearable fact of suffering is made beautiful, bearable, and a gift for all who hear it. It dies as a presently-lived heartache and rises to new life as an aesthetic object — a heartache observable, enjoyable, saved. And may we not say that the greater the pain, the greater the possibility for an incredible song? Is this not a law of songwriting — the hotter the longing, the deeper the satisfaction with which we hear the unbearable made bearable, and the sorrow made sweet? But this too is a christological principle — the Church calls the sin of mankind a “happy fault” because it “won for us so great a redeemer.” Where sin abounds, grace abounds the more. Christ’s redemption is all the more glorious for our misery.

To put all this in summary: The songwriter imitates on an aesthetic level what Christ achieves on the level of reality. He becomes the suffering he sings, and in doing so kills his suffering as suffering, resurrecting it as song, in a new birth which can be participated in by his audience. So its not entirely surprising to me that an aesthetically christological craft finds it home in the images of a really christological Church. Whether they’ll make the leap from the aesthetic to the religious — from momentary redemption to eternal redemption — is really up to them.

—from the blog post Towards a Theology of Indie Rock by Marc Barnes whose blog is called Bad Catholic


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