The Other Artistic Contribution of Christianity

By Jin-yeong Yi

Inverted pentagram (black)

“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”

—John Milton, Paradise Lost

“Rebellion is the salt of the earth.”

—Joseph McCabe

Who says that good things haven’t come out of Christianity? Many artistic geniuses have utilized its symbols to yield what are widely hailed as great achievements, such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, and Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov, to name a few. But there is another, lesser known breed of art that this religion has produced: death metal and black metal. It hardly needs to be pointed out that these musical forms would never have existed if it weren’t for Christianity.

Writing in 1905, Christian philosopher and apologist G. K. Chesterton observed:

“Blasphemy is an artistic effect, because blasphemy depends upon a philosophical conviction. Blasphemy depends upon belief and is fading with it. If any one doubts this, let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor. I think his family will find him at the end of the day in a state of some exhaustion.”[1]

Writing 102 years later, atheist conservative essayist Theodore Dalrymple protested against the increasing hostility toward religion:

“The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy.”[2]

In the same year, atheist feminist and cultural critic Camille Paglia argued that “only religion can save the arts”:

“Great art can be made out of love for religion as well as rebellion against it. But a totally secularized society with contempt for religion sinks into materialism and self-absorption and gradually goes slack, without leaving an artistic legacy.”[3]

When one listens to diabolical masterpieces[4] such as Morbid Angel’s The Altars of Madness, Incantation’s Onward to Golgotha, Necrophobic’s The Nocturnal Silence, Profanatica’s Profanatitas de Domonatia, Havohej’s Dethrone the Son of God, Cryptopsy’s None So Vile, Demoncy’s Joined in Darkness, or Immolation’s Close to a World Below, and imbibes and delights in their unholy glory day after day, one is tempted to agree.

Would the world have been better off without Christianity? Maybe, maybe not. Part of the answer depends on subjective values and the other part depends on whether it is possible to travel back in time and conduct historical control experiments. Either way, I, for one, am thankful for the art that has been made in rebellion against it. Along with classical music and cathedrals, death metal and black metal are part of the legacy of the most beloved and most hated religion that the world has ever known.

Ah, ’tis verily a good age to be a blasphemer.

Notes

[1] Heretics by G. K. Chesterton

[2] “What the New Atheists Don’t See” by Theodore Dalrymple

[3] “Religion and the Arts in America” by Camille Paglia

[4] See the deathmetal.org article, “The most blasphemous devil metal,” for more recommended listening.

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In Memoriam: David Parland

By Jin-yeong Yi

The former guitarist of Necrophobic and Dark Funeral died last Tuesday. He was 42 years old. His cause of death has not been revealed, but I am guessing it was suicide, judging from Mikael Svanberg (Lord Ahriman)’s comments:

“During the last couple of weeks, I was in close contact with David. He was going through an extremely difficult time of life, whereof he contacted me to ask for my help.

“Even though the two of us had a bit of a complicated relationship over the years (much excessive in the media though), he knew that he could ALWAYS call or visit me when needed, which he also did once in a while.

“Last time I talked to him was when he called me on March 15. From what I could understand, things were going in the right direction. I also had some very good news for him, which he was very happy to hear about. What happened after that I simply can’t understand. And I cant understand WHY he didn’t call me (again).

“So close, so fucking close to get back on track, brother.

“Why?”[1]

I knew very little about Mr. Parland, except that he wrote and performed the guitar riffs on one of my favorite albums, The Nocturnal Silence. For me, he was and remains one of the greats in heavy metal, being among the most creative and inspiring guitarists I’ve ever heard. He may be gone physically, but as far as I’m concerned, his spirit remains alive and well in his work.

He goes to join the pantheon of Swedish metal legends, which includes Per Yngve Ohlin, Thomas Börje Forsberg, and Jon Nödtveidt.

You are missed, David Parland; see you on the other side of the fence.

Notes

[1] Quoted from http://www.blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=187878