Posts Tagged With: Jim Morrison

Idolatrous with a Chance of Snow

Cold and Snowy on the Western Front

There is an undeniable winter chill in the air of Western civilization.

Summer was months ago...

Summer was months ago…

Any and all of our cherished institutions of culture are either crumbling, or just about reaching rock-bottom. For instance, how exactly does a society continue building itself, improving itself, bettering itself while half the men remain children until 43 years of age?

But that’s just one easy example. Everyone can cite 101 major problems with Western society. The point is to seek a diagnosis for what went wrong, and so where we must look to fix things. There is always hope for repentance.

Idolatry is the root of all evil (including the love of money). As my professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis, Dr. J. Richard Middleton observed, “The dominant Western world view has rejected the authority of God or gods and has affirmed the self-norming autonomy of humankind.” We are not, however, atheists as a whole. Middleton continues “Yet in spite of its humanistic and secular essence, Western culture has, in fact, served other gods, many of them-good, created things which we have idolatrously absolutized and religiously pursued in the hope of ultimate fulfillment.”[1]

That last clause gives the accurate diagnosis. We are rabid idolaters as a way of life. We were made with the deep hunger for fulfillment, but instead of finding it in the infinitely satisfying Creator, we seek it in the shallow mud puddles of creation. This is not to say creation is bad, or evil in some way, but to absolutize any created thing as a god, and to expect the deepest longings of our hearts to be met by it – this is where we have lost ourselves in a sea of shame and sin. As John Calvin famously said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols,” and so by the nature of the heart, we live out our idolatry in infinite ways.

Postmodern Orthodoxy is to be Blasphemed, For the Love of God

If idolatry is our diagnosis, then postmodernism is our current, ultra-destructive cultural orthodoxy. Romans 1:22-25 is the summary of both:

Professing to be wise, they became fools,and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . . (NKJV)

In other words, humankind says to itself, “I am wise. I am powerful. I am able to perform all my will. I AM. (And God is no longer any but I.)”

The result being our idolatry, the worship of four-footed things like lizards (“I am the Lizard King, I can do anything” said the 27-year-old found dead in a copper bathtub Jim Morrison), and the loss of sanity, so to speak: sexual anarchy and all the resultant murder, deception, lovelessness, hatred of parents, despising of proper authority, war, genocide, suicide, etc.

All of this growing out of our exchanging of the truth of God for the lie. That is,

The Lie

that creation is a god, and we are the pinnacle of him/it. This idolatry on steroids is translated, when carried to its logical end, into a worship of human ingenuity, technological progress, and an ever-expanding market economy. Look around, and notice the blind crusade on which we have embarked. In our cultural mind, there is no truth but the empowerment of the human community to become more godlike. It has become utterly unthinkable that there could be a barrier, a reason to not carry out some new theory of technology.

But is there any reason to question the structure we are building? Where are we going? Will this tower reach into heaven when we are finished? Shall we be as gods? Are we not already? Let us celebrate us. Hallelu-Us!

Our selves, who art on earth, hallowed be Our name.

Our kingdom come, through ingenuity, technological prowess, and economic genius,

Our will be done, on earth both now and forever, and soon in all the heavens (when we travel there inevitably),

We give us this day our daily bread, genetically modified to enhance Our lives and powers,

And We forgive us our sins, against Ourselves only they are,

Just as We forgive those who deserve it and earn a grovelling place at the table,

And let Us avoid the temptation to lay down the implements of war and industry

But deliver Us from evil… that demon of the mind

For Ours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

This is our every day fuel in the tank. Who do we think we are? God. What will become of us? Without a change of thinking away from this postmodern heresy, only death awaits.

There will be no tower to the heavens. There will be no united humankind around the altar of our beauty and technology. There will be no paradise on earth apart from every knee bowed to Jesus Christ the King. What a joy it is that He saves a people out of this rotting, fraudulent kingdom of men.

I’ve been fed this orthodoxy from the day of my birth. I was predestined by the Enlightenment to eat, sleep, and breath it. But I don’t buy it. Ready to become a blasphemer with me?

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

[1] Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision (Downer’s Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1984), 131.

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

King Christ and The Lizard King – Interpreting the Artistic Power of The Doors pt2

After my first post about The Doors, I received some interesting feedback from an intelligent, well-educated Christian who said she would not have “wasted the ink” writing about Jim Morrison in light of his wickedness. This was no hipster kiddie shooting off her mouth – this lady was there in the late 60’s and followed The Doors in person. I respect her feelings and viewpoint, yet I wonder if as Christians we were to avoid mention or interpretation of people based on their lifestyles, how would we ever speak biblical truth into a lost and dying world? We must speak with clarity and conviction about sin, never making peace with the world, but we also must address the culture in a way that glorifies Christ as King and Sovereign… and how shall we do that if we do not understand and interpret what the culture is doing?

Jim Morrison and The Doors are a key icon of the cultural revolution in the west which has taken place over the past 50+ years. The allure of their artistic power captured the world from 1967-1971, but has also captured millions and millions of young people in each generation since then. Because I love Jesus more than anything, and because He commands me to make disciples of all the nations, I therefore live to make Him known – and in the world of the arts, Jesus is unfortunately quite unknown, not-praised, not-loved and cherished and obeyed and adored as He should be. Think of the irony and craziness! The KING of the universe, the great and greatest artist of them all, and the western world has largely dismissed Him as irrelevant, even a nuisance who gets in the way of true artistic freedom. Christians, hear me – we must be able to interpret the arts and speak biblical truth into this lost community of our neighbors.

Face to Face with Hijacked Beauty

How do we articulate the interpretation of ungodly beauty – or is any beauty ungodly?

We cannot tell people that there is no talent or lovliness in the works of The Doors, (or, for that matter, Jackson Pollack, Led Zepplin, or 1,000 other artists who didn’t love Christ): that would be absurd and would belie the God-given beauty detectors with which we were all born.

People who know and appreciate art and who know good music will laugh us off if we do not have a coherent, biblical answer to these questions. If we believe that the Bible is the best lens through which to interpret our cosmos, then we should fearlessly acknowledge the beauties in the arts.

Yet the question remains for me: if a work of art was not meant to glorify God (in the mind and heart of the artist), is it then forbidden to Christians? The Bible does not give us a clear prescriptive ideal in how to walk this out – we are instead bound by biblical principals of wisdom, love, holiness, etc.

Christ is King, and none other

In the final analysis of the matter, there are far too many people who go beyond recognizing the talents of the Lizard King and place a dead poet in the place of Christ Jesus. Jim Morrison contributed very little to the building up of western civilization, and did much to tear it down in his youthful ignorance. If he died without trusting Christ Jesus, which sadly is most likely the case, then his art will be swallowed up in judgment – and even old Jim will bow to Jesus on that final Day, confessing that all beauty is Copyright Jesus Christ, circa eternity.

For Christians, we acknowledge truly alluring beauties despite their fountain. We also glory in the ultimate reality that all good and all art is breathed into life by that First Mover and Cause, the Lord and King of the Cosmos, Jesus…

So if your conscience allows, go and listen to “Indian Summer”* by The Doors, and give thanks to God who graces even dark people with bright beauties.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

*My wife and I danced to this song at our wedding

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Beauty and Darkness Kiss – Interpreting the Artistic Power of The Doors pt1

Let’s interpret the beauty in the art of The Doors. Much of the artistic expression in this world grieves me because it is dead even while it lives, so to speak… disoriented and misshapen. In my opinion, the epitome of what I would call “stillborn glory;” art which is brilliant yet dead – is the poetry and music of The Doors. What I mean is that when an artist expresses himself so as to exalt anything as more valuable in itself than the Creator, the artist becomes blind and spiritually ugly, yet ironically their art can and often does still point us to the glory of God.

In this case, I know there are many who would not think much of The Doors – whether musically or aesthetically, the art would seem odd, dissonant, and jarring. Even if you would consider it to be average or nothing special, there are many who see it differently. I would point you to the numerous Doors fanatics out there still today, 41 years after the end of Jim Morrison’s life – they are serious fanatics many times. I am regularly disturbed and grieved by the exaltation of Morrison, as I have come across people who compare him to Jesus, when in fact the two could not be more different. Obviously there is something here which is powerfully attractive. The depth of thought and care which went into Morrison’s writing and expression is in itself impressive, and remarkably unusual. From a young age he read esoteric literature and developed his own interpretation of the cosmos, one which became magnified to truly worldwide, generation-spanning proportions.

This is worth understanding.

If we might set aside momentarily the manifestations of spiritual darkness which clung to the lives of Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore, we will hear a stunningly passionate musical art which for me has been at times quite moving. If you have read my other posts at all, you will know that I am easily fascinated, easily impressed, and profoundly moved by beauty and wonder.

Watch this video – first part is a poem written by Jim Morrison hearkening back to the blues bands he would watch live while living in Alexandria, Virginia in his late teens. The second part is one of the band’s most famous songs – performed in Copenhagen in 1968 on a sound stage without an audience, (an important part of this performance, since without an audience Morrison was much more focused on the music itself, in my opinion.)

I picked this performance because you can plainly see the raw talent and effort of the artists. In other words, here is a dramatic display of one of the 20th century’s most influential acts… and I ask, why does this music endure and profoundly impact so many people? No simple answers now – think about this! It is not simply that people are sinners and The Doors were sinful so therefore people find a haven for their sinful desires. Equally, it is not true that these were good men with good intentions, and that we are drawn to be moral and generous by listening. There is something more which happens to us as we behold the power of art, something which for us Christians is crucial to understand and communicate to our culture. Let’s interpret the cosmic significance of beauty found amongst the ashes. Please do share any thoughts you have… and

Thanks for thinking,

-Justin

P.S. In a future conclusion to this post on The Doors, I will offer a clear biblical interpretation and answers to the questions I attempt to raise here. I believe that through the biblical worldview we can redeem and celebrate the God-honoring aspects of those works which in themselves did not intend to be God-honoring.

Yours [O God] is the day, Yours also is the night... Ps. 74:16a

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grateful for the Art of Whitney Houston

1963-2012

As a child of the late 80’s and early 90’s, I inevitably grew up listening to the peerless voice of Whitney Houston being played in my home, Walkman, and at any given supermarket around Buffalo. Before I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to dance with somebody who loved me. I believe it is safe to say there are very few if any other recorded voices in history which were as marvelous as Whitney’s.

When I consider the works of a particular artist, especially regarding musical arts, originality and uniqueness are just about at the top of my list of criterion for how I judge quality. In this sense, Whitney did not invent R+B or soul music, but she was queen of the mountain in her class, doing it better than the others. I did love her style, and in memory of her life and career, give thanks to God for the lovely gifts He gives to the society of men.

It is singers and artists like Whitney who set the bar so high that I am made to feel like I am being cheated by the many wannabes out there pretending to have talent. Maybe that’s why my iPod does not have an extremely wide variety of artists…

Interpretation of her life and death

The media will inevitably molest the last fiber out of her death, prodding and poking into the deepest speculations of her psychology and downfall. I, on the other hand, will simply recognize that Whitney’s life and death illustrates biblical truth on a public, spectacle-laden level.

1) She was given a gift which brought her intense fame and success – a gift which was meant to awaken a worshipful thankfulness to God from her and from us the audience. I’m not saying her music didn’t do that, but sadly her lifestyle seems to have more so followed the Romans 1 darkening of the heart rather than the Psalm 107 enlightening of gratitude.

2) She was a mortal, a sinner like anyone else, and needed the same redemption as the lowest, most obscure peasant in India. No amount of talent or fame can lift a person above their need for the saving atonement for sin which Jesus accomplished at His cross, and in His resurrection from the dead. In this I do not judge whether or not Whitney trusted her life to Jesus at some point, receiving the forgiveness of her sins, but rather I recognize that her private life spoke of an unfulfilled longing for something more which all the money and fame did not provide to her. As C.S. Lewis said,

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

3) We can and should appreciate her art and talent, but never in a way that glorifies her, the creature, as it was all a gift and signs meant to point us to the glorious Creator – the greatest lover of music. The full meaning of music and the ecstasy we feel in listening to it is found in completing the equation: Beauty + the perception of beauty = joy and goodness unto thankfulness and worship of the Lord of the cosmos. God loves a cheerful worshiper, and He gives talents to men and women to then bring us the deepest, most satisfying joy of all; the joy of knowing and loving Him, being a vessel of mercy in the house of our Creator forever.

In coming months, I plan on delving into the art and interpretation of the cosmic meaning of another famous singer who died similarly to Whitney… my boyhood anti-hero Jim Morrison of The Doors.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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