Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

You know what’s wrong with us Christians? We’re too reasonable and ordered and not passionate enough. We could really learn a thing or two if, like fans of heavy metal music, we’d embrace the “liberative theology of darkness.”

So says Rev Rachel Mann , the latest whackadoodle Church of England cleric to claim that the problem with Christians is that we aren’t quite worldly enough.

The priest admits that many will be “concerned” about metal lyrics praising Satan and mocking Christianity, but insists it is just a form of “play-acting”.

Well, of course they’re play-acting. It’s not like they could be serious since that would imply that Satan actually exists . And who hasn’t jokingly referred to the Bride of Christ as an “abortion”? Everyone knows that just a term of endearment. It’s all in good fun, a way to show that we can embrace the darkness.

Miss Mann, priest-in-charge of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, writes in this week’s Church Times: “Since Black Sabbath effectively created it in 1969 by using the dissonant sound of the medieval ‘Devil’s chord’, heavy metal has been cast as dumb, crass, and on, occasions satanic; music hardly fit for intelligent debate, led alone theological reflection.

“And yet, as both priest and metal musician and fan, it strikes me that the Church, especially at this agonized time, has a serious gospel lesson to learn from this darkest and heaviest music.”

Music that praises Satan and mocks Christianity has a serious gospel lesson? Counter-intuitive contrarianism like that is bound to earn Rev. Mann a regular column at

Miss Mann says that heavy metal songs, characterized by distorted guitar sounds, “intense” beats and “muscular” vocals, are “unafraid to deal with death, violence and destruction”.

Its “predominantly male and white” fans “generally like tattoos and piercings” but are “graceful, welcoming and gentle”.

At the end of the article the reporter adds this line: “In the 1990s, followers of Norway’s “black metal” scene went further by burning dozens of churches.” Yes, but surely they were graceful, gentle church arsonists.

“The music’s willingness to deal with nihilistic and, on occasion, extremely unpleasant subjects seems to offer its fans a space to accept others in a way that shames many Christians.

So the lesson is that if we Christians would embrace nihilism and songs about rape and murder and other unpleasant subjects we could be as tolerant as heavy metal fans? Do you think heavy metal fans are accepting of others who, say, think heavy metal music is nihilistic trash? Yeah, probably not.

“Metal’s refusal to repress the bleak and violent truths of human nature liberates its fans to be more relaxed and fun people”.

She goes on to claim that “metal has no fear of human darkness” and while some Christians are similarly unafraid, “many are yet to discover its potential as a place of integration”.

I remember hearing a guy claim , “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Wasn’t it the lead singer of Slayer?

Perhaps I’m just too “reasonable and ordered” but I tend to think what the world needs is more Jesus Christ and less Ozzy Osbourne.

(Via: Ian Narbeth)

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles