Sunday, July 12, 2009

Green Day on a Sunday

It's not Dylan on a Sunday, but I found myself listening to Green Day's new cd, 21st Century Breakdown, on a plane from Seattle to Chicago today. I like it. And there's a big piece of me that says I shouldn't. I like the punk beat and the guitars. Just do. And I like that the vocals are melodic and full of great hooks. Whatever they're singing about must be fun.

But its not fun, not really. It's sad and violent and full of anger. And so a big part of me says I shouldn't like that. But I kinda do, and for some of the same reasons I like the missional church literature. I know, what do Green Day and Douglas John Hall have in common?

Both are railing against Christendom. Green Day is music from below (where the Magnificat comes from). It's the music of the food stamps generation, buried beneath the massive layers of Western society. There's no making peace here. Making peace with the powers that be is a choice for death. In Green Day's case, refusing to go along, naming the disease of it all, dressing it all in death and rage, is the only way to live.

What is striking to me about Green Day is not so much the language of violence and protest, or even the obvious slams on religion and church, but the way sacred language is turned on its head. The words of redemption appear in their lyrics more than most artists I listen to. And I think that someone ought to sing the hallelujah in this world precisely the way they do, to keep church folk from singing it too easily.

I don't want to live many Sundays in their world, but today I'm glad I did.

I can't see a thing in the video
I can't hear a sound on the radio
in stereo in the static age

Hey, hey it's the static age
This is how the west was won
Hey, hey it's the static age millennium

All I want to know is a god damned thing
Not what's in the medicine
All I want to do is I want to breathe, batteries are not included
What's the latest way that a man can die?
Screaming hallelujah?
Singing out "the dawn's early light"

The silence of the rotten,forgotten
Screaming at you

I can't see a thing in the video
I can't hear a sound on the radio
in stereo in the static age

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