GALATIANS 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…
For reasons that will become apparent in a moment, I just came across a semi-obscure Seattle* band calling itself God’s Favorite Beefcake (according to Wikipedia: “a term denoting the use of nude or semi-nude male bodies”). *(Many have termed Seattle the ‘least-churched city in America’, though others still vie for that title.)
GFB’s catalog includes titles such as ‘Burn’, ‘House on Fire’, ‘One-Eyed Jesus’ (a blasphemous re-application of a slang term for the male anatomy) and ‘Luv Canal’. Can you detect a theme yet? Other tunes include ‘Human Skin Boots’ (the Nazis made lampshades out of human skin; Satan symbolically ‘bruised the heel’ of Christ, skin-for-skin; see Job 2:4; God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins, etc.), and ‘The Horror’ (see Jeremiah 49:16, as well as Kurtz’ dying words, in ‘Apocalypse Now’, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ — all the same idea).
Other Satanically-inspired tunes include ‘The Witch in the Woods‘ and ‘Daughter ov God’ (a gender-bending twist of the Son of God), not to mention the explicitly Bible-referencing title, ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’. Here’s that context:
PSALM 10:3 …the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord. 4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.” 5 Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them. 6 They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.” 7 Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity. 8 They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; 9 they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net. 10 They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might. 11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
Here are the lyrics to another tune of theirs, entitled ‘Pig Skin Hat’, a term which carries other rankly sexual and dark, spiritually intricate allusions (e.g., on the milder side, football as salvation) which, in the interest of space (and taste) I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader, even as I advise that it’s best to move on. (Colors, misspellings and characters are from the original):
Satan was a good guy, but he was misunderstood
He tried to be a god but’cha knew he never could
Cause Jehovah was the ringmaster or so the bible says
But think of all the lunatics who wrote it
“God breathed” my ass!! It will never last.
Cause people aren’t as stupid as they seem
Most of em are mindless
But some of us can think
When I go to hell, etcetc
A gunman killed five people in Seattle on Wednesday — four at a cafe and another in a carjacking — before he shot himself as officers closed in after a citywide manhunt… At the cafe, Joe “Vito” Albanese, 52, was killed along with best friend and bandmate, Drew Keriakedes, 45. Both men performed with the band God’s Favorite Beefcake.
Wednesday’s shootings only raised tensions in a city that already has been reeling from a spate of gun violence. Seattle now has had 21 homicides this year — the same number as in all of 2011.
[The gunman] was described as a sometimes-troubled regular at[the] cafe… “You could just tell he was a ball of negative energy,” said cafe owner Kurt Geissel. [The gunman] could be a troublemaker, he said, but the cafe wanted to be tolerant, and continued to allow the troubled man to enter… [he] had been kicked out two or three times in recent weeks for “snapping” at people…
Sad. Very sad. Sin is real. Hell is real. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. And yet… He is not mocked. One cannot dance with the darkness and expect light. (See Psalm 115:8 and 135:18 regarding idols: “Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them!”)
Idols are not just about wooden and metal icons in a religious context.
Ideas can be idols as well.
An entire society cannot elevate ‘tolerance’ to the status of religious ultimate, obscuring the reality of, and the stark distinctions between good and evil, life and death, sin and salvation, and expect not to reap the deadly results. One cannot trust in ‘tolerance’ over Christ and be surprised when evil itself is ‘tolerated’ to the point of taking over.
Yet sin is sin. Both the victims and the perpetrator in this story share in this with the rest of us, even the most outwardly ‘pious’ among us. Here’s how a local reviewer described a recent show by GFB:
GFB had a dash of old timey punk, and wackiness… The lead singer [was] quite the character with fading hair, a straggly beard, nose ring and a really expressive face. He was bat-sh** crazy at times, hard for me to understand but I didn’t need to understand the words… his intent was obvious… The accordion player was talented and hilarious, really playing a part, very expressive and animated. I saw him later so drunk he could barely talk… One of their fans was buying them drinks, it looked liked 3 fingers of whiskey for each band member on a regular basis. By the end of the set most were ‘faced…[the lead singer] put a fork up his nose? Yes, right after he pounded the 16 penny nail in the same said nose. Then of course he swallowed a sword, how else would you end such a crazy set?
We mustn’t imagine that we are without a streak of sin and rebellion (often referred-to by it’s kinder, gentler name, ‘independence’) or that ours, however ‘mild’ by comparison, in our own eyes, is less offensive to a perfect and Holy God… that, left unpaid for (by Christ alone), it will not separate us from Him just as far and just as eternally, in hell. (It sometimes amazes me how perfectly smart folks, who can reason their way through much more complex things, and who want absolutely nothing to do with God ‘down here’ get all fuzzy-headed when it comes to this. In a vague way, they want, even expect to go to ‘heaven’. What do they think heaven is? Who do they think runs the place?)
Another lesson in this — and I’m speaking especially to anyone in the prime of life who thinks him- or her-self too busy to get serious about Christ — is that we cannot assume that we can ‘take that course’ later. The fellows from this band who were shot dead while sipping their lattes were in the early years of middle age. Then, ‘ka-pow’. There may not be a later for some of us. And even if there is, turning to God later in life may not be possible if we’ve gotten into the habit of rebuffing God’s offer of salvation through His Son, Jesus. Doing so can inexorably lead to our hearts becoming calloused… our eyes dimmed and ears dulled.
I describe this relatively obscure story in part because the same themes are reflected in the headline-grabbing one at the other ‘corner’ of the country — the naked, grisly-violent, male-on-male cannibal episode down in Florida over Memorial Day weekend.
(Ever wonder why a demonically possessed person — and make no mistake, if he wasn’t then the term is devoid of meaning — would eat the face of another, starting with the eyes, and not, say, the calf or bicep? It’s a serious question. I would conjecture that, because Satan hates God so much, any of his minions desire to damage the aspects of a man, or a woman, which make us most unique among created beings, i.e., those things most reminiscent of Him in whose image we are all made. Unable to bite and disfigure the face of God directly, Satan’s minions go after the next best thing.)
Reviewing the comment threads on those stories, it was startling to see how many were eager to clarify that the drug in question was probably not ‘real’ LSD (about which some waxed lyrical, indicating that it was helpful and good) but a ‘bad’ knock-off called ‘bath salts’ — a term that seems mild, even soothing, in comparison to the bad old term PCP, which is what was most likely involved.
As if the chemicals themselves were at fault.
As if other chemicals could bring salvation from sin and death.
Something else that was glossed over in that story was its proximity to something called ‘Urban Beach Week’, (a.k.a., ‘Black Beach Week’, the link to which I refuse to post and advise men especially to avoid seeking out.) It’s described as “a hip-hop festival held in Miami’s South Beach over the Memorial Day weekend since 2001… known as ‘the most dangerous weekend in South Beach’ by the majority of locals.”
One website promoting the event notes:
No Urban Beach is not Canceled and Can Never Be Canceled. You can’t stop Tax Paying American from Traveling where the hell they want for their vacation!!! Don’t listen to the Rumors!!! What you can find at the event: Hot Women, Hot Cars, Hot Bike[s], Extreme Night life, A-list celebrity [sic], Hot college coed[s]. This is a must attend event for any one. [sic]
Where the hell, indeed… still open to receive unrepentant sinners… still trying to drown out the still, small voice of God and the fact of His sure and still-open sacrificial offer to cancel the sin debt of any who would listen and turn.
The larger point? One cannot open up a city to sin in just a few dimensions (e.g., sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll) and think it will stop neatly there. All the others (murder, adultery, theft, etc.) will come along for the ride. It’s a package deal. Same thing applies to an individual… or a nation. Is it too late to pray for ours to turn? The hour is very late, yet what is impossible with man is possible with God…
UPDATE: CBS report with video: “gunman… mentally ill”. Well, yeah. But, just like the drug explanations in the Miami crime, and trite grain-of-truth, grain-of-falsehood excuse of “too many guns”, the real question remains un-asked: What lies behind those things? What causes people to use drugs and guns in an inappropriate manner? What causes people to think that either one can truly save them from evil? Nobody asks the deeper questions.
In the Bible, the mentally ill are instantly and miraculously cured by Jesus, and it’s called casting out demons. In the Bible, the sword-swinging Peter is roundly rebuked. The only thing truly surprising here: that so many people are so surprised. The world is fallen. The only reason this doesn’t break out on every street corner every day due to the grace of God.
The wages of sin really are death. What part of that is so hard to understand? Without Jesus, we’re all headed for death (both physical and spiritual) because we’re all sinners. The Bible never says when or how said death will occur. It just gives the warning. We’d do well to heed it. There is no excuse for being surprised.