At the beginning of 2021, I’ve taken to actually using the full potential of my living space. All of these pieces of entertainment gear, which have previously been scattered and disused in my last apartment, are now together, connected, and usable.
As such, I’ve started pulling old audio tapes from the mothballs. For a time between junior high and college, I was an avid collector and trader of tapes before I had the capital to get into CDs. What is striking, however, is just how many of these tapes were Christian rock and metal.
Like, an ungodly high percentage.
I’m not exactly sure if I want to pop in these tapes and give them one more spin, mostly out of fear that the earworms they contain will inspire me to grow out my mullet and believe in Jesus again (I’m joking, of course). I’m afraid that, somehow, they’ll pull my heartstrings and make me regress to a time when all I had to worry about was witnessing to other white kids and convincing the squares that my heavy metal hair had nothing to do with my ability to worship Christ — even though they couldn’t give a damn about my hair or what I had to say about anything (oh, the tiny little battles waged inside our naïve little minds…).
Really, this getup was more like clown makeup. I’d play this Christian metal for my non-religious friends and they’d snicker and laugh because the only thing special about it was that it was a stylistic carbon-copy of every top-tier secular band but with different lyrics. “Hah! This sounds like Judas Priest! Why should I listen to this when I could just listen to Judas Priest?” My limp answer was always, “Because this rock is for the Rock! It’s sanctified!“
That separate-but-equal-but-for-religion argument never, ever won any souls who weren’t already up for grabs.
I look upon this collection now as more of a time capsule of those years and, honestly, I feel mildly shameful of what it says about me. It’s evidence of a time when I was more interested in broadcasting the image of being hardcore about Jesus, about putting up the radical front for God, about going out into the world and shining the light of the Holy Spirit into all the dark corners looking for demons…and being the asshole for it. It had less to do with actually doing good works, and more to do with telling people off.
Very few people who knew me then bothered to keep in touch with me later.
Thankfully, I’ve grown into someone who, hopefully, has the ability to keep mum and respect other points of view (as long as they’re nontoxic). I may have started my life in advertising, in my personal, religious, and even scholastic life (mass media was my college major). But after that major change of heart in my young adult years, when I finally became honest about who I was and where I fit, I just couldn’t take on any labels, symbols, or ideologies that mandated that I propagate them forward with my own energy. I won’t carry the flag for a cause that won’t carry me. This peacock shaved off his plumage.
Eventually The Fool walks forward through the tarot’s Major Arcana and arrives at The World — and it’s a big world out there. I just don’t know if I want to play back these tapes to remind me of the little world I come from.