Heavy Metal

The preacher was showing us how in Christ all things hold together. We see it in Saint Mark’s Gospel: Jesus is a teacher, a physician, and an exorcist; he has authority over all things, and the human good that his authority offers is such as to draw all mankind to himself.
    Theology, the preacher reminded us, is “the queen of the sciences.” To speak and think about God is where everything comes together. Science, philosophy, economics, art, politics—everything in the world has its being thanks to God, and all their various purposes have their places within God’s overarching purpose.
    Another way to look at this is to recall that Jesus is the great reconciler. All things hold together in him, in whom (it is also said) all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell. This is good news especially in our time of discord, marked by technological means of living within our own echo-chambers and not communicating with others. We divide ourselves by politics, by interest, by music. And here the preacher said the most remarkable thing.
    He said there are those who like heavy metal music, and there are those who are wrong.
    I can’t recall ever before hearing “heavy metal” and “the queen of sciences” in the same sermon.
    Talk about echo chambers. I’m not even sure what “heavy metal” is. I imagine oriental gongs of different sizes, hanging and being played, probably loudly. I doubt this is what I should be imagining.
    He said it with a smile, and while I honestly couldn’t pick out heavy metal if I heard it (nor, for that matter, could I recognize Lady Gaga if she walked into the cathedral) (I once gave communion to Bono and it greatly amused my rector that I didn’t recognize him) (this is what happens when you get your news from dead-tree print sources)—I say, while I couldn’t distinguish heavy metal from synthetic grunge, the preacher was ironically putting himself on a level with all of us. We all think, somehow, that we don’t need the people who disagree with us, that we can just write them off as wrong.
    But Jesus doesn’t do that. He holds it all together.
    Out & About. Sunday, Feb. 11, I am to teach on the final chapters of the Song of Songs, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. I will also be preaching at 8 and 10:30 a.m.
    Saturday, Feb. 17, I am to lead a Quiet Morning at the Church of St. Michael and St. George, 6345 Wydown Blvd., St. Louis. The morning begins at 8:30 a.m.; the theme is “Friendship: What We Miss and What God Offers.” I am also to preach there at the Sunday morning services: 8, 9:15, and 11:15 a.m.
    (The fine sermon mentioned above was preached by the Rev. Ryan Pollock.)


    The car in front of her suddenly stopped. She ran into it; her car was totaled. She was glad not to be hurt more than she had been—bruises, confusion, perhaps other things; I think she had been hospitalized for a bit. How did it happen? “The driver in front of me dropped her cell phone and hit her brakes.”
    I didn’t have the heart to say it, but I thought: maybe you were driving too close?
    There are things more important than parsing out fault, although that has its own importance. At least she was alive and, as far as I know, so is the other driver. Sometimes they aren’t.
    You can imagine a scene. Two people in the car, angry with each other over a matter that’s been between them all afternoon. He’s a teenager, unwilling to do something; she’s the driver; they’re going back and forth, relentlessly. The thing that’s bothering them is not a big deal, it’s the usual sort of thing that gets into families.
    And then the unexpected car in the middle of the intersection; there is no time to react, no way to avoid the crash.
    Afterwards, they are so glad to be alive. The other driver isn’t.
    You would not want your last words to someone in your family to be words of anger. But we never know: this might be our last conversation. So the Apostle writes, “Be angry, but do not sin.” He continues: “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” I take him to mean that there is a place for anger, but there is also a time to put it to bed.
    You can imagine parent and son leaving that accident with a new perspective on their disagreement. I can be angry with someone I love, but I need to be sure that person knows the love and not only the anger.
    In the meantime, may we drive carefully, courteously, and without phones.
    Out & About. This Sunday, February 4, I am teaching on the Song of Songs at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. The class is at 9:30 a.m. The following Sunday I will be preaching at the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services there.

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The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: