Self Proclaimed Apostacy

I’ll let you in on a secret, readers – you know how I wear colours and smile these days? Well, deep down, I’m still a bit of an emo kid. Today I’ve been revisiting my love of Senses Fail. I haven’t heard them for a few years, and listening to this song – the Priest and the Matador – when I’m not in a dark mood is truly strange.


It’s a hopeless case. Someone has jumped off a building and are lying there dying, people are screaming, a priest is trying to go through last rites with him and he just doesn’t want to hear any of it… He tells the priest his faith is weak, and the priest buggers off. They don’t want help. The bit that sticks out to me the most is this, though –

A man bends down and says “son, we’re gonna get through this one. Take my hand and let us pray. ”

I screamed, “please get the f**k away.”

He dies in the end.

There is a massive subculture that lives  by this music, and they aren’t the kinds of people who ignore the lyrics. The lyrics mean something to them. They lyrics are what they connect to to help them understand what is going on in their lives. It is like a Christian reading the Psalms and being amazed that God understands, except… this is an sense of complete hopelessness. The writer, and a majority of the listeners, believe that they cannot be saved. They have given up on themselves and they think that God doesn’t give a crap about them.

What do we do with this, then? There’s a whole subculture of self proclaimed apostates. Do we stay away from them? Do we smile at them and tell them that Jesus loves them whether they like it or not? What do we do?

I think we persist. I also think we engage.

A youth leader once told me that I should stop listening to the sort of music that I did. She had good reasoning. The music I listened to perpetuated my emotions. But it also provided an empathetic voice, and that was something I seemed to need more than anything else. No matter how many youth group talks I heard, they didn’t stick unless there was some empathy… some connection with my experience.

Part of our persistence must be that we engage with the ideas and emotions of this music and this culture. We don’t write it off as a stupid phase. Part of this persistence must also be to show empathy. We need to not present a completely different worldview to the one they know and tell them to abandon theirs. That will result in angry LiveJournal posts. We need to show that the Christian worldview – that is, the view that God is sovereign over everything and that the Lord and Saviour of all humanity is Jesus Christ – engages with their deep needs, with their desire to be understood… and their longing for hope.

This is just a theory, so shoot it down if you want, but I think that hope is found in this music because understanding is found in it. Someone gets what they are thinking and feeling. Well, don’t we have a high priest who empathizes with us?  Our ministry is that of reconciliation and I think that we offer hope.

Yep, Senses Fail understand how someone is feeling hopeless… But self proclaimed apostacy is nothing, because Jesus breathed hope into complete darkness, into people who everyone else thought was too screwed up to be helped. Think about the demonic in Mark. Chained to the ground, thrashing around, cutting himself on rocks… No one even knew his name. Jesus brought hope into this mans life.

I think our job is to breathe life and hope into darkness. I think that this subculture is full of powerful ideas, images and passionate people.

God has something to say to them. I think he can say it through us.


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