He said to the rich, “give your goods to the poor.” So they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.” – Woody Guthrie
A particularly inebriated conversation with the frontman for Trashboat and the Ambush in DC after an Apes show left me with few specific memories. I hold onto the bits and pieces I recall lovingly, including a motto that struck me enough to be remembered through the fog of excitement: Mr. Trashboat told me there’s no room for nuance in punk. I found this to be brilliant. Taking his saying to heart, I embarked on a journey to track Pat the Bunny down in Tucson, Arizona. When I finally found him, I asked how important it was that it was a 12 gauge shotgun that I should use to kill god, as mine was 16 gauge. He gave a blank stare and sadly stated “Neither could do the job, they’d bounce right off me.”
When we write from the heart of rebellion and passion there’s bound to be exaggerations and hyperbole. Art can and should be gleaned for meaning outside of authorial intent and be looked at with more individual interpretation. When one creates art, they contend with the fact that anyone may find their own value out of the works. Some will fail to grasp the full intent and meaning behind the work, and that’s fine. Simplifications are useful and snappy, and not even necessarily wrong. However, when one creates political art, this principle becomes impactful. A rallying cry is a helpful protest tool. Fuck the church. A rallying cry in substitute of a thought out concept or policy however, is an empty statement that betrays the point of advocating for change. When one reads fuck the church, the understanding is meant to be fuck authority and power. Kill your masters. Without this subtext, this becomes a condemnation of religion itself, a cry to remove worship. Any attempt to remove religion from individuals who desire to be included is authoritarian. Always in rebellion should the target be those in power over others.
When I cry out fuck the church, I take aim upon the Vatican. An institution which preys upon our most vulnerable community members. Having faith towards higher powers and desiring a space in order to express this faith is nobody’s fucking business but your own. It’s worthy of respect on the premise of individual freedom, a point in which all rebels should be willing to accept so long as such expression does not infringe upon others. No religion necessarily dictates domination. Nationalism is not the only interpretation of any theology, and it’s reductive to your fellow man to claim otherwise. Whether we want to talk Islamic representation in leftist politics, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Judaism, Jacob Israël de Haan, or Christianity, goddamn Pete Seeger, Progressive history across the globe is dotted with faithful people.
Our values may never line up as identical. But they’re surely similar enough to hand out soup together.