Hello, I'm Daniel!
I teach elementary school in Northern Colorado. When not spending my time with 5 year olds, I enjoy exploring the mountains and finding spiritual community outside of the church. I have been theologically shaped to a greater degree than I’m probably even aware of by listening to decades of heavy metal music. I’m as surprised by all of this as you are.
You can find me on Twitter @dcsimz
About the Blog...
Fracture and Failure is an attempt to trace out what it might mean for theology to provide a means of immersing ourselves in the complexities and contradictions of life, rather than sealing ourselves off from them. This blog seeks to explore the ways in which apophatic thought, speech, and action might begin to discover God precisely where things begin to breakdown and our limitations stare us full in the face. Traditional and subversive theological and philosophical texts, literature, music, the resources of recovery, and pop culture are all likely to make an appearance here.
Slowly but surely my last two posts on Nietzsche’s The Antichrist have been spiraling inwards to the heart of the matter: if we’re talking about Nietzche’s Antichrist, who is his Christ?
Over against Behemoth’s The Satanist, which ended up creating an all-too-typical devil who simply celebrates domination, resentment, and oppression, there are other devils abroad in the realm, some of whom dance to a noticeably different beat. Sweden’s Ghost gives us one of these in their 2015 album Meliora.
Just when we think we’ve got him nailed down, Nietzsche has a tendency to surprise us. Take his thoughts on the gods. Though we might expect him to tell us otherwise, he declares that not all of them are bad. There are good goods, gods that do what they’re supposed to do, that enable their devotees to live well with the joys and sorrows of life. Why doesn’t the Christian God do this? What’s different about this divinity? The Antichrist offers an unnerving answer.
We saw in The Satanist, Behemoth’s 2014 album, that the Devil was the one who had been wounded, cast down, and whose rule and authority had been stripped away. The premier episode of Black Mirror’s most recent season offers a lens through which to better understand what’s at stake here. It’s a story as old as creation itself, that of masculinity gone awry.
If you’d asked my high school self if I’d ever end up being a fan of Frederich Nietzsche, my first response would’ve been, “Who?”, followed by my fearfully running away to bury my head in some apologetics book. Over the years, though, I’ve come to love Nietzsche, his work, and his passion.
Behemoth’s The Satanist is a disturbing, and at times revolting, record, but it’s also musically and theologically riveting. It also happens to be one of the top ten metal albums released. Ever.
So, what can we learn from it?
Metal music is all about the devil, isn’t it? What are we to do with that? Run shrieking to the hills in horror? Denounce it from our pulpits? Actually listen to it?
What if it might actually serve as a source of fruitful theological stimulation and inspiration?
If life with God is not, ultimately, about virtue, what does that leave us with? Golgotha and Easter offer one possible way forward, one without the securities of easy or pat answers, but, ultimately, one we can learn to live with, amidst the ambiguities of life on the ground.
There seems to be a lot of talk about virtue these days. Stacks of books have been written extolling it's benefits, claiming that a recovery of virtue is just what is needed to get our church and culture back on track. But is virtue and talk of virtue a good thing? Is it even a Christian thing?
Often, we're told that apophatic thinking and the liberating God are mutually exclusive. But what if there were another way forward, a way that recognizes that the God who outstrips us at every step along the way is also the One who overthrows the oppressors? Well, we'd be playing an entirely different ballgame, wouldn't we?
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