Author Topic: Music and prayer life  (Read 5788 times)

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Offline Rhinosaur

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Music and prayer life
« on: September 15, 2014, 12:35:05 PM »
As I'm growing into learning about Orthodoxy, I'm trying to get rid of all negative influences in my life.  About two weeks ago, my priest and I had a discussion about music and its effect on one's spiritual life.  One thing he told me is that there is an element of subjectivity to it; music that dredges up negative thoughts in one person may not do so in another.  He also said that there is some music out there that is to be avoided altogether (some forms of death metal, horrorcore, etc.)

My question to you all is; do you think that these songs and stuff like it alright.  They aren't Satanic (the first one deals with hell from a more literary perspective while the other two are more Lovecraftian in lyrical content) or overtly violent or explicit.  All three of them having given my some great imagery for some stories that I am writing (and I personally think that they sound awesome), but I want to run them by you first:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW2fC7W8XnM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eitNNvCiBc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rINzo0zHBTc

Now, I don't want to seem like some jumpy, overly zealous persons who sees demons everywhere, but I don't want to do anything that would hinder my spiritual growth.  When it comes to music, what do you think is the line an Orthodox person should draw?

Offline Yurysprudentsiya

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2014, 01:15:02 PM »
Was such music in 19th century Russia?  Is Outrage!!!   ;D

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2014, 01:22:42 PM »
Was such music in 19th century Russia?  Is Outrage!!!   ;D

You took the words right from my mouth.  ;D

Perhaps, one could ask, Would the Most Holy Theotokos and all the Angels and Saints be pleased to hear such "music"?

The memory of God should be treasured in our hearts like the precious pearl mentioned in the Holy Gospel. Our life's goal should be to nurture and contemplate God always within, and never let it depart, for this steadfastness will drive demons away from us. - Paraphrased from St. Philotheus of Sinai
Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart,
Translated from the Russian by E. Kadloubovksy and G.E.H. Palmer, Faber and Faber, London, Boston, 1992 printing.

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2014, 01:42:13 PM »
You are trying to get rid of negative influences, yet you are here on oc.net? 

Hmmm.

 :P
God bless!

Offline Columcille33

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2014, 09:09:21 PM »
*Brothers and sisters, please forgive the use of possibly obscure vernacular and specialized references within my post. While I do not wish to be exclusionary, the reply herein is meant very specifically for the OP and uses terms he will certainly understand and be familiar with based on our mutual musical backgrounds.

Rhinosaur,

May the Lord bless you. Thank you for posting this. As a catechumen and a so-called Old Calendarist and someone with a pretty deep background in Black Metal and its various other incarnations as well as a musician of over 30 years, I feel uniquely and oddly compelled to reply to your post. Being a catechumen, I claim to know nothing about our holy faith. Being an Old Calendarist, I believe I walk a rather conservative path within our holy faith. That said, I too have felt significant conflict with reckoning and wrestling with my pre-Christian musical affinities. One of my major influences was Burzum and I was very close at a time to producing a project with Varg through another pagan musician friend of mine. Varg Vikernes is by no means a Christian and it is probably safe to assume the very antithesis to a Christian. As a musical influence from my past, I would not work with him now, however.

The links you provided for our inspection contain works of so-called Doom and Death Metal, even Depressive Metal, in my analysis- all very provocative and evocative works. I understand the attraction. I also appreciate and respect what your priest shared with you about how music can affect one adversely while resonating quite differently with another. I also understand that these particular musicians may not claim to be satanist acts. There is always more that exists beneath the surface, however.

When I find myself being drawn back into the aural abyss of Black Metal and its likes, I find that I am not in communion with Christ. I find myself in a depressive state and a dark place where Our Lord and Savior can’t be found. I find myself forsaking my eternal task of ceaseless prayer. I would ask you where you go in your heart and mind when you immerse yourself in music like that. Is Christ at the forefront of your consciousness? Are the Holy Saints? Are the Angels? Is the Most Holy Theotokos? None of Them are there for me when I heed the call to embrace dark music again. I find the world to be full of darkness already and the sins that I commit are more than I can bear at times, needless to mention the sins of others. When I intentionally cue up a song that celebrates sin, darkness, violence, depression, depravity, insanity, and an inescapable absence of God, I am intentionally turning The Lord away and inviting the company of demons.

You mention Lovecraft as being influential to the music you linked to and I would reckon that his works have influenced you as a writer. Is this the sort of model that would best or even better glorify Our Lord amongst an endless sea of literary talent that has existed for millennia? My understanding is that he was an atheist and wrote seductively of pagan, alien (extraterrestrial), and very dark subject matter and led a rather depressed life in the absence of God. I don’t judge your fascination with this certainly interesting character, but I wonder what true place this fascination has in a Christian life.

I guess the hard reality is this- to live a truly God-centered life, God must always come first. Do I do this without fail? Of course I don’t! I often wonder if I am even capable of it. It takes more conviction and strength of heart and mind than doing anything I have ever done. I fail constantly. But, I keep getting back up and remembering the call to ceaseless prayer. If you are able to remember that same call and carry it out while ensconced in the punishing sounds of these brutal brands of music, then God’s Will be done. That is a question I suppose.

Something I would add to the picture that I didn’t read from you regarding what your priest expressed- the intent of the art form. Every writer, artist, musician, performer, et al carries an intention in their work. Do you know the intention of every artist you listen to or read from? Maybe the sounds that are emitted from your headphones don’t make you want to end your life as they might with another, but can you really say you are safe from the intent of that music? Are the musicians carrying the light of Christ in their lyrics or their melodies? Are all those barren and desolate soundscapes ultimately yielding some sacred fruit that comes to fruition upon album’s ending? Where is all that doom and gloom really going? If the music I listen to doesn’t foster a closer relationship with Christ, I can’t in good conscience say it is really worth investing my soul into and anything not worth that isn’t really worth anything.

If our passions exceed our striving for virtue, there is little point in pretending to be righteous. We can’t mold our holy faith around our passions. It’s easy to be depressed. The real struggle is finding the joy and beauty of God in everyone and all things. May The Lord guide you always.

Forgive me,
Colmcille   
May the Trinity protect me wherever I stay, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Bright angels walk with me dear presence-in every dealing.
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Offline Maximum Bob

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 01:00:36 AM »
^ This is a good answer. There is no official Church position on Heavy Metal music rather only the position that what we do should glorify God. Or, at minimum, not cause us separation from Him. In this we must listen to the still, small voice to the Holy Spirit within us and when we cannot trust that seek the counsel of others. Our Priest, friends who are long in the faith, etc. But I suspect you already know the answer, indeed most of the time when we ask questions like this we are doing one of two things. If we are striving towards God we are looking for someone to reinforce our wavering confidence in what we know is right. If we are running from God we are looking for someone to agree with our justifications so that we can stifle the voice of the Holy Spirit within us. Like I said I suspect, if I'm not wrong, you already have a notion that these songs are on shaky ground or you wouldn't even have bothered to select them. So are you trying to shore up your wavering conscience or are you looking for someone to support your justification. Only you and God know that.  :)
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Offline WPM

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 01:06:33 AM »
I don't censor anything ... Dark metal is ok. (Depends on what type of person you are) ...
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Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2014, 01:12:16 AM »
I find a lot of black metal to be pretty introspective and calming. Go figure.

The overtly satanic stuff is just angry teenagers (or in some cases, men who never stopped being teenagers) lashing out at society, or "the Church."

You should follow the guidance of your spiritual father, of course. We should not partake in things that separate us from God. I have spoken with my priest and we agree that this music has its uses and that I'm more interested in hearing someone else's point of view than condoning it, especially when it comes to the anti-religious stuff. But really, I think those people are crying out for God much louder than other musicians, so I can certainly empathize with them as a former struggling atheist. I mean, look at these lyrics from a Pantheon of Oak song:

Quote
I hold in my hands
A pointed stone
I think of carving the final words
Into my flesh
Yet something always holds me back
And I pray
To whatever God there is
That it always will

If you're looking for Christian black metal (some of it is good, believe me), I'd recommend Antestor or Crimson Moonlight.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2014, 01:13:56 AM by lovesupreme »

Offline Rhinosaur

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2014, 01:34:47 AM »
I greatly appreciate this post.  I'll reply to it piece by piece.

Rhinosaur,
May the Lord bless you. Thank you for posting this. As a catechumen and a so-called Old Calendarist and someone with a pretty deep background in Black Metal and its various other incarnations as well as a musician of over 30 years, I feel uniquely and oddly compelled to reply to your post. Being a catechumen, I claim to know nothing about our holy faith. Being an Old Calendarist, I believe I walk a rather conservative path within our holy faith. That said, I too have felt significant conflict with reckoning and wrestling with my pre-Christian musical affinities. One of my major influences was Burzum and I was very close at a time to producing a project with Varg through another pagan musician friend of mine. Varg Vikernes is by no means a Christian and it is probably safe to assume the very antithesis to a Christian. As a musical influence from my past, I would not work with him now, however.

I've never been in a band myself, though I want to in the future.  My musical interests seem to shift daily; one day I want to be in a White Zombie-style groove metal band, then in a doom band, then a hip-hop DJ, then a funk bassist, then an electronic music DJ, then a world music artist, the a trip-hop artist, then an alternative rock guitarist, then a grunge vocalist.  Maybe I'll just throw them altogether someday and make an album that breaks all the rules of music.  Who knows?

To the issue of Orthodoxy, I've been a catechumen for several months now.  Though I'm not dogmatic either way, I consider myself a New Calendarist since it's what the bulk of the Church uses and I don't see anything particularly wrong with it.  That's of course a debate for another time.  I would most definitely agree with you that Varg Vikernes is pretty much the antithesis of what a Christian musician should be, as well Emperor Magus Caligula (cool stage name, lousy beliefs) and the band Mayhem, among a few others.  I personally have never been a big black metal person. but rather more into doom, sludge, and stoner metal (Sleep, Orange Goblin, Mastodon).  Some of these bands like Monster Magnet I'm definitely going to stop listening to but others I'm on the fence about.  For example, Mastodon's Leviathan doesn't strike me as bad, though it's very heavy and brutal.

I've never really been into "satanic" stuff at all.  Beyond any spiritual scruples, songs about Satan and hell just strike me as such a cheap way to sound sinister or deep.  I'm far more into strange, psychedelic stuff like White Zombie's Blood, Milk, and Sky.  I actually asked my priest to listen to that song to see if it was appropriate, and he didn't seem too bothered by it.  I do want to cut out bad stuff in my life, but I don't want to become over-paranoid about everything I run into.  I strongly believe that being a Christian means being able to discern true evil from fluff.  I want to save my energy for combating the real work of Satan, not to shadow box with paper mache demons.

Quote
The links you provided for our inspection contain works of so-called Doom and Death Metal, even Depressive Metal, in my analysis- all very provocative and evocative works. I understand the attraction. I also appreciate and respect what your priest shared with you about how music can affect one adversely while resonating quite differently with another. I also understand that these particular musicians may not claim to be satanist acts. There is always more that exists beneath the surface, however.

When I find myself being drawn back into the aural abyss of Black Metal and its likes, I find that I am not in communion with Christ. I find myself in a depressive state and a dark place where Our Lord and Savior can’t be found. I find myself forsaking my eternal task of ceaseless prayer. I would ask you where you go in your heart and mind when you immerse yourself in music like that. Is Christ at the forefront of your consciousness? Are the Holy Saints? Are the Angels? Is the Most Holy Theotokos? None of Them are there for me when I heed the call to embrace dark music again. I find the world to be full of darkness already and the sins that I commit are more than I can bear at times, needless to mention the sins of others. When I intentionally cue up a song that celebrates sin, darkness, violence, depression, depravity, insanity, and an inescapable absence of God, I am intentionally turning The Lord away and inviting the company of demons.

I do understand what you are saying.  At least for me, ceaseless prayer is quite difficult (I know, that's no excuse).  I'm distracted easily, but more importantly, in my own experience, I've found that demons actually use my desire for piety against me.  They push me to be super pious and super holy beyond anything that a catechumen need be.  For example, a while ago, every time I tried to pray, it would be like there was someone or something screaming in my head that I could not pray until I was dressed a certain way, with the lights turned on and eyes closed and for no less than fifteen minutes (I rarely could meditate for more than two or three minutes).  It was not subtle nudging from the Lord but screaming to try to make me think that a Christian prayer life was too much for me.  If I went to go to certain harmless websites (including this one sometimes), the chattering would tell me that if I did so, I would be separated from God.  Let me just say that these were not actual voices (there are no voices in my head lol), but strong feelings of persuasion that told me that unless I lived an uber-strict lifestyle and prayed in exactly the right fashion that I would be a bad Christian.  They told me that I could not write my stories, not go to the gym, could not listen to my favorite music, and that I had to read the Ante-Nicene Fathers from beginning to end.  

How do I ultimately know that these were demons?  Because when I started going to an Orthodox church, they became quite pissed.  I would sometimes feel almost sick if I went to venerate an icon (my brain felt like it was on fire one time that I tried to venerate an icon of Christ that a person at the church gave to me), and there were times when I felt a tremendous sense of forced emptiness when I tried to pray during Divine Liturgy.  Whatever did not want me to listen to metal music also did want me to become Orthodox.  Not that I'm putting the two on the same level, and maybe they were just trying to confuse me by mixing good things with bad, but still, it was like nothing I could do short of becoming a non-tonsured monk would make them satisfied.  They just wanted me to be as miserable as possible.  When I talked to my priest, he helped to clear things up for me and told me how demons tend to torment people who are moving to Orthodoxy.  He told me that I should not be stressed out over every little thing that I do, and over the past month, the demonic screaming has gone down as I've learned to ignore it.

The thing is, this one of the reasons why I am hesitant about just dumping all of the dark music that I love.  While some of it definitely needs to go, the main tactic that demons have used against me is to try to force me into some form of hyper piety that will do me no good spiritually and will just wear me out.  If I give in to a feeling that tells me that listening to a certain doom song is bad, tomorrow that some feeling might be telling me that I should not pray while not wearing any shoes, or that God will curse me if I go to eat at Subway's.  This is not the subtle grace of the Lord, but more like "Don't you dare listen to that metal song or God will forsake you!  Don't you dare pray with no shirt on or your prayers will be cursed and will feed the Devil!  Don't you dare go to the gym or you'll no longer be able to be humble before the Lord!"  The demons want to force me to become a modern day Symeon Stylites to try to beat me down and make me feel like Orthodoxy is too much for me, and I won't let them.  The last time that I talked with my priest, he told me that there were three main things that Christian had to do in life; to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk (not run) humbly with the Lord.  Not to be paranoid about every little thing and not to try to overturn my old life all at once.  While I am definitely purging alot of ultra negative stuff from my iTunes, I feel that forcing myself to get rid of every last thing that might possibly be considered dark won't help and will just play into the demons' mind games.  Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I'm learning that spiritual growth is something that should happen gradually and that one need not necessarily cut off every part of their past life, but rather use discernment to pick what is good and what isn't.

Quote
You mention Lovecraft as being influential to the music you linked to and I would reckon that his works have influenced you as a writer. Is this the sort of model that would best or even better glorify Our Lord amongst an endless sea of literary talent that has existed for millennia? My understanding is that he was an atheist and wrote seductively of pagan, alien (extraterrestrial), and very dark subject matter and led a rather depressed life in the absence of God. I don’t judge your fascination with this certainly interesting character, but I wonder what true place this fascination has in a Christian life.


The Lovecraft influence is more surface level than anything else.  While his idea that man means nothing in the cosmic scheme of things has some truth in the purely physical world, I don't at all subscribe to his philosophical or religious viewpoint.  The stories that I am writing actually bring in alot of Orthodoxy, both overtly and subtly.  I really like Lovecraft's style for creating monsters and alien realms and fusing it altogether into one canon.  My own stories are basically going to be an Orthodox dark psychedelic fantasy/sci-fi tale.  I don't mean 'dark' as in glorifying evil, but as in extremely bizarre alternate dimensions with weird creatures (no elves or dwarves).  Zdzislaw Beksinski's art is a major influence, as is HR Giger's (minus the erotica).  Good will triumph over evil, but only after alot of extremely bad stuff happens.  But back on the main point, I like Lovecraft's monster designs and style of telling a story, but not his beliefs.

Quote
I guess the hard reality is this- to live a truly God-centered life, God must always come first. Do I do this without fail? Of course I don’t! I often wonder if I am even capable of it. It takes more conviction and strength of heart and mind than doing anything I have ever done. I fail constantly. But, I keep getting back up and remembering the call to ceaseless prayer. If you are able to remember that same call and carry it out while ensconced in the punishing sounds of these brutal brands of music, then God’s Will be done. That is a question I suppose.

I completely agree, and maybe being a full Orthodox Christian will mean purging more from my playlist that I thought.  But like I've said above, my insecurities and desire for holiness are something that the demons feed on, so I have to be wary about giving in to all the thoughts that come through my head just as much as I have to be wary about negative external forces.  They do not all come from God.  I am going to let God shape me gradually, not force myself to bend as much as I can as quickly as I can.  I of course will be responsible in living a Christian life, but uprooting my whole world all at once will do me no good in the long run.

Quote
Something I would add to the picture that I didn’t read from you regarding what your priest expressed- the intent of the art form. Every writer, artist, musician, performer, et al carries an intention in their work. Do you know the intention of every artist you listen to or read from? Maybe the sounds that are emitted from your headphones don’t make you want to end your life as they might with another, but can you really say you are safe from the intent of that music? Are the musicians carrying the light of Christ in their lyrics or their melodies? Are all those barren and desolate soundscapes ultimately yielding some sacred fruit that comes to fruition upon album’s ending? Where is all that doom and gloom really going? If the music I listen to doesn’t foster a closer relationship with Christ, I can’t in good conscience say it is really worth investing my soul into and anything not worth that isn’t really worth anything.

Intention is definitely important, and something I take into consideration when I listen to music.  It's a chief reason that I don't listen to alot of rap that I used to since a good number of songs are diss tracks where an artist is threatening to beat up or kill another (I'm thinking of some of the mid-90s East Coast/West Coast beef tracks and some of the Murder Inc./Aftermath Records feud songs).  That song by Eye of Solitude struck me as having a very negative view of hell, quite different from what you might hear in a Slayer song.  The song by Zoroaster seems to be something about the negative contact between Native Americans and Europeans (though that's probably reading a bit too far into it).  I have no idea what Stomach Earth is saying.  I think what I'll do is hold off on listening for at least a bit and pray about to see if I get any illumination concerning this.  I do believe that even the bleakest of songs can carry a positive message (or at least a cautionary/educational one).  At the end of the day, I think that it's about discernment.

Quote
If our passions exceed our striving for virtue, there is little point in pretending to be righteous. We can’t mold our holy faith around our passions. It’s easy to be depressed. The real struggle is finding the joy and beauty of God in everyone and all things. May The Lord guide you always.

I completely agree, and it's something that I struggle with daily in all things, not just when it comes to music.  Thanks for the thoughts.

Offline μαθητης

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2014, 11:51:36 AM »
Columcille33 and your priest have offered great advise, better than anything I can give.  Still I would like to offer encouragement because we are on a similar road - seeking to draw near to Christ and desiring to set aside every entanglement.  Two things came to mind as I read your last post.  Well three things actually but you already heard the first from your priest,
Quote
The last time that I talked with my priest, he told me that there were three main things that Christian had to do in life; to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk (not run) humbly with the Lord.
(Micah 6:8 )
The second was Hebrews 12:1-2, "...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."(NKJV)
Third is James 1:3-5, "knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (NKJV)

I think you are on the right road.  Keep seeking the Lord and he will direct your path.

Offline biro

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2014, 02:23:18 PM »
If anything is causing you undue stress or depression and taking away from your faith life, it may help to set it aside.
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2014, 05:02:50 PM »
If anything is causing you undue stress or depression and taking away from your faith life, it may help to set it aside.

Yes, and to echo Maximum Bob, generally speaking, if we feel uneasy about something, it's because we know, deep down, that it really is taking away from our faith life. Of course, we don't have to make some kind of grand, dramatic renunciation, just set it aside, let it go for awhile, and see what happens.
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Offline Kostya

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2014, 05:59:53 PM »
I'm not Orthodox yet. I haven't even met with a priest. Nonetheless, I have been in this situation and I can give reasonable advice.

I have been a dedicated metalhead since 2007. I first got into power metal, then ventured into melodeath, then black metal, and folk metal, as well as normal death metal. What attracted me was the "epic" and "fantasy" feel of it all. It's very escapist and helped me through some awful times.

Since I have become a person of faith, my listening habits have been altered a bit.

I like Burzum's music, for instance, but I have no interest in giving money, or even time, to a person who barely stops short of calling for the death of all Christians, and revises history to make Paganism look noble and Christians look like Pol Pot. Therefore, I phased Burzum out of my listening habits.

Norwegian black metal today is a huge joke. In the early 90s, it had some substance. Now it's just the same old cliched "Satan" stuff. I have no interest in a bunch of middle-aged Norwegians who have been doing the same stuff since they were teens, and try to dress it up as something intellectual. When Gaahl of Gorgoroth outed himself as a homo in 2008, I saw "Satanic" black metal for what it was (and I wasn't even a Christian at the time). It's just normal, Western, anti-Christian atheistic liberalism that uses all the "Satan" stuff to be edgy and give a middle finger to people of faith. To see a symptom of this, look at Carpathian Forest. They are nothing more than drug-addicted derelict reprobates. That's all. That is what black metal turned into.

The black metal which has more musical creativity/beauty and more substance altogether is Eastern European NSBM. While the Nazi ideology doesn't really offend me, the main lyrical and ideological focus of this movement is still anti-Christianity, but from a Pagan perspective, as opposed to Cultural Marxist (as is the case with most normal black metal).

Please understand one thing. When I say that I stopped listening to 99% of the metal I once enjoyed, it was not because of inner conflict, or because I felt obligated to do so as a Christian. It was completely personal. These people are attacking me, and you, and all of us. An attack on Christianity is an attack on me.

There are a lot of Christian bands that play extreme metal genres. Unlike evangelical Christian rock, or 2000's "Christian" metalcore/deathcore/screamo, these bands are every bit as good as their secular counterparts.

http://metalhelm.com/ Look for bands by which genres you like, and search the bands on Youtube. You will thank me.

In fact, there are two Ukrainian bands that immediately come to mind, with entirely Orthodox members: Holy Blood and Oskord. Both are folk metal. Holy Blood combines black metal, melodeath, and Ukrainian folk music, while Oskord is more melodeath and Ukrainian folk.

Just remember, if a band insults Christianity or has blasphemous lyrics, you should take it personally. Rather than thinking like a kid who is smoking a cigarette behind the school dumpster ("I know this is wrong"), you should recognize it as an attack on yourself and, more importantly, your faith.

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Offline mabsoota

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2014, 06:40:57 AM »
are you in norway?
if so, check out the webite linked here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,59941.msg1167545.html#msg1167545

as for music, the more you understand and experience God's love,
the less you want to sing about ripping peoples' heads off.

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2014, 07:57:42 AM »
are you in norway?
if so, check out the webite linked here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,59941.msg1167545.html#msg1167545

as for music, the more you understand and experience God's love,
the less you want to sing about ripping peoples' heads off.

To be honest, this is something I've been wondering about, so perhaps you or someone with a similar point of view can help me understand :) In the psalms there is some pretty violent stuff--graphic even sometimes. Yet not only are the Psalms not put off to the side, or reserved for adults or very mature Christians (or something along those lines), but rather it is used as the standard prayer book. PRAYER book. Slaying your enemies, begging God to destroy those who are against you, condemning sinners in the harshest and most judgmental language, dashing children against the rocks... this is prayer. How can it be prayer? Well, obviously it's not real or literal, right? If people pray that they don't literally want their enemies to be killed by God, or for that matter they might think the very concept of human enemies is foreign. Thus such language is speaking of sins, passions, demons, etc. You can't take this stuff literally, man!  :angel: 

Yet when we come to certain modern forms of music, it seems like lyrics must be taken at face value. Cannot someone listen to a song about "ripping peoples' heads off," both in a psalm in daily prayers or the liturgy and in a metal song in the gym or home? Obviously these two things are not anywhere near comparable in general. One is worshipful, the other entertainment; one is meant to be spiritual and 'deep,' the other often raw and obnoxious; one is set to music that is calming, and the other set to music that is often fast and aggressive; and so on. My point is not that they are the same, but rather it is a question about why people get so hung up on the lyrics. Is it a matter of degree, or something else? Can some violence be mixed in if it is mostly virtuous stuff; is it a matter of volume/frequency? Is violence made ok, or at least less of a problem, if it is a heartfelt cry or plea to God, rather than music that seems to enjoy speaking of such things?

One last thing relating to how such lyrics are understood. I'm curious about why rap and metal lyrics are often singled out as having a negative impact, but I can't recall anyone also going on to talk about how bad the blues are, what with the drinking, murder, etc. sometimes discussed, or about how bad country music is, which seems to have as much or more negative themes (infidelity, drunkenness, treating Christianity like a get-out-of-jail-free card, etc.)...?
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Offline vladf

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2014, 08:08:50 AM »
Hmm well it really depends on you. If you are personally affected by death metal in a bad way, then yes, it is bad. If it helps you feel more peaceful, then by all means listen to it. What many 'dogmatics' fail to understand is, that each person is affected by music individually, if someone told me to stop listening to 60's music, saying "it is the music of the devil, Byzantine music is the only good music" I would tell them they are crazy (not really :p). For me Byzantine music relaxes me, even music in languages I don't understand. If Metal music has a bad influence on you, then you should stop listening to it, full stop. I have found that when you manage to eliminate most negative influences, you can enter a state of Theosis. I will describe this below.

"The Son of God became man, that we might become god" - St Athanasius of Alexandria. Notice how the second "g" in God is lowercase? This is because we can never become a God. But this is a good demonstration of the theological term "Theosis", Buddhism teaches of Nirvana, a state of utter bliss where you are at peace with yourself and others. Christians believe that Theosis is the elimination of error to extrude perfection, and when in a state of Theosis, we are at peace with ourselves.
Now this being said, we as humans are not perfect, we do sin, so when it is said that through the elimination of error we can extrude perfection, it means near perfection.

What can be considered error?
Well, if certain types of music make you feel more melancholy, out of touch and depressed, this is an error, if music makes you feel at peace with yourself and others, then this is what you should listen to. Don't let people tell you what to and not to listen to, it is what brings out your inner peace brother. Peace be with you,
Vlad
"May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!"

Offline LBK

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 08:27:33 AM »
Quote
but I can't recall anyone also going on to talk about how bad the blues are, what with the drinking, murder, etc.

History shows that blues and other forms of music played by black Americans was seen as "devil's music" by white America for much of the first half of the 20th century, not least because of its confronting subject matter. Similarly, the blues-like music called rebetiko that came into Greece with the refugees from Asia Minor in the 1920s was also initially despised for its unsavory content.

Both blues and rebetiko were gradually accepted and are now mainstream, but it took decades for this to happen.
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Offline Arachne

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 08:37:50 AM »
Quote
but I can't recall anyone also going on to talk about how bad the blues are, what with the drinking, murder, etc.

History shows that blues and other forms of music played by black Americans was seen as "devil's music" by white America for much of the first half of the 20th century, not least because of its confronting subject matter.

Rather tangential, but you (generic you) would be surprised by what has been branded as the devil's music over time. Robert Johnson's legendary pact with the Evil One has little that wasn't said a century earlier about Niccolo Paganini - and there were no lyrics at all there! There are more examples going further back, to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Silenus and Marsyas... as if a human of extraordinary musical ability is an affront to the Powers of Good.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 08:38:12 AM by Arachne »
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Offline LBK

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 08:39:27 AM »
Quote
but I can't recall anyone also going on to talk about how bad the blues are, what with the drinking, murder, etc.

History shows that blues and other forms of music played by black Americans was seen as "devil's music" by white America for much of the first half of the 20th century, not least because of its confronting subject matter.

Rather tangential, but you (generic you) would be surprised by what has been branded as the devil's music over time. Robert Johnson's legendary pact with the Evil One has little that wasn't said a century earlier about Niccolo Paganini - and there were no lyrics at all there! There are more examples going further back, to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Silenus and Marsyas... as if a human of extraordinary musical ability is an affront to the Powers of Good.

Indeed. Even Strauss' waltzes were seen as subversive when they first appeared.  :P
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Offline Arachne

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2014, 08:43:35 AM »
Quote
but I can't recall anyone also going on to talk about how bad the blues are, what with the drinking, murder, etc.

History shows that blues and other forms of music played by black Americans was seen as "devil's music" by white America for much of the first half of the 20th century, not least because of its confronting subject matter.

Rather tangential, but you (generic you) would be surprised by what has been branded as the devil's music over time. Robert Johnson's legendary pact with the Evil One has little that wasn't said a century earlier about Niccolo Paganini - and there were no lyrics at all there! There are more examples going further back, to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Silenus and Marsyas... as if a human of extraordinary musical ability is an affront to the Powers of Good.

Indeed. Even Strauss' waltzes were seen as subversive when they first appeared.  :P

The waltz was considered indecent when it first appeared, because it allowed closer male-female contact than anything permissible in polite society until then. Wrap an arm around a lady's waist AND hold her hand? Is outrage! :P
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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Offline eddybear

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2014, 09:06:28 AM »
My own experience of the sort of music mentioned in the OP was very negative. I listened to a lot of it before I became a Christian, and without going into details, it caused demonic influences to afflict me. I do not say that lightly, or with any exaggeration. I am very grateful that Christ rescued me from them, and I would hate any fellow Christian to make the same mistakes I did, and open themselves up to things that will do such harm.
 

Offline mabsoota

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2014, 01:00:15 PM »
justin kissel,
we understand the war like references in the psalms spiritually.
like psalm 62 (63 in masoretic text) says
'they seek for my soul in vain, they shall go into the lowest parts of the earth'.

this refers to the evil spirits who tempt and harass people.
even if king david may have referred to physical enemies in some psalms,
many of the psalms make more sense if you think of them referring to spiritual enemies.
when we pray the psalms today, we mean them in a spiritual sense.

so egyptian Christians, for example, can easily sing about the death of the egyptian army
(pursuing the israelites) without getting upset that great-great-great... uncle mina was killed in the sea.
because they are singing about their triumph over the devil in the waters of baptism.

i do think lyrics are important and affect us. when we have a song 'stuck' in our heads,
we are basically meditating on it. and maybe we should meditate on something pure instead (philippians 4:8)

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Re: Music and prayer life
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2014, 01:37:45 PM »
so egyptian Christians, for example, can easily sing about the death of the egyptian army
(pursuing the israelites) without getting upset that great-great-great... uncle mina was killed in the sea.
because they are singing about their triumph over the devil in the waters of baptism.

LOL!
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