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Category: Rock n Roll

Personal Identity 2: Aren’t You That Goth Vicar?

This is the second in my series on identity. Coming out of a series of conversations I’ve had over the last week with friends about “being ‘goth'”. Today I’m bringing “goth” and “priest” together. If I am mentioned in the press I am usually referred to as ‘The Rocking Revered Robb’. My favourite headline was next to a photo of me carrying a life sized cross: The Road To Golgotha. Both puntastic and theologically deep.

Aren’t You Making a Statement?

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Every so often for someone who is “alternative” the conversation will inevitably turn to this question. Aren’t you making a statement with the way you wear your hair? Don’t you wear your earrings to prove a point? But the way you dress must surely mean you are going against society? But aren’t you being countercultural? How do you square what you wear with being a priest?

Here is the shocking truth. I haven’t changed my hairstyle in 20 years. I wake up in the morning and pull on the same style of jeans I’ve worn every day for 12 years. My boots were worn every day until they fell apart at which point I bought an identical pair. I have been contemplating changing one of my earrings for the past fortnight but the ones I’ve been wearing since 2002 seem to be doing ok. My first thought when I wake up and look in the mirror is not that I make a statement, more that Robb looks back through the looking glass at me. If there is any statement being made by my general appearance it is through the ’78 tour t-shirt I’m wearing. Incidentally, the year I was born. A pretty ancient statement.

On Friday at Whitby Goth Weekend the A Level sociology students asked us if anything we were wearing was “significant”. My response was “Yes, I’m wearing a cross around my neck and a wedding ring”. As a metalhead I’m part of a rather large sub culture. It’s not a tiny minority in the western world until you go deeper and begin to look within a smaller cultural group: the church.

Yes, I am being counter cultural. Regularly I make a statement that goes against the grain. Every day I make people do a double take as I wear clothes that “go against society”. I put on a dog collar each morning. I often wear a cassock as I perform my duties because it depersonalises me; this is important when performing a funeral for example. I stand before the world and make a truly counter cultural statement: Jesus is God.

We all belong to some form of subculture but with an increasingly elderly church culture there is often an increase perception of “difference” when someone younger is in church who isn’t a child. The 20’s-40’s are often the lost tribe of Anglicanism so when we do come to church it can be a culture shock. The real challenge is to enable people and support people as they go against the pervading culture and follow Christ. I wonder if it is harder to ‘admit’ being a Christian to a bunch of metalheads than it is to admit being a metalhead to a bunch of christians?

Tomorrow I’ll have a look at Christian culture.

Are You Gonna Go My Way?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgqYGdYHomA]

One of the many things I need to do now that I am back online is sort through all of the tasks that have been backing up.  Here is one of the clips of The Rock Mass that I’ve managed to get off my computer and up to YouTube.  Thanks to Trash II Treasure for the shooting and editing.

Guess I’d better update Metanoia’s website.

Rock Mass @ Biblefresh Wakefield – Thanks

From the “Paradise City” cam

Changing worship blogs are like busses.  You wait for over a week and then they all turn up at once.  I want to say a few words of thanks for the Rock Mass at Dewsbury Minster last Saturday night.

The event was great to be part of.  In the six years or so that we have been involved in this sort of worship event it has grown and grown.  To think that an idea I had for an MA essay would grow into this huge event is astonishing.  Previously we have been used to smaller local churches.  All told there were 355 communicants on Saturday night and countless numbers of others.  There was standing room only in the minster – for most of the people who were there!  Lots of people travelled great distance to be there (Liverpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and the Isle of Man!).  Several youth groups came along and many who have never been to church before came out of curiosity!

One of the great things about this experience has been collaborating with people.  The staff at Dewsbury Minster were exceptionally helpful, supportive, relaxed and groovy.  This was a great help because we were describing a concept that no one there had previously experienced.  Thanks to the many people who came from around the country to help set up – Newcastle seems to be a good location for summoning roadies!

The tech support for the service was brilliant.  A big thank you to Pete and Ken who both did an amazing job in exceptional circumstances.  As well as that I don’t particularly envy Julz at trashiitreasure who is currently editing down hours of footage from four cameras into a DVD.  Thanks for that!

The serving team with Revd Rach at the helm were brilliant.  Thank you for getting on with it without the need for too much direction.  Sorry you didn’t get to see the visuals.  Thanks to the Cathedral staff who stepped in at the last-minute when some of our plans fell through and provided some stunning vestments and a massive icon.  Thanks to Charity who preached a wonderfully cheeky and highly inspiring sermon about embracing the gifts of our young people.

As I say, one of the key things with this type of worship is collaboration.  Whilst I made many of the visual aspects of the service from scratch, some of this would not have been possible without Fr Simon Rundell.  He has been producing resources and making them open source for many years.  When one and a half hours of visual material is needed, this is an invaluable resource.  Thank you very much Fr.  Even though you were not present in the minster, some of your images were and for that we thank you!

My last vote of thanks goes to the band and especially my wife.  You guys worked really hard to put together the set and were professional throughout.  You guys also did a brilliant job of keeping me sane!!  ROCK ON!!

All of those who I have forgotten to mention, I apologise.  Thank you for all your hard work.

The News

It has been a week of strange experiences.  I mentioned in passing to our lovely local journalists that I was involved in a service at Dewsbury Minster called the “Rock Mass”.  Obviously we have done a few of these before but this time it seems to have legs.  Something to do with it being in a “Minster” and something about it being a “diocesan event”.  I talked with our lovely local journalist for a whole three minutes whilst she wrote everything down in short hand.

Last night I discovered that our paper had a massive pic of me in it and a half page article about the event.  I was a little shocked at how much it focussed on me (I’m shy).  For our local paper this makes sense as the Rock Mass isn’t happening here.  For the people who live here I am the curio.  The Dewsbury paper has a preview of the event in todays issue and it is very much about the event.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from the Dewsbury Reporter asking if they could do a photo shoot for the event.  Could I bring my motorbike down?

The next thing I knew, I was riding a Harley into the Minster and plonking it in the centre aisle.

That is a sentence I never thought I’d be writing!!  I’ll link you to the proper photo when it has been published.