Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Seven Sacred Seasons: All Saints

Here we are, balanced between All Hallows' Eve and All Saints Day. Unlike the loud advocates of Jesusween, we celebrated Halloween early in the Gathering's history, without the usual Evangelical whitewashing (come as your favorite Bible character!). We were of the opinion that there are many scary moments in the Bible (a number occur in the Christmas stories!), and wanted to celebrate a season where we recognized how the days were growing shorter in our hemisphere, and the darkness was increasing. We knew we couldn't make the whole season about Halloween or darkness without creeping out prospective attendees (more than we already were, at any rate), so we tried some other options.
Brad Nault originally drew this Leviathan and all the monsters on the other slides: I hope he's okay with me using this image here. I wanting to make the opening slideshow with "Monsters of the Bible" including their stats like they were D&D monsters, but ran out of time, and only did the Leviathan that way.

Originally, we celebrated this season as Michaelmas, which focuses primarily on spiritual conflict, but that seemed too narrow to make a yearly event, despite its clear resonances with Halloween. Instead, we went with something broader: All Saints. The theme was simple - we would look at the lives of the "saints" throughout history - those in scripture, those in history, and potentially even those in our midst. It was a time for telling our own stories or celebrating the lives of great spiritual leaders.

Sadly, I don't think this season ever cohered to its intended thematic content. What was repeated year, after year, was that my band, Seven Devil Fix, was often the music for the whole season, or just for our Halloween service. I remember the Halloween services particularly, but I don't recall much else about the season.

Seven Devil Fix always got the gig because we wrote songs intentionally about dark spiritual themes: "Ghostwood" was a song about longing for paradise using Twin Peaks allusions, Skeleton Army was about Christian martyrdom in the semi-legendary tale of the Salvation Army's initial opposition, The Burden was about communion told through the eyes of a vampire, and Tremendum was about relating to God as an expression of the literary sublime. Our name was a reference to the seven devils cast from Mary Magdalene, and one year we even wore horns just to underscore the idea.

I miss those Halloween services. They were the closest I ever got to creating worship experiences that mirrored the purpose of the Jack 'O Lantern. That is to say, our music could virtually ward off evil spirits by virtue of being more terrifying than they were. It was brazen, to be sure, but it never felt wrong. I've always detested the mincing around evil that some expressions of Christianity engages in. On the one hand, we were taught to be spiritually bold; on the other, we acted like there was a devil under every rock that could kick our spiritual ass. There was a lot of don't taste and don't touch in my hometown church. At the Gathering, we were somewhat fearless, and I loved the community for it.

Thankfully, I can share those songs with you now, thanks to former Seven Devil Fix drummer Taylor Reese uploading our entire discography to Grooveshark for your listening pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Graham7:23 PM

    Love the artwork for the Seraphim and the idea behind this. The Leviathan is awesome too. Especially how you gave it stats. I think I would have greatly enjoyed the Gathering.