Tag Archives: punk rock

Straight Edge for our time

A couple of days ago, I happened to be looking up Rev. Hank Peirce, and stumbled on a 2008 interview with Hank in Double Cross, a hardcore fanzine. The interviewer asked Hank about his straight-edge reputation:

[Doublecross:] When did you become Hank Straight Edge and not just Hank? Were you straight edge the second you heard of the concept?… Are you still proudly straight edge?

…You are right on with the description of how I became Straight Edge, as soon as I heard the concept I was sold. I already wasn’t doing drugs or drinking and was so psyched that there was a name for it and bands who were singing about it…. I just looked at how all of the idealism of the 60s shit the bed once drugs were introduced. Fuck, the kids getting high and drunk in [my home]town were the ones who I was getting into fights with every day, so why the fuck would I want to be like them in any way?

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Emergence in Chicago

Two posts about the same worship service at Micah’s Porch, a Unitarian Universalist emerging church/ mission in Chicago:

David Pyle’s account here.

ck’s account here.

In a comment on ck’s blog, I noted that this sound not unlike what Rev. Hank Peirce was doing in the 1990’s with his punk rock worship services, held at a club in the Boston area. Except that Hank wasn’t “preparing to launch a spiritually progressive church,” he was just holding worship service — oh, and the Ramones are not U2.

Not for the faint of heart

If you live in Boston, you might have read the recent article in one of the freebie tabloids about Hank Peirce, now the minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Medford, but formerly a roadie for a number of punk rock bands back in the 1980’s. The article did not mention that Hank did a number of punk rock worship services at the Middle East Cafe in Cambridge, then one of the best places to hear punk music — when I asked Hank about those worship services, he said he did a fairly standard order of service (sermon and all), but with a live punk band providing the music.

Are you with me so far?

Punk rock has its all-too-evident weaknesses, but don’t forget its strengths: a do-it-yourself aesthetic, and a willingness to integrate avant-garde visual art and music into a popular format. Wouldn’t that be fun to try with worship services? Not for the regular worship services we attend every week, perhaps, but as a sort of incubator for innovation in worship. Our Unitarian Universalist worship services could stand some innovation. I came across a music video in which that do-it-yourself aesthetic of punk rock is applied to a mix of musique concrete, performance art, and postmodern ironic self-reference — and I can’t help but imagining a worship service with this kind of punk rock [Link].

OK, I can see that I lost you there.

But as a Transcendentalist, I do believe that humor, odd juxtapositions, unexpectedness, can lead us to confront reality in new ways, shock us out of our complacency and our set ways of being to see (finally) a little bit of truth. Or, as Henry Thoreau brutally puts it:

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business.

Annie Dillard writes that we should wear crash helmets when we attend a worship service, because if we ever actually unleashed the powers we claim to call on, we’d need them. Or if we ever actually confronted the reality of life and death, we’d need them. Even if you don’t like punk rock, a punk rock worship service would be preferable to a complacent worship service.

Some other time I’ll explain why worship services should incorporate a fair amount of boredom in order to be authentic.

Hardcore for the what?

Being middle-aged now, and not living in Boston, I think I can be forgiven for not reading the Weekly Dig. But that meant I missed this article on Hank Peirce, now minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Medford, Mass., formerly a roadie for a number of hardcore punk rock bands. The unfortunate title for the article is “Hardcore for the Lord” — somehow, I think the writer didn’t quite grasp the essence of Unitarian Universalism. And there’s no mention of the punk rock worship services Hank did ten years ago at the Middle East in Cambridge. Still, it’s fun to read about a now-respectable minister’s former life. (And thanks to Philocrites for publicizing the article on his blog.)