Various media sources are reporting that singer Marianne Elliot-Said has died of complications of breast cancer at age 53. Elliot-Said was better known under the stage name Poly Styrene, a name she used while singing with X-Ray Spex.
X-Ray Spex had a short career. In 1976, Elliot-Said was taking voice lessons, learning how to sing opera, and recording derivative reggae songs on the side, when she saw the Sex Pistols perform. This exposure to punk rock galvanized her, and she decided to form her own punk band, X-Ray Spex. The band performed together for about three years, recorded a handful of singles and one album, then disbanded in 1979.
Following the demise of X-Ray Spex, Elliot-Said joined the Hare Krishnas — more properly, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a branch of Hinduism that worships Vishnu, and is devoted to bhakti yoga, or expressions of devotion to God. I had not known that Elliot-Said had joined the Hare Kishnas, but I was not entirely surprised. When she was singing with X-Ray Spex, her voice had a transcendent, joyful quality to it — even when she was singing about the horrors of genetic engineering, or screaming (in late 1970s punk vocal style) “Oh bondage! up yours!” Although the punk rock idiom of the late 1970s was fairly limited, as practiced by someone like Poly Styrene the vocal style could approach a raucous and ecstatic transcendence. There was often a hint of rapture in her voice, even a hint of a connection to something larger than herself.
Elliot-Said has been interpreted as an early exponent of what came to be called third-wave feminism; she had a clear influence on later feminist bands like The Slits, and it’s hard to imagine the riot-grrrl movement without her example. She allied herself with the anti-racist forces within punk rock and was bi-racial — a Somali father and an English mother — and perhaps she will be claimed as an early adopter of multiracial identity. She also had a preference for day-glo colors and wore braces on her teeth, though it’s harder to know what to make of those attributes.
But I prefer to remember her simply for her full-throated, no-holds-barred singing, a kind of punk bhakti devotion that invited us all to transform and transcend. The hell with the anemic pablum of praise bands — if you’re gonna make me have amplified music in a worship service, I won’t settle for anything less the raw full-throated raucous singing of someone like Poly Styrene.
Before this year, the last time Easter fell on April 24 was in 1859.
If you want to plan ahead, the next time it will fall on April 24 will be in 2095. The latest possible date for Easter is April 25; Easter last fell on that date in 1943, and the next time it will fall on that date will be 2038. The next time Easter will fall on a date later than April 15 will be in 2017.
Sources: Michael P.; Frequency of the date of Easter1875 to 2124; Oremus Almanac.
I thought about posting some kind of April fool post today. But how could I write anything that would be sillier than reality? How could I could invent anything as silly as the alleged discovery of two thousand year old lead codices with pictures of crosses and menorahs? How could I invent anything as silly as Muammar Gaddafi’s continued assertions that the Libyan people love him? For that matter, how could I invent anything as silly as liberal religion, which seems so proud of its liberal theology and so blind to its conservative methodology?
Some acquaintances of Carol’s go to a nearby Christian church that is doing a really interesting social justice program. Next Sunday, they’re canceling worship services at both their campuses and doing a program they’re calling “Love Works.” They will be sending the whole congregation out to do good works in the community — “no strings attached.” Their Love Works programs will involve about a thousand people, and I’m quite impressed by the sophisticated organization of this project. For example, check out the Love Works online sign-up page, where work projects are sorted by categories, and you can look through the projects, pick one that suits you, and sign up online.
Note that there are opportunities for everyone to participate, including a virtual service project of spending an hour in prayer for those who are working that day, and providing refreshments at the closing celebration Sunday afternoon. And having a closing celebration is a nice touch, too.
If you have a moment, take a look at this and tell me what you think. Is it too good to be true? Is this something that liberal congregations should be doing (or maybe already are doing)? Would you participate in this, or would you just skip going to church that day?
I’ll be spending the coming week exploring Web-based religious participation, and I’m hoping that you, my readers, will be willing to help me out by answering one or more of the questions below.
(A) Which of the following do you consider yourself:
- Digital Native (you don’t remember a time before the Internet)
- Digital Immigrant (you feel fully at home in the Internet)
- Digital Alien (you have your green card, but you don’t feel fluent in the language and customs)
- Digital Tourist (the Internet is a place you visit, but you don’t live here)
(B) Aside from reading (this blog)(my Facebook feed), which of the following ways do you access religious content online online? (I also ask for specific examples of each kind of content, but if you don’t have the time to get specific, I’d still love to know which types of content, if any, you access.)
- Looking at a congregation’s Web site, or a denomination’s Web site (please list one or more)
- Reading sacred texts (Bible, Qu’ran, etc.) online (please specify which ones)
- Reading religious blogs online (please name some)
- Watching videos with religious content online (please describe one you remember)
- Listening to sermon podcasts online (please say who was preaching)
- Listening to religious music, broadly defined, online (please name some performers, composers, and/or songs/works)
- Taking classes in religion or religious topics online (please describe one or more)
- Looking at religious content online with your children (please specify)
- Other (please specify)
(C) Any general comments about online religious content?
If you’ve never commented before, I’d really love to hear your answers to one or more of the above questions. Even if you don’t access any other online religious content, I’d still love to know that. Thanks in advance for your assistance!
There’s this small town, and everyone who lives there is a fundamentalist except one Unitarian Universalist guy. The Great Recession hit this Unitarian Universalist hard, his work dried up, now he’s got no money. One of the fundamentalists, the richest guy in town, hires the Unitarian Universalist to keep an eye out for Christ’s second coming. “You sit right here out in front of my house and holler when you see Christ,” says the rich guy. “What are you going to pay me?” “Two bucks a day.” The Unitarian Universalist takes the job, and sits down on the front steps to start work. Someone says to him, “What a lousy salary you got.” “Yeah,” says the Unitarian Universalist, “but great job security.”