Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
I can remember very clearly the first time I heard my favorite artist blaring through the van speakers. I sat sipping on a red bull, beside my friend Jordan in a fifteen passenger van. Disillusioned with life, I roamed aimlessly across the country side with my friends on a nationwide tour. We listened to the entirety of the new Mountain Goats album, The Life of the World to Come, as we trekked through Texas. It was like falling in love. I felt vulnerable and human.
I go out of my way to avoid the cringe that often accompanies my exposure to Christian culture. However, I’m always keen to hear a nonreligious exploration of religious themes, and that’s exactly what this album is: an exploration of the biblical retellings of universal struggles. Every track is inspired by and titled after a single verse in the Christian bible and each track is about a hard lesson that singer John Darnielle has learned from the verse. Overall, the album is quiet and contemplative. Perhaps, that’s why I found myself so helplessly drawn into the stories. Thinking introverts are helpless against the whims of ruminative acoustic guitars and strings sections. We’re drawn to imperfect characters. We cheer for the junkies and terminal cancer patients who find God in vandalism, destruction and death.
I suspect that the majority of people who cheer for the characters in narratives like these, are hopeful that such imperfect characters are able to find value and redemption among the ruins of their lives. For me, the narratives in this album mirror the very things that I live with on a daily basis. There is doubt and death and suffering and remorse, but there is love and light shining up through the failed plans and ruined hope.