I really enjoyed your feedback to last week’s post. I have seldom gotten as many comments on my hair (unless it was from the hookers who worked off of Granville Street in Vancouver). But in reflecting on those days I realized that not everyone reading it may have fully understood the subculture I was describing and so what follows is a theological reflection that may deepen your understanding of what I was describing.
The mosh pit, or just the Pit for short, is a scary place. That is no accident. The bodies of mostly young men, some of whom are big and strong and all of whom are pissed off, flying around is a frightening prospect for most folks. After all, most people tried to avoid getting bull-rushed. Yet those who go into mosh pits are doing exactly that- seeking out such attacks with a relish. The point of the whole thing is to give physical expression to the violence of the music that inspires it.
So it might be surprising to learn that there is also a very committed community and ethos of care and protection that governs the Pit. But how can this be if the whole point of the enterprise is to knock the other guy’s head off? Here’s how it works. Yes- the point is to try and hit the other guy and hit him hard enough to knock him down if you can. But what happens next is what defines the ethos.
If someone is knocked down, a group of people, often including the guy who just knocked him down, will stop everything else and pull him back to his feet and make sure he is OK. The obligation doesn’t stop there- if someone looses their glasses or is really having trouble getting up, a group will instantaneously form a cordon to protect them until they can get up safely.
It is intriguing find such a commitment to caring and compassion in a place otherwise dedicated to violence. Pits vary, sometimes wildly in character and intensity. From the upbeat fun of Gogol Bordello, to old school hardcore punk to the adrenaline and speed of Arch Enemy to the unbridled ferocity of Slayer…. they are all distinct. And yet, throughout them all I have found that this diverse community, which is united only by its love of music and moshing, does a better job of living out its ethos than do many churches.
To be fair, it exists in rather limited parameters. Yet when you consider that many of those who go into the Pit may not believe in God at all, it is undeniably compelling that a truly spiritual community should take shape in the midst of a circle of anger and violence. Our willingness, indeed our need, to create community at all times and in all places never ceases to amaze.