Get ready for a trip into weirdness.A friend sent me this song, by a band called O.S.I., a Dream Theater side project. The group sampled a recording made by my mom Elizabeth Clare Prophet, in which she gives an “invocation” for the “binding of rock music and the forces of death and hell.” The recording they sampled and many others like it were published on a CD entitled Sounds of American Doomsday Cults: Church Universal and Triumphant.
(Elizabeth Clare Prophet)”…So you may stand at this time, I’m going to make an opening invocation, and then we’re going to begin this, and when I come to the place where I want to do this insert—it’s a long insert, where the insert begins, you are going to roll this tape:”
(Elizabeth Clare Prophet)…by the power of the cosmic Christ descend into the earth to bind now the very cause and core of rock music and of death and hell itself, for rock is the rhythm of death and hell, and without that rhythm, death and hell cease to exist…
Bind now death and hell…
The light of God never fails, beloved Astrea, beloved Astrea, beloved Astrea, I call upon the electronic solar rings of the great central sun, the seraphim of god, I call for the electronic fire rings, I call for the rings of the great central sun, I call for the great central sun magnet, the full power of Helios and Vesta, descend now into this force field, descend now into this force field, descend now into this force field, let God’s will be done, in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the mother, we dedicate this service now to the casting of the beast…
…descend now into this force field, …descend now into this force field…
Yowza. Aside from the sci-fi “lord of the rings” motif, the whole concept of willing, wishing or chanting to change things you don’t like, or to change people you don’t agree with is abhorrent. Especially when it’s to impose your subjective theocratic tyranny on the rest of the world. When she called for the “binding of death and hell,” what did she think would happen? Who did she think she was, to pass judgement on hundreds of talented, sincere, hard-working, and creative musicians worldwide?
I suppose maybe the real crime of rock music in her eyes, if she was truthful to herself, was that it was more visceral, compelling, and convincing than her religion, even as ritual. It’s in tune with the earth, with our genes, our hormones. It takes no prisoners, and doesn’t submit to dogma. It’s strong, because it’s subject to the feedback of the market. Unlike religion, if people don’t like it, they won’t feel intimidated into buying it. Rock’s only ethos is to be true to the human spirit. Since death is a part of life, rock doesn’t promise to defeat (or sidestep) death. And death is the only reason religion exists at all. Religion is death and hell. Who else, anywhere, ever, talks about hell? Think about it.
I doubt my mom foresaw the rise of the internet, sampling, and collage-based music. I know she never thought her invocation against rock would be used as the basis for an actual rock song. (This wasn’t the first, she was also sampled by Negativland).
Since she thought God would judge the world, I’m sure she believed He would prevent such an ‘atrocity.’
I find it ironic that more people will hear her words in this context of this song than through her own publications. I also wonder how I or anyone else could have ever taken them seriously. (I have a partial excuse, I was raised there.)
It’s easy to forget how far we all travelled down the road to unreality. In my lecture “Rock and Roll in America” in July of 1987, I helped her denounce rock music when I was a minister. It’s one of the moments in my life of which I’m most ashamed. To be honest, even when I did it, I knew it was wrong. But I played the role with gusto, selecting and splicing the clips together, so that I could play this music in front of a large audience, and get kudos for denouncing it. A part of me took perverse pleasure in sitting in judgement of my former rock idols. I believed God made me better than them, simply for taking a ‘stand’ against them, and for Him. Such is the mind-fuck that resulted when I combined an overwhelming cosmic fantasy with my own feelings of inadequacy, weakness, and youth. Mea culpa.
Since I’ve been out of that insane hallucinogenic trip for nearly 15 years, it’s really disgusting for me to hear these sounds again. To other people, it’s merely freaky. To me, it’s like reliving a nightmare. Post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Bind death and hell.” The hubris. Who did I think I was? Who did she think she was? Rock takes its rhythm from rituals that go back before the dawn of civilization. Back to when the first hominid with opposable thumbs picked up a bone or a stick and struck a hollow log:
Boom-boom-bop, boom-boom-bop, boom-boom-bop-boom-boom-boom-bop…
…And all the creatures moved and danced around the fire…as their neurons fired in time with their motions and the sound, they experienced a joy and bliss unattainable in any ‘cathedral.’ For nature was their cathedral. Something most of us have tragically lost. Mickey Hart came close to re-creating this magic on his recent Planet Drum tour. The best of rock music takes us back to that time, and keeps us in touch with our humanity. May it ever be thus.
“Bind death and hell,” my ass.