Manson Rituals

"PRAYING FOR TRUTH" are the words printed across the raggedy brown paper banner. Two teenage boys sit out in front of the Metrodome holding it up. Is this the continuing protest of Ozzfest, the concert slated for June 22 featuring Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne that was already run out of an outdoor venue in Somerset, Wisconsin by concerned citizens and moved to the Metrodome in Minneapolis?

One boy strokes the sparse stubble on his chin. "We're not protesting. We're just having like a little praising worship thing for the Metrodome because they need help, because..." The boys look at one another. "Because they shouldn't have people like Marilyn Manson coming. We're not trying to condemn them. People like that need help... The thing is, Manson does demonic stuff." What sort of stuff, we inquire. "Oh, what is it... Well, an issue of Rolling Stone said he was doing like ripping up bibles and washing himself with them."

As a perfect summer-evening sun sets, about 25 young people representing the student-led, student-organized youth group United Under One sit in a circle under the Metrodome. Eighteen-year-old Kelly springs up to testify. "I'm from White Bear Lake!" she says to some enthusiastic clapping. She then leads the group in another round of prayer. "Lord I pray for Marilyn Manson." "Jesus, we claim the Metrodome for you. You are greater than Satan." "We claim your name Jesus, you are the winner! You won the battle a long time ago on the cross, amen, and we love you!"

A car drives by blaring none other than Marilyn Manson. Eyes clench, hands grip one another more tightly. An out-of-breath, red-faced teenage girl chugs up to the group. She comes with a breathless warning: "I usually don't listen to the Edge, I was just flipping through the radio and I heard something about the prayer meeting. Someone called in and said, 'Yeah, man, we need some help down at the Metrodome because there are a bunch of Christians there'--and then they used some profanity." Daniel, a stern-looking man in Timberland sandals, lets several worried pairs of young eyes fall on him before speaking solemnly. "What God is doing is that there's a battle... This is more than just a meeting here... We represent thousands and thousands and thousands of people that believe in the Power of Christ." Another car drives by, and a kid shouts out of the window, "Marilyn Manson rules!" Daniel continues, unruffled. "This is no mamby-pamby prayer. We need to touch God. We have an enemy that's out to destroy a generation of young people, but we have confidence that Jesus will overcome the battle. So let's pray it!"

About 20 yards away, Damien and Michelle sit next to a pile of handmade signs: "Manson is Better than You," "Manson is Your God" and "Remember the 1st Amendment." They don't bother holding the signs up, content to joke and gossip amongst themselves. Occasionally they cast an eye toward the prayer group to see if anything serious is happening. They watch the other kids singing as they walk around the Metrodome, holding hands in pairs, bible pages rustling in the wind. Michelle blows some bubbles out of a small glass vial that hangs around her neck; Damien stares wistfully at his skateboard. "We read in the Star Tribune that there was a big protest against Marilyn Manson and it turns out to be this. Christ--and we took off our party night to come down here."

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