My friends tried to save my soul with Christian metal
Stryper had a God complex, of sorts
Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.
When asked about my religion, my go-to joke has always been "I am a recovering Catholic; got my ten-year wafer even." I grew up Catholic -- which, in itself, is a phrase used as a starter in many a comedy routine. My great-grandparents on both sides were deeply Catholic and big drinkers, their children were pretty Catholic and pretty big drinkers, and my parents were kinda Catholic. (And, not surprisingly, big drinkers.) Not saying that Catholicism and alcoholism go hand in hand but there might be something in the wine... besides, it's the Blood of Christ.
When I was in ninth grade, my parents transferred me out of the living hell that was Fridley Jr. High -- yes, Fridley Patch, I feel the angry stares coming my way -- and into the Catholic Prep School wonderland that is Totino Grace. It was sort of easy to be there and be not particularly Catholic. Sure, there were masses and classes but as long as you didn't mind the fact that you occasionally smelled like frankincense and would perpetually have to sing "On Eagles Wings" it wasn't a bad gig. It's worth noting though, that there was a big difference between Catholic and Christian -- in particular, born again Christian.
In the early '80s, the born again movement was hitting its stride. It was a movement that seemed to be everywhere -- even in popular music. Born again didn't have the same connotations that it does now, although the perspective is a lot different through a sophomore's eyes. That year was when my friend Archibald Walrus* came to school.See Also:
How I burned the guys who wanted me to burn my KISS records
The charm wore off after this. I had once envied the belief in the "chosen's" eyes, but now it just seemed like they were blinded. I wound up leaving, walking to the Burger King at the end of the block, waiting for them to be done being saved by the Lord's power chords. I would love to tell you I had a road to Damascus moment sitting amongst the hobos and prostitutes in a burnt-orange fast food joint. And had I known who Tom Waits was at the time, I probably would have enjoyed the comparison. But, I didn't. I was just the guy who was never going to understand what my friends felt, and I was eating fries two booths over from a man that smelled like urine and Lysol.
I believe strongly in God. Religion, on the other hand, I have always had a problem with. To quote Marx: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." It's one of the only things I can agree with Marx on. Still, when everyone else is getting high on Christ, you kind of want to as well. Archibald and Hugh eventually lost their faith, they found others but they didn't involve churches. My beliefs stayed the same. Every few years, I try to go to a church for reasons other than a wedding or a funeral. For about a month I thought I was a Unitarian: long story short, I wasn't. It's like that poster that Fox Mulder had on his office wall: "I Want To Believe." I just haven't found the thing to believe in yet.
* Ok, their names aren't really Archibald Walrus & Hugh Manatee. They have been changed to protect identities. If you're going to make up names, make up good ones.
** So there is some question amongst Archie, Hugh & myself as to whether it was actually Yngwie Malmsteen. Weirdly enough, the story has been told so many times that some of the details get lost. When I remember it was Yngwie Malmsteen, but it may very well have just been some other Nordic metal guitar god who was into Jesus. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.