"Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion!"
— Alice Cooper
I can't say I am a huge fan of Alice Cooper -- it's just not my style of music (and not because I'm a particularly prudish man about artistic subject matter; I just don't care especially for heavy metal). But nobody who has been in high school since 1972 hasn't rocked out and sung along to "School's Out."
But I saw this quote on my Twitter feed the other day (via Catholic Travel) and gave Cooper (nee Vince Furnier) another fist pump worthy of "schooooooooool's out ... for ever." Apparently it came from a 2001 interview with the Times of London. I had known in vague terms that Cooper was a born-again Christian after having hit rock bottom with alcohol and his wife threatening to leave him. But this was the first time I had ever seen this quote, and my reaction was "hell, yeah."
I did some sniffing around and saw that Cooper had given several interviews over the last few years on religion, a subject he apparently was reluctant to speak about for a long time, in part because he didn't want to be identified as a "celebrity Christian."
Here are some excerpts from the above-linked interviews:
That being said, I'm not a very good Christian. I mean, none of us are ever 'good' Christians. That's not the point. When you're a Christian, it doesn't mean you're gonna be good, it means you've got a harder road to pull. ...
I think Marilyn [Manson] had a really bad Christian experience when he was younger. My guess is he got involved with some less-than-Christian-Christians and that really, forgive the expression, nailed him. You know, he's one of the greatest button pushers I've ever met. And I know that game because I invented that game. ...
I've had a couple of people that were friends of mine that I've talked to that have vocally said they have [accepted Christ]. I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters ... and you'd be surprised. The ones that you would think are the furthest gone are the ones that are more apt to listen.But to get back to the opening quote. What Cooper is saying is that hedonism and the life of the flesh is the easy path in life. To say "no" to a temptation that there is no earthly barrier to your indulging -- and there are effectively no more barriers to homosexuality in the rich West -- is the radical, countercultural act today. This is not the Gay 90s world of Oscar Wilde, when going to bed with another man could ruin your life. Even AIDS (syphillis in Wilde's time) isn't what it once was. When I was in college, at the height of the PC/canon wars in the years around 1990, a professor told me, "you wanna stand out, you wanna be different? Read Chaucer and Shakespeare." At the time, it was the height of conformity to read Rigoberta Menchu and other temporally-'relevant' junk.
The same holds with what it means to be exceptional in the field of sexuality. "We," meaning homosexual persons, are probably about 3% of the population. And when I mentioned that stat, one of the other chapter members replied, "and we," (meaning those who try to resist the temptation in God's name) "are at best 3% of that 3%." To resist the sexual revolution is what makes you your own man today. Like being one of the world's biggest rock stars and not getting drunk and trashing your hotel room.
I think some Christians may be reluctant to say this kind of thing, believing it smacks of spiritual grandiloquence. It has that danger, sure -- to count oneself as exceptional. But it's not a danger not always already inherent in the notion of salvation and calling: "many are called, few are chosen" and that stuff about the narrow and wide paths, etc. The goal has to be, as Cooper says elsewhere, "on Christ and not on Alice Cooper." But a kind of "calling to a higher, tougher goal in life" is a feeling that men, particularly, need to feel about their vocations -- whether it's the Marines or the Pope's Marines. That a vocation calls a man to be more than himself and to a thing (or Person) worth striving for.
* Mad props to the first person who can identify that (slightly altered) reference.