Rockin Faith

Reading the USA Today newspaper this morning I came across an article about Alice Cooper.   Seems he and his band mates will finally make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month.   For many years, they weren't even on the ballot.   

It is an interesting article and I will put a link at the bottom.   As I read the article I was at first surprised to hear that in addition to his family ( he has been married for 35 years and has 3 children), his love of golf and movies, he is also a substitute teacher at a regular Wednesday Bible Study.   Crazy!  I'm thinking that would be wild to sit in on that class.   Alice Cooper's Bible Study as opposed to Alice Cooper's Nightmare.

As I was smiling and imaging that class, I recalled a youth workshop I attended while in seminary in Lancaster PA thirty years ago.   It was lead by Dennis Benson, who at the time was a significant voice in youth ministry.   He had written a number of books (many of which I still use) and hosted a radio show somewhere - maybe Pittsburg - where he interviewed many rock stars of the time.

At this workshop, he came out onto our mini stage dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi, the lights were dimmed, the theme music was blaring and he jumped out on stage with a light saber.   This was so cool (and remember Star Wars was very fresh and new at that time having been released in 1977).    What an entrance.  Then, the lights were turned on, the music off, the costume dropped to the floor and the light saber turned off.    In a soft, gentle voice, he shared that the good news was that we did not have to be Obi Wan Kenobi to reach young people, we just had to be ourselves.    Let Hollywood entertain our youth - we don't have too.   Youth Ministry is not about entertaining, but about engaging youth and letting them experience the love of God.    It was a message way ahead of its time.

During that afternoon he shared many stories and examples.   One story was about meeting Alice Cooper and traveling with him on his plane to a concert.  I believe he did some interviews for his show and wrote about these stories as well.    What he shared was that behind the stage show, behind the mask of Cooper, was a man, Vincent Furier - not that I remember the name, but it was in the article) who trusted God and believed.   

I graduated later that spring and began serving as an Associate Pastor in Buffalo NY.   Part of my ministry was working with area youth and leading workshops.   I led a number of workshops on rock music.   For research purposes, I went to a record burning at a church in West Seneca - pretty scary stuff being said there.   This was a time in the early 80's where there was alot of critical stuff being said about rock music, especially the satanic aspects of it.  It was a time of listening to rock music played backwards and hearing messages and all that.   Alice Cooper was one of those bands often pointed out as being evil. As one who enjoyed rock music, I tried to encourage people to approach it with an open mind.   Ask questions, read the lyrics, talked abiout the cover art - but don't call it all evil.

Today, that seems so long ago.   And look where we are today.  Not only is Alice Cooper teaching Bible Study, but heavy metal, rap, and rock music are common in worship.   There is a huge Christian Music industry.   And some of the negative aspects of the music industry are found in Chrsitian music today.

Things are not always as they appear.   A simple article in a newspaper leads to a trip down memory lane - but more than just memories, a reminder that life is always more than what we see on the surface.

Rock on friends.