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28.05.2021

Eurovision’s Intoxicating Ascent Heavenward

I’ve written on a tombstone ‘In my house there’s no God’ 

But if you find time’s meaning you’ll climb back up from your oblivion 

And there’s no wind stopping the natural power from the right point of view 

You feel the intoxication of the wind with wax wings on your back 

I’ll go look for that high 

– Måneskin, ‘Zitti e buoni’ (Italy’s 2021 Eurovision-winning lyrics) 

 

Thomas Carlyle once mused, ‘Music is well said to be the speech of angels … it brings us near to the infinite.’ Clearly, he’d never seen Eurovision…  

Cyprus’s dedication to ‘El Diablo’, opening this four-hour exhibition, hinted we were headed the opposite direction. Still, along with seven million other Brits, I couldn’t look away. 

After a year of pandemic lockdown, racist violence, and widespread angst, Europe needed a silly party. Delayed by Covid, the slogan of ‘Open Up’ really sang. But what themes brought us together for this 65th Eurovision? 

Well, we needed to blow off steam in the Discoteque with Lithuania, and laugh about our loved ones with Iceland. After being pressed down, the women of France and Russia united in saying ‘Voilà’, this is who we are, deal with it. 

But, we’re bruised… with Bulgaria and Switzerland we lamented the loss of loved ones, weeping over ever-present human suffering. Yet, even with our post-Brexit ‘nul points’, tears couldn’t extinguish the hope that we might rise again. Every performance yearned for ‘something more’, to transcend secularism’s immanent frame. 

Perhaps in this paradox lay the surprising ascent of metal anthems putting humanity’s dark side on centre stage. European self-assertion combusted the harder they played. 

Italy’s Måneskin – Danish for ‘moonshine’ – encapsulated this, with their ‘manifesto for those who want to treasure their uniqueness’, translated ‘Shut Up and Behave’. This bare-chested self-worshipping hymn screamed that ‘we’re out of our minds’ but in all the right ways; we refuse to remain under anyone’s rules. If we can break free, we’ll make that leap of faith, surpassing Icarus soaring gloriously heavenward.   

They speak for post-Christendom Europa shrugging off religion that bullishly tries to dominate human desire. I’m tempted to dismiss this song as Babel’s hubris, doomed to continually fall with dawn’s day star (Isaiah 14:12–15). 

But what if Moonshine’s aspiration to be brought ‘where I float, cause I lack air here’ is actually a yearning for Pentecost’s wind? A misplaced longing for animation by the Spirit, an anti-institutional call to adventure in the everyday?  

Måneskin are no angels. And yet, these glam-rock musicians carry messages that won’t die, with an intoxicating spectacle that points toward the infinite. How, then, might we share the gospel to help our neighbours and colleagues ‘open up’ in these strange days, finding their desire for ‘air’ filled by God’s breath? With a baptised imagination, may Eurovision reveal time’s meaning and eternity hidden in the heart’s ascent (Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

 

Dr Dave Benson 
LICC Director of Culture & Discipleship 

Author

Dave Benson

Comments

  1. I didn’t get to see Eurovision this year. I usually find it to be like Pringles, “once you pop you can’t stop”… But I so appreciated your soaring précis of this year’s event, it was indeed a view from heaven’s perspective.

    By Gail Smith  -  28 May 2021
    • Thanks Gail – Eurovision does feel a bit like a guilty pleasure! Being from Australia, it was amusing to us that we were admitted into this European competition/celebration, really in acknowledgement of Eurovision’s cult-like following down under! People have Euro parties, though admittedly it’s often to look on bemusedly, with a wry smile at the mayhem! My biggest smile moments this year were with Iceland, both their electro-pop celebration song celebrating a ten year wedding anniversary of being together (https://youtu.be/YSMhu-PrLME), and then their self-deprecating presentation of judge’s points, using a cameo character from Will Ferrell’s ‘Eurovision’ movie, demanding that they play ‘JaJa Ding Dong’ (https://youtu.be/3rOJfiiIa9U). Much silliness, but lots of fun, too. Love how no-one takes themselves too seriously 🙂

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC
  2. Great stuff, Dave.

    Clearly, unlike you, they haven’t read Mrs Icarus by Carol Ann Duffy!

    Cheers,

    Jean

    By Jean Watson  -  28 May 2021
    • Jean, that’s brilliant!! Love Duffy’s sharing of a woman’s perspective on some of our foundational western tales … Icarus’s pretentious flight heavenward definitely looks doltish from the shore!

      ‘I’m not the first or the last
      to stand on a hillock
      watching the man she married
      prove to the world
      he’s a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.’

      Cheers!

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC
  3. Thanks Dave for a creative & adventurous reflection – and nice to see interaction with the comments! Your mention of ‘Pentecost’s wind’ prompts me to share my poem, played on BBC Radio Leeds and Premier Christian radio. Others on my blog.
    Keep soaring!

    In our rational world any talk now of God
    Is for heated debate a lightning rod
    We think we’re sophisticated, clever and wise
    So any God-talk – we easily despise
    Some of us embark on a spiritual search
    Meditation, chakra (not often church);
    What if we altered our approach to this art
    A little less intellect, a little more heart…
    What if my defences I could surrender
    A chance I might find a God wild and tender?
    What if I admit, on my own life is sour
    Might I then savour some spiritual power?
    Being too cerebral, life can be pale
    Let’s open up, get some wind in these sails
    I’m tired of pursuing a shadowy course
    God let me feel – your hurricane force
    Don’t let me shrink back, retreat or retire
    I want now to taste some spiritual fire
    I let go of my stuff God, I’m up for the ride
    I wanna be shaken and stirred, purified
    Not just tread water the rest of my days
    Hold me and mould me God, set me ablaze

    By Bruce Gulland  -  28 May 2021
    • That’s beautiful, Bruce – and resonates perfectly with the Eurovision theme and my reflection. Especially appreciated these lines:

      ‘What if my defences I could surrender
      A chance I might find a God wild and tender?
      What if I admit, on my own life is sour
      Might I then savour some spiritual power?’

      LICC’s Mark Greene often speaks of the need for a Quaduple ‘A’ Christianity that speaks to this culture’s deepest yearnings for ‘authenticity, awe, agape, and adventure’.

      Many thanks for sharing, and engaging 🙂

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC
  4. Thanks Dave, beautifully expressed. I remember a Prayer Meeting a few years ago when our ‘yearning for Pentecost’s wind’ was rewarded with a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit and ‘in the presence of the Lord there WAS a fullness of joy!’ I remember saying “If the world knew what God is really like, they couldn’t help fall in love with Him.”

    By Peter Riley  -  1 Jun 2021
    • Wonderful story, Peter … these bands, somewhat representing Europe’s heart, may seem to be oriented to nothing like (State-) church as we know it. But, that they seem to be after what only the Spirit can bring, is increasingly evident. Thanks for sharing and blessings as you continue to press into God’s presence, opening up and sharing this for the life of the world.

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC

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