Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
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