While beginning work on my new full length Nonsubstantiation, I thought of you, and I thought of this season, and I thought maybe you could use a gift. What do you give someone who already has a bunch of Iafrate Xmas musics? More Iafrate Xmas musics. Here for you is a digital two-song single tho in the style of the old physical two-sided singles. The first track is "The Friendly Beasts," a version to add to a long legacy of versions such like The Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash, and The Sufjan. The second track is an instrumental version of the hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" with interesting instruments. The songs were recorded this past week by David Klug. Aaron Crothers (Good Sport, The Emergency) played the bass guitar. And Karri Roberts provided the beautiful peacock painting for the cover. The single is free to download and it is available here. Enjoy it. A bunch of original songs from the same session are on the way.
Secular Music and Sacred Theology, edited by Tom Beaudoin, is an outgrowth of the Rock and Theology project, sponsored by Liturgical Press. It includes an essay of mine "More Than Music: Notes on 'Staying Punk' in the Church and in Theology," and it's out in May from Liturgical Press.
I was happy to sign on to this statement today originally signed by about 150 Catholic theologians calling for an end to the death penalty. Please spread the word. Here is an excerpt:
Therefore, in concert with our recent popes and bishops, we oppose the death penalty, whether a person on death row is guilty or innocent, on both theological and practical grounds. While we especially deplore and lament the killing of Troy Davis, we also decry the death sentences of the more than 3,200 inmates on death row and the 1,268 executions since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. We urge our nation to abolish capital punishment, and we also implore our churches to work unwaveringly to end it as well as all other threats to human life and dignity.
My essay "Destructive Obedience: U.S. Military Training and Culture as a Parody of Christian Discipleship," has (finally!) appeared in the latest issue of The Conrad Grebel Review 29.2 (Spring 2011): 4–30. A PDF of the essay is here. And here is an abstract:
Using the theme of “discipleship” found in the witness of the peace churches but neglected in Roman Catholic theology, this paper interrogates concrete practices of military training and culture in the contemporary United States. Viewed through the lens of discipleship, military training is described as a process of discipleship in its own right, including practices of conversion and deliberate conscience (de-) formation that are fundamentally at odds with Christian discipleship and ultimately destructive to both the soldier and the victims of the US military. American Catholics can learn much from the peace churches in terms of ecclesial praxis for resisting the "destructive obedience" that is central to military discipleship.
I returned recently from the annual convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America in San Jose, CA where I presented a paper called "'I'm a Human, Not a Statue': Saints and Saintliness in the Church of Punk Rock." I may post a revised version of the paper online. Until then, here is a summary:
In agreement with theologians who are noting how popular music fulfills a religious function in people's lives, this paper gives a brief overview of the emergence of punk rock communities in the 1970s and '80s and the various ways that punk functions “religiously” for its participants. It then analyzes the way punk rock lifts up exemplars or “saints” who embody the diverse and often conflicting ideals of this movement and the ways in which punk rock “saints” challenge mainstream rock's patterns of “rock star religiosity.” Finally, it argues that this internal debate about the meaning of “saintly” figures in rock music has much to teach the Roman Catholic Church in its current debates about the meaning of saints in postmodern culture and that it can also provide an important critique of the enthusiasm with which emerging theologies of popular music approach rock music as a “religion.”
My essay "The Totus Christus and the Crucified People: Re-Reading Augustine’s Christology from Below with the Salvadoran Jesuits" has appeared in the Journal of Postcolonial Theory and Theology, Vol. 2, No. 4 (May 2011). A PDF of the article can be found here.
Around 11 am on March 2, 2011, I started recording a 5-song EP at Dave Klug’s studio in Pittsburgh, PA. Less than 24 hours later, the EP is mixed, mastered, and released. (Beat that, Radiohead.) No Matter How Deep The Darkness, He Descends Deeper Still is available as a pay-what-you-want digital download here. The EP features alternate acoustic versions of two songs from the forthcoming M Iafrate & The Priesthood album Christian Burial (“Horse Birth” and “God O God”) as well as three covers: “Take My Will” by Jandek, “Stick In The Mud” by The Jayhawks, and the popular Catholic hymn “I Am The Bread Of Life.” Enjoy! And thanks in advance for whatever you can throw in the collection plate!
My review of Tripp York's book Living on Hope While Living in Babylon: The Christian Anarchists of the 20th Century has been republished at a new site called Religion at the Margins. It previously appeared at Jesus Radicals, Vox Nova, and at my own blog.
My latest post at Rock and Theology is an interview with punk zine writer Bianca Valentino whose latest zine project, Conversations With Punx: A Spiritual Dialogue, publishes interviews with punk rock icons such as Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Greg Graffin and more discussing spirituality in/of punk rock. Read the interview here.