Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

Black Friday. telegraph.co.uk

Re-post 2015. Taken from my journal and left in its raw, stream of consciousness form

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” — Luke 12:16-21

After watching the video of that famous 2008 Walmart Black Friday stampede that left one worker dead, I could not stop thinking about the faces of those crazed shoppers. Desperate and glazed, like soulless zombies carrying out an irresistible command. I was reminded of Zosima’s words in The Brothers Karamazov as I watched:

The world has proclaimed freedom of theirs: nothing but servitude and suicide! For the world says: ‘You have needs, so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the wealthiest and most highly placed of men. Do not be afraid to satisfy them, but even multiply them’ — that is the present-day teaching of the world. In that, too, they see freedom. And what is the result of this right to the multiplication of needs? Among the rich isolation and spiritual suicide, and among the poor — envy and murder, for while they have been given rights, they have not yet been afforded the means with which to satisfy their needs.

These memories were resurrected (for unknown reasons) when my daughter recently introduced me to the Twenty One Pilots song, Heavydirtysoul. It feels like the song of someone who is confronted by a music culture that proliferates the mindless life of a moral zombie, and responds by crying out to God to save him and smoke out the “infestation in my mind’s imagination.” These lyrics in particular struck me:

Nah, I didn’t understand a thing you said,
If I didn’t know better I’d guess you’re all already dead,
Mindless zombies walking around with a limp and a hunch,
Saying stuff like, “You only live once.”

You’ve got one time to figure it out,
One time to twist and one time to shout,
One time to think and I say we start now,
Sing it with me if you know what I’m talking about

Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit.

YOLO, which is meant as the cry of a hedonist rebel, is judged to be the motto of mindless zombies. Yes, you only live once, but that time is given for us to think, which in other Twenty One Pilots sons, like Car Radio, is equivalent to faith seeking understanding. Faith alone sheds light on the ultimate meaning of our one-life.

Jesus’ parable of the rich man, Zosima’s incisive diagnosis and Heavydirtysoul face us with the critical choices thrust on us by a consumerist culture: either live a self-serving hedonist ethic, driven by the insatiable cycle of pleasure-seeking consumption (with only pragmatic regard for consequences), or “take time to think” (metanoia) and rise above avarice and greed by practicing a virtuous asceticism. For those who take this road less traveled, “You Only Live Once” ceases to serve as a cognate of the Epicurean motto, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” and becomes a bracing call to make of one’s life a worthy offering.

“Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit.” Brilliant! Fear that emerges out of an awareness of the gravitas of freedom can serve as an effective motivator for change. Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In the Christian tradition the prospect of death has always served as a core theme of any healthy spirituality. Every night we are counseled to prepare for death and final judgment as the surrender of sleep is, in the words of Thomas a Kempis, “a daily rehearsal for death.” With its absolute finality, death forces a definitive confrontation with questions of ultimate significance. Memento mori, “remember that you must die” has long served as a mantra for keeping one’s priorities straight by living every moment sub specie aeternitatis, “in the light of eternity,” fully aware that the Awesome Judgment could follow your next breath.

Those who live mindless YOLO lives — driven by greed, avarice and the gluttonous quest to always feel full — have numbed the sting of conscience by living in a vast Mall within which needs are conjured and satisfied. Chanon Ross masterfully describes the psychology of such a superficial mall culture:

When a consumer enters the shopping mall, her senses are engaged by a panoply of stimuli designed to intoxicate. Images, music, scents, and products swirl together in a whirlwind of desire. The consumer does not have to want anything before entering the shopping mall because it is designed to cultivate desire for her, and it provides her with the products she needs to consummate the desire it has produced.

The charge of energy that the shopper gets wears off. The products she bought get a little old, a little drab, a little familiar, losing their gloss and sheen. One day she will peer into her overflowing closet and conclude, ‘I have nothing to wear.’ Taken literally, this statement is nonsensical; what she really means is that the clothes she purchased in the past no longer provide her with the intensification of being that she craves. Purse in hand, she heads off once again to the shopping mall, and the cycle of de-intensification begins anew.

This vapid consumerist culture shrivels all aspirations to spiritual greatness. Fr. Tom Hopko describes this state with his usual color:

…Man emerged from 12 billion years of cosmic evolution. God breathed in us an immortal spirit and stamped us with His divine image. We fell into sin but He pursued us with love, taking on flesh, being crucified and rising from death to give us a share in the divine life. He gave us generations of saints and martyrs whose blood and sweat and tears and sacrifices have been poured out to ensure the seeds of the Gospel made it to the ends of the earth. And then we look to see what fruits have come from all this and what do we find? Some guy slouched in a La-Z-Boy, intoxicated, or high on weed or heroine or some drug of choice, watching porn while eating junk food. This is where we have come. When we become like this, we are no longer human. We’re post-human. We’re sub-human. We’ve become nothing but brains and bodies, computers and consumers, calculators and copulators, constructers and cloners who believe we’re free and powerful but we’re really enslaved and destroyed by our insane strivings to define, design, manage and manipulate a world and a humanity without the God who loves us. It’s all so sad. Only God can save us from this mess!

Twenty One Pilots asks us to cry out to God from this mess:

Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

If we dare to receive His answer, the revolution begins:

There’s an infestation in my mind’s imagination,
I hope that they choke on smoke ’cause I’m smoking them out the basement,
This is not rap, this is not hip-hop,
Just another attempt to make the voices stop,
Rapping to prove nothing, just writing to say something,
‘Cause I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t rushing to sayin’ nothing,
This doesn’t mean I lost my dream,
It’s just right now I got a really crazy mind to clean.

Gangsters don’t cry,
Therefore, therefore I’m,
Mr. Misty-eyed, therefore I’m.

Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

Nah, I didn’t understand a thing you said,
If I didn’t know better I’d guess you’re all already dead,
Mindless zombies walking around with a limp and a hunch,
Saying stuff like, “You only live once.”
You’ve got one time to figure it out,
One time to twist and one time to shout,
One time to think and I say we start now,
Sing it with me if you know what I’m talking about.

Gangsters don’t cry,
Therefore, therefore I’m,
Mr. Misty-eyed, therefore I’m.

Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit. [2x]

Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
Can you save, can you save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
For me, for me, uh
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

Can you save, can you save my—save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?
Can you save, can you save my—save my—
Can you save my heavydirtysoul?

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