Yesterday I gave a list of interesting people that I had found it useful to find out about, and who I actually think express the ideals of punk theology. They ranged from a 15th century priest to a twentieth century rock band and had a good few strong women inbetween. Between them I think their lives can be seen to express the key aspects of what I refer to as “punk theology”. I’m going to distill the key elements into what I call the “punk theology basics”.
1. Forget your status – all have equal worth in the eyes of God
Some of the list were born rich, some were born poor, and some were born inbetween. However, one way or another they all forgot their status…..although at times some did use it to their advantage, in terms of networking.
2. Allow yourself to dream and think in equal measure
Each of the people I admire allowed themselves to dream. They also engaged brains aswell as dreaming though. They dreamt of different societies quite often but they weren’t afraid to use their brains aswell.
3. Challenge authority whilst not totally rejecting it -be prepared to cherish and respect the institution whilst you are kicking at the doors or punching the walls
Each of the people I value has been prepared to challenge authority one way or another, yet with the possible exception of the Clash all have also been prepared to cherish and respect the aspects of various institutions which they don’t see as corrupted. Part of the reason why each of these people gained respect was that they neither seeked totally to reform from the inside or remain totally outside either. They engaged with “the system” whilst seeking to do something new and different.
4. Knowledge gives power and occassionally creative inspiration
If you have the capability for study use it. To effectively change things or bring in something new you need knowledge. In order to talk to those who haven’t experienced some kind of suffering or prejudice about those who have you need to know all you can about the experience and frequency of the subject together with the language used by your audience.
5. Be prepared to make mistakes and generally learn from them
With the exception of Nannie Helen Burroughs, who I haven’t been able to get hold of a whole book on yet, (my interest in her stemmed from seeing a picture in a book of a black woman standing addressing the crowds at Hyde Park in 1905 whilst attending the Baptist World Alliance conference), all of these people can be seen to have messed up at some point. The nature of their mistakes varies but all were in their own way quite human. They all had, it appears,the ability to drive those closest to them up the wall sometimes, but also to obtain respect for their stances and crazy ideas.
6. Have a group of people looking out for you
All of them appear to have had people, families or others, looking out for them.
7. Don’t let a lack of finance stop you going for it
All of them seem to have realised the dream and creative talent were more important than the reality of the situation, financially, sometimes. (Note here if anybody is in a position to give a loan towards the end of the adventure please can they get in touch). Be ready to volunteer and use your skills as payment. Work your passage/ entry if necessary.
8. Use your talents to help others
All of them, at some point, used their gifts and abilities to help others not just themselves.
9. Don’t be ambitious for the normal things
Most people are ambitious for fame, getting as much money as possible or whatever. None of the above were really ambitious in these ways. Even the Clash and Billy Bragg have sold their albums cheaper because they remembered what it was like to be skint and weren’t ambitious enough to screw their fans, although sensible enough not to want to live on toast. Yet these people all did have some kind of ambition in life. Generally, it was an ambition to help others or break down barriers.
10. Push at doors
All of the people pushed at doors, sometimes creatively. If the doors opened they were brave enough to go through. If they remained shut they, generally, went and tried another one (or found a window to climb through). The doors they pushed at were sometimes pushed via networking, sometimes through writing, sometimes through speaking, sometimes through singing, sometimes through filling in forms and sometimes through just trying something.
There may seem like a lack of God speak in the above, possibly true….not all Punk Theology comes from Christians. For the Christians in there the added aspects were:
Studying the bible for what it actually said, not what you’ve been told it says
A willingness to work with others who did not always share your beliefs or strand of belief
A knowledge and appreciation for tradition
An openess to the Holy Spirit
Looking back at your own life and experience through the eyes of faith
Looking at the physical and emotional, aswell as spiritual, situation of others in society through the eyes of faith