|Burzum shirt front.|
|Burzum shirt rear.|
Varg Vikernes from Burzum is a murderer. He killed fellow musician Euronymous, this alone is reason enough to not wear one of his T-shirts. Yet still I do. Morals have to be arrived at, millions of students/young people wear Che Guevara T-shirts without even a tinge of irony and he killed people. "Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savouring the acrid odour of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!"
Che thought his agenda was absolutely correct and he was willing to do anything for his peoples, including murder and execution.
Varg also had his reasons for murder, I don't necessarily agree with them but Varg believed that Euronymous was going to try to kill him, which is a scary threat to live under. Varg killed Euronymous before he had a chance to kill him, or that's how he saw it.
Varg was also responsible for numerous church burnings through the early 90s which brought the tiny Norwegian Black Metal scene to worldwide notoriety. Church burning is a touchy subject, it's likely to offend even the non-christians, Varg believed that christianity had destroyed his ancestry, that christians had burned away the Norse religion and the cult of Odin from Norway, they had even built christian churches right over the sacred grounds of Norse paganism. Now you have to put that into context, if a bunch of axe wielding lunatics landed in Jarrow burnt up all the churches and built pagan statues to honour the thunder god Thor, we would be pretty pissed about it. Hang on a minute, didn't that actually happen? Biscop's monastery in Jarrow was ransacked and burnt in AD 795 and again more successfully in AD 875. My point is, one religion simply replacing another by the medium of fire and murder tends to leave people at the least disenfranchised and usually on the verge of holy war. Now I'm an atheist so I find all this murder to be sickening and totally pointless but to deny it went on or turn a blind eye as Christians inevitably do is disrespecting the very ideals our ancestors died for.
Varg like Che wholeheartedly believed in himself and his ideas, he was doing what he believed was correct. My thoughts are a little different concerning the matter, if Christians have made a mockery of the Norse Gods by burning the churches and leaving everybody slain or converted-I believe we should learn from this and not simply repeat their actions in a vengeful way a couple of hundred years later.
Learning is better than repetition, education leads to enlightenment and progression in human thought. Nevertheless if I'm going to wear a T shirt glorifying a murderer I would prefer it to be of someone who's values I share a small common ground with and understand (conversely I don't believe the students wearing Che T shirts understand the murdering blood soaked past). No, I don't believe in many of Varg's views some of them are the worst racist trollop your'e ever likely to hear. Black metal's views are muddied and extreme, NSBM is obviously wrong, Satanism although I find funny I don't believe in. What's the point in replacing Christianity with another structured and unnaccepting religion? I find the Satanism in Black Metal to be a useful tool to upset those I disagree with, just as Sid Vicious wore a Nazi sign T shirt, he didn't believe in the values of the third reich he simply wanted to upset the stiffs (or he was just wearing what Malcolm McLaren had told him to wear).
So if wearing a Burzum T-shirt is bad because Varg killed one person, has some extreme views and burnt a couple of churches all in the name of what he believed in, wearing a Che Guevara T Shirt must be really bad because Che killed more people, had extreme views and no doubt burnt buildings of other organised institutions. On this lineage it must be really really bad to wear a What Would Jesus Do T shirt because he, although indirectly, has been responsible for the senseless murder of billions of people worldwide over a 2000 year period, has caused the burning of tens of thousands of other religious buildings and sacred grounds and has caused the mental enslavement of billions of people. That's a lot of trouble caused from a misunderstood book written about a fictional character in sandals with a beard. Varg's crimes seem to pale into insignificance after hearing of the atrocities people have committed while using baby Jesus as an excuse.
I went to see O'Death at End Bar a couple of years ago wearing this Burzum T-shirt. I don't do my research on bands, very often I wont even look at a myspace page. O'Death I thought, they sound sick, they're a fast punk country band with bluegrass elements I was told, should be good. I never twigged for what I was in for. I don't know if O'Death's name stems from Hosea 13.14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? "I will have no compassion". Or wether their name comes from Corinthians 15.55-56-57 ""Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ". Alarm bells didn't go off in my head, but why should they? I'm an enlightened and excepting 21st century guy who enjoys many christian themed bands.
I first got to the gig with girl-X we sat down and got a drink in. Richard Dawson was the support and was just going on to do his set. The bar was not that full and I saw what I presumed to be O'Death in the corner of the room waiting for their chance to perform. One of their member with a beard stared at me intently. Strange I thought, I wonder if he recognises me. The O'Death member stared at me solidly clearly making eye contact and scowling a little. I got a little nervous and uncomfortable, I shifted in my seat a little and eventually made a little smile at him. This had no effect upon him and he continued to stare. I turned to Girl-X drank my pint and enjoyed Richard Dawson's set. By the time Dawson had finished O'Death had moved from the couches and were getting ready to go on stage.
O'Death's set was amazing, sort of like a folk version of municipal waste, well they had that kind of energy. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I still felt the guy with the beard had it in for me. After the show I went to the merch stand and looked at the merch with a clearly agitated merch dude looking on. I liked the vinyl version of the album, I picked it up and asked the merch dude if I could buy it? The dude looked at me and just shook his head. Hmm, I thought is he busy or something? unlikely I was the only one at the stand and the bar was now less than busy. I asked the merch dude 'do I have to wait for the other dude to get back?' presuming the current merch dude was simply care-taking the stand until another responsible money handling merch type was back. He again shook his head this time saying 'nope'. Ok I thought, strange actions, normally merch guys throw the merch at you forcibly, in my experience they don't make it hard for you to acquire merch. That would negate the whole point in there being a merch dude in the first place.
We were in a bit of a hurry because Girl-X was needed at work in a club across town. I told the merch dude that I had the correct change of £12 and could I just give it to him for the album. At this point the merch dude went from uncommunicative and agitated to animated and annoyed. He said 'you can't possibly pay for this album, you don't have enough money'.
Girl-X asked him how much it was (it was clearly marked 12quid) the merch guy replied £666 pounds to this guy you slave of satan. Admittedly I wasn't on form, I still hadn't made the connection of O'Death being a christian band and my wearing a decidedly unchristian Burzum shirt. The merch dude went on to say that he wouldn't sell me the record for any price, and that I was the enemy. I then realised that this hostility was because of the shirt I was wearing and its connotations. I then told the merch dude that I was exactly the sort of heathen he should be selling records to, that it was easy to preach to the converted, that Jesus had said teach, teach the unbelievers, that christian morality should compel him to try and convert me and by not selling me the album he was denying the core values of his faith.
Well in my head that's what I said. In reality I sheepishly said 'Oh, ok then, is it ok if I give Girl-X the money and she buy's it from you.'
The merch dude said that it would be ok on the condition that he didn't see her hand the album to me inside the venue. Girl-X now about to be late for work grabbed the money from my hand threw it at the merch dude and snatched the album. Off we went into the night with the Christian item with us.
Refusing religion of any kind is scary to a lot of people, people find safety in believing in an afterlife, it also allows them to procrastinate in life believing as they do in a glorious and meaningful afterlife. I don't believe in O'Death's religion, I think it wrong and harmful to individuals and society at it's core. What had the merch dude's action said about his morals that he supposedly so strictly adhered to. You can pull anything from the bible and twist it to your own uses to the point where it seems pointless to quote from it. I'm sure Jesus smashed up the temple because much gambling and money based debauchery was taking place, didn't Christ tell us to consider the lily (Luke 12.27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these"). Which is commonly meant to mean do not reach for monetary wealth as it will eventually find you. The merch dude still took my money even though it was through the conduit of Girl-X, my devils advocate as it were. If he believed so strongly why did he eventually fold.
The merch dude was upset by my T-shirt to the point where he wouldn't talk to me with any civility, if he had taken a few moments to find out about my beliefs before he judged me he would have found I was very accepting of christians even with there atrocious and bloody past. He would have found that while not believing in Christ I still have quite a knowledge of the scriptures and of christianity's morality (all western culture is built on these morals so it would be crazy to not have some semblance of knowledge on the subject). But no, the merch dude judged me upon my appearance and my flag as it were, he looked at an image inspired by an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (1st edition) module called The Temple of Elemental Evil with the word Burzum above it and made a judgement. The merch dudes T-shirt had vaguely demonic imagery of it's own I refrained from making a judgment on him. The whole scene left me annoyed, the merch dude clearly believed strongly enough in something but money was all it took for him to fold. Besides we have already established that wearing a burzum T-shirt is bad, But wearing a vaguely demonic O'Death T-shirt is really really bad due to it's direct association with and shared ethos of Christ, who inadvertently caused the slaughter of billions.
I may not believe in what Varg believes in but at least he rigidly sticks to his beliefs. Money should never force a change of opinion. I think in hindsight I would have loved to have had a proper conversation with not just the merch dude but the whole O'Death band to ask them why they can't look past Christianity's blind all encompassing self righteousness and try to accept others beliefs. After all we are all but one man, entitled to our own opinions, non of us can be right or wrong completely, we can only believe what we think is right based on the morality of or education. That is why educating yourself is so important so you can make the correct judgements when the time is right. I'll always try to engage people on a level ground and accept their beleifs as I would expect others to accept mine, it is the only way we will ever progress past the kicking-each-other's-heads-in stage of society.
O'deaths video is pretty good, I still think they're an awesome band, check them out.
Not as good as Burzum though.