In the Christian tradition, Holy Week is an intentional journey into the multiple dark facets of the execution of Jesus by the state. It includes many players allowing to either let the oppression of Empire to have it’s way, or the few to choose humanity. Jesus is the Divine in solidarity with humanity enfleshed; incarnate. Jesus experiences first hand deep betrayal by his best friends. Tough soldiers bully Jesus to the point of being mocked and demeaned. Officials use Jesus as a political pawn to try to keep people satiated enough to ignore that they, too, are pawns in a system. It culminates in the physical: how much can one human body take?
This space allows us to face darkness. In a culture rife with toxic positivity, obsessed with preventing the life cycles of aging, and varied ways of maintaining oppressive systems, I find this space refreshing. We are allowed to feel the hard feelings. We are encouraged to pay attention to our own pain and the collective pain of marginalized peoples.
Music and art gives opportunity for contemplation. It takes the viewer, the listener, or the participant on pilgrimage of contextualizing, making it “real”, and move towards this thing called “feeling”. It moves from head to heart to body.
Goth (and goth adjacent) subculture know this. The music becomes a communal space to commiserate on pain, depression, grief, and sadness.
It is through that process that Beauty emerges. It may not look like conventional beauty, but it’s there. Humour can be found; even purpose.
As the Crow said, “It can’t rain all the time”. Resurrection will come. It might not look like what you expect. Yet there can be no resurrection without death. Growth is stunted if death and darkness are ignored. “Beauty” becomes something shallow and manipulated without this process.
There’s more than one classical piece on the seven last words of Christ. Also from the early 1990s, composer James MacMillan released “Seven Last Words from the Cross”. It’s highly discordant. It’s both aurally beautiful and disturbing. It’s haunting, and seems to reach into the subconscious.
I remember one of my seminary professors expressing some of her personal distaste for discordant music; she’s a musician. I, on the other hand, find it liberating.
If you have the space within yourself to hear, this would be a great time to give it a listen.