Although I love music I rarely have time to listen to it. My work demands concentration and if I have music on I have trouble paying attention to the task before me. I awake early to write, and if I try to listen to music while expressing my thoughts through my fingers I find myself conflicted. I work until supper and the debriefing time that follows work is often fraught—we’re all experiencing frustrations with our new, pandemic reality. By the time supper’s over, I’m ready for sleep and one of the things that can keep me awake is an ear-worm. Awake predawn the next day and repeat. On rare occasions when I have a thoughtless task to complete on my job, I’ll be able to put on some tunes.
When that rare syzygy came the other day I put on MCR, or, for those who like to spell things out (such as me), My Chemical Romance. Every time I listen to MCR I wonder why I don’t do it more. I suppose it’s because I have only two of their albums and I don’t want to wear them out. What struck me as I listened to The Black Parade was how religious language sometimes creeps in, even when the band is secular. This is important because rationalists have long been trying to dismantle religious thinking, falsely associating it with only certain amorphous groups such as “Fundamentalists” or “extremists.” Religion, however, is very much a part of being human. If we deny it, it simply crops up in another form. It may take some time for the new shape to be recognized, but when it is it’ll be called religious.
I often wonder why universities, which are supposed to be such curious places, tend to show so little interest in religion. It’s like that embarrassing uncle at a family gathering—the one everyone else avoids. Still, our political system is run by religious ideology—take a look at the Supreme Court and try to deny it. Our daily life is suffused with it like the air in a room with a scented oil diffuser. Religion is all around us and the academic response tends to be “meh.” I might be less distressed by this lack if it could be demonstrated that people are becoming less religious, but they’re not. MCR doesn’t (in the albums I have) exude religious thoughts often, but they are there. They also appear in other secular music, almost as often as sex and drugs. If only I had more time I might be able to listen for more examples. Right now, however, it is time to get to work.