MUSIC MONDAY The Ramones and Punk Music

Francis Schaeffer pictured below in 1971 at L Abri

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Image result for francis schaeffer labri
Image result for francis schaeffer labri


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Dr. Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri Conference, Urbana, 1981

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Punk tells us that “there is no future”… I’m fed up There’s no hope I wanna puke   I’m a worm man Gonna crawl in a hole Nobody’s my friend I’m no good to anyone I want some dirt   ‘ll never be happy I hate myself I wish I was dead I wish I was dead I wish I was dead   (Worm Man, 1987)



Blondie grew up with punk, which began in the mid‐70’s as a loose movement of bands wanting to recycle the raw, high‐powered energy of 50’s and early 60’s rock‐and‐roll. They were reacting against the overproduced, too‐slick sound of most pop music — the mindless, repetitive rhythms of disco and the bland creaminess of studio‐created pop, both of which monopolized the airwaves.

Bands like the Ramones toured England, where their punk attitude — they behaved onstage like truculent street toughs — was adopted by English pub bands as a vehicle for the political outrage expressed by the theater’s “Angry Young Men” two decades earlier. Punk music was minimalist, some said chaotic; its lyrics emphasized alternating currents of nihilism and sentimentality. When more musicianly and cerebral groups, such as Talking Heads, came onto the scene, English music writers invented the umbrella term “new wave” to encompass all late‐70’s groups, however disparate, which were aiming to restore gut feeling to rock‐and‐roll.

Francis Schaeffer taught young people at L Abri in Switzerland in the 1950’s till the 1980’s (pictured below)

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Image result for francis schaeffer labri
Image result for francis schaeffer labri
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Francis Schaeffer noted:

They can’t find any meaning to life. It’s the meaning of the words “punk rock.”

Francis Schaeffer pictured


 “They are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian World View to a Humanistic one…
The result is a relativistic value system. A lack of a final meaning to life — that’s first. Why does human life have any value at all, if that is all that reality is? Not only are you going to die individually, but the whole human race is going to die, someday. It may not take the falling of the atom bombs, but someday the world will grow too hot, too cold. That’s what we are told on this other final reality, and someday all you people not only will be individually dead, but the whole conscious life on this world will be dead, and nobody will see the birds fly. And there’s no meaning to life.

As you know, I don’t speak academically, shut off in some scholastic cubicle, as it were. I have lots of young people and older ones come to us from the ends of the earth. And as they come to us, they have gone to the end of this logically and they are not living in a romantic setting. They realize what the situation is. They can’t find any meaning to life. It’s the meaning to the black poetry. It’s the meaning of the black plays. It’s the meaning of all this. It’s the meaning of the words “punk rock.” And I must say, that on the basis of what they are being taught in school, that the final reality is only this material thing, they are not wrong. They’re right! On this other basis there is no meaning to life and not only is there no meaning to life, but there is no value system that is fixed, and we find that the law is based then only on a relativistic basis and that law becomes purely arbitrary.


JOSÉ DE SEGOVIA   The Ramones, 40 years on It would be a mistake to think that their story was nothing more than the nihilism of hopeless youth. Their rage was a cry of rebellion against an empty life. BETWEEN THE LINES AUTHOR José de Segovia TRANSLATOR Esther Barrett 19 OCTOBER 2016 11:50 h GMT+1 It is now forty years since the Ramones published their first album. None of them are now left following the death of the four founding members of the band that gave rise to punk in the New York of 1974. Ramon wasn’t their real name, but they pretended that they were brothers, wearing the same clothes and getting their hair cut in the same style. One of the values that young people at that time most admired was the sense of belonging that brought these lads together into a kind brotherhood. Rock music has often given expression to these kinds of feelings, but never so clearly as in the music of the Ramones. For Spanish people who lived through the “Movida Madrileña”[1], the Ramones’ music was a point of reference. Their short hectic songs, based on a couple of chords and insistent choruses, were the inspiration of many Spanish bands. Popular culture was deeply affected by the punk movement that was born in England in 1976, but which in reality had its origins in New York. Bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash drew inspiration from the provocation of Iggy Pop and the Stooges, the scandalous New York Dolls, but above all, from the sound of the Ramones. In those days, not only did people make their hair stand on end and paint themselves in colours, but anyone could be a “rock and roll” star. Boys like the Ramones were proud of the fact that, although they had never been taught to play, they could nevertheless play their guitars at high speed, singing infectious songs like Gabba Gabba Hey, which got stuck in your head, repeating itself over and over again.   40 years ago the Ramons published their first album.   THE LAST SURVIVOR The dirty, fast and furious sound of the Ramones was not born out of the margins of society, but was the product of a bunch of fairly well educated boys, who lived in the well-to-do area of Queens. They started out in a club of legendary fame, the CBGB, which is close to the street that bears the name of the singer, Joey Ramone. Joey died of cancer in 2001; the base player, Dee-Dee died of an overdose the year after; and the guitar player, Johnny, died of cancer in 2004. Tommy was of Jewish origins, like Joey, the only one to be born outside the United States, in Budapest. He was the band’s first drummer and later became their producer, using his real name, Erdelyi. His successor, Marky, left the band, to return just before the Sao Paolo tragedy, when three people died and another thirty people were injured in a shooting at the Ramones’ concert. Punk tells us that “there is no future”… I’m fed up There’s no hope I wanna puke   I’m a worm man Gonna crawl in a hole Nobody’s my friend I’m no good to anyone I want some dirt   ‘ll never be happy I hate myself I wish I was dead I wish I was dead I wish I was dead   (Worm Man, 1987)   APPEARANCES CAN BE MISLEADING   Johnny Ramone’s effigy plays his guitar in a cemetery in Hollywood. The band finally broke up in 1996. Behind their façade of brotherhood, they were continually falling out. Johnny stopped speaking to Joey after he stole his girlfriend in 1980, and then got married to her. As a result, he didn’t visit him before he died. He thought that it would have been hypocritical, even though they both trod the same stage for 22 years, with the same haircut, the same leather jackets and the same surname. There is no doubt that appearances can be misleading.      It’s not me It’s not me It’s not me   Don’t wanna die for your sins Got no special powers Sacrifice and sacrilege Hey man, I wanna live   I’m not Jesus I can’t heal you   (I Am Not Jesus, 1987) It is clear that neither the Ramones, nor any other music, can save anyone. What’s more, punk was inevitably destined to have a very short life, as it is impossible to be so destructive, without ending up self-destructing. But it would be a mistake to think that their story was nothing more than the nihilism of hopeless youth. Their rage was a cry of rebellion against an empty life.   ROCK AS RELIGION The music of the Ramones was something more than just a means of entertainment at a time when rock had become mainstream. Their songs were a true expression of their dreams and frustrations. Behind their studied boredom, the Ramones showed a passion that truly saw rock as their only means of redemption. Stiv Bators – the singer of Lords of the New Church, a band that brought together what remained of four of the last punk bands in England – once said that young people no longer had anything to believe in. In his opinion you could believe in rock’n’roll with the passion that people felt for football or religion. For them, let’s not forget it, music was a spiritual experience.   Joey Ramone is buried in a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey. He saw a parallel to gospel music in that it also established a spiritual link: “rock’n’roll is the Western’s civilization voodoo”. The Ramones, however, remind us that music cannot heal us, as it has no special powers. There is only one sacrifice that can save us. And that is the sacrifice of He who died for our sins. In that light, who would want to live for music? [1] A hedonistic counter-cultural movement that took place mainly in Madrid during the Spanish transition after Francisco Franco’s death in 1975.
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Francis Schaeffer also observed:

The peak of the drug culture of the hippie movement was well symbolized by the movie Woodstock. Woodstock was a rock festival held in northeastern United States in the summer of 1969. The movie about that rock festival was released in the spring of 1970Many young people thought that Woodstock was the beginning of a newand wonderful age.

Jimi Hendrix (1942–1970himself was soon to become a symbol of the endBlackextremely talented, inhumanly exploited, he overdosed in September 1970 and drowned in his own vomit, soon after the claim that the culture of which he was a symbol was a new beginning. In the late sixties the ideological hopes based on drug-taking died.

After Woodstock two events “ended the age of innocence,” to use the expression of Rolling Stone magazine. The first occurred at Altamont, California, where the Rolling Stones put on a festival and hired the Hell’s Angels (for several barrels of beer) to police the grounds. Instead, the Hell’s Angels killed people without any cause, and it was a bad scene indeed. But people thought maybe this was a fluke, maybe it was just California! It took a second event to be convincing. On the Isle of Wight, 450,000 people assembled, and it was totally ugly. A number of people from L’Abri were there, and I know a man closely associated with the rock world who knows the organizer of this festival. Everyone agrees that the situation was just plain hideous.

(How Should We Then Live, pp. 209-210)

 In his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? Francis Schaeffer noted:

This emphasis on hallucinogenic drugs brought with it many rock groups–for example, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. Most of their work was from 1965-1958. The Beatles’Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) also fits here. This disc is a total unity, not just an isolated series of individual songs, and for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. As a whole, this music was the vehicle to carry the drug culture and the mentality which went with it across frontiers which were almost impassible by other means of communication.

Here is a good review of the episode 016 HSWTL The Age of Non-Reason of HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?, December 23, 2007:

Together with the advent of the “drug Age” was the increased interest in the West in  the religious experience of Hinduism and Buddhism. Schaeffer tells us that: “This grasping for a nonrational meaning to life and values is the central reason that these Eastern religions are so popular in the West today.”  Drugs and Eastern religions came like a flood into the Western world.  They became the way that people chose to find meaning and values in life.  By themselves or together, drugs and Eastern religion became the way that people searched inside themselves for ultimate truth.

Along with drugs and Eastern religions there has been a remarkable increase “of the occult appearing as an upper-story hope.”  As modern man searches for answers it “many moderns would rather have demons than be left with the idea that everything in the universe is only one big machine.”  For many people having the “occult in the upper story of nonreason in the hope of having meaning” is better than leaving the upper story of nonreason empty. For them horror or the macabre are more acceptable than the idea that they are just a machine.

Francis Schaeffer has correctly argued:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible. Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible.

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?, under footnotes #97 and #98)

A common assumption among liberal scholars is that because the Gospels are theologically motivated writings–which they are–they cannot also be historically accurate. In other words, because Luke, say (when he wrote the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts), was convinced of the deity of Christ, this influenced his work to the point where it ceased to be reliable as a historical account. The assumption that a writing cannot be both historical and theological is false.

The experience of the famous classical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay illustrates this well. When he began his pioneer work of exploration in Asia Minor, he accepted the view then current among the Tubingen scholars of his day that the Book of Acts was written long after the events in Paul’s life and was therefore historically inaccurate. However, his travels and discoveries increasingly forced upon his mind a totally different picture, and he became convinced that Acts was minutely accurate in many details which could be checked.

What is even more interesting is the way “liberal” modern scholars today deal with Ramsay’s discoveries and others like them. In the NEW TESTAMENT : THE HISTORY OF THE INVESTIGATION OF ITS PROBLEMS, the German scholar Werner G. Kummel made no reference at all to Ramsay. This provoked a protest from British and American scholars, whereupon in a subsequent edition Kummel responded. His response was revealing. He made it clear that it was his deliberate intention to leave Ramsay out of his work, since “Ramsay’s apologetic analysis of archaeology [in other words, relating it to the New Testament in a positive way] signified no methodologically essential advance for New Testament research.” This is a quite amazing assertion. Statements like these reveal the philosophic assumptions involved in much liberal scholarship.

A modern classical scholar, A.N.Sherwin-White, says about the Book of Acts: “For Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming…Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must not appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken this for granted.”

When we consider the pages of the New Testament, therefore, we must remember what it is we are looking at. The New Testament writers themselves make abundantly clear that they are giving an account of objectively true events.

(Under footnote #98)

Acts is a fairly full account of Paul’s journeys, starting in Pisidian Antioch and ending in Rome itself. The record is quite evidently that of an eyewitness of the events, in part at least. Throughout, however, it is the report of a meticulous historian. The narrative in the Book of Acts takes us back behind the missionary journeys to Paul’s famous conversion on the Damascus Road, and back further through the Day of Pentecost to the time when Jesus finally left His disciples and ascended to be with the Father.

But we must understand that the story begins earlier still, for Acts is quite explicitly the second part of a continuous narrative by the same author, Luke, which reaches back to the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all [a]the inhabited earth. [b]This was the first census taken while[c]Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a [d]manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the opening sentences of his Gospel, Luke states his reason for writing:

Luke 1:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things[a]accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those whofrom the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellentTheophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.

In Luke and Acts, therefore, we have something which purports to be an adequate history, something which Theophilus (or anyone) can rely on as its pages are read. This is not the language of “myths and fables,” and archaeological discoveries serve only to confirm this.

For example, it is now known that Luke’s references to the titles of officials encountered along the way are uniformly accurate. This was no mean achievement in those days, for they varied from place to place and from time to time in the same place. They were proconsuls in Corinth and Cyprus, asiarchs at Ephesus, politarches at Thessalonica, and protos or “first man” in Malta. Back in Palestine, Luke was careful to give Herod Antipas the correct title of tetrarch of Galilee. And so one. The details are precise.

The mention of Pontius Pilate as Roman governor of Judea has been confirmed recently by an inscription discovered at Caesarea, which was the Roman capital of that part of the Roman Empire. Although Pilate’s existence has been well known for the past 2000 years by those who have read the Bible, now his governorship has been clearly attested outside the Bible.

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