Lifehouse

picks

Lifehouse (perhaps a moniker in honor of the grating band of the same name, though I’m not sure) is located behind CVS in Arcata. From what I gathered from parishioners the church building used to have low ceilings, crusty walls, and altogether poor structure. Now, through several years of volunteer work, the place has been spiffed up and may one day be used as a music venue for secular and religious musicians alike.

The quasi-service began with a young bleach blond woman in a effervescent purple dress pacing the front of the stage rapidly spitting about how powerful her God is. She even got a few Amen’s when she announced that she had recently gotten a tattoo of a scripture from the book of Matthew. She then passed on the mic and Skinner was introduced.
As the band started to rock, the audience sprung to their feet. Hands were thrown in the air as if Ice Cube had commanded. Homies in the front row were out jumping Kris Kross.  In the loft above the band six young women were gyrating and writhing like cage dancers -- cage dancers for Christ.  I started to wonder, was there a communion consisting of Red Bull and ecstasy taken before I got here?
The band was… actually pretty good. For not playing together for quite some time they listened and responded to each other exceptionally well. Their most impressive feat was the ability to vary dynamics collectively. They sounded a bit like a piano-less Spoon with a Department of Eagles tinge.
Skinner’s vocals were engaging and distinct. He was able to build decent melodies and falsetto while still retaining a scratchy edge that added a morsel of soul.
The weakest part of the songs: the lyrics. They were reminiscent of the South Park episode in which Cartman starts a Christian rock band by taking classic songs and replacing the words “girl” or “lover” with Jesus. This element was heightened by the tacky use of “baby” in several of the songs. There was also a song about “Tall Angels” that sounded as if it was taken straight out of a Hallmark card one would only reluctantly purchase to appease their grandmother.
Theologically the most obtuse song was one titled “Super Love” in which Skinner got the audience to suggest abstract things to crucify such as doubt, poverty, and difference. The lyrics went as follows:
Anthony Skinner

I crucify you, I crucify you

The thing we used to do
I crucify you
Let me tell you why…
(fill in the blank)
________ you don’t hold me no more
________ go on… hit the door
________ go on and leave
________ you’re gonna lay down for me
The idea of torturing anything to death, even metaphorically, is revolting. I don’t think it’s something Jesus would recommend. Besides, if these problems go away and come back again, could that mean they have, perhaps, resurrected? If so, when are people going to start worshiping these abstracts?
Another line from a negligent mantra that stuck with me was:
“If I’m right or wrong
I’ll keep singing this song
I wanna stay in this love
Whatever it takes”
This inability to critically think and admit one’s errors due to the masturbatory satisfaction of delusion is not something to proclaim in front of any thinking person and expect to be respected. Unyielding, uncompromising, absolute blind devotion is the unjust desire of any dictator. I hope Skinner’s lyrical statement is an oversight of thoughtless penmanship and not the reality of his message.
On a positive note: (yes, I will have positive things to say about my Vicarious Redemption experiences) There was a family present, from what I gathered consisting of a mother, father, and a wheelchair bound boy with special needs. As the music played the family lovingly held their son.  Dancing and swaying to the beat they exuded pure joy. They embraced each other with purity, which even though influenced by a synthetic spirituality -- was beautiful. Music has a power that transcends religious denominations and affiliation.  For those who will say it was a religious moment, I can say that sometimes we synthesize happiness; removed from systems of power, oppression, and falsehoods those synthetic experiences are of no less quality than what society deems as real.
As the band ended the room turned into a community gathering in which I was recognized and warmly greeted. It seems I may have to return to Lifehouse to see what their actual teachings are. It was announced that they want to express grace, which they defined as, “The ability to love someone for their differences.” I hope that idea catches on.