|Works||Series 1-Quest To Be Whole||Album 1-Predator|
This album opens the Quest To Be Whole series because any understanding of life must take account of evil. The Holocaust, for example, was not the result of some system breakdown. It was a mass of calculated evil acts. This provides the backdrop against which the other albums are set because the existence of evil, of sin, is at the root of our fragmented existence. We must go on the quest in order to become whole. Many people seem to have little or no regard for being whole, so they do not seek, and thus do not find.
Since this album is driven by a general theme, its focus is primarily social and political. In other words, Predator is about external evil. In keeping with this orientation, it spans a wide range of times and places. It can be considered the general principle of our need for Jesus, namely the existence of evil, our fallen nature, and finite human capabilities. This is not a 'happy' album because the world without God is without hope or meaning.
The choice of this structure for the first album in the series is not accidental. There will be more 'plot' oriented albums later in the series, but this relational chain is a representation of the overall album series. In this way the first album somewhat holographically symbolizes the album series itself.
What we are trying to communicate is not a simple story, but a sketch of life too vast to draw explicitly, a web of relationships that, like life itself, have different meanings on different levels. Since this goal guarantees we will fail to reach it, we hope you at least enjoy the attempt. :-)
The mask face of the figure links to Art of Pantomime as an emblem of our hidden self and the effort to communicate the reality of that self.
The skull with a spark plug through the top links to Asylumthink as a cruel image of shock therapy in the public asylum. It is also a play on the common image of a skull used as a candleholder in necromancer lore. Remember, the masked figure is not a 'nice' person.
The compass links to The Donner Party & The LA Riot to represent losing ones way.
The combat knife links to The Dark Wall as an emblem of war.
The pocket watch links to Misasa Bridge as being from Hiroshima, and stopping at the time of the blast.
The pistol links to Sky of Smoke as a Nazi emblem. The fact of it being a pistol is important, because it alludes to the 'up close and personal' aspect of those carrying out the deeds of the Holocaust. It is also a play on a famous predatory saying, "Power flows from the end of a gun."
The single finger on the man's hand being a claw represents Dragon's Claw. This is also a play off another China song, Borrowed Blade, and its line, "As the hand in the glove on the knife," in that it looks like the claw poked through the 'glove' that appears a normal hand.
The chessmen link to Finest Hour by being arranged as a play off the knights in a chess game tying to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The remote control links to Not Flesh and Blood in that the visible person is not our enemy.
This album opens with existential isolation, and talks about it throughout. The idea on the album level is that evil is also an existential given.
When we look at the pain and violence of this world, at the sin and sickness and death, the sorrow fills our hearts until it runs out our eyes. That said, we will not turn away; we will not back down. We will not flee into the wish world foolish people confuse with Christianity. We wish all disputes could be settled by diplomacy. But that is not this world. We wish all the paths of humanity were converging on a central Truth, a common Center. But that is a delusion. We wish that wishing ever so hard for the world to be a realm of peace and liberty and wisdom would make it so. But it is not so. We even wish We could be content to be cynics throwing a cloak over the world and quitting the field. But our challenge, our privilege, is to face reality yet not be cowed or jaded - or destroyed. For if we flee truth to maintain our comfort, if we must look away in order to keep ourselves together, we are no help to those being devoured by the evils we cannot even stand to witness.
In short, Predator is not a "nice" album.
There is an idea popular in some Christian circles that we have no right to 'point a finger' at evil because we are not perfect ourselves. If this idea were carried forward, every issue under discussion would be without Christian input. We would have no right to take the German people to task for their silence during the Holocaust, since they should not have been pointing the finger at Hitler and were thus right to keep silent. This kind of religious self censorship, if put into practice, would only muzzle the righteous, and contribute to great evil.
There is a tremendous distinction between condemning a person and speaking against an ideology or behavior. When Paul said, "Now if I do that which I would not, it is no more I that do it, but the sin that dwells in me." (Romans 7:20), he was making this crucial distinction. Sin cannot be redeemed. If we were our sins, there could be no salvation for us, as there is none for Satan.
But we can choose our Master; Jesus or Satan, God or mammon, Life or death, and thereby choose the destiny of that Master. If we choose to remain slaves of Satan, we will follow him to his eternal torment. If we choose to becomes servants of the Most High, brethren of Jesus, then we will follow Him to His place in Glory. It is thus not a condemnation of a person to condemn their sin. Where we cross the line into error is when we then go on and personalize the discussion, when we shake our fist at a person and call them babykiller or fag or drunk or Nazi, because we are then failing to make the distinction God made in order for us to come to Him. For we all deserved the label of sinner, which transcends these finer points.
It is this realization that counts. While on the human scale murder is 'worse' than theft, fornication worse than gluttony, on God's scale sin is sin, and we have all fallen short of His glory. You might retort this is going back on what has just been said, that we in fact should not condemn. That would be a misunderstanding as yet all too common in the Church. 'Sin is sin' deals with the level of our connecting with God. We cannot connect with God except through Jesus because of Sin; any speck of Sin. But the earthly consequences of sins differ greatly. Any Sin will bar you from Heaven unless you accept Jesus' atonement. But not just any sin will murder millions of people. Eternal capital 'S' Sin is fallen human nature. Earthly little 's' sin is a deed violating the Law of Love.
We are all born under the same sentence of Sin. We are absolutely forbidden to judge the Sin in others, but only to tell them Jesus offers them freedom from that slavery. We have not earned that freedom ourselves, but received it as a gift, by Grace. Once we proclaim the way to Life through Jesus, what people do with the Gospel, whether people accept or reject Jesus, is between them and God.
But sins are another matter. We are forbidden to speak well of evil things or ill of good things. The crux is that we are to speak the truth. If a sinner performs a noble deed, we should speak well of the deed. If a Christian does a wicked deed, we should call the deed wicked. And the reverse. To speak hard words, if people choose to view themselves as being the same as their deed when the deed is condemned, that is their problem.
One more thing before we let this topic go. Speaking the truth does not mean being called to air an unsolicited opinion on everything. This is especially true regarding matters of little consequence. Wisdom discerns the season, and acts accordingly. There is a season to speak and a season to keep silent. We are to be led by the Spirit because living in this world cannot be done by formula, by the Law. This world is far too complex for us to be led by any sort of math equation simple enough for humans to comprehend. Religion is living by rules; taste not, touch not. Christianity is obeying the Word made alive in our hearts. We could go on here about how this does not mean we are to make up our own Scripture as we go, but we will let that rest as being obvious.
This is a somber album even for a somber band. It is likely insane as a first album. But the series must begin here. It is no good pretending this world is headed toward Eden. Human nature alone is enough to ruin that.
This album should tell you we are committed (or should be committed) to the truth. We know enough to package prettier were we indifferent to content.
|Works||Series 1-Quest To Be Whole||Album 1-Predator|