Today at the beginning of chapel the campus pastors took a moment to share about some new prayer thing that was happening, and they shared a quick story about praying against the Marilyn Manson concert that was in town this week. Sherry made a slip of the tongue and said something about, “When Marilyn Manson comes to Bethel.” Everyone laughed and thought it was funny, and Sherry’s face turned red and she laughed for a minute before continuing.
But I wasn’t laughing. I obviously didn’t listen to much they were saying about the prayer meetings. I was thinking about Marilyn Manson. He’s taken a lot of flack lately. A lot of people have been picketing his shows because of whatever connection there may be between the “goth” followers of his music and the Columbine shootings. As rumor has it, at the Minneapolis show somebody put a big yellow smiley face somewhere on the stage, and when Manson saw it, he stopped the concert mid-song, and stormed off the stage. Sherry related this story as a victory story for the group that was praying for the presence of God to be in that concert hall.
But I felt strangely odd about the whole thing. Certainly it’s good that people were praying for God to be in that place. And it’s good that people are praying for Manson. But I wondered what more we could do. People laughed when someone mistakenly mentioned Manson coming to Bethel. But what if? I felt the strange temptation to invite Manson over for dinner. We always ask what would Jesus do. Well, what would he do? Picket the Marilyn Manson concert? Or have dinner with him?
One thing that the Christian community quickly forgets is where Manson came from. He went to a Christian school. He grew up with Christianity, and look what happened to him. I’m not saying that to slam Christianity or say that’s going to happen to everyone. But he was one of our own, and look what we drove him to. Everyone thinks he’s Satan, but maybe they should stop and see what drove him away from the church. It goes back to Eric and Dylan with the Columbine shootings. Everyone is hailing the martyrs in the story, and taking encouragement from that. But somebody has to ask the hard questions. Why were these guys driven to do this? Where were the Christians then? I realize that’s a biting question. It cuts to my soul too.
So Marilyn Manson. You’re probably a little bored now that you’ve cancelled the remaining dates in your tour. Would you like to have dinner sometime?