Of Goths and Lutherans

In Canada I was talking with a pastor who was expressing worries about his daughter, who was getting into the whole “Goth” scene. Another pastor said that he shouldn’t worry, that there are lots of affinities between young Goths and elderly Lutherans. They both, for example, dye their hair. They both like loud music (Goths for the stimulation; elderly Lutherans because they are hard of hearing). They both think a lot about death. They both like crucifixes. They are both obsessed with blood (in the case of the Lutherans, the blood of our Lord–shed on the Cross and given to us in Holy Communion, which we drink not in the vampire sense the Goths fantasize about but for the remission of our sins).

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    O great! Now all the LWML ladies will want to wear black leather!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    O great! Now all the LWML ladies will want to wear black leather!

  • jim claybourn

    we do have gothic arches in our sanctuary, too.

  • jim claybourn

    we do have gothic arches in our sanctuary, too.

  • Joe

    This is a serious problem that can lead many kids into occultism.

  • Joe

    This is a serious problem that can lead many kids into occultism.

  • The Jones

    In all my experience, I would say that the essence of being “Goth” is just trying to fit in somewhere. Does being Goth mean being occult? About as much as being a cheerleader means being a whore. I mean, it HAPPENS, but that’s not what it IS. Stereotypes are everywhere, but think more about root causes of WHY she’s doing whatever she’s doing. Instead of trying to change her dress, a more effective way of addressing this would be to inquire about how her social life in general is going, how she feels about how she looks, and if her friends are good encouraging influences. Some of the nicest people I know have piercings in places you didn’t know could get pierced and wear trench coats in the summertime. They’re not looking for Satan, they just want their own crowd.

    Yeah, I’ve got Goth friends. And my girlfriend is my Hun and a friend of mine who just got out of jail is was Vandal! Woohoo! To be Frank, I just love Teuton my horn. I’ll be here all knight, folks!

  • The Jones

    In all my experience, I would say that the essence of being “Goth” is just trying to fit in somewhere. Does being Goth mean being occult? About as much as being a cheerleader means being a whore. I mean, it HAPPENS, but that’s not what it IS. Stereotypes are everywhere, but think more about root causes of WHY she’s doing whatever she’s doing. Instead of trying to change her dress, a more effective way of addressing this would be to inquire about how her social life in general is going, how she feels about how she looks, and if her friends are good encouraging influences. Some of the nicest people I know have piercings in places you didn’t know could get pierced and wear trench coats in the summertime. They’re not looking for Satan, they just want their own crowd.

    Yeah, I’ve got Goth friends. And my girlfriend is my Hun and a friend of mine who just got out of jail is was Vandal! Woohoo! To be Frank, I just love Teuton my horn. I’ll be here all knight, folks!

  • WebMonk

    Depends on the type of Goth, Joe. Goth is a pretty wide range of beliefs, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with occultism, drinking blood, or necrofiles. There are nasty types of Goth, but there are also Goths that behave/dress that way for a variety of non-harmful reasons.

    (standard disclaimer – anything can be taken to extremes, even things that start out for fine reasons, blah, blah, blah)

  • WebMonk

    Depends on the type of Goth, Joe. Goth is a pretty wide range of beliefs, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with occultism, drinking blood, or necrofiles. There are nasty types of Goth, but there are also Goths that behave/dress that way for a variety of non-harmful reasons.

    (standard disclaimer – anything can be taken to extremes, even things that start out for fine reasons, blah, blah, blah)

  • WebMonk

    I’ve got to type more quickly – Jones beat me to it.

    I refuse to associate with the horrible puns though! I absolutely and categorically did not laugh when I read them!

  • WebMonk

    I’ve got to type more quickly – Jones beat me to it.

    I refuse to associate with the horrible puns though! I absolutely and categorically did not laugh when I read them!

  • CRB

    Does being an “elderly Lutheran” who happens to like
    “Good Charlotte’s” music make me a “goth”? :>)

  • CRB

    Does being an “elderly Lutheran” who happens to like
    “Good Charlotte’s” music make me a “goth”? :>)

  • Pinon Coffee

    ::giggle::

  • Pinon Coffee

    ::giggle::

  • Matthew

    CRB, I am appalled that you are under the impression that Good Charlotte is Goth music!!

    My kingdom for the Cure and Dead Can Dance :-p

  • Matthew

    CRB, I am appalled that you are under the impression that Good Charlotte is Goth music!!

    My kingdom for the Cure and Dead Can Dance :-p

  • CRB

    Well, G.C. used to be goth, according to my son. But I only know what he tells me. Anyway, I liked their last album, goth or whatever. :)

  • CRB

    Well, G.C. used to be goth, according to my son. But I only know what he tells me. Anyway, I liked their last album, goth or whatever. :)

  • Joe

    I typed too quickly. I did not mean that Goth = occult or that it necessarily yields occultism. I was thinking more along the lines of it can be a sign of trouble that can include interest in occultism.

  • Joe

    I typed too quickly. I did not mean that Goth = occult or that it necessarily yields occultism. I was thinking more along the lines of it can be a sign of trouble that can include interest in occultism.

  • Steve Rowe

    As an adolescent I struggled and failed to fit into a “preppie” subculture. Once in University (Studying Architecture) I found my self welcomed in to a circle of low key Goths. I don’t want to baptize what was basically a secular subculture but in my limited experience the life styles of my Goth friends was not noticeably more decadent that that of the preppies that dominated our campus. In fact the Goth kids I hung out with seemed far less superficial and materialist then dominate (late 80’s early 90’s) undergraduate collegiate culture the reined at my state university. To this day I still cherish the music and culture I was introduced to by this circle of Artists, Designers and Literature majors. The Goth culture that I knew include not just the Music of the Cure, the Bauhaus, Nick Cave and Tom Waits but also Fairport Convention and Johnny Cash. It was also at this time that I began to worship at as a Lutheran (prier to that I had been an independent Baptist). I think there may be some kind of a link between these two impulses. My discovery of Eucharistic worship, my black turtle necks and the Russian novels were all part of my rejection of the bland middle class values of my youth. The Goth impulses is fundamentally an adolescent one and I and most of my old peers have long since grown out of it but our rejection of the trapping of affluent North American suburban culture was a healthy impulse. It always seemed odd to me that the kids from Campus crusade for Christ looked exactly like the kids getting trashed at the fraternity parties.

    Regards

    Steve in Toronto

    By the way some people are trying to “baptize” Goth Culture it’s not as odd as you might think:

    http://www.thegotheucharist.org.uk/
    /

  • Steve Rowe

    As an adolescent I struggled and failed to fit into a “preppie” subculture. Once in University (Studying Architecture) I found my self welcomed in to a circle of low key Goths. I don’t want to baptize what was basically a secular subculture but in my limited experience the life styles of my Goth friends was not noticeably more decadent that that of the preppies that dominated our campus. In fact the Goth kids I hung out with seemed far less superficial and materialist then dominate (late 80’s early 90’s) undergraduate collegiate culture the reined at my state university. To this day I still cherish the music and culture I was introduced to by this circle of Artists, Designers and Literature majors. The Goth culture that I knew include not just the Music of the Cure, the Bauhaus, Nick Cave and Tom Waits but also Fairport Convention and Johnny Cash. It was also at this time that I began to worship at as a Lutheran (prier to that I had been an independent Baptist). I think there may be some kind of a link between these two impulses. My discovery of Eucharistic worship, my black turtle necks and the Russian novels were all part of my rejection of the bland middle class values of my youth. The Goth impulses is fundamentally an adolescent one and I and most of my old peers have long since grown out of it but our rejection of the trapping of affluent North American suburban culture was a healthy impulse. It always seemed odd to me that the kids from Campus crusade for Christ looked exactly like the kids getting trashed at the fraternity parties.

    Regards

    Steve in Toronto

    By the way some people are trying to “baptize” Goth Culture it’s not as odd as you might think:

    http://www.thegotheucharist.org.uk/
    /

  • Matthew

    gothsforjesus.com

    The theology is decidely American evangelical and non-Lutheran, but it’s an interesting take on the expression of the Christian life.

  • Matthew

    gothsforjesus.com

    The theology is decidely American evangelical and non-Lutheran, but it’s an interesting take on the expression of the Christian life.

  • Booklover

    “our rejection of the trapping of affluent North American suburban culture was a healthy impulse. It always seemed odd to me that the kids from Campus crusade for Christ looked exactly like the kids getting trashed at the fraternity parties.”

    Good quote, Steve. Dittoes.

  • Booklover

    “our rejection of the trapping of affluent North American suburban culture was a healthy impulse. It always seemed odd to me that the kids from Campus crusade for Christ looked exactly like the kids getting trashed at the fraternity parties.”

    Good quote, Steve. Dittoes.

  • Joe

    These testimonials are drastically different from the goths I knew growing up. In my experience the goths did not just toss on a black turtleneck and listen to the Cure. It was more along the lines of paint your face white, put on black lipstick and dye your hair black (and this was the guys and girls) and do lots of drugs and listen to the Cure.

    These were the goths I knew, many of them then began to dabble in the occult. This was what I knew of goths – and I knew it as a first hand observer. Was it a different experience than most others had with the goth subculture?

  • Joe

    These testimonials are drastically different from the goths I knew growing up. In my experience the goths did not just toss on a black turtleneck and listen to the Cure. It was more along the lines of paint your face white, put on black lipstick and dye your hair black (and this was the guys and girls) and do lots of drugs and listen to the Cure.

    These were the goths I knew, many of them then began to dabble in the occult. This was what I knew of goths – and I knew it as a first hand observer. Was it a different experience than most others had with the goth subculture?

  • Steve Rowe

    I went out a few times with a woman/girl who read Tarot cards and everyone loved the Novels of Anne Rice but that was as fair as it went in terms of the Occult. One of my friends and fellow architecture students did where eye makeup and a very cool skirt by an avant guard Japanese designer to the Beaux Arts Ball (A dance thrown by the Architecture school for the rest of the University) but I also see a lot of kilts at Scottish wedding and just pretentious not even gay. There was a certain amount of effeminacy among some of the men and a few out gays but not more then you would expect in a crowd composed of Artists and related disciplines. Remember my in-depth knowledge of the seen is 15 years old and based on my experience in the mid west however for 10 years I did live in the Queen West District of Toronto ground zero for our local Goth seen and know it a bit from a distance and it doesn’t look too different. One of my favorite memories of my old neighborhood was walking my dog one Saturday morning on the deserted streets and encountering a crowd of in front of a local Goth boutique they were all made up to the nines (one of the men was even whering a Kilt). I asked them what was up and they cheerfully replayed that they were waiting for a chartered bus that was taking them to Strafford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Festival.

    As an aside I would recommend listening to this excellent this American life pieces by Sarah Vowell (an ex-evangelical by the way) it an extremely funny and quite touching view of Goth culture.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=118

  • Steve Rowe

    I went out a few times with a woman/girl who read Tarot cards and everyone loved the Novels of Anne Rice but that was as fair as it went in terms of the Occult. One of my friends and fellow architecture students did where eye makeup and a very cool skirt by an avant guard Japanese designer to the Beaux Arts Ball (A dance thrown by the Architecture school for the rest of the University) but I also see a lot of kilts at Scottish wedding and just pretentious not even gay. There was a certain amount of effeminacy among some of the men and a few out gays but not more then you would expect in a crowd composed of Artists and related disciplines. Remember my in-depth knowledge of the seen is 15 years old and based on my experience in the mid west however for 10 years I did live in the Queen West District of Toronto ground zero for our local Goth seen and know it a bit from a distance and it doesn’t look too different. One of my favorite memories of my old neighborhood was walking my dog one Saturday morning on the deserted streets and encountering a crowd of in front of a local Goth boutique they were all made up to the nines (one of the men was even whering a Kilt). I asked them what was up and they cheerfully replayed that they were waiting for a chartered bus that was taking them to Strafford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Festival.

    As an aside I would recommend listening to this excellent this American life pieces by Sarah Vowell (an ex-evangelical by the way) it an extremely funny and quite touching view of Goth culture.

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=118


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X