From Madonna to Woman Gaga and Black Sabbath to Bathory, well-liked musicians have used Christian imagery for numerous ends, from severe creative critique to simple shock worth. However on her 2021 album “Sinner Get Prepared,” the noise musician Lingua Ignota subverts Biblical language in a approach Catholic listeners might discover not merely stunning, however spiritually resonant. Extra importantly, her work illuminates the variety, complexity and problem of conventional Christian symbolism from a perspective that’s too usually ignored, however important for Christians to listen to.
“Lingua Ignota” is the stage title of Kristin Hayter and a Latin translation for the “unknown language” invented by medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. A typical monitor finds her classically skilled mezzo-soprano voice wavering queasily between registers, one second hovering like a church cantor’s and the following exploding into apocalyptic black metallic screams, throughout hypnotic but disorienting echoes of church organs, energy electronics and what some would possibly think about simply “noise”—a rollercoaster of enchantingly expressive music that challenges the bounds of typical “music” and goals to present voice to Hayter’s personal experiences as a home violence survivor.
On her 2021 album “Sinner Get Prepared,” the noise musician Lingua Ignota subverts Biblical language in a approach Catholic listeners might discover not merely stunning, however spiritually resonant.
Lingua Ignota’s work attracts closely upon her survivorship, and he or she’s used her platform to lift cash and consciousness for home abuse prevention. Oftentimes, she does so via use of spiritual imagery and symbolism: Hayter grew up Catholic and has repeatedly expressed curiosity in and fascination with Christianity.
To this finish, her lyrics are extremely related for believers. Moderately than simple autobiography, Hayter frames her expertise of trauma via the language of Christianity. On “The Order of Non secular Virgins,” the opening monitor to her album “Sinners Get Prepared,” Hayter finds empowerment via assuming the function of a wrathful Previous Testomony God: “Disguise your youngsters, conceal your husbands/ I’m relentless, I’m incessant, I’m the ocean/ And all who dare look upon me/ Swear everlasting devotion.” However by the following monitor, “I Who Bend the Tall Grasses,” she is a supplicant, beseeching God to smite her abuser, in language that remembers the determined pleas of Job or the Psalmists: “Superb Father, intercede for me/ If I can’t conceal from you, neither can he/ At all times your voice bites the again of a chilly wind/ And the tall grasses bend for you…Simply kill him/ you must/ I’m not asking.” Elsewhere, maybe most disturbingly, she casts her abuser as God, and herself as a sinner pressured to repent: “No wound as sharp as the need of God…He’ll take your legs and your will to dwell /If you don’t confess now.”
Because the spiritual individual experiences God in silence, but feels compelled to voice their expertise, Lingua Ignota seeks to present voice to the language-defeating expertise of trauma.
There’s extra at work in Hayter’s spiritual language, although, than the fruitfully provocative questions raised even by merely connecting her expertise of gendered violence to the church’s conventional metaphor for God, that of an omnipotent male determine. The assorted roles she inhabits will be seen as modulations of an prolonged metaphor round which the entire album coheres—a metaphor she alludes to in a pattern from the Historical past Channel sequence “Alone” on the finish of “The Order of Non secular Virgins.” In that pattern, a person talks about his expertise of silence, loved alone in church: “I simply love to listen to the useless silence…within the silence you may hear your departed mom sing a hymn in church from 30 years in the past, that’s what you get out of the silence.” However quite than remaining silent, he hums that hymn—Alan Jackson’s interpretation of “Standing on the Guarantees of God.” Because the spiritual individual experiences God in silence, but feels compelled to voice their expertise, Lingua Ignota seeks to present voice to the language-defeating expertise of trauma.
In her seminal work Metaphorical Theology, the feminist theologian Sallie McFague factors out that the standard construction of a metaphor is to light up one thing “lesser-known,” like an abstraction similar to love, with one thing “better-known”—particular, concrete and sensory, similar to a rose. There’s apparent utility for metaphors in Christianity, then—they supply a approach for the devoted to talk about that final unknown, the transcendent God. Thus Christians have historically sought to grasp the character of “God,” a actuality past human comprehension, via the lens of one thing understandable: a “Father.”
Catholics can not precisely converse in regards to the nature of God with out talking about trauma, particularly the trauma of violence.
But Lingua Ignota reverses this construction, utilizing language in regards to the transcendent God to grasp her concrete, human expertise of trauma. This appears to me a mode of spiritual language completely applicable for Catholics, whose perception facilities on the Incarnation—a transcendent God, the last word actuality by which all issues “dwell, transfer, and have their being,” turning into totally embodied in a selected individual’s traumatic expertise of political violence. This perception would appear to indicate Catholics can not precisely converse in regards to the nature of God with out talking about trauma, particularly the trauma of violence, and that we’d choose the accuracy of our language about God by its applicability to the experiences of those that have survived violence.
This raises questions on which voices are given prominence within the church, and that are dismissed or uncared for. How would possibly the church’s conventional metaphors for God resonate (or fail to resonate) with the experiences not solely of girls, however of L.G.B.T. individuals, who’re 4 occasions extra possible than non-L.G.B.T. individuals to be victimized by violent crime, or of these topic to non secular and racial violence? And the place they fail to resonate, is there room to forge new metaphors that higher seize the expertise of those that, like Jesus himself, are marginalized and victimized?
The place they fail to resonate, is there room to forge new metaphors that higher seize the expertise of those that, like Jesus himself, are marginalized and victimized?
Some would possibly dismiss the concept of discovering new metaphors for God, fearing that private expertise and subjectivity will transfer the church away from its root beliefs. But as McFague factors out, embracing various metaphors for God shouldn’t be lazy relativism, nor does it imply assigning equal worth to something that is likely to be stated. As an alternative, it’s an act of humility to query the constraints of the church’s conventional language and an act of charity—certainly, solidarity with Christ—to broaden that language when wanted to account for the experiences of these probably to undergo violence.
“Sinner Get Prepared” is a robust, viscerally-felt reminder that our willingness to talk about trauma and hearken to those that are surviving is a measure of our willingness to expertise the truth of God past phrases. It’s additionally a reminder that our phrases and metaphors can at occasions turn out to be idols, and are in fixed want of renewal from the margins.