I am a lifelong rocker chick. A die-hard, classic-rock loving, unapologetic product of the 1970s and 80s – a time when music was actually music, not the repetitive, mind-numbing, noise-with-a-beat hip hop rap crap that passes for “music” these days.
When I discovered one my all-time favorite legendary rock-god bands was coming to a venue near me, I was in rock and roll heaven. Aerosmith! Steven Tyler: he of the big lips, wild hair and outrageous outfits. Joe F***ing Perry: guitar god extraordinaire. (I actually didn’t know his middle name was F***ing, but Steven Tyler repeated it so many times during the show that it must be true.) Sammy Hagar, The Red Rocker (whose followers are called Redheads), formerly of Van Halen, was opening. Yes! A night of fabulous music I wasn’t about to miss.
The Oracle Arena in Oakland is a huge venue, but my friend Carolyn, longtime Aerosmith fan club member, scored excellent seats. We were on the side, not far from the stage, elevated enough that we wouldn’t have our view blocked by anybody’s heads.
An early departure ensured that Friday rush hour traffic didn’t make us late. We got there with time to spare and sat outside the venue in the late afternoon sunshine, awaiting the opening of the doors. Excitement buzzed all around us.
But there was also something else.
It sounded like…yelling.
It was The Jesus Freaks.
No, they’re not a band. They're people that picket outside the venue, wearing tee shirts and carrying signs with slogans such as “Repent or Perish,” “Hell and Damnation” and “Sinners.”
And they were yelling. Screaming, really.
The artist side of me was tempted to go over and give them pointers on how improve their signs and tee shirts. They way overused boldfaced type, didn’t leave enough white space and had clashing font styles. But my benevolent intentions faded when they started screaming that we were all “sinners and fornicators” because we were here to see a rock and roll band.
You do not even KNOW me. How do you presume to have any idea what kind of person I am, or am not?
I am the world’s most conservative rocker chick; always the most immaculately attired, ladylike, classy person in the bunch. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, and I wasn’t there to fornicate (though I was somewhat negotiable on that last point). I was there to enjoy a night of kickass music and I didn’t appreciate being yelled at for it.
What is wrong with these people? We, the sinners, were all standing there quietly while they, the holy, were screaming “Sinners! Fornicators! You’re all going to hell! This doesn’t please God!”
And what YOU are doing DOES please god? What happened to the Golden Rule? You know, that whole ‘do unto others’ thing? Would YOU want to be yelled at and called names? Do you think YOUR behavior is pleasing to God? We’re the ones standing peacefully in line while you are waving your signs and screaming…and FILMING it, for craps’ sake. What, do you have some Christian Youtube site that features sinners and fornicators? The Aerosmith crowd was far more respectful than YOU were. I hope you don’t show up for the Disney on Ice performance next week. You’ll scare the bejesus out of the kiddies, telling them they’re going to hell and all. Not to mention the uncomfortable conversations you'll prompt when said kiddies ask "mommy, what's a fornicator?"
I’ll tell you who should go to hell – the concessions vendors inside the venue that charge $6.00 for a bottle of water. My friend and I bought two drinks, a pretzel and French fries and it cost $22. Now THAT is a sin.
The concert ROCKED. The crowd ranged from ten-year olds to senior citizens; there was every manner of person and attire imaginable. They were happy and well-behaved, and danced and sang along. I got ten bucks that says if Jesus could sing like Steven Tyler or play guitar like Joe Perry, he’d have had a rock band. That whole Son of God thing would have been a great draw; he could have belted out a rock ballad and healed people in the handicapped seats at the same time.
The Jesus Freaks were gone by the time the show was over; I’m glad they didn’t stay and pummel us with stones on our way out.
I’ve got no problem with any belief system that any individual cares to adopt. But I do have a problem with their passing judgment on people who do not share those beliefs. Different strokes. It takes every kind of people, as they say, to make the world go ‘round. So lighten up and be a little more tolerant and open-minded. Before you knock me, walk a day in my shoes. Who knows? You might like to Walk This Way.