I clearly remembering going to Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, Oregon to pick up my copy of Tourniquet’s Stop the Bleeding. Back in the day. Christian Metal was not readily available in most stores–not even Christian bookstores–so I ordered it through a small Christian Supply located within the mall. It took a trip on MAX, the light rail service, to get there and a brief walk past a couple of begging homeless guys who I usually gave a buck too (no longer recommend doing that, always give donations directly to a homeless charity or your money is probably going towards booze). Once I had it (on cassette, mind ya) I couldn’t wait to get home and play it on the stereo reading the lyrics at the same time.
I still think Stop the Bleeding is a great album–though I know the high-pitched style of singing by Guy Ritter on some of the songs throws some people into fits of laughter. It is corny if you’re not a fan of eighties metal, but no worse than King Diamond or glam metal and Guy Ritter discontinued that style of singing for the most part on subsequent albums. At the time, I liked the high-pitch, the growling, and the straightforward singing throughout Stop the Bleeding. Guy Ritter was one of the best speed metal singers in Christian music as well as speed metal in general, in my humble opinion. He had a great range and there is a comparable difference when you listen to the lead singer that took over the reigns after Ritter left the band (certainly, they’ve done some good stuff too, it’s just not the same though).
After, I lost my faith at around age 23, Stop The Bleeding presented some lyrical problems–ones which, as a Christian, I just couldn’t see. In particular, the song “Ark of the Suffering.” It is about animal abuse and Tourniquet even put out a video which MTV wouldn’t air because they thought it was too graphic.
Tourniquet’s efforts to expose animal abuse are to be commended in most circumstances, my question here is the song title in relation to the lyrics. Unless I’m misinterpreting, the “Ark” in “Ark of the Suffering” is an allusion to Noah’s Ark that carried the animals to safety while the flood waters killed everything on planet earth. So what you have is a Christian metal band sitting in judgment of people abusing animals while not placing any judgment on God’s actions within the Biblical flood myth (and to Tourniquet this would not be a myth, it is literal).
According to the Noah’s Ark story, God committed more animal abuse in forty days then man has in–per the creationist timeline–4,000 to 6,000 years. He saved only two of every kind and killed the rest by drowning. It did not matter if animals could sin or if there were newborns or if the animals were domestic and tame. Imagine the reality of this situation if it were to happen? Because whenever you see depictions of Noah’s Ark in movies, cartoons or TV format they don’t seem to show newborn wolves dog paddling until they’ve exhausted all their strength and gone under the waves. What about fresh water mixing with sea water and poisoning creatures under the water? Even birds, with no where to land might eventually be affected unless they could float on the water like a duck–then they would starve with nothing to eat. The flood model does not propose a calm rain (slow drowning versus quick drowning I guess), it proposes violent natural destruction instigated by God. How is this not animal abuse of the worst kind?
I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of the song and the hypocrisy of a band against animal abuse that believes in a God that drowned almost all of the animals on earth as a collective punishment for man’s sins. God could have been a “just God” simply by snapping his fingers and making the guilty men and women fall dead. Also, let’s not forget all of the pointless animal sacrifices to God which were supposed to be a poor substitution for Jesus Christ. Why did God need ritual sacrifice of animals at all?
I also have to note my own hypocrisy at the time of being a Christian metal fan for not even recognizing the irony of singing about suffering animals and then alluding to Noah’s Ark. I’m sure Tourniquet has done some great work to bring awareness to animal suffering but this has to do with humans extending rights to animals and has nothing to do with God.
From the perspective of science, I also have to note that I think animals are necessary to make human lives better in regards to animal experimentation. Certainly, there has been abuse in this area and an ongoing ethical debate–such as testing make-up on animals–but when it comes to new drugs, I’m sorry but the rat is going to be the “guinea pig” not someone’s child. It’s possible in time we may be able to come up with simulated computer models that do away with the need for animal testing, but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.
In regards to vegetarianism, which creationists believe all predators were at one time in the Garden of Eden then that is just a bunch of nonsense. I’m not saying you can’t be vegetarian and usurp nature’s role for you to be an omnivore/carnivore, but humans are natural meat eaters and there’s nothing sinful about it. We may come up with a meat substitute in the future (I’ve tried several, Tofurky ain’t bad) but let’s recognize that eating meat is what got humans this far in evolution. It will be the ingenuity of humans that alleviates the suffering of animals since evolution is mindless and we see no godly intervention.
And lastly, in regards to hunting, I was surprised while reading National Geographic one day waiting for the dentist to find that hunting is actually responsible for a lot of conservationism. Of course, you always have the stereotypical sporting hunter who drinks more beer than shoots, but the avid hunter knows his range and knows what will destroy it. If hunters have nothing to hunt because of land development or environmental disasters then they’re out of luck. That’s why they push to reserve and save land for wildlife. I’ve never quite understood killing animal for sport, since I think killing an animal should be done out of necessity, but I just ate a McDonald’s burger; who am I to criticize a hunter who brings deer meat home when I lazily had a cow killed for me? Hunting can be abused, but it appears to have done more good overall such as President Teddy Roosevelt starting the first National Parks and hunting organizations that actively petition to reserve land for wildlife.
This article is not meant to bash Tourniquet, besides Believer, they are my favorite Christian or “white” metal band. As a freethinking atheist, though, I can’t help but try to put these lyrics for “Ark of the Suffering” in perspective.
BTW: Gary Lenaire, guitarist and sometimes vocalist of the original band setup, has since become a freethinker and wrote the book An Infidel Manifesto: Why Sincere Believers Lose Faith.
Ark of the Suffering Lyrics:
You think it’s alright to destroy God’s creation
They don’t have a voice so who cares how we’re treating them here
If you read His word you should know that he blessed them
I know your defense is to say “God said dominate them”
Do you think dominate means to kill just for sport
Wear the fur from their backs
train them for circus acts
Take our pets to be gassed once their “cute” age is passed
Don’t you see in their eyes how they trust us
but man in his sin turns that trust into horrible pain
When God says to man give account of your life’s work
we must be prepared to reply “Your creation I have loved”
Locked behind steel cage
forced to take drugs we’ve made
cut them up just to show
what we already know
Before they die…
who will hear them cry
Gen 1:20-30, Hab 2:17, Ps 145:9, 16-17, Ps 150:6, Ex 23:11-12,
Jon 4:11, Prov 12:10