Friday, 10 May 2013

David Bowie - a voice in the wilderness?

Christians can get a bad press. In a way believers can’t win because if we complain we are simply written-off as a whinging, easily offended minority.

Take David Bowie’s new music video ‘The Next Day’. The video is already causing controversy in some circles because it features that constant favourite of the arts – the stereotypical corrupt Christian leader. And because David Bowie appears in the video as a Christ-like figure.

The video starts off with a priest hitting a child beggar before attending a shady church/club to try to satisfy his sexual urges. Things have moved on a little since Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ or Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’. These days, because we are ‘sooo very sophisticated’, we are treated to scenes of a woman with blood-spurting stigmata.

Bowie appears in the video dressed in sackcloth like a modern day prophet, or even like Christ.
Bowie’s song lyrics make the message of ‘The Next Day’ plain:

“They live upon their feet and they die upon their knees
They can work with Satan while they dress like the saints
They know God exists for the devil told them so.”

And to be fair it is only the Christian leaders who Bowie is attacking. Because in art, film and media it tends to be the Christian leaders who get most of the flak - perhaps because they are the ones with greater power and responsibility. When this power is abused then singers, writers and artists get angry.

But it wouldn’t be fair to say it’s all bad press for Christians (or to whinge too much!). Coming out on Monday 13th May is the DVD, Blu-Ray and digital version of ‘Les Miserables’. The hit film/musical features a positive, likeable Christian hero who actually practices what he preaches. You could say the original story was written over 150 years ago - but that really would be whinging! I’ve heard so many people from all backgrounds say they love this film.

Maybe David Bowie (the 'man who fell to earth') really feels he is the voice in the wilderness confronting the hypocrisy of the Church. His message is a lucrative one which many people want to hear. But it isn’t necessarily the truth.

Nick White is a freelance writer and journalist. His website is

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