Slash and Saint Paul

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfuits - we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved... The Apostle Paul

Curt Cloninger (not to be confused with the Christian one-man-show) wrote and essay in Paste titled, "How a bunch of long-haired, strung - out guys in leather pants taught me about humanhind's struggle to make sense of existence in a meaning-starved corner of the postmodern here-and-now or: a 2.305-word essay on "sweet child o' mine". I couldn't help but read it. I didn't know it would dovetail with my reading of Romans 8.

Cloninger wrote a serious essay on the philosophical importance of Guns N' Roses' classic rock song. He asserts that Slash's guitar playing is a form of human longing for the Real beyond our eyes. The crashing of modern optimism (embodied in the song's beginning) gives way to a cry for something/someone more. If you remember the song then you will remember Axl asking, "Where do we go now?" while Slash grinds away on the the ax.

Cloinger believes that Slash's guitar playing is a type of creational groaning. The same type Paul writes about in Romans 8. He further states:

"Slash's solo is our voice - 2,000 years after a resurrection we never witnessed, facing a future that seems more or less insoluble. We're not deluded into believing we can return to the idealized modernism of the '50s. And still were not willing to throw in the towel and succumb to nihilistic despair. We still hope beyond hope. We groan. We struggle. And we cry out - not defiantly into the void and not to some man-diluted, manufactured god who can't satisfy. We cry out to the God we hope is actually there."

If Cloninger speaks truly (I believe he does), where do we, as followers of Jesus, go now in reaching our communities with the hope that saved us?


Anonymous said...

Great song!!

I am not exactly convinced that Slash had any intentions of being a representation of creation groaning. I just don't agree that we can call his guitar rift a "type" of creational groaning. I think it stretches the exegesis too far.

I do however believe that their music is a representation of their/our generation's lost yearnings. It reflects the fallen nature's constant search for fulfillment without searching for God. I think the song accurately reflects the emotional longings of many people between the ages of 25-45. I am not one who agrees that we should dilute the gospel by trying to reach people by telling the “benefits” of the gospel instead of the actual gospel call of repentance and faith. However, pastoral ministry requires that we apply the gospel in new believer’s lives so that they experience the fullness of the gospel in their daily lives.

jasonk said...

But Perry, does creation KNOW that it is groaning? In the same way, does Slash have to know that he is an example of creation groaning in order for him to be so?

I was never a GNR fan. They were one generation past me, and I never got into them. My loss I guess ;>)

Anonymous said...

I just lost my response to you because of this new Google beta mess!! Where do we go now!! Sweet Child of Mine!!

Anyhow, I don't believe slash has to know and I do believe creation does know (whatever it means for creation to know). Paul seems to be explicitly juxtaposing nature and humanity. Creation is groaning and in fact, "eagerly longing". Paul goes on in v.23 to distinguish creation from us by stating that we too groan with an internal groaning as we await for adoption. In the end we are both groaning but for different things and different reasons. I truly am not trying to make too big of deal about this because I am in complete agreement with the intent and ultimate communication of this article. However, exegetical precision does not seem to negate the message. I think it enhances the argument. We live in a time where popular religious teaching equates "us" with nature with no distinction and this doesn't even account for those who actually worship creation. Therefore, I think it is important that we do not blur the lines. Furthermore, I think the doctrine of depravity informs us that slash would not be conscious of his spiritual groaning. He could be conscious of an emptiness and a personal need but that definitely would not translate into a groaning or searching for God without a work of God in his life. So, I think that exegetical precision in this case allows for an even stronger cultural engagement and confrontation with gospel.

I actually heard this song last night on the radio when I was traveling home from a hospital visit. Thanks to this post I listened to it more intently. It is an excellent song to be used for "cultural" engagement.

Matt Snowden said...


Good thoughts. I hope others will join this conversation.

I think that Curt Cloninger is aware of his spiritual longing. I don't know his religious background but I do know he graduated from Sewanee and his essay was loaded with biblical allusions. He may be projecting his own journey onto ole Slash. I'm not sure.

I think the piece reflects the pain associated with spiritual despair and the disappointment every false god and ideology gives. The death of modern optimism can be a bridge for the gospel to travel on. "Where do we go now?" - is a pregnant question. It is an idol to an unknown God. The Paul of Mars Hill would have shown the way. The sad and scary thing is that most do not ask this question. According the Cloninger the question turned into, "Here we are now/ Entertain us" for many. We all know how that turned out and it was far from Nirvana.

Matt Snowden said...

I'm trying to figer' out all this BETA stuff.

Perry McCall said...

Am I so bad that you had to downgrade me to anonymous?
What's up with that:)

Matt Snowden said...


I did not do it. I had a lot of trouble with the beta thing yesterday. I don't really know what happened and I ended up creating another blog in the process. oops.

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