The Black Sun of Violence

by Geoff Hall on June 30, 2015

Mentoring in Word, Image and Performance Art.

Mentoring in Word, Image and Performance Art.


“There’s whiskey in the water

And there is death upon the vine

There’s grace within forgiveness

But it’s so hard for me to find.”


Such has been the events of last week, with a plethora of terrorist attacks from Kuwait to Tunisia, that there is not one place on earth it seems, that isn’t filled with violence, or resounds to the sound of gunfire or bomb blasts – in the name of some higher cause or other and the pathetic way people have of justifying violence. But the claiming of democracy, justice or a higher power for a cause is reaching its breaking point. This account is long overdrawn.


In the light of this darkness, there seems an increasing urgent need for us to be vigilant with our gifts; to not hide that light under the proverbial bushel. Some of us may experience that sense of God being the one who hides the light: for we’d love to get ‘out there’, but we don’t have the resources to do so? Tell me about it! Whilst we may have this sense of urgency I dare say God hasn’t. God isn’t panicking, worried or having increasing anxiety about losing control.


With the darkness of the Black Sun, a song sung by my favourite band, (cited above), it seems that there is death upon the vine. The song incorporates a sense of our addictions, of a contaminated water supply for the alcoholic, or that the wine is poison from the vine. This also has perhaps an allegorical meaning for us quite different from the writer’s intent. We can also look at this in a spiritual and cultural context to see that even the most natural of things, can prove to be our downfall.


“How could, something so fair, be so cruel?”


The seeming threat to us of Postmodern philosophy, discussed at the last Tree House is perhaps only there because our redemption narrative is so influenced by Modernism’s reliance on power and authority; the very thing ecclesia these days is founded upon. The Vine is poisoned with a deathly virus, no wonder few wish to taste the new wine we keep pouring. We look on to the recent horrific acts of terrorism and wonder how we can go on thinking that somehow the 21st Century is superior, more advanced, more ‘civilised’ than anything which has gone before.


And yet we feel the need to do something about it, to engage with the deep-seated problems of what it is these days to be human, to be peacemakers. We are currently mere onlookers, viewers of the most horrendous inhumanity. The water is contaminated, the wine too. The salt has lost its savour and how then will we be effective in this world of bestial violence?

What is a writer, a filmmaker, a poet, a musician to do? What is an artist to do when the light appears like darkness on the horizon and then envelops us? When the salt locked away in the salt cellar is of no use, even when it is released?

William Blake, Job's wise friends, erm, accusers!

William Blake, Job’s wise friends, erm, accusers!


We need to ask the hard questions, the ones which we have no answer for. We do it like Job, not because he wanted to hear the sound, wise advice of his friends, but because what he actually longed for was to hear from One voice only.

As the darkness ensues, we cannot be presumptuous and take the lead. We…sadly…have to wait, and that may be the only answer to this current dilemma. We either have the resources we need for our light to shine in the darkness, or it will not shine at all and then there is no use for the One voice to complain about the darkness.

Ben Gibbard, the writer of the song cited atop of this letter speaks of there being “grace within forgiveness, but it’s so hard for me to find.” I think our work in the arts should make that grace easier to find.

However, that means we have to be that grace and we have to be the peace of the peacemaker. We cannot bring it, if we do not live it. We cannot be judgemental; working with others from a position of authority or power is not the way. Ours is a role of serving humanity in humility, not ruling over it with our superior morals. Too many have walked that way and it leads to violence, to abuse, to destruction and there is just too much of that around. ‘For the earth is filled with violence…’ We seem to have heard this before somewhere, but then this is our day, so what shall we do about it?

Listen for the voice of the One.


Be Well.



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