Sunday, 23 October 2011

Why Divorce Doesn't Rock...

Pop group, The Stone Roses, are set to reform amid rumours (yes, this is gossip) that the singer Ian Brown needs 'Fools Gold' (the title of one of their songs) to, rumour (yes, that'll be gossip) has it, help him settle up for a divorce from his lady wife.

Everyone knows that divorce is a terrible, tragic thing for individuals, families and society. Everyone knows it is terrible and damaging. Nobody really wins. This is why some firms of solicitors advertise nowadays, quite brazenly, the fact that they can offer the public 'great deals' on divorce settlements, advice and the rest with big banners above their offices entrance saying 'Get divorced here'. Even the breakdown of human relationships is a source of revenue and money nowadays.

With such a high percentage of marriages ending in divorce nowadays (is it one in two or three now?), it isn't surprising that some, even within the Church, rather resent Christ's teaching on it and would rather He hadn't said what He said about the matter and the subsequent teaching that the Church continued to proclaim after He had ascended and sent the Holy Spirit to guide Her into all truth. Such a teaching didn't always win the Apostles friends then and it doesn't win those of their Successors who are brave enough to repeat it today.

Like many teachings of Holy Church there is no doubt that the Church's teaching on divorce, remarriage and the rest is 'difficult'. I'm just now trying to think of an area of Church teaching which isn't 'difficult'., I can't. What a surprise. Divorce ruins peoples lives and there is plenty of evidence on the net in terms of studies to suggest that it is especially damaging to children, yes even rich children. Anyway, regardless of why Ian Brown and The Stone Roses are reforming (which will interest some and leave other readers mystified), I thought I'd just compile a small list of rockstars and popstars who have divorced. Could the problem be that too many of them just 'wanna be adored' or are rockstar/popstar divorces and their incredible frequency just reflective of a society that can't handle marriage, children and the vows they made when they were 'in love'.

Rock is, as the Holy Father has noticed, the Devil's playground. Here's that list. I don't understand quite why so many of these people are pin ups, modern heroes, people that people want to emulate, people that people near worship...

Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Liam Gallagher (Oasis)
Amy Winehouse (now deceased)
Johnny Cash
Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi)
Bruce Springsteen
Mick Jagger
Phil Collins
Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
Michael Jackson
The Edge (U2)
Slash (Guns 'n' Roses)
Mariah Carey
Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
Phil Spector
George Harrison
John Lennon
Bob Dylan
David Bowie
Bob Geldof
Marvin Gaye

...the list goes on...and on and in fact, unless you only like classical music, I expect that at least 70% of your record or CD collection was recorded by a divorced rock/pop star. Now. I am a poor sinner and I am in no position to 'cast the first stone' and indeed nobody ever pretended that the rock hall of fame was a Litany of the Saints. Each of the above and their rock and pop counterparts will have their own personal, possibly quite harrowing reasons and stories behind marital breakdowns. I know it isn't something we should be voyeuristic about and we are not to judge. We know that Our Lord doesn't snuff out waning candles or crush broken reeds and Our Lord loves the broken-hearted ('What becomes of the broken hearted?').

There just seems to be a trend in rock and pop to enter into this realm of fantasy, ego-centrism so that people become divorced from reality and end up in divorce settlements. Who am I, indeed, such a wretched sinner to judge? Still, I do find the trend among the modern musicians to divorce intriguing. How on earth could that small, and it must be small, minority of pop and rock stars who do settle down and have a family cope with the vast array of temptation that must come their way? Do rockstars, the men at least, always remain 'children' and never accept responsibility and the reality of family life which is, to many, myself included, rather daunting or even frightening.

It is also telling in another sense, in as much as it is incredibly difficult nowadays, to find a 'rock/pop' star who is able to say anything, and I mean, anything, positive about the Pope or the Catholic Church and yet some are Catholics. Many musicians are 'tortured' souls dealing with inner 'demons'. Music is for many cathartic. Many songs, even modern ones, express a yearning for redemption, unconditional love, meaning and ache that we all have within us for God. Consciously or unconsciously, many pen songs that can touch upon our deepest spiritual yearnings for comfort and consolation or understanding.

Yet, if you can find a modern musical artist who can be questioned about the Pope or the Church without slagging both off about Aids, HIV, condoms, teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and the usual areas of 'difficulty' then I will give you, as Cardinal Arinze once said, a 'turkey', maybe even for Christmas, though I expect the Christmas number one will take care of that. Some of the modern musicians are even Catholic, as I say, albeit lapsed.  Maybe there is a bit of a trade off, I don't know, as if someone were to speak out for the Church then their record sales would hit the floor or something.

Like I say, I'm not judging these people listed above or the many others who divorce. It is their heartbreak we are discussing. I just don't know how healthy it is for a society to put these people on pedestals like it does and to near worship them even though, really, in terms of wives, husbands, mothers and fathers, they are simply not good role models. I don't believe that 30 somethings out there are going around thinking, "That Ian Brown is cool. He's the singer of the Stone Roses. He's getting divorced. Right, that's it, I'm getting divorced too!" I just think that perhaps 30 somethings shouldn't be thinking, "Great, the Stone Roses are reforming! Wow! I'm getting a ticket no matter how much it costs." Why? Because he's got a child with his wife and his marriage is falling apart. Meanwhile, the guy, no matter what his reasons, is off to tour with the band of his youth and I think that that is ultimately terribly, terribly sad. Secondly, I saw them live the last time they toured and they were absolutely atrocious then. I can't think of any reason why they should have improved this time. The man can't sing for Heaven's sake.

The really irritating thing is that Ian Brown and a lot of the modern musicians are also so terribly self-righteous. So many of the above are always lauded for their commitment to social causes, or for slagging off the Government, or condemning corruption, or for wanting to end poverty, or feed the World, or something perfectly noble like that. Meanwhile, when it actually comes to true charity, which, as we know, begins at home and the self-sacrificing love that it takes for marriage and family life...well, it just becomes the 'creative spark' needed for that 'difficult' second or third album. As Ian Brown once said on Newsnight before a confused BBC presenter, Tracey MacLeod on The Late Show..."Amateurs!" 

 Is he still going to wear that dollar bill-decorated t-shirt?


P said...

I don't see how Jesus's teaching on divorce is that 'hard' or exceptional - it's basically reaffirming Jewish law (the law already existed, as it did in pagan Rome, Jesus just says he supports it). N.B., Jesus says: "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife"[Deut. 24:1-2]. Perhaps Ian Brown's wife found no favour in his eyes, that then would be biblical grounds for a divorce.

The Bones said...

You missed out what Our Lord actually said:

'Among Catholics, one of the most sensitive and often-avoided topics is the stinging reality of divorce and its consequences. While there must be a pastoral response to assist those parties who seek counseling when their failed marriage ends in divorce, one must never compromise the truth of Christ’s teachings for the sake of the pastoral response. The words and teachings of Jesus Christ on divorce are clear, and it is the responsibility of the Church and its pastors to safeguard, proclaim, and defend them. Let us, therefore, turn our attention to the words of Christ Himself recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

“And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one”? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.’"[1]

These words sound like a great judgment upon a civilization such as ours, where there is one divorce for every two marriages and many consequent re-marriages after such divorces. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in his radio series “Life Is Worth Living,” eloquently shows how this teaching is not just for Catholics and other Christians. Divorces, he says, go against everything man and woman were created to be.

“They are, indeed, especially wrong for Catholics,” he said. “But they are a violation of the law of God, the Natural Law of God, for everyone, whether he be Tibetan or Moslem, or a so-called Christian. Original Sin and the Deluge did not block out the divinely established order of man and woman. Conjugal love conquered both the deluge and Original Sin and survived both.”

P said...

Does the Lord or does the Lord not say what is quoted from Deuteronomy? And is the book of Deuteronomy or is it not the Word of God? And if it is, does it not support the contention that a man may divorce his wife if he does not favour her? Why would Christ SAY this if it's not True?

The passage you quote has been completely misunderstood (i.e. by you) - it is quite specifically a response to naughty Pharisees who were trying to get Christ into trouble. He therefore refused to be baited and give them an answer which would make HIM a heretic and able to be prosecuted under Jewish law. He kept to riddles here so as not to stray, but elsewhere he makes it clear you CAN divorce (i.e. when he is not being tested)

The Bones said...

The Gospel passage you are looking for is this:

'He (that is, Our Lord) saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.'

In other words, Moses allowed it, in certain circumstances under the Law, but now God made flesh, fleshes things out a little.

Matthew 19

They said to him, 'Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?' But he replied, 'It was because you were so unteachable' he said 'that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: the man who divorces his wife - I am not speaking of fornication - and marries another, is guilty of adultery'.

In other words, because the two have become 'one flesh', divorce is a breaking asunder of a unique bond - a bond raised to holiness by the One who said that the two become 'one flesh'. Therefore, to remarry is adultery, for 'what God has joined together, let no man put asunder'.

The Bones said...

When God taught incarnate on Earth, that is what He said. That is His teaching. That is the teaching of the Church He Himself established.

The Bones said...

P, whoever you are...

The Church's teaching is clear and it is clear that the Church's teaching is that of the Son of God.

You don't like it, but that is your affair. I'm not publishing your sacriligious words here. Every Catholic knows what the Church's teaching on divorce is. It is that of Jesus Christ as given to us in the Gospels.

Your problem is not with me, it is with Jesus Christ. May I suggest you take it up with Him.

Lazarus said...

I just find it terribly depressing that my children are going to be entering an adult world surrounded by the expectation that a great many marriages are going to fail -and that's not thought to be a dreadful thing. Modern pop culture has a lot to do with that, whether as a symptom or cause, I'm not sure. Quite apart from the behaviour of the artists, a lot of the songs are about transitory relations, almost celebrating the pain of break up. (Evil be thou my good...?)

The Bones said...

P...Here is the Church's teaching.



2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself.178

2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.179

The Bones said...

Anonymous comments aren't published. Neither are comments that sow confusion regarding the Church's teaching as expressed through the Catechism.

The Bones said...


If the Church waited for perfection in Her members for the Gospel to be preached, or written, or taught, from Pope to Priest to Bishop to layman, the Gospel would never be taught or preached or written. The Church would be mute because we are all sinners.

Don't shoot the messenger just because the messenger isn't a Saint.

All I said is divorce is a very bad thing indeed. I can't see why it is controversial to say that. Secondly that it is sad that a particular man is divorcing. Third, it is sad he is returning to the band of his youth. Fourth, it is sad he can't sing. Fifth, it is sad the reunion seems to be about money. Sixth, that it is sad, actually, that there are Catholics out there who really think that the Church's teaching is 'divorce is okay'. Finally, it is very sad that modern society is so soaked through with divorcees that every famous musician or singer is a divorced man or woman who can't cope with family life. It is sad modern pin ups are held up as heroes, when, while they may have great talents and abilities, they do not offer us something to look up to.

Just for the record, I saw the man we are discussing, Ian Brown, in an art gallery in London with a friend of mine. I don't see many famous people, but when I saw he was wandering around with his toddler in a pram I thought, "That is one cool guy." Someone like him can make being a family guy cool, because he is cool. However, like I said in the title, for many reasons, divorce is not cool. It is not cool with the Church and it is not cool, full stop.

The Bones said...


Your theory that it is hypocritical for a single Catholic unmarried man to criticise divorce is balony.

First: I'm engaged to be wed. If I wedded next year and had children would that mean that suddenly I was in a position to say something?

If I stayed single and celibate that would indeed be a high calling recognised by the Church as being a 'eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom of God'. So, in this case, it still wouldn't be hypocritical since the Church recognises both states as being 'callings' or in a sense vocational.

Both these states of life are meant to be about sacrifical love for God's sake.

Both states of life are meant to take us away from ourselves and to God and others. They are, at their best, about being 'fruitful'. Divorce, on the other hand is about destruction, sowing tears and division, destroying relationships, families, homes, society, hearts, minds and ultimately souls.

The Bones said...


I think, if your logic is taken to its logical conclusion, then you believe that St John the Baptist should not have criticised Herod because St John the Baptist didn't have a wife, children, or incestuous relationships so 'what would he know about it'?

The Bones said...

It's not the point, Anonymous. You were saying that in order to be able to say 'That's wrong' about divorce, you have to be married and have a family. It's cobblers and you know. It's a bit like saying, in order for someone to say abortion is wrong and women shouldn't abort, you have to a) be a woman and b) have been pregnant.

Now, please, do me a favour and by all means read my blog, if you choose, but stop commenting, because this is the last time I respond.

The Only Safe Space in the World

Virus normalcy, the so-called 'new normal', is for Christians almost certainly more abhorrent than it is for people of other reli...