The Beastie Boys: Spiritual Savants?

The Beastie Boys: Spiritual Savants?

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer on May 4, and I have listened to the album “Paul’s Boutique” every single day since then.

Every. Single. Day.

A friend gave me this CD sometime around 1997, but I’d never really “gotten” it. When Yauch, whose stage name was MCA, died, I decided I’d pop the disc in my car in tribute. I haven’t taken it out since.

Every day I listen to it and discover some new lyrical treasure. Even those who aren’t fans of rap/hip-hop have to chuckle in admiration at some of the things the Beasties came up with. Rhyming “tomfoolery” with “Chuck Woolery“? Pure genius.

Hidden gems

The two lines I keep coming back to time and again are from the song “Shadrach:”

And the man upstairs; I hope that he cares.

If I had a penny for my thoughts, I’d be a millionaire.

Those words aren’t necessarily earth-shattering, and I wouldn’t hold up the Beasties as exemplars of Christian spirituality. But I find that couplet to be a spot-on representation of where I am right now in whatever amounts to my “faith journey.” Given the current state of the Catholic Church in the United States, I suspect I’m not alone.

The Church is in crisis, from the Vatican to the parish level. Add to that the political climate in which we live and the dysfunctional rhetoric that passes for “discussion” on social issues, and many young Catholics are asking a lot of difficult questions. We’re media-savvy, globally engaged, cynical as the day is long, and woefully under-catechized.

This is exactly why Catholics start going to Crossroads or the Vineyard or any of the many other non-denominational churches popping up all around us.

Sometimes I think my generation and the one after it really could boil down our fundamental spirituality to simply hoping that The Man Upstairs actually cares.

And boy, if we had a penny for all the questions, concerns and mixed messages we deal with, we’d be millionaires in short order.


Yauch and Buddhism

For his part, Yauch found peace when he discovered Buddhism in the early 1990s. He became a devoted practitioner, and his faith influenced some of the Beastie Boys’ music. Through Buddhism, Yauch matured from a rabble-rousing young rapper to a fully alive man who became a husband, father, artist and entrepreneur.

Yauch said in a 1994 interview with Tricycle magazine that what attracted him to Buddhism was how heart-centered were the Tibetan monks he had met. He spoke of their compassion and enlightenment. He clearly had found his spiritual home–a discovery worth more than millions.




About the Author

Jennifer Scroggins works in Marketing in Cincinnati, Ohio.