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From punks to monks: the story of Death to the World magazine

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From punks to monks: the story of Death to the World magazine

You are present at the punk show. Someone dressed in black is holding out a black and white magazine. “Death to the world,” the cover says. When you return home and open the copy of the publication handed to you, the pages tell you: “The last true rebellion is death for the world. To be crucified to the world and to crucify the world to oneself. ”

Such is the cult journal Death to the World – punk in form, Orthodox in content. Typical headings for a publication are: “Death is our way of life”; “One hour of suffering in hell”, etc. The pages are decorated with medieval images of men climbing stairs from hell to heaven, surrounded by randomly arranged angels and demons. The essays of the monks of the sixth century coexist in the magazine with reflections of modern former “street children”.

The purpose of Death to the World is to inspire people to search for Truth in an era of nihilism and despair, focusing on the ancient principles of a person's true rebellion: to be dead to this world and alive to another. In other words, the material world is nothing.

The first issues of the magazine

In 1990, Justin Marler played guitar in the metal band Sleep. A year later, he was baptized in Orthodoxy and, leaving the collective, joined the monastery of Rev. Herman of Alaska in Northern California, becoming monk John Marler. “There is much in common between monks and punks. Poverty, a minimum of comfort, a lack of concern that your external is different from what is generally accepted … ”, Marler later recalled.

While his group was striving for new heights, John was more and more immersed in a new world for himself. He and several of his associates decided to post an article about Fr. Seraphim Rose in Maximum Rocknroll magazine, wanting to reach out to punk culture adherents. Of course, their article was not taken. For Marler and other monks, this did not diminish enthusiasm – they created their own magazine.

Justin Marler – My Faith. Interview for the Christian Notebook

In 1994, the brotherhood of Rev. Herman of Alaska prepared the first issue of Death to the World. On the cover was a monk holding a skull in his hands. The monks announced the release of the publication through Maximum Rocknroll, and this time the publishers did not hesitate.

Death to the World immediately became a notable force. Monks led by John Marler handed out magazines at punk concerts and other subcultural events. Marler himself from his past never denied himself and joyfully responded to the reaction of young troubled readers, dissatisfied with their own lives. Dissatisfied with their own rebellion against this world. That was John Valadez.

“If the world hates you, know that he hated me before you”

The Valadez family was not particularly religious. His mother passed from one church to another, so no special Christian traditions were laid in him. In high school, John began to feel disappointment in this world: “I perceived the world around me as something false and false. And then I decided for myself, although I could not formulate it properly, that I needed to find some kind of absolute truth in the world. ”

The first stop for John was the South California punk scene, which seemed to claim to have its own form of truth. At least what they said was noticeably different from the nonsense they carried from the television. But gradually, Valadez began to realize that this whole rebellion of the punk scene was a form of vanity. However, even in that environment there was something worthy of attention: one of the groups that John became interested in was Protestant, and she had the message of preaching the Bible and Christ. So Valadez began to attend the Protestant church. So a step was taken towards the truth.

Gradually, the local punk scene fell into decay. Left alone with themselves, Valadez and his friends, Protestant punks began to gather in a tattoo parlor to study the Bible. In the evening of every Monday after the closure of the salon until sunrise, they talked about that true Church that is described in the Book of Acts. That Church seemed different to them, something that they used to see on Sundays.

“There was one aspect in Protestantism … At least in my meeting with him. I did not feel like a rejected world. I didn’t feel that this lying society rejects Protestantism, ”recalls Valadez. Soon, the ideological leader of the group, which included John, announced his retirement to Orthodoxy, and the group itself was transformed.

The first direct acquaintance of John with Orthodoxy occurred through the journal Death to the World. Many of those with whom he spoke directly wrote out this journal. Despite the fact that few spoke of the “death to the world” from the punk scene, considering it a purely Catholic tendency, Valadez thought this thought was curious. The brand Death to the World itself looked very radical: it called for raising spiritual weapons and rejecting everything else, including their own whims and temptations. He sent an e-mail to the monastic brethren and received in reply a whole box of magazines and the address of the church, to which he could go with his doubts. The result exceeded all John’s expectations: “On the pages of the publication I came across icons of saints who were eaten by lions … Entire host of martyrs, who until the last stood for their faith.” At the age of 19, he joined the Orthodox Church.

John Valadez works in the pavilion Death to the World at one of the exhibitions

By that time, the publication of Death to the World magazine had stopped on issue number 12. Justin Marler left the monastery in 1999. Other monks working on this project focused on other issues. So the cult zine ceased to exist.

But John Valadez was always convinced that Orthodoxy desperately needed a voice like Death to the World, a powerful resource that would communicate with young people in a language that they understood and would be receptive to people exhausted by nihilism and suspicious of everything that concerns questions of faith. “There are people who sincerely seek Christianity, but cannot find it in some beautifully designed book or facts from church history,” Valadez said. Together with his associates, he received a blessing from the rector of the monastery, Rev. Herman of Alaska, and reanimated the magazine. In 2006, Death to the World was reborn.

Father John Valadez


Seminary in the name of St. Vladimir is located in Yonkers in southeastern New York. Now Valadez is a deacon ordained just a week before his thirtieth birthday (an article a year and a half ago. – Approx. Ed.). He lives on campus with his wife and two young children (Fr. John recently became a dad for the third time. – Ed.). When we met, he was in black robes, with a long beard and a mug, on which stood a large sticker Death to the World.

“Then at the numerous punk shows in 2002, I was looking for the truth, first of all. I don’t know how I would have formulated all this if you would have asked me on this subject then. But very often we subconsciously look for something that we ourselves don’t know. ”

Now Death to the World is actively present on social networks. They have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, where authors publish quotes and videos. They have their own website where, in addition to articles, you can also find exclusive products in the form of hoodies, T-shirts and so on. accessories.

Father John Valadez

Valadez hopes that the message Death to the World will continue to resonate with people. But he also notes that finding contact with youth has become more difficult: “When the magazine first began appearing in the 90s, the air was literally saturated with an atmosphere of rebellion and rebellion. Now we have come to the moment when most people are completely quiet on the spiritual battlefield. ”

Last (at the moment) issue of the magazine

But Valadez does not refuse his goal. Now the audience of Death to the World is not only punks, but also all those who are looking for an alternative to an atmosphere of hopelessness and apathy. Valadez says: “Punk is characterized by his search for truth. But the Sex Pistols once said: “There is no future” – and they were right. Punk does not give the future, and this is a very depressing thought. Orthodoxy teaches that there is a future, and this fills life with meaning. ”

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