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Punk rocker describes his return to Catholicism

By on Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Terry Chimes pictured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 (PA)

Terry Chimes pictured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 (PA)

The original drummer from renowned punk rock band, The Clash, has written about his spiritual reawakening in his new book.

In his autobiography, The Strange Case of Doctor Terry and Mr Chimes, baptised Catholic Terry Chimes, who drummed on The Clash’s eponymous debut album and toured with the band in the early 1980s, writes about his journey back to the Catholic faith.

Chimes describes stumbling across a copy of CS Lewis’s book Mere Christianity at a car boot sale in 1998 and reading about Lewis’s analysis of the sin of pride.

Chimes said: “There was a chapter entitled The Great Sin. The great sin is pride, the tendency we all have to think we are better than someone else. I had always known that pride existed but wondered why it’s referred to as the great sin. That was until I realised the significance of pride as an obstacle to spiritual growth.

“The problem with pride is that those who have the most see it the least. CS Lewis said that if you have done some good works, read some spiritual books, perhaps practiced meditation or given up drinking and you take pride in that, thinking that you are more spiritual than someone else, then Satan will rub his hands with glee, because he will have caught you in a spiritual trap from which escape is very difficult.”

He continued: “As I read those words I had the chilling awareness that I have been in just such a trap for twenty years. I put the book down and went to sit on the sofa. I was reeling from the realisation that I’d been in a trap for all of that time. Within minutes I was having the most extraordinary experience of my life.”

The 57-year-old goes on to describe the ‘extraordinary experience’ which followed as a presence coming through him “in strong waves.” He said: “At that moment, everything material and concrete seemed like nothing compared to the power and majesty of this presence. Everything in my world seemed to be instantly shattered, leaving me feeling tiny, naked and exposed. At the same time I felt the most extraordinarily powerful love. This presence knew everything about me and yet still loved me.”

He continued: “There were many tears, but also the most profound feeling that I would always be loved until the end of time and beyond. I also realised at that moment that my life could never be the same again. There was the feeling that all of the hairs on my head were standing on end and tingling, a feeling that has stayed with me on and off ever since.

“I decided to set about rearranging all of my life’s priorities…When I came across the following poem, by Saint Augustine, it expressed perfectly my feelings at that time: ‘You made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you. Beauty at once so ancient and so new, late have I loved thee. You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself. I searched for you. You were within me but I was not with you. You called me. You cried aloud to me. You broke the barrier of my deafness. You shone upon me.’”

After his time with The Clash, Chimes went on tour briefly with the rock band Black Sabbath, in the late 1980s. He subsequently began to distance himself from his rebel, rock image when he became a teetotal vegetarian and trained as a chiropractor in 1994.

Chimes also defends the Sacrament of Confession within his book when he describes a childhood incident in which he stole a sword from a car breakers yard with his friend Tommy. Chimes writes: “I went to bed that night thinking that what I had actually done was stealing. My Catholic upbringing told me that stealing was a sin and an offence to God. I felt very bad about it and wasn’t sure what to do. I felt that I should give it back, but Tommy had no such qualms of conscience.

“I was quite upset at the time and my parents asked me several times what was wrong but I never told them. In the end I took the problem to the priest at Confession. He told me off, made me promise not to do it again and gave me some homework to do. After doing my homework, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I never wanted to have that feeling of a bad conscience again. So despite the criticisms you hear about a Catholic upbringing and the concept of Confession, in my particular case, at the time, it worked well.”