Janis Joplin has been one of my favorite singers from the first time I heard her records. Even though I never even met her, she remains one of my favorite people, too.
I hope she won’t mind my using her tragic life story as a perfect illustration of what I understand the Bible word “sin” means working out in real life.
“Sin,” while meaning “disobedience to God,”is a slightly narrow conceptualization that omits WHY God made those rules in the first place. They were given, among other objectives, to protect us from harm. Sin defined by me (and Greek dictionary research) is doing harm — to ourselves and to one another. And come to think of it, harming our environment to the point of self-destruction, assessed in my way of thinking, is the most harmful thing Mankind can do — to ourselves and to one another. Well that is getting a bit off track.
Now, anyone familiar with Janis Joplin’s life knows the extreme harm other young people did to her, the resulting harm she did to herself as a direct result of cruel meanness imposed upon her. Yet, underneath all the darkness she remained, how can I say it, “a nice person” unfortunately deeply scarred inside and starving for a pure higher love. All that harm resulted in death at 27 years old.
Here are some excerpts from a website called “Louderesound.” I recommend reading the whole article, but here are just a few bits:
Joplin’s arrival as a cultural commodity was a vindication of self that’d been all but quashed in her earlier years. The daughter of middle-class parents from Port Arthur, she was the school misfit who’d been ostracized by her classmates, scarred with acne and subject to bullying. Appallingly, at college in the early ’60s, the local frat house even nominated her as candidate for the Ugliest Man On Campus. In a TV interview conducted at the peak of her fame, Joplin explained that “they laughed me out of class, out of town, out of the state.
In 1963, Joplin quit small-town life and headed for San Francisco, settling in Haight-Ashbury. Drugs entered her life around the same time. Like most everything with Joplin, there were no half measures. She injected methamphetamine, started using heroin, swigged Southern Comfort and gained a reputation as a hard-living speed freak.
Neither fame nor celebrity sat easily with Joplin, whose bawdy public image as a hedonistic rebel belied a vulnerable, sensitive soul who thought deeply about the more esoteric aspects of life. “She was open and spontaneous enough to get her heart trampled with a regularity that took me 30 years to experience or understand,” observed friend and fellow rock goddess Grace Slick …