Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tales From A Stranger's Living Room Floor

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianityby Ben Howard

Last Friday afternoon, I left work early, got into a car with a close friend of mine and proceeded to drive 3 hours north on I-65 so I could sit on the floor of a strangers living room and listen to a man with a scruffy beard sing sad songs.  This was a great decision!

The scruffily bearded man in question is singer/songwriter David Bazan who some of you may know as the lead singer of Pedro the Lion or from his two most recent albums, Curse Your Branches and Strange Negotiations.  Bazan’s music, especially his solo albums which is the work I’m most familiar with, is intensely introspective and explores themes of doubt and disillusionment both with his faith, his society, and himself.  On top of this, Bazan’s personal story is one that resonates strongly with myself and with the lives of my friends.
Bazan grew up in a conservative Christian home, and like many of us from the same background, rarely questioned what he was taught at an early age.  However, as he aged and matured he began to take a more skeptical look at the things that he was taught and found many of them to be incongruous with the life as he experienced it.  Through his music Bazan has explored his frustration with the church, his frustration with God, his frustration with faith, and like many of my close friends he became quite ambivalent (to be gentle) about the God our society tends to project.

Now, to be clear, I disagree with a lot of the things that Bazan believes.  While I’m certainly ambivalent about our cultures understanding of God, I’m more than convinced that the God of our culture is neither the biblical God or the God of reality.  But I appreciate the artistry of wrestling with issues that are at times very difficult to address, and I admire the honesty of saying things about yourself and your beliefs that while true, are not easy to admit.  Honesty and authenticity are essential to our need to grow and develop as people, to become more like the people we need to be, and in a Christian understanding to become more like the people we were made to be.  In the words of today’s subject, “It’s hard to be a decent human being.”


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