I grew up Pentecostal. Not long hair and long skirts Pentecostal. More like loud music with drums and guitars, where blue jeans were appropriate, and fire and brimstone frequently came from the pulpit. I am completely aware that this is not what comes to mind when most people think about church. Let’s just say a lot of my friends growing up didn’t like to spend the night on Saturdays. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no problem with it. We are all just used to certain things, and I understand why my upbringing confuses some people. Let me give you a perfect example. When I was ten years old, a lady at the Bible bookstore told me she’d heard a rumor that my church handled snakes and bit the heads of chickens, and she wanted to know if it was true. I had no idea what she was talking about. I was 10! Of course I told her that it wasn’t true, but that moment will forever be seared into my brain. What was she talking about?
I know everyone goes through the whole “question everything” phase at some point in their growing up process. I have a tendency to be a perfectionist, so I took everything I was taught growing up pretty literally. I remember the exact moment that I felt like I finally had it all figured out being directly tied to music. Specifically, an indie band called Pedro the Lion and a man named David Bazan. I will openly admit that I was naive, but I somehow learned a very poignant lesson from listening to Bazan’s lyrics and meeting him in person quite a few times. White is not always good. Black is not always bad. There is a gray area.
Bazan never categorized his band as a Christian band, but he is a Christian, and something inside of me believed that his faith was real. Even though every fiber of my being didn’t understand how this could be possible if he drank beer and said four letter words starting with f. Ten years later, the fact that I used to look at life this way seems ludicrous. I could totally be wrong, but I believe that living a life riddled with guilt for every little mistake you make is not what God intended for us.
My favorite musical artist is Maynard James Keenan from Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. Many people debate on whether he is an atheist, or on the other side, is he sharing his own ideas on the nature of God? No one really knows, because it’s not something he speaks openly about. I don’t really care either way. I find his music inspirational in a multifaceted way, and that’s all that matters to me. What does a poem, a work of art, or a song mean to you? I think that many artists express their creativity, share their ideas with the world, and then leave the interpretation up to us. They aspire to be catalysts and spur us to think for ourselves.