Faith and Influence

A long time ago, back in 2003, an album called Fallen by a band called Evanescence hit the stores. It didn’t just hit mainstream stores like Wal-Mart and Target and Best Buy… it hit Christian bookstores as well. Evanescence is a rock band. They don’t call themselves a Christian rock band, even though some of their songs do have lyrics that could be interpreted as having Christian themes. For instance:

My wounds cry for the grave
My soul cries for deliverance
Will I be denied Christ
Tourniquet
My suicide
– “Tourniquet”

Or

“Wake me up inside
Wake me up inside
Call my name and save me from the dark”
– “Bring Me to Life”

The members of Evanescence have said that they are Christians, but they do not want their music classified as Christian music. The other two albums that Evanescence has put out in recent years are decidedly hard rock and cannot be interpreted as Christian music in any sense (at least to me). Once Evanescence announced that Fallen was not a Christian music CD and that they were not a Christian rock band, the CD was pulled from shelves in Christian stores.

But this made me think about writers and writing. If certain writers are Christians, does that mean that all their books should contain Christian themes or be about inspirational topics? I don’t think so. I think that a writer should write what is in his or her heart, whether or not that has anything to do with faith or religion. If a writer identifies himself/herself as a Christian, that should not automatically mean that every book he or she writes is going to be about Christian themes. Just like if you’re a musician or an artist, that doesn’t mean that every song or painting you produce has to be about your faith.

If you are a Christian, does that mean you should only listen to music and read books with Christian themes? I don’t think so. I’m a Christian, and even though Evanescence isn’t Christian music, they’re still one of my favorite bands. I read books like Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, even though it’s biblical criticism and was written by an agnostic. Some would say that a Christian shouldn’t read books like that, but my argument is that it’s good to be open-minded and read about what others think and say about Christianity. I listen to music that’s written and performed by people who have all different kinds of beliefs. I don’t think it makes me any less Christian.

Basically, I think it’s good to keep an open mind. There’s nothing wrong with reading Christian literature if you’re Jewish or an atheist or a Buddhist. There’s nothing wrong with reading books about paganism or atheism if you’re a Christian. And if you listen to music like Disturbed or Lady Gaga or Evanescence, you can still be a Christian. To me, faith is something stronger than worldly things like books or music. Yes, you can appreciate and enjoy worldly things, but it’s important to remember your faith – and if that faith is strong, you shouldn’t have to worry about being negatively influenced by what you read or listen to. Faith (or whatever set of morals or beliefs you adhere to) should be the strongest influence in your life – and the driving force behind what you do, and the compass that keeps you on the path you want to follow.

I hope that post made sense. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Faith and Influence

  1. I think you’re right. I heard Amy Lee was influenced by Plumb who does do Christian music. I think faith will leak into your work as it’s such a big part of you but it doesn’t make me want to / not want to listen or read something. I really like Bethany Dillion for instance and I kind of forget that she’s makign Christian music. JK Rowling kept her faith quiet as she thought it would make us know what would happen in HP but weirdly some Christians burn those books so you can’t please everyone 🙂

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  2. Indeed, you’re on the right track–human nature being what it is, we take what lessons we need from what we find. Speaking from the perspective of an atheist who is aware of his inability to be certain, to avoid material because it’s from an author who professes a given set of beliefs is the best way to stay confined and to fail to grow. I would go so far as to say that it’s better when an author or artist preserves the mystery. It hinders our capacity for prejudgement, allowing us to enjoy art without the baggage of our intellect.

    Another example is Orson Scott Card. He’s full-on crazy from a certain point of view. But he’s a fantastic SF author. And I am greatly in his debt for the tools he gave me as a young man.

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  3. If more people had this perspective, the world would be such a nicer place to live! I know some things need to be labeled to categorize them but it doesn’t mean the consumer needs to agree.

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  4. When I was a musician, I met a lot of other musicians, and almost all listened to a wide range of types of music. I knew a guy who played rootsy country rock and listened to a lo o Miles Davis. The only musician I ever met who restricted what she llistened to was a woman who sang Christian music and who never listened to secular music at all. I thought that was such a shame. I didn’t feel I knew her well enough to ask why.

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    1. I think that’s so important if you’re an artist of any kind – to appreciate a wide range of different styles. It’s like how writers are often told to read outside of the genre in which they write. Inspiration is everywhere.

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      1. Sometimes people think that artistic quality and message go together. If you agree with the message, you’ll appreciate the artistic qualities; and vice versa.

        It’s not always that simple, of course. I liked a lot of what Stieg Larsson wrote about, but he was far from a great novelist. I deplored the message of Inglourious Basterds, but it was an amazing movie.

        There’s a lot to learn from both, I’d say.

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