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. 🙂

Top 5 Favorite Albums

Music time! These are my five favorite albums that I physically own (not downloaded). Feel free to share yours in the comments!

1. Evanescence – Fallen (2003)
Genre: Hard Rock
This was the first CD I ever got and it’s still my favorite to this day, even though I’ve come to see some of the lyrics as a little too dramatic for real life. Fallen has never ceased to inspire me when I’m writing, though. Listening to those overdramatic, soaring vocals can be just the trick.

2. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)
Genre: Rock/Grunge
This album has been listed as a 90s classic many times. The lyrics may be some of the most depressing, angst-ridden stuff you’ve ever heard, but, strangely enough, the sound is as calming as it is angry.

3. Flyleaf – Memento Mori (2009)
Genre: Hard Rock
I already wrote a review of this album in an earlier post, but it was worth mentioning again. The album is Christian-oriented, but even if you aren’t Christian, you’ll feel the intense emotion infused in every song.

4. Spyro Gyra – Three Wishes (1992)
Genre: Jazz fusion
Totally instrumental, this album will still make you want to get up and move. It is definitely not the kind of jazz that constitutes elevator music or background sounds while you’re on hold.

5. Michelle Branch – The Spirit Room (2001)
Genre: Pop/Rock
There is something about the sweet hopefulness of the lyrics that keeps drawing me to this album. Artistically speaking, it may not be the most unique album in the world, but its positivity is very worthwhile if you’re feeling down.