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God Bless

August 26, 2010

I just discovered singer and songwriter David Bazan. Has anyone out there heard of him? Apparently, he has been known for a little while now as the best of the best among “Christian rock-stars” (a designation that generally makes me itch). But more recently, he has publicly renounced his Evangelical Christian background. So he’s clearly a complex guy and writes provocative songs, many of which dig into big questions about faith and morality and social justice and address his personal struggles, especially with alcoholism.

Check out his song, “Bless This Mess,” in which he beseeches God to bless everything and everyone, no matter their failings:

God bless the man who stumbles, God bless the man who falls, God bless the man who yields to temptation. God bless the woman who suffers, God bless the woman who weeps, God bless the children trying her patience. Trouble getting over it is what you’re in for, so pour yourself another. It’ll take a steady pair of hands. Holy or unholy ghost, well now I can’t tell, but I do wish for it. You should get some distance if you plan to take a stand.

God bless the house divided, God bless the weeds and wheat, God bless the lamp under a bushel. I discovered hell to be the poison in the well, so I tried to warn the other of the curse, then my body turned on me. I dreamt that for eternity my family would burn, then I awoke with a wicked thirst.

By my babies yellow bed, I kissed her forehead and rubbed her little tummy. Wondering if she’d soon despise the booze on my breath I give off. Through a darkened mirror I have seen my own reflection and it makes me want to be a better man, after another drink.

God bless the man at the crossroads, God bless the woman who still can’t sleep, God bless the history that doesn’t repeat.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Murray permalink
    August 26, 2010 5:19 pm

    I left a mainline church for an evangelical church for no church. Am I also “clearly a complex guy”?

    Or is that designation only for those who renounce Evangelicalism, which I haven’t technically done, although I’ve spoken often on its shortcomings.

  2. jamiemcelroy permalink*
    August 26, 2010 5:37 pm

    I was basing that comment more on the interview I linked to above and on his music and lyrics than on him leaving his evangelical background–though that’s certainly part of it as well.

    But all that said: Yes, Murray, I’d have to say you seem to me to be a clearly complex guy as well. But aren’t we all? I think all of us humans are pretty messy and complicated. And I enjoy bumping up against guys like David Bazan who are so open about their messiness and complexity. I think guys like him help the rest of us get in touch with our own messy complexity and thereby help us to live more fully in the light and love of God.

  3. Murray permalink
    August 26, 2010 5:53 pm

    Be careful, Jamie, you came dangerously close just now to agreeing with my view of what the gospel is.

  4. Murray permalink
    August 27, 2010 1:01 pm

    ‘And I enjoy bumping up against guys like David Bazan who are so open about their messiness and complexity.’

    I agree. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick….” (Mark 2:17) In a sense, it is correct for us Christians to think of ourselves as never having it all together in order to qualify to have His presence in our lives. Once we think we’ve become healthy, we are saying that we no longer have need of His services as our physician.

    Somebody challenged me one day by saying, “It is good to be a seeker, but a some point we must become a finder.” Jesus Himself said, “Seek and you shall find.” In other words, over time, through our seeking of Him and through our dependency upon Him we can expect to see evidence that He has been at work in our lives. After a time, we won’t be the mess we were before He started working on us, or at least not as much of one.

  5. jamiemcelroy permalink*
    August 27, 2010 1:24 pm

    Absolutely, Murray. I really like the term “seeker” as a word for all of humanity, including all of us regular church goers. And I often think it’s unfortunate that the church tends to use that term only to describe those who are somehow “new” to Christianity and the church. We’re all seeking, our whole lives.

    And I should add: I totally agree with your interpretation of the gospel message. I guess I think it’s only part of the message though, albeit a very important part.

    I was talking with someone about this just a couple of days ago. We were talking about the importance of recognizing/noticing God’s love and acceptance of one’s self. In the Episcopal Church, we define a sacrament as “an outward manifestation of an inward reality.” And I think when we go out in the world confident in who and what we are, aware of God’s unconditional love, then we are outwardly expressing an inward reality and we become walking, talking sacraments–which sort of describes what I see in David Bazan, I guess.

    Still, I think all that stuff from the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain should help us guide our response to God’s love…

  6. Murray permalink
    August 28, 2010 8:54 am

    I think it’s very,very important to view the cross as the focal point of God’s love. and acceptance of us. The only reason we are certain of God’s acceptance of us is on the basis of the rejection of Jesus (My God, my God why have you forsaken me?) I think we all need a frequent and healthy dose of the fact that we aren’t accepted on our own merit but on His. The Father does not accept us because we a re wonderful, but because Jesus is and because we have been hidden in Him by receiving Him as Savior and Lord.

    For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

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