Monday, June 19, 2006

A reaction....

this is what someone has said:
Hi, I started up an acount again just to ask you this

And I don't want this to sound disrespectful or anything like that it's just an honest question

What exactly is your general belief about Christianity? I'm kind of beyond asking "hey is that too personal" cuz you talk about it all the time.

I mean i can see that you obviously think Christianity is about loving everyone, which it is. You obviously have thew basic Christian value type of thing down.

However it seems to me that you think the church is not there, and like not even close. Sure, there are Christians who don't do what they should, but neither do you. And I know you know that. No one is perfect. I just find I read all your posts about this Christianity stuff that people keep on asking you and I'm trying to find some kind of sound truth in there and there's nothing but negativity. The church should do this. The church should do that. The church apparently isn't doing anything. And I hope I'm not sounding mean but it does kind of make me angry. Almost like where do come from talking like that?

Go figure too, I'm being negative right now.
Just in case you didn't know, I thought I'd clarify it for you.

The church is loving people. The church is helping the community. On a broad scale the church is doing more good for the world then you are. I mean let's say the F word in a song then talk about what's wrong with Christianity? A person who's not a Christian could do that but it seems like you're trying to be from a Christian's perspective.

I kind of hope you don't post this cuz i know i'll get blasted on the board... but it'd be nice if you could talk to me about it...cuz you're honestly my favorite band and i love your music soooo much...

this is my answer:
First off, you are right..I fight with my bitterness all the time, I am very cynical and I will tell you why. It's because I care about it so much. I have never claimed to have the answers the church can't provide. I (nor MAE) have ever claimed to be above the church in spiritual awareness. I do not think that all churches are wrong. I am a hyporcite, I am a sinner, and I know that. And that is part of it, we are humans, every one is a human, and everyone is a creation of God. It's funny, this whole christian thing started as a reaction, a reaction to a question, a reaction to accusation by certain christian fans. They seemed so protective of our songs being of a christian nature, they would express their discontent, not with the music, but with us as people. They would interpret the songs in their own way (which is fine) and then declare that we "let them down" when they found out that the song wasn't about what they felt it was. It's incredibly frustrating. In my life, there has been many instances where, contrary to the idea of Christianity, the church has acted so elite and exclusive. I just became bitter, like anyone would when something they care so much about is misrepresented and made into an institution, a club that requires a set of rules to participate in. All of these things I was experiencing in the church, and among christians, seemed to be in direct contradiction of what I thought to be Jesus's message. Being around christians made me resent Jesus, and that is not right. My thought process is a product of my reaction to my experience, and I know my reaction is my own, but when ever I talk with someone who is not a christian, who rejects the church, the idea of God all together; it is not because they don't like the idea ofGod, it is because they do not like the experiences they have had with christians, they do not like the christian coalition represent or fight for. It is because they are rejected and looked upon as "sinners" by people who call themselves Christians. God calls for humility, not for pride. What do I do when the people who are supposed to carry God's message to everyone else become the barrier to others knowing God at all. God is not restricted to dogma, or to rules. God is not just for heterosexuals, republicans, and pro life supports, God is for EVERYONE! God is for the "sinners", the prostitues, the homosexuals, the murderers, the communists, the feminists, the doves, the war hawks, the low down dirty scum. God is a part of everything, God is the creator. Do not misunderstand our stance and comments on christianity as a claim that we have a better answer, it is our frustration.

I use the term church loosely, it is to represent the institution of christianity, which pollutes the purity of God's message, which is a mystery to begin with. I don't mean to put myself above the church...all I'm doing is answering questions as to why we don't want to be a part of the christian market. I am bitter, because something I care about so deeply is being misconstrued so badly. The institution of Christianity should not be a platform for pride, nor a cause for seperation.
I know I am not right about anything, I fully admit I don't know anything. I follow my own heart. I do not know God and I am not in a position to tell people how to live, but I am in a personal search to get as close to him as I can.

That is my bottom line, I believe in the certainty of Jesus, but am a victim of my own uncertainty in how to follow Him, and I will not be told I am not doing God's will, no one knows that but God and myself. I have my own path, and I will not critisize yours.

You brought up the Nine Inch Nails cover and I do not think that has anything to do in believing in God. We upset people by doing that cover, we upset certain christian listeners who said we let them down, but I was not aware we owed them any thing in the first place, and we have never claimed to be a christian band. They were reacting to a false idea about us that they manifested in their head (or maybe because they saw our CD for sale in a Christian Bookstore which we have no control over). How do we react to that? I (Mae) is not perfect, all we are trying to as people, and as a band, is be as honest with our music as possible. If that upsets certain people, then we apologize, but we have reasons for doing what we do. And our reason for doing the Nine Inch Nails song, well, we love the song, and it was a challenge for us.

All this being said, I hope I answered your question...this is my answer to it. I love what you said, and I love that you were so upfront. I need things like that, I know I have a lot of growing to do. Thank you so much for listening to our music. I never want to alienate our listeners, our supporters, I am grateful, so incredibly blessed to be able to do what I do. Although, I am still a person who search, who becomes bitter and confused. I just want to be good human (and I fail regularly), to affect people's lives in a positive way, all types of people's lives. I love all of our fans and never mean to accuse or hurt or take them for granted, I just want to make music for the right reasons. I hope I didn't upset you.


Anonymous Talli said...

I completely agree with you. Well, maybe the word "completely" is a little irresponsible. But I do generally agree with you. I myself, as well as a huge amount of my friends, have been hurt terribly by a church we grew up in. I can only think of one person who still goes there, and she wasn't even all that affected by the situation. I don't like to put all the blame on the church, but I do feel like the reason that so many of my friends have gone astray is because they feel betrayed. As I'm writing this, I'm losing sight of what exactly your post was about, but I feel that this should be said: the church in general is losing sight of what is important. Like the church in California that spent millions of dollars to erect a 70 foot statue of Jesus so that the people driving on the nearby highway would be able to see it. That's not going to bring people to Jesus. That's almost making a mockery of him. And they could have used that money to help the homeless or something productive like that. It's not a contest of which church has the most members, there's a spiritual war going on, and that money needs to be going towards practical things instead of silly ones. And I agree with you, I think most people like the idea of God. But they're turned off by the agenda of the church and the guilt-trips that come with it. I think the best way of witnessing is to just love people, be different, be real. And when people ask you what's different in your life, they'll really listen to what you have to say.

10:37 AM

Blogger Zach said...

Exactley, I see churches with bright lights, boasting a massive weekly attendence, etc., it just makes me cringe a little. I do not think the entire blame should be placed on the church, and I do not think every church is guitly of what I am complaining about, but as I have said, I am speaking of personal experiences. I do not want to generalize, and place a blanket claim, because then I would be doing exactly what I am accusing the church of. I love what you said. Thank you.

12:22 PM

Blogger spydrwebb said...


I commend you on your bravery, honesty, and sensibility. I have no accusations and struggle with much of what you face on a regular basis. It's so difficult to be confronted by people who wear a Christian badge and are (in most cases) innocently trying to follow God, albeit what ends up happening in many cases is judgment towards others because they think/believe (my opinion) that they have this entire "following Him" thing down better than you.
We don't have the answers, period. We are best to surrender ourselves to our Creator and seek what our hearts tell us is right and just, which is how (at least with me) Jesus speaks to our soul.

I should mention that I would want to love you as a person for who you are and what you hope to accomplish in life by making a difference... long before I would place you on some pedestal just because you happen to be a member of a band that I believe to be one of the most prominent and REAL musical outfits in the industry. The fact is you are fortunate to be in such good company, just as we are all equally proud to celebrate your art with you.

I hope Mae (and ultimately you) never feel like your fans know more about your endeavors than you do. The very idea of this is ridiculous but it usually happens when people have the best of intentions and can't realize the harm (again, my opinion) they cause by typecasting you and your brothers to be certain idols that need to live up to their expectations. We would fail miserably if we faced life by trying to be all things to all people, rather our eyes should simply be set on what we know to be certain - our salvation, and essentially the steps necessary for our individual selves to have a closer relationship with Christ.

I don't know how many times people have judged me on my honesty and I take great solace in the fact that you encourage it.

I look forward to your next trip to Grand Rapids so we can talk again, albeit our first time was quite brief and rushed, it was easy to tell that you guys have great hearts and that is priceless my brother.

Take great care and thanks again for your willingness to throw caution to the wind and bear your soul.


5:04 PM

Anonymous katie said...

I really relate to what you've said about bitterness.

I grew up in the church, mostly outside the United States and mostly in developing countries. When I came to Ohio for college three years ago, I discovered I had things to deal with I never realized before. I had so much anger and resentment towards what I considered "American Christianity", with all of its material excess and spiritual apathy. I am still working through this stuff-- especially when I see American flags hanging in churches and my cousin's youth group planning a trip to Cedar Point and lavish Power Point presentations during services. All the while, I'm aware that poverty is right next door-- while megachurches are springing up, churches in the inner city are struggling to survive.

It's hard not to be bitter about the fact that the Church isn't doing what we know it should be. But I think the solution is in turning bitterness into righteous anger, and turning that anger into positive action. The Church can change. When God gives His people a vision of what is wrong, we should work on fixing it. That's the part I'm currently struggling with. My bitterness is tinged with arrogance, and I have to abolish that before I'll be able to do anything productive.

7:49 PM

Blogger Zach said...

I know I spend a lot of time questioning, and complaining about christianity, but I rarely talk about feeling and experiencing God. I believe in God because he is impossible to deny. Through music, through art and through creativity is where God speaks the clearest. Through unconditional love, through charity, through unselfishness. I love what you guys and girls have said, and for me, the simple fact that we are so mindfully aware of an idea of truth, I think that in itself is what the church should be, communication, and the stirve for understanding to better exemplify the ideals and message of Jesus to all people of the earth, regardless of their political beliefs, moral standards, sexual practices, etc. I will leave judgement to God.

9:44 PM

Blogger Deadpool said...

I agree with you about "the church" completely missing the point.

but perhaps the problem isn't "the church" but rather the loud voices, and hypocrites claiming to be the church.

in the new testament the church is described. and it is nothing like "the church" you describe.

I can understand your frustration though, so many churches lose sight of what's in the bible. but, I think that there are churches that try to stick to whats in the Bible.

of course, Christians have a difficult position, and I've yet to conclude what is ideal... because naturally we want to live by the morals we find in the bible. and being in a democratic society it only seems logical that we should vote for and try to make things happen in the government that will make living a christian life easier. things that support good morals... but at the same time it's a catch-22 because we also shouldn't force people to live by our moral standard. it's quite a conundrum.

I think studying Acts and a lot of the new testament letters would reveal what the church should be... then it's just a matter of finding a church that is trying to be that way...

I say "trying" because hopefully most christians realize that they're human and make mistakes. so finding a church that is perfect all the time would be impossible.

I think the brothers I meet with try to achieve this... I think there are still some things that they're off on, but that's the human factor. My christian family encourages me to be humble, and to put others before myself... and to be a servant, just like Christ says we should do. I think this is good.

It's a tough cookie... but I think the first step is to remove all ideas you have of the church and everything "the church" has done. Figure out what is should be, and find people living this way.

To be quite honest, it's tough as a christian to even tell who other christians are... So many christians are just christian by name and not by action.

and as far as knowing God's will. I believe he's spelled it out clearly.

"Fear God and Keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man"

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
-Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20

""Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

and Jesus also explains who our neighbor is with the parable of the good samaritan.
even in that parable, the priest and the levite, who were high up in "the church"(judaism) who should have been the ones to help and show love and mercy, failed. it was the samaritan who would have been least likely in peoples' minds that actually did it.

"The Church" not doing what it should is nothing new. We just have to rise above it.

10:04 AM

Blogger Ethan said...

I'm not going to sit here and post my disagreement, because I did agree with your reply to the "Ask Mae" post.... To an extent. I don't think that the church in general has a massive political or social agenda: I think that, for the most part, the church is made up of people trying to do the right thing and lead people to Jesus. Yes, our pride may get in the way, and yes, the church does drive people away. I've seen many examples of that in my lifetime already, and I'm only 15! But I do know this: (I'm going to borrow from a friend here, for lack of better illustration), The church is like your mother. Is she perfect? No. Does she make mistakes? Yes. Does she make you want to tear your hair out with frustration? Definitely. But do you still love her, and does she try to help you grow in your love for Jesus and lead an honorable life? Yes.

8:36 AM

Blogger Ethan said...

Yeah, I don't really agree with the F word in the song either, or covering a band whose hatred for Christianity is so vile, but there are much worse things to squabble about than a song cover, and just because they sing the song doesn't mean they're aligning themselves with everything NIN believes; They just like the song.

12:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zach.

I'm pretty much with you on this one. Church (meaning organized, denominational Christianity) has its merits for some, and for others it's an indoctrinator. It really just depends on the type of person you are. I don't go to Church, and I don't particularly want to--I'd much rather have my own relationship with God, but I've also been tainted by my experiences with 'Church'. That's not to say that Churches don't do good things around the community. Many do. We just have to weigh the good and the bad and look at every aspect of what's going on to find out the truth. You're right in that we're all just searching.

Talli said something about a church in Cali that spent millions of dollars to make this huge statue of Jesus...but she's right--it's almost a mockery. Jesus is just so much more than that 70 foot tall statue. He's inside of us...and we don't have to carry around anything physical to know that. It's quite mind-blowing.

8:12 AM

Blogger stefan said...

i think we need to define who the church is. The church isn't the building, the pews,the mircophones,offering plates, or anything like that. The church is the people. Us,You,me. Its everyone. If there is a problem with the church, then WE,Us,You,Me need to fix it ourselves. You believe what you believe. You are the church, so try not to blame the church but blame yourself. You should follow Jesus with everything you do all the time. When you are drowning in the waters of life, only Jesus will save you. Thank you for your time and i love your music

8:05 PM


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