Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Theology of the Indie Rock Scene

There is almost on other feeling in the world. You have been standing, or sitting depending on the venue, for what feels like hours, yet you don’t leave because something inside of you is keeping you their. Then all of a sudden the lights go out, everyone in the room quiets down. If you listen hard enough from the back of the stage your hear something. As it comes into focus the words ring out as if they are the clearest thing you have ever hear, “Run, Devil run. Run, Devil run.” The words are chanted over and over again getting louder and louder as three figures approach the stage. They continue to sing as the rest of the band joins them on stage, one by one picking up each of their instruments. Then nothing the band stands on stage quiet. The only thing you can hear is the random screams of “yeah!” from the crowd. Then, at what seems at the prefect time Jenny Lewis, the lead signer, strums her guitar and the experience beings.
While not all indie rock concerts begin like a Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins shows and bands all do have very similar details that make them quit similar to Biblical figures and stories. For one by it’s own definition indie music comes from the margins of pop culture. Indie music also is speaking prophetically into the wider culture of the world, like my Biblical prophets of old. While some might argue this is not the case for all indie bands, and I would not disagree, there are many indie bands where this is the case. Take for instance bands that are leading the way in the indie music scene such as Manchester Orchestra, Pedro the Lion, mewithoutYou, Bright Eyes, Cursive and the band motioned above Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.
Indie music falls in long lines of great musical movements that have come from the margins such as Jazz, Rap and Punk. Yet, unlike these music genres indie music takes many different musical forms and styles. Somehow dispite the diversity of sounds indie music has created a community of individuals much like that of early movements in the Jazz, Rap and Punk scenes. Take the band Broken Social Scene for instance. This is a band made up of different musicians, all from different music genres, who come together to tour and play music just because of their love for the music and their common social bound.
We though live in an interesting time in music history, because of the rise of music down loading, web sites like and, individuals search for something deeper than pop music brings and societies over stimulation of media; the indie music scene is finding itself growing in leaps and bounds. As the growth of indie music communities continue to grow, musicians from around the nation are joining together just to play music they love and music that challenges the norm.
Jazz, Rap and Punk not only find their musical roots from the margins but have historically been partnered with social movements. Yet unlike the urban start of many marginal musical movements indie music comes from suburban areas of our nation. Other than the love music another thing that brings indie musicians and participants together as a community is their stance against the norm of pop culture and the injustice of the world. Members of the indie music scene believe that there are more important things in the world going on. Therefore they look behond their selves, their views on sex, drugs, or religion and join together to fight a common enemy. Indie music has created a community of bands and individuals who are declaring, we are unsatisfied with the norm of society and are working to change things. While all of many indie bands like Bright Eyes and Cursive might be creating social noise and doing little to back it up in practice. There are bands such as mewithoutYou who are leading the way for all indie bands in the scene. Many members of the band mewithoutYou are apart of social organizations that working for social change such as mewithoutYou’s singer Aaron who is apart of the Simple Way Community. By participating in not only prophetic enouncement but social organizations mewithoutYou is declaring, don’t only sing about the social issues of the world but work to change those issues.
As indie communities and bands around the world come together they are marching to a different drum. A drum whos beats sound familiar to those of the early church. Stand against the norm, declare the coming of something different, hear our words because they are important and do not stand in our way because we are about something larger than the America dollar.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Christian College Community

It has been almost two years since I graduated from Azusa Pacific University where I did my undergraduate work. I will never forget that day because I don’t think their will ever be another such day in my life. There I sat in a crowd of people, of which some I would call friends while other acquaintances, knowing these times might be the last few moments in my life that I would be “doing life with” this group of people.

It was six years ago when I shown up on the APU’s campus on moving day. The campus was filled with screaming college students ready to welcome me to my new “home”, crying parents, local business vying for my dollars which they hoped I would give them over next couple of years, and new college freshman and transfers who were filled with so many emotions and thoughts that they could not hope to articulate in one coherent sentence. The one thing that still stands out to me about that day was that no matter where I went everyone was friendly, welcoming me to my new community.

As the weekend festivities ended and college went on as I guess colleges does, I started to establish a core group of friends that I hung out with weekly. We ate together, went to shows together, ran around in short shorts soaking wet in 45 degree whether together, had conversations about life until 4 in the morning together, put a large “BLACK OUT” shirt on the BIOLA Jesus together, suffered through finals weeks together, and just did life together for four years. I lament that their will probably be on other time in my life that I will live in community as I did during my undergrad college years. The structure of our current society doesn’t make community living as easily as I would hope because our society has become way to individualistic and privatized.

This is not right! As humans we have been created to live in community with each other. If we can declare that we are made in God’s image, and that God exists as a divine community than we must declare as God’s image that we are created exist in community with one another.

Christian college community was all nice and good and I have to admit there was something special about living in a community with people that are experiencing similar things as you are, it still creates a false image of Biblical community. Biblical community should look more multi-generational then a Christian college community usually does. As Christians we should not take forsake the biblical model of multi-generational community for what might seem easier or more convenient for us. We need to be community with those who have experienced what we have not, where we can pour into the lives of our youth and children, and where we can sit and hear the stories of our elderly. We need to be in a community were multi-generations can live together and truly be a picture of our savior to the world around us.

As I said above, it has been two year since all of my college friends went our separate ways and while I still talk with some and live with others, my group of friends, that I did life together with during college is gone. I still hope that one day I might live in a community like I did in college, yet hopefully this time it will look a lot more like Biblical community then it did was I was in college.