Yesterday when I preached at church, I talked about faith journeys. We are all certainly on our own unique journeys…and we can all look back at certain moments on our journey and just shake our heads a bit.
I’ve had quite a few of those moments, but one of those happened the summer after I graduated high school. During July of 1998, a group of friends and I went off to Creation ’98, a giant Christian music festival at the Gorge at George. We went around headbanging at various concerts, heard speakers like Joshua Harris talk about how he “kissed dating goodbye” and were inspired to lead more holy and Christian lives.
And then I came home. Started unpacking. And that’s when I saw them.
They’d been in my room for awhile, and had caused me to sin…a lot. I knew I should get rid of them, but it was too hard to let go.
No, I’m not talking about dirty magazines. I’m talking about my…
I’m talking about the sin-infested lyrics from bands like Offspring, Metallica…and Pearl Jam! I didn’t need that in my life. My life was a life called to holiness, called to a pursuit of Jesus’s standards for what music I listened to.
So I did what any young, zealous Christian does in moments like this: I went to find the lighter fluid.
(Well, if I’m honest, first I took some to our local music store to try and sell them, and I did get a little bit of cash for some of them)
So I took the CDs, piled them in the driveway of my house growing up…poured lighter fluid over them…and lit them on fire.
Right? You’d do that too, right?
I was finally getting rid of those HORRIBLE bands like Stone Temple Pilots, and that sin-ridden album “Ten” by Pearl Jam (yes, that’s right, I burned one of the greatest alternative rock albums I had at that time).
After doing a little investigation, I was able to find a journal that I kept that summer, 15 years ago. I’ll only share a portion with you – because it really is incredibly embarrassing when I read too much from this journal:
I did something a few days ago, that I have thot about in the past, and I think that I’m really glad that I did it….I got rid of all my secular CDs that have bad messages…now, oldies and stuff like that is just fine, but all of my Metallica, Offspring, Nirvana, and Stone Temple Pilots went BYE BYE! Now, that was very difficult for me because I really loved that music, but I think that there is definitely enough Christian music out there (and I know even MORE awesome bands NOW!) that I don’t need anything other than that. That music definitely ISN’T glorifying God in any way, so why be any part of it? I know that God wouldn’t have listened to it, so why should I have subjected myself to it…I got $40 from Sight/Sound for about 8 of them, and I burned the rest…it was a nice little ceremony type thing…very cool, and I’m proud of myself for doing it…
My favorite part from the journal entry was this line: “I know that God wouldn’t have listened to it, so why should I have subjected myself to it?” Really? I really knew that God wouldn’t have subjected Godself to it? I knew what kind of music God listened to? Awesome. I must have been so smart and so wise.
So why do I share this story? Two reasons; first, I share this story to warn you. Don’t do this. Don’t set your secular CDs on fire with lighter fluid. There are probably some environmental reasons to not do this today, but it’s not a cost-effective spiritual practice. A few weeks after lighting those CDs on fire, I had to go out and repurchase some of them, because I simply missed the music. And when you start realizing how much amazing music you burned (literally), you’ll find it’s expensive to go and get replacements for all the CDs.
Secondly, I share this story simply because it’s part of my story, and that’s okay. I believe that to get to the theological place that I am today, to be able to get to the place where I can honestly say that I love Eminem and other albums of mine with “Explicit Lyrics” stickers on them, I had to go through this piece of my story.
I had to have that fundamentalist moment where I was so frightened that words in music listened to would pull me away from following God, in order to be where I am today. Now, that’s not the case for everyone. My wife grew up in a very theologically liberal environment, and she just looks at me like I’m from another world when I start talking about Carman’s free Love concerts (anyone remember those?), DC Talk’s music and growing up hearing my mom listen to John MacArthur Bible study tapes.
So sure, I’m a little embarrassed. Sure I look back at the 1998 version of myself and say, “Really? Like, for real? REALLY?!” But it’s all a part of my journey. All part of my faith story. And all a part of God creating who I would become today.