Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I Grieve It

Elijah Davidson writes:
And so Bazan wrestles - with himself, with his audience, and with God.

And he grieves what he has lost. At the show Friday night, Bazan and band played the Pedro the Lion song "The Fleecing." The song used to sing,

I could tell you why I doubt it
And why I still believe it
And why I need it
And what the Pharisees don't see

Friday night, Bazan sang instead,

I'd tell you why I doubt it
And why I don't believe it
And why I grieve it
How I was blind but now I see

As he sang these words on the edge of everything in Silver Lake at Spaceland, many present cheered. Many others sighed - in confusion, in commiseration, in love.


Elijah, thank you for so carefully explaining the heartbreaking moment when, in changing the lyrics, Bazan stopped speaking for me and started speaking for the guy in the plaid shirt in front of me (pictured here) who cheered and clapped to find in Bazan such a kindred spirit.

I suppose it's only fair I have to share. I've been able to count on Bazan for the last ten years to give words to my own struggles, to the challenge to reconcile faith with the wrongness of the world and the suffering of so many at the hands of the church. And I couldn't want for anything other than the fierce honesty that has made Bazan's writing so strong.  But it still makes me sad to loose him.  I guess that's why my hand shot up when he asked for questions right after the song you quote and I asked: "How do you grieve it?"

"How do I grieve it? How do you grieve anything? You take the process seriously..."

You can only grieve what's lost. If "Curse Your Branches" was Bazan's break-up record with God, then this concert was my "break-up" with Bazan.

I think I'm grieving it.


  1. Forgive me if I'm oversimplifying everything you're feeling here, but how does him proclaiming this make you feel like you've lost him? Because he seems to have given up on faith? Or because you don't think you can trust an artist who once wrestled with doubt and now believes something different? I'm really curious as to why you feel like you've lost him, I guess. Even though (I think), I get where you're coming from.

  2. Neville. Good question. I think I'm trying to articulate something ineffable that shifted in how I feel about his art during the moment Elijah described at the show. I wrestled this out on twitter with Elijah today. Here's an aggregation:

    I'm not interested in situating Bazan on one side or other of a metaphysical line.

    What (I feel) I've lost is a person with whom I felt a strong kinship artistically and as a person of faith.

    Sounds a bit grandiose but something changed in the way I relate to his art thru the encounter.

    When someone rejects God after their conception of "god" fails thru ?'s or tragedy, it always hurts.

    It's not that I don't "trust" him for having wrestled with doubt and come to a different conclusion than I have. I've been closely following his work since 2001, enjoying it, feeling it giving voice to deep dissonance and questions I too have wrestled with. I think I'm trying to get at two things: 1. I came to recognize that after ten years of feeling like he spoke for me, he's now speaking for the other guy more than he is for me. 2. After wrestling with "Curse Your Branches" for over a year now, I think he's rejecting God on account of what I would consider false representations of conceptualizations of God or what David Dark might call idolatrous constructs of God. As someone who has also fought through the painful process of rejecting those false gods and being haunted by them still at times, I find it painful to see him reject belief altogether on the same grounds.

    I don't begrudge him his journey or his conclusion. But imagine that you had a brother and your parents were divorced. All your life, your mom told you how mean your Dad was. When you finally met him, you couldn't help but see meanness there. But over time, the conception your mom had built was worn down by your experience of your real Dad. But your brother never let that happen. He was too caught up in the pain to let it. You might feel sad that your brother had come to a different conclusion about the nature of your father. That's something like what I feel.

    But then again, we're not brothers. We don't even know each other. But his art connected with me deeply so I feel it nonetheless.

  3. Ah, I see now. That makes perfect sense. And yeah, that's really difficult.

    Thanks for taking the time to elaborate.


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