Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Old World

I mentioned in my last entry that I had some history with the Christian rock band "Audio Adrenaline." As I wrote that post, my mind wandered back to the early 90s. I thought about church youth group, and Christian teen conventions, and summer Bible camp. All of that was 20-something years ago, but it feels more like it happened in another life or an alternate reality.

My best friend Steve and I got serious about our faith during high school, which means we immersed ourselves in Christian music: rock, metal, and hip-hop primarily. We followed all the "underground" bands that you'd never ever hear on Christian radio (Christian hipsters were a small but powerfully self-absorbed subculture back then. I can only imagine it's the same nowadays). But the powers that be in the Christian Bubble forced us to become acquainted with more mainstream Christian acts as well. We went to the teen conventions. We saw bands like D.C. Talk, the Newsboys, Petra, and Audio Adrenaline perform. We wore the Jesus t-shirts, and the trendy D.C. Talk braided rope cross necklaces, and various other bits of Jesusy paraphernalia.

It felt good. All of it felt really good. I cannot think of anything stronger than the psychological power of feeling accepted and a part of something - something much larger than you to which you feel connected - that instills in you quite strongly the notion that you're on the inside and the rest of the world is lost and blind because they are on the outside of this special something. These feelings were reinforced continually by the music, the t-shirts, the concerts, the Christian skate nights, the youth group meetings. Everything in the Christian culture perpetuates these notions by design. Repetition breeds habit and belief. Beyond all of that, it felt really good because I had purpose and significance of cosmic proportions, because they were given to me by the guy who created the universe and everything in it. I grew up on Star Wars. The thought of having a cosmic mission in life felt good.

Having answers felt good. Thoughts of heaven felt good. Having fears soothed by faith ("it's in God's hands") just felt good.

We were at church camp each summer, staying up late every night in the cabin, telling jokes, deciding which girl we should try to sit next to at the next campfire, eating snacks, and supposedly getting in touch with our creator. The guys from Audio Adrenaline spent the week of camp with us a couple summers in a row. They were known as "A-180" back then: a Christian rock band from Kentucky. Mark Stuart, the lead singer of the group at the time, was our "cabin dad" for one of those weeks of camp. I remember playing basketball in the rec barn with his brother Dave, who was the keyboard player in the band (back when the band had a keyboard player). I have vivid memories of staying up late in the cabin, talking with Mark about what kind of music we liked and what we wanted to hear from the band as we looked forward to their official change to "Audio Adrenaline."

The church camp we went to each summer was a magical place. I always loved the outdoors, and there was something pure about the location of the camp. We were surrounded by trees. I can still smell the air. I can still see all the stars scattered across the night sky. I was a Chicago kid. I didn't see a lot of stars that often. I felt close to God there.

Things change, though. Toby, Michael, and Kevin - the guys from D.C. Talk - broke up. Audio Adrenaline called it quits, then got back together again. Now, Michael is the lead singer of the Newsboys and Kevin is the lead singer of Audio Adrenaline. Toby has been doing a solo career for a while now. The manager of the church camp passed away not too long ago. I haven't seen those stars or smelled that air in years. I left that world.

I was in love with a girl a while back. She was my everything. Then I realized she wasn't who she convinced me she was. In the end, I realized that I was in love with an illusion. That realization helped me get over her completely. Likewise, a similar thought helps me move beyond that old life in that old world. She makes for a good metaphor, at least. If I allow myself to think about it for a while, I realize that I miss those feelings I had in my world of faith. Hearing one of those old Christian rock songs sends me back to those days for a brief moment. But I can't go back. I wouldn't go back if I could.

Still, how do you get over those feelings?

No comments: