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“So much to sing about.”

Friday, October 21, 2005

When I was in high school in the mid-nineties, I experienced a revival of faith that catapulted me from cradle Christian to youth-group-attending, hand-waving, Lord-praisin’, born-again believer. Like most young fundamentalists of that era, I was urged to take a good, hard look at my music collection and weed out the “ungodly” influences, replacing them with sound-alike substitutes from a burgeoning sub-genre called contemporary Christian music.

When I reflect on that period in my life, the soundtrack that accompanies it is inevitably generated by one band: Jars of Clay. I became a rabid fan, attending concert after concert, hounding the musicians for autographs, memorizing every note of every song and mining each new single for spiritual insight. It’s all a little humiliating in retrospect, the zeal of adolescence—especially when, a decade later, I was asked to interview the lead singer of the very band whose posters once decorated my bedroom walls.

Interestingly, Jars of Clay’s path over the last ten years has in some ways run parallel with my own. During college, I veered from my fundamentalist roots and after graduation, moved to Washington, DC, to become an intern with a social justice organization. Meanwhile, Jars’ lead singer, Dan Haseltine, was embarking on his first trip to Africa, which brought him face to face with the heartbreaking reality of poverty and AIDS. These days, teenage fans hear things at a Jars of Clay concert that I never did—and those teenagers are better off for it.

Click here to read more about Haseltine’s commitment to faith-fueled activism at Sojourners magazine. (The entire issue is worth a read—I love this compilation of great tunes for the journey.)