OH! And I didn't even mention rediscovering I Am Mountain after all of this. Though I for sure enjoyed it before, I found a renewed and intensified connection to it after, as I found myself wandering outside every camp, as in "Wayward and Torn", or finding a freedom in letting go.
Or, as David Bazan put it:
Riches I heed not
Nor man's empty praise
Means fuck the gatekeeper
'Cause I'm fine outside the gate
I'm sad that I won't get a chance to see any of those (OWL) songs played live, especially in a full-band treatment as they deserve. I'll always cherish what Gungor has been to me, and I'll miss that being in the world.
But I also know that the life that's been sparked, the energy that's been unleashed, in this music, in this community and whoever gathers around such a song, can't be confined to a name or even a history as rich as this one.
So let's see where the #GungorStory goes next. ❤️
I walked through deconstruction and reconstruction as the OWL trilogy unfolded. There are probably numerous other examples, but what stands out more than any other is this: singing "Free" at the Chicago gathering gave me back the feeling I'd lost after spending many years primarily connecting to God through music, which had become a piercing and surprising grief as I'd taken apart the ideas that I used to sing so loudly. There I was, bereft of certainty, but swept up once again in divine love.
"Light" reminded me of all I've been unable to see and the gift of fresh eyes. Eventually, "You" gave me permission to acknowledge how much I've changed, how much I've left behind, and to be okay with it, even when I've drifted far enough to horrify and deeply concern a hundred past selves.
"Lion of Rock" gave me comfort and peace in a season of loss that seemed to mirror what was happening internally. "One Wild Life" reminded me that the world is massive and mysterious and wonderful, and that I could trust that I could let go and fall into that wonder. "At Sea" was a healing salve as I realized how trusting my wife with all my doubts and the changes I was going through reflected back to me the richness and safety of our relationship.
Nothing made sense anymore. I had dug up the ground I was standing on, and I was starting to wonder how much of my life this unraveling would take down with it.
And somehow, all the while, Gungor was making the soundtrack to the life, death, and life again of my faith.
I followed the stories of @mike and @vishnu straight into my own sudden deconstruction. At first I was just mildly concerned that their stories had taken turns that didn't seem like what I thought Christianity was supposed to be (to put it mildly, ha). This unnerved me a bit, but I still felt "safe" from it, if I can put myself back in that time and mindframe for a second. But then I started taking everything apart too, and soon I found I couldn't stop.
I remember being a bit confused but still excited when Gungor announced the birth of The Liturgists, an outlet for "Gungor-style church music", while Gungor itself would then be free to be more weird and out-there. (lol, and nod to latest TAATR: Transitions). I followed this with the same fervor, as it became new music in Vapor, meditations, a podcast, and a whole new movement of sorts. I was fascinated and enjoying it, but I was sort of just along for the ride. I didn't know what was coming.
At another service, we sang "This is not the end" and I cried, because I remembered my wife's request that it be played at her funeral. I still can't make it through the melodies without choking up.
I wore out my fingers in late night practice sessions, trying to figure out "Dry Bones" so I could play it in an Ash Wednesday service. We did, and it was one of the most powerful moments I can remember in that room.
At another service, we did a "Beautiful Things / He is Here" medley in which a pastor, one of my dearest friends from the church, delivered Amena Brown's spoken word with a fire and joy I'll never forget. (His and mine is a complicated story for another time.)
I dove in *hard* after that night. I dug through the back catalog (didn't make it further back past Ancient Skies, though I do still enjoy that stuff from time to time), I found every Youtube video I could, including some of Lisa's solo stuff. I lobbied hard to get this music in rotation in the church band I was in, as often as I could. I succeeded more than I expected.
Michael took a solo moment to sing "Song for my Family", which perhaps stuck with me more than anything else from that night - the pain of seeing what the church often is, and the hope of what it could be. I remembered my own frustration at the church, and all that seemed wrong, despite the good I knew I'd seen and experienced. They sang "Wake Up Sleeper", and my heart roared to life with the vigor of a thousand hands shaking to life a lifeless corpse.
It was just the two of them, plus a rotating few other musicians for different songs. I remember the exact moment I woke up to what was happening in that room - and it definitely had something to do with beatboxing cellist Kevin Olusola. But it continued when I realized that *everyone* on that stage was absurdly talented. Whether it was Michael shredding through "You are the Beauty" or funk-jamming through "Doxology", or the raw power and soulfulness of their combined voices, I was hooked.
I first had the opportunity to hear them live as part of a truly incredible tour, with David Crowder Band and John Mark McMillan, in Grand Rapids, MI. Though I was ostensibly there for the other two headliners - who were fantastic - it was Gungor that blew my fucking skullcap off.
The news about the end of Gungor hit me oddly - with simultaneous feelings of sadness and inevitability. Here's my #GungorStory.
It started out pretty mildly. I heard "Beautiful Things" at some point; enjoyed it, kinda hoped we could play it at my church (we did, once, much later). I listened to the album and enjoyed it, but it didn't really stick at first. Same with Ghosts - I really enjoyed it, but it didn't quite land at first with the weight it has for me now.
But then everything changed.
Im the most awkward and blushing as I type this but acting on a nudge from fellow friends on here, I’m posting my Bible translation project again!
It’s a Bible translation for the spiritually wandering and it’s aim is to bring up wrestling, dialogue, and a new way of reading the text.
It’s on Kickstarter and we have 2 days to meet our goal. 150 more pledges! 👏🏻
Y'all need to get over and support @Bonnie on her kickstarter. It's a fantastic project! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1945582321/timshel-an-idiomatic-bible-translation
Staying at a non-affirming church
Background on me: cis het able-bodied white man. Held “a traditional view on the scriptures” on these matters until 4-5 years ago, if I’m honest. Now wholly and completely affirming, and feel comfortable saying so to other people in this church without worrying about their deep concern.
Staying at a non-affirming church
More conflicting still: who else is going to do the work? What is the cost if I abandon these people - my many friends who run the ship at various levels, and the countless people who are left out of the full life of the church, or worse, encounter shame or worse harm?
I am in no real danger here - my livelihood does not rest on remaining in the leadership’s good graces, and the worst harm I endure is a bit of strain from some minor Sunday-morning eye-rolling.
Staying at a non-affirming church
What if nothing will ever change? What if the support I give with my finances, my talents, and my presence does more harm than whatever meager change I’m able to contribute via my advocacy? Would those resources be better spent elsewhere?