Linkin Park (and why they are probably Christian even if they don’t know it yet)

Apparently this is not a new thought or theory.  I mentioned this briefly before and my wife and I have discussed this frequently, but I had never actually researched this.  So if you google “linkin park christian” you find an amazing amount of discussion about this, even a Christianity Today article! (1)   Linkin Park has historically been one of my favorite bands, though in a somewhat peripheral way.  They can’t really be called a Chrisitian band in the classic sense partially because they make good music (2).  Many Christians would have a problem with their themes and lyrics but also in their presentation.  This has often been a problem for people with Christian rap who say essentially “how can music from a genre that glorifies sin be about Jesus”.  My wife discussed this in detail in her blog (3).  See in particular point #5 which the discussion revolves around this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MllhC0qyEjY&feature=player_embedded

 I link that video because it’s a nice example of the rap/rock/punk fusion that’s actually somewhat similar in style to some of Linkin Parks stuff (maybe emphasis on the rap while Linkin Park is emphasis on the rock/punk), but actually is fully Christian music. 

On the surface one might listen to a Linkin Park song and hear nothing but loud screaming (depending on the song, some of their recent stuff is pretty toned down and tame), but closer evaluation quickly leads to the source of my claim.   I should note at this point that my assertion that they are Christian is somewhat tongue in cheek as I do think that to be a Christian you have to profess a faith in Jesus Christ so you can’t really be one without knowing it.  I do think however that some people are very close to the Truth and just need to make one more leap to get there.   I was there once. 

So let’s take a closer look at some of Linkin Park’s music and see why I have this opinion:

Link Park, In the End,  (4) Chorus:

I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
And lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter

Ecclesiastes 1:13-15

13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
       and what I had toiled to achieve,
       everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
       nothing was gained under the sun.

Ok so those are fairly common nihlistic themes and might point more to the ageless timeliness of the writings in Ecclesiastes more then a real example of Linkin Park being Christian. 

But that’s sort of my central thesis about Linkin Park, they deal with topics of sin, death, life, and while some might not agree with some of their cursing or even their presentation and angst (again see my wife’s discussion about teenage angst in section 4 of the same blog post).  They deal with timeless themes that are relavent and beautiful to all people. 

Linkin Park, No More Sorrow (5)

No, no more sorrow
I’ve paid for your mistakes
Your time is borrowed
Your time has come to be replaced

I see pain, I see need
I see liars and fiends
Abuse power with greed
I had hope, I believed
But I’m beginning to think that I’ve been decieved
You will pay for what you’ve done

No, no more sorrow
I’ve paid for your mistakes
Your time is borrowed
Your time has come to be replaced

Thieves and hypocrites!
Thieves and hypocrites!
Thieves and hypocrites!

Probably an anti-government, anti-big buisness, anti-greed song, but I also hear the theme of final judgement and final reckoning.  I hear Judgement:

Jeremiah 30:12-15

“This is what the LORD says:
       ” ‘Your wound is incurable,
       your injury beyond healing.

 13 There is no one to plead your cause,
       no remedy for your sore,
       no healing for you.

 14 All your allies have forgotten you;
       they care nothing for you.
       I have struck you as an enemy would
       and punished you as would the cruel,
       because your guilt is so great
       and your sins so many.

 15 Why do you cry out over your wound,
       your pain that has no cure?
       Because of your great guilt and many sins
       I have done these things to you.

Ok, well I’m going to leave my comparisons there beause the tempation is to continue to search the Bible to make it fit with Linkin Park’s lyrics to make a point.  A point that I’m sort of jokingly making to point out that it often feels like all people have some version of God’s Truth printed on their hearts.  The agnostics or Universalists out there will say “YES! How can you know for sure…” in which I would disagree with them, but I do think there’s a lot of truth to the idea.  C.S. Lewis discusses this very idea in great detail in Mere Christianity, here are two nice quotes from that:

We have two bits of evidence about the Somebody. One is the universe He has made. If we used that as our only clue, I think we should have to conclude that He was a great artist (for the universe is a very beautiful place), but also that He is quite merciless and no friend to man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place.) …The other bit of evidence is that Moral Law which He has put in our minds. And this is a better bit of evidence than the other, because it is inside information. You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built -Mere Christianity

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? – Mere Christianity

 The book as a whole deals with the theme that there is a universal moral code and that points toward their there being an abolute Truth.    So Truth can be found in many types of music and art and for me Linkin Park is awfully close. 

Post-script: I can’t get the embed link function to work, which I know my wife knows how to do so I will be finishing this post up some over the weekend and embedding the videos and probably formatting the quotes to stand out from the rest of the text a little better. 

1.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/music/glimpsesofgod/2003/meteora.html

2. http://oursovereignjoy.blogspot.com/2008/08/what-can-christian-radio-learn-from.html

3.  http://dorothyinidaho.wordpress.com/2008/09/26/response-is-rap-inherently-evil/

4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AWbgkRpYwc

5.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyBFySXi6Cc

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cartoons?

It’s 6:31 AM on a Saturday.  Too early to blog?  Well I’m up, so I’m going to dialogue briefly on this relatively new phenomenon in my life of waking up too early on the weekend.  During the week I don’t even get up this early.  We were up past midnight last night playing Settler’s of Catan (yes I won) with friends and yet here I am up earlier then I normally get up. 

I’ve never really been one to sleep in, but waking up this early on Saturday is kind of a new thing.  It’s even more weird because it never happens on Sunday.  Dorothy remarked a few Sunday’s ago ” you always ‘sleep in’ on Sunday but never on Saturday”.  Which is the first time that I really considered how weird it is that I get up so early on Saturday.  It’s not cartoons obviously, so what is it that has me up-e-at-em while still dark on the first day of real rest available to me.

The morning always starts the same, I become self aware.  I’m not a dreamer.  I remember about 2 dreams per year, seriously.  So what happens is I suddenly become self aware, it feels almost like my “minds eye” opens and I immediately get excited to start my morning.  I think this started since we moved into this new house, it was August and the sun came up very early.  The sun rise at this new house is amazing, comes up over the mountains to the east and in August within10 minutes of the sun coming up it’s warm enough to sit on our back poach and enjoy the view.  The cows are munching on grass, the pivot to the south is making that repetative “pshshshshsh pshshhsh pshshhshs” sound.  It’s honestly heavenly.  So I started to get really excited about getting up.

This along with honestly perfecting coffee.  I literally make the most delicious cup of coffee ever-here at my house.  I’ve got the water volume, grind time, bean amount dialed in for one mug, two mug or three mugs depending on how many I’m making for people.  I drink my coffee out of cheap truck stop coffee mugs with the little lids that slide shut to keep the coffee warm.  I love coffee.  So shortly after becoming self aware I usually also think “Oh man coffee sure sounds nice”.  [Coffee pot just beeped, pauses…..ok back]   Jason has described the first coffee as “the sip that rights the world”.   Can’t disagree.

So I become self aware, get excited about my weekend, and start thinking about coffee and then I look at the clock and it’s usually around 6 AM.  I initially respond with dismay if I was up late and think “5.5 hours of sleep isn’t enough!”  So I try to go back to sleep.  I usually doesn’t work and here I am blogging at 6:30 AM and drinking my coffee. 

I’ve always needed less sleep then most people.  My wife will confirm that despite getting 5.5 hours of sleep last night it’s very unlikely that I’ll be that tired today.  So that’s a feature of all of this that can’t be ignored: there’s no obvious negative consequences from this whole process.   Behavior that comes with positive reinforcement (dopamine release from excitement about my weekend, central adenosine receptor stimulation from my coffee) and no negative consequences always becomes more frequent.  That’s addiction in a nut shell.  I’m addicted to Saturday.  

Think about addiction for a moment: the reason that meth is probably so terribly addicting is that it has such powerful stimulation of the reward centers of the brain and nothing too terribly bad usually happens  the first time you use it.  BAM, addicted!   They have a new anti-meth campaign on TV here with the tag “Not Even Once” it’s true that stuff is evil.  I deal with cigarette addiciton in my job a lot and people don’t usually become addicted right away on cigarettes because initially it often makes people feel just a little sick and it doesn’t start stimulating the reward centers of the brain right away!  New smokers actually get “jazzed” from cigarettes, that’s your party smoker that smokes a few times a year and never really becomes addicted.  The person that feels “calmed down” by smoking…you my friend are now addicted.  The concentration of central nicotine receptors has changed and you are no longer the same person.  Drat, make an appointment with me STAT, I can help!

So here we are at the end of the lengthy discussion of why I get up early on Saturday and also briefly about addiction.  Now I’ll tell you the real reason I’ve been getting up early.  I’m pretty sure  I actually figured it out this morning/last night.  It’s only on particular Saturdays that I get up early.  So it could be all that other stuff I mentioned above or it could just be the Saturdays after I have a cup of coffee when I get home from work on Friday night.  The half life of caffeine is such that it’s probably the residual caffeine affecting me at a too early hour on Saturday and making me “alert” while my mind is in the stage of sleep where “alertness” leads to wakefulness.  Now the next question will be….will I change THAT behavior?

Published in: on February 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm  Comments (3)  

Cut to the Quick

I’ve had a few questions about the source of the name of my blog “Mortal’s Coil”.  There are certain phrases that have stuck with me over time after first reading them or hearing them. This is one of them.  It seems to me that artists are frequently gifted with the ability to take a phrase (often made up) and describe the human condition in a different way that somehow goes a level deeper then what you can say with normal words. 

One example of a similar phrase is from Dave Matthews Band.  In the song Ant’s Marching the phrase “Place them in the box until quieter times.”  Out of context of the song it doesn’t sound like much but in the context of the song the “box” seems to describe some kind of internal storage device of emotion, which I’ve often seen people describe in a different way.  “I feel like I’ve got so much pain built up inside I don’t know what to do with it.”  (Thanks to Stephanie, high school friend, who originally pointed out that phrase to me.)  People who cut often describe feeling “empty inside” and cut to be able to feel something.  See my previous post on love for further discussion on that. 

In fact artist often have a special window of understanding into the human condition which often seems to go beyond their own understanding.  Example: the guys from Linkin Park are Christian, they just don’t know it yet.  I’ll probably need to unpack that later since there’s to much there to cover in the context of this post, but take my word for it, they are, I know because was once where they seem to be. 

So “Mortal’s Coil”, you remind me, what’s the deal with that?  Shakespeare!  I’ll let the words of The Master, speak for themselves:

Hamlet Act 3, scene 1, 55-87

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Late Bird Gets the…

I’m almost entirely incabable of being on time.  This is a dramatic departure (I think) from my historical record.  In fact I had a somewhat humerous “rules of medical school” list that I had started and #2 was ‘always be on-time’.  Number 1 of course was ‘never answer the phone- you won’t know what they want, who they want,  or how to help them’.  So if I was generally an on time person then this problem arose somewhat more recently.  It may have started after meeting my wife (though this blog post will not be an effort to pin this on her)…since I was late for our first date.  Though that was during medical school, so now I’m not sure. 

The first and probably main reason I have grown to be a constantly slightly behind schedule person is entirely selfishness.  I admit that it’s probably the biggest part of the problem but it’s the least interesting so I’ll spend somewhat less time on that.  Where this particular personality flaw stems from I’ll explore more in a moment. So let’s talk about something more interesting then me being selfish…

The second reason I’m chronically late is the “just one more thing” phenomenon.  Both my wife and I have busted each other on this, originally related to the online game we were playing. We would tell each other “just one more thing” so you’d check your ingame mail, then the auction house, then one more thing….and…and… and another hour would pass.  My wife claims she busts me on this all the time, but she’s guilty of it too. This isn’t just in on line gaming this happens.  I was late to my meeting this morning. Two minutes late from “just one more dish” while catching up on the mountain of dishes my wife managed to make on Sunday and Monday.  I looked at the clock and thought “I need to get going” and then said to my self  “well I have time to wash one more dish” which turned into two more dishes and putting a few away.

The third reason I’m late all the time is related to one of the reasons I live out here in rural Idaho in the first place: a desire to avoid the hussle and bustle of driving in the city.  Which isn’t to say that rural people are late all the time, in fact my lateness is never more evident then at church which starts at 10:29:37 every Sunday.  In Seattle Mars Hill would start at 11 AMish or 5 PM or so.  So yeah rural folk run on time, but that’s one of the things I was trying to escape by moving out here.   In the country you actually know how long it takes to drive somewhere.  In Seattle things can’t run on time because no one every knows how long it will take to drive anywhere. Even in Boise (really a pretty small town) during residency I was constantly running all over town and being late to things because of influences outside my control.  So out here I never leave early enough because I think I know how long it will take for me to drive somewhere, which of course “leaving” never counts the 2 minutes to put the shoes on and 45 seconds get my glasses and 25 seconds to pet the cat, etc.  So I’m frequently several minutes late.     

Which leads me to my 4th and 5th  reason for being late all the time: residency ruined me and it’s the nature of my profession.  You can never get caught up in residency. You always have more paper work, more charting, more stuff to look up, a text page to get to, a….whatever.  You are always late for like 3 years straight.  Patient’s have to wait for an hour becuase your procedure took longer then expected.  You are late because a meeting ran long.  Problem is that this doesn’t get much better in private practice.  There’s always another med refill.  Babies want to be delivered either at 3 AM or in the middle of a busy clinic schedule, never at 6:30 PM after I’m done seeing patients.  We allow 15 minutes for a patient visit…but no patient visit takes 15 minutes, the majority take either 3 minutes  (“Yes ma’am you have a virus and you’ll get better.”) or 45 minutes (“How long have you been feeling suicidal….”) and there’s not a good way to guesss before the visit which it’s going to be because the patient will call with the complaint of “not feeling right” for both of those two examples.  So basically over the last 4.5 years I’ve had to deal with always running late in my profession and it’s just sort of carried over into my personal life. 

So in summary I’m late all the time because of my profession, the “one more thing” phenomenom, it being trained into me in residency, and my desire to avoid hussle and bussle.  Let’s see….I’m missing one….what was that….oh yeah and my own selfishness.  Basically I spent 4 years of medical school then 3 years of residency having no control over my time and now that I have control over my time……I have conrol over my time.  Yikes.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Comments (4)  

Catharsis

The question arises why I listen to such sad music.  I’m not that sad of a guy really, but my favorite songs historically have always been very sad ones.  Currently I love Bon Iver and his whole first album is written in Wisconsin winter after a traumatic a break-up.  It’s sad stuff.  See my wife’s blog (linked to the right there) Quality and Clean, for a nice review.  Here’s a good example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePatJIwB-sI&feature=related

So again, why does a pretty un-sad, generally happy guy listen to such sad music.  I think it’s catharsis at play here.  There’s a nice Wikipedia article about the idea of catharsis and the controversy surrounding it, but I’m using it in the sense of the word that I learned from high school english:  a release of pent-up emotional energy.  How much tragedy can one happy guy face without starting to feel sad all the time?  The degree of tragedy faced in my profession may not be as bad as some others but near the top I’d say.  Last week: a patient of mine committed suicide, followed by her husband the next day.  Tragedy.  Last week: low functioning mother with poor parenting skills leaves her abusive husband, her two boys are failing out of school.  Tragedy.  New years eve: I shipped a baby to Boise that was 20 hours old and vomiting bile, it could die, Happy New Year!  (The baby has done fine, had surgery this week.)  Sometimes I think I should charge patient’s by how much I make them cry, I’d probably make more money that way then how our countries current payment system works. 

So perhaps by listening to the sad music it helps keep me from bursting out in tears while I’m at work.  That would be pretty awkward.  I’m the tear jerker not the tear shedder.  I mostly listen to music at while driving home from work and perhaps that helps insulate my wife from my the sadness that could build beyond the confines of what a normal person could tolerate.  Maybe I’m a ticking sadness time bomb ready to blow…..or maybe I just like sad music.

Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm  Comments (2)  

Bun in the Oven

I can’t decide if my response to my wife’s pregnancy are within the standards of my normal personality or heavily influenced by my profession. It’s a somewhat strange position to be a Family Physician and deliver a few babies per month and have your wife be pregnant.  I’ve made a very strong effort to avoid the temptation to be her doctor, which is good.  My dilemma lies in the fact that I think I’m probably less “excited” then I should be.  I felt our baby move the other day and I was sort of….underwhelmed.  I’m obviously very excited about having a baby and looking forward to it, but when I start thinking about it to much I start worrying about all the things that could go wrong.  So my response is to not think about it too much. 

It could just be a personality defect that causes my lack of excitement.  The trouble is that while I can be quite excitable about things I also tend to just roll with the punches.  Bad things happen: move on.   Good things happen: move on.  Wife’s pregnant: move on.  My issue is that I don’t intellectually feel like it should be like that for something like a pregnancy.  Alternativly my non-chalance could be from my over-exposure from doing this as my job.  It could be the “mystery” is gone to a degree.  How many times have a felt a baby kick? 100? 1000?  How many times have a heard a heartbeat on a doppler?  Somewhere around infinity.  So I feel somewhat conflicted.  I don’t want to be Joshy Downer on my wife’s pregnancy, but I can’t really feign excitement. 

Now with all of that said: I guess I do get pretty amazed at my wifes ever growing belly.  It’s pretty amazing to see my rather thin framed wife with a prominent “baby bump”.  She’s now well over halfway (over 5 months in lay-person terms) and showing quite obviously no matter what she’s wearing.  This wonder however stems more for the ongoing wonder of marriage, not as much about the wonder of pregnancy.  I’ve got an upcoming post on that topic, the wonder of marriage. 

No answers today.  My favorite quote of the pregnancy: “Gosh the baby is really kicking, it’s kind of bugging me.”   That’s just a few week after pure excitement and facebook status posts about feeling the baby kick.  Maybe I’m not the only one for whom the magic fades?

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm  Comments (2)  

You Complete Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpWAlvWNZj0

Jerry MaGuire got it wrong.  I actually sort of like this movie, but I think this scene stands at the crux of one of the problems I think exists with our view of love in America.  “You complete me”?  That’s a real problem.

Let’s break two competing views of love into mathamatical equations, because it makes it easier to explain where I’m coming from.  The first is the Jerry MaGuire view on love which I call 0.5 + 0.5 = 1.  The “you complete me” phenomenom of “I wasn’t whole before, but now that I’ve met you I’m now whole.”   Do you start to see the danger of this view on love?   How can another person rely on someone else who they have no control over to complete them?    Mathamatically it’s also dangerous because you are taking two people that don’t consider themselves whole and asking them to make one whole.  That sounds like the road to disappointment and co-dependence to me. 

Before I became a Christian I really think this view of love made sense to me because I didn’t feel whole.  I was a 0.5 and I could feel it and it hurt.  I assumed that I would find love or fullfillment outside of me and that would make me complete.  I tried to fill up that hole through booze, the search for love, acedemic success, among others.  A common path for those that don’t feel whole.  It led to more pain because that hole can’t be filled, it’s more like a black hole and the more you try to fill it the greater it’s mass and pain become.  Then after becoming a Christian and the hole being filled- those other pursuits lost an amazing degree of interest to me.  I felt whole.  The Lord or likely the Holy Spirit was what I was missing and the pain went away.  Now I was whole.  At  times I still fell back on bad habits of “searching” for something that wasn’t there, but eventually met my wife and it was around the time we were dating that I began to think about this problem of “you complete me” love.

So the alternative theory on love is 1 + 1 = 2.  You take two completed persons and turn them into something other, something greater then themselves.  If one of those people dies, disappoints/leaves the other, etc you are still left with a completed person.  Personally I think that completion should come from the Lord and I think the strength of my marriage rests on our being redeemed by something other than ourselves.  One of my old pasters put it something like “if my wife had to rely on ME to be a good person, she’d be in big trouble, luckily the Lord is on her side” (quotes to designate a thought not my own, that’s not even close to a quote of what he actually said).

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm  Comments (2)  

A Return

I return to blogging because of my cat.  More specifically how inscrutable I must be to my cat.  I currently have 4 cats.  Probably more because I’m certainly feeding more than 4, but I currently am able to pet 4 and had 4 of them neutered.  My favorite (don’t tell the others) is Zelda.  A dark furred, mysterious, somewhat aloof, but very loving cat.  A born hunter.  She walks like a chetea. My favorite is when I see her in the field to the south hunting.  I was leaving the other morning and she was on the front porch sitting next to a medium sized gallbladder (a tithe?) and I got to thinking about how very inscrutable I must seem to her.  I often sweep out of the house, pet her for 20 seconds because I’m already running late for work, and climb into that Big Noisemaker and speed away. 

Matthew 18:2-4 suggests we are to be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven.  I see children daily in my practice, but I think until I have my own child I’ll have trouble really understanding that. I do think though that at times God is to us what I must be to my cat.  So Other, so inscrutable, that our minds fail to understand at all.  Yet at the same time God is  Emmanual [Emmanuel or Imanu’el (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל “God [is] with us”].   Though my cat cannot understand my ways, she’s often waiting for me on the front porch with her gallbladder.  Not trying to take the analogy to far and compare myself to Jesus, but more the opposite.  I need to have the faith of my cat.  With my first child due June 1st, I can look forward to learning more about God through her eyes.   That and working toward being a loving father as I know I have in God the Father.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 6:37 am  Leave a Comment