Science, Jimi Hendrix, Banned Books, and Brokenness

radio micOver a year ago, I was interviewed by Capital Public Radio host Donna Apidone. I was speaking at the Northern California Inspire Writers Conference and I was one of a few speakers she interviewed, including C.S. Lewis Honor Award author, Bill Myers, and musician/author, Stephen Scott. Now I’ve done a lot of radio interviews, but Donna asked the most eclectic and thought-provoking questions I’ve ever been asked. Everything from the banning of books to the apparent dichotomy of science and religion to spirituality and the nature of the universe. I really appreciated that she was willing to let me speak freely on my faith, particularly on a public broadcast station, and I tried to do my best to speak to this secular audience.

It was probably my most favorite radio interview. I came across it on the internet recently, and if you have 19 minutes, I encourage you to listen to it by clicking here. But for those who don’t have the time, here are a few short excerpted responses to her questions, along with where it is on the timeline. Enjoy.

On Science and Religion (00:31)…

“I think that we have a (false) dichotomy that we put in place when we think of things that are spiritual versus things that are scientific. Really, both are trying to get to what is known as truth. And if we separate them too much, I think that we end up with truth that doesn’t jive. Ultimately, shouldn’t the two of those point to the same things? I like to think that there’s not a contradiction between those two things…”

“You have to understand the scientific method. The scientific method is based on observation, and religion is largely based on that which cannot be seen. So science has, in my opinion, a built-in limitation in that you can only really quantify and understand that which you can observe. Now I would like to believe that most of the things that are in the universe are beyond our ability to understand or are unobservable to human beings…”

“I see God—in my theology—as the creator of all of these things, and I see him as a person who gives us the ability to create, which is a subset of our free will, and then he gives us the opportunity to have fun while we’re doing it. I think that’s all part and parcel of God’s gift to us…”

On Art and Spirituality (07:00)…

“I don’t know anyone who would argue the fact that the arts and music are not spiritual in nature. Once you come to that agreement, then its only a question of what is true in terms of what is spiritual.”

You could say that there’s a spiritual dimension in everything, depending on how you would define that. You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that.”

On why I like artists like Jimi Hendrix (04:05)…

“Artists, in and of ourselves, we’re broken people. And part of what allows us to strive to be good at what we do is we’re trying to express our brokenness in the midst of all of it. It shouldn’t be surprising. Now, Jimi Hendrix’s brokenness is just more public than my brokenness…”

“Angst is real. It’s a part of what is true. So if you’re wanting music or any art form that is true, you go for truth, regardless of where it comes from.  I think Jimi Hendrix was doing something that was actually really true. Now he was coming from a sense of brokenness, and I feel bad for that because he never was able to reconcile that. My faith is what has helped me to reconcile…”

On banning books (10:20)…

“America is a wonderful nation in that we have the rights to all sorts of things that aren’t good for us—as well as things that are good for us. So we install some laws to allow us to have those freedoms, and others to protect us from those sins. So I don’t believe in banning books specifically, although if I were in charge of a library for elementary age, I think there are things that you would naturally say, no that doesn’t belong here. We should use more common sense…”

On spirituality and truth (17:45)…

“I kind of push back against the very idea that you are a ‘Christian artist.’ The label itself doesn’t make sense as a descriptive. It has unfortunately become a genre of music and writing, as if Christian sounds different musically than any other form of music. It doesn’t. Frankly, there’s only two kinds of music—good music and bad music. So the idea is that if you are an artist, then be true to your art. If you’re true, and you are a Christian, then Christ will be in it somehow. And then just let that be what it is.”

On what motivates writers—money, fame, or craft (15:48)…

“For most people, I don’t think (the motivation) matters. For artists of faith, I really try to dissuade them from doing things for the sake of fame or money. First of all, there’s hardly any money out there. And if you’re doing it for fame, that kind of works against what you’re purported to be anyway, which is a Christian—the first shall be last. But, if you can change the world with what you’re writing, or some person’s world, then isn’t that worth it? That’s the real reason why people should be motivated. If you’re an artist, then you have the ability to stir someone’s soul. And if you are a writer, then you’re the purveyor of ideas, and as such, you are the champion of ideas that can change culture. And if you’re a Christ-follower, then you have some semblance of what is true versus what is not true, and you have a responsibility in that.”

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