Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jon Foreman

I've always had great respect for the lead singer of Switchfoot, Jon Foreman. Dare I say that he is one of my own contemporary heroes of the faith. I've been listening to the band Switchfoot for a number of years. It takes me alllllll the way back to high school and throughout college--I watched them in Seattle, I saw them at the Big Easy in Boise (which doesn't even exist anymore). I even got to see Jon Foreman play a last minute solo acoustic set at a coffee shop in Boise.

I'll never forget my sophomore year I went to see them in Seattle with my neighbor from home. As we walked out of the concert, my neighbor said, "That was better than church." And I think what he said was true. When we talk about spirituality, so often we think we have to be in a specific venue, or using specific (churchy) words, instead of just being. We may not say it, but we believe this to be true. While Jon was playing his acoustic show in Boise, I had the opportunity to sit at his feet as he played. And there was something about him--an otherness. He was patient, kind, soft-spoken, caring...something. He didn't sit and preach at us, he just played. It was really very refreshing, to tell you the truth. If you sit and listen to the poetry of their music, the lyrics, and I mean really listen, deep within your soul, deep within your spirit, you will hear something. It is quiet, but it is there. It is in many ways unspoken. This is spirituality.

One of my RA's incessantly teases me because I read The Huffington Post all the time. Maybe it's because a lot of my conversations with her begin something to the effect of, "So I was reading this article on The Huffington Post..." Anyways, you can imagine my pleasure when I found out that Jon Foreman posts articles on the Huff Post once in awhile. And one of my favorites is called "Possessed By Truth."

I'll let you read the article, but basically as a summation, he says that truth is not something that we possess, it is something that possesses us. It simply is what it is...we don't have to prove it. And for so long, I felt like I have to convince people of something, that it is my personal responsibility to educate them on what they are missing out on. I think this in general about church culture--for some reason or another we believe that we have to stand on the proverbial street corner and cram things down people's throats--and here's the doesn't seem to be working (shoot, it turns me off, and I even affiliate myself with the group). We don't stop and listen--we're so concerned with fitting truth in where we can, we're in such a rush to work it into the conversation, that we don't let it run its natural course. But what if we just were. It might take longer. But this is what I appreciate about Jon Foreman (or at least, the one in my mind's eye...obviously I don't know him any better than I know Conan O'Brien, but work with me people!). He is who he is, and these things all sort of just naturally trickles out of him. He does not have to say anything, but one can sense his peace, his genuineness, his compassion. It's not about him proving a point, or speaking the "right" words-- it is about him writing meaningful lyrics, about collaborating with civil rights workers (John Perkins) to bring justice to earth, writing articles, putting together charity events, you know, action. Switchfoot has met harsh criticisms from the Christian community for not using enough of the J-word (Jesus) in their lyrics, or not being "overtly" Christian. But Jon Foreman's faith, in many ways, is what I want mine to look like--it feels natural, it doesn't seem forced. It is active. There is freedom there. And that is very refreshing. There is something magical about God finding us in a bar at a concert, or finding us in poetry, or finding us in music and lyrics, or finding us out on a jog. Truth finds us. Not the other way around.

Perhaps I like Jon Foreman because I have so much to learn from him...but he isn't going to tell me right away. I have to wait. I have a lot of opinions on things. But maybe I need to be quiet and listen. Maybe I don't need to prove anything.

God found me in college, sitting in a classroom, wishing for a new faith that had been made so toxic, been filled with so much judgment and hate, that I began to wonder if faith was even for me anymore. But it was. It was just a matter of pushing through all the filth and the messages where people believed they were teaching me truth, telling me I was doing something wrong, instead of letting truth find me. And the Jesus I found there was so much more welcoming, so much more inviting, so much more freeing, and so much more than the Jesus I had originally believed in. Kind, compassionate, genuine, patient...sound familiar?

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