What David Bazan Says
In a musically and theologically revealing interview in Image (No. 82), David Bazan often parses faith very critically. He says that although he "stopped being a Christian" Christianity still interests him. "I don't believe any of the doctrines," he makes clear, "and yet I'm still curious about it."
A nod at making his peace with his away-from-Christianity journey, he even discusses not trying to escape the culture of Christianity altogether, an escape which certainly contains a high degree of difficulty in the American religious context. "I realized that's a waste of energy," Bazan admits. "I [still] get to think whatever I want, but this is my culture. This is where I'm from."
At the end of the day, Bazan opens up: "Christians getting it wrong and behaving badly never caused me to doubt Christianity. My doubts came later and in the form of doubting the narrative, the logic." Regarding God's character, for instance, he sees as essential that human beings and human understanding must choose between an omnipotent (all-powerful) God and a benevolent (all-loving) God. "Most Christians," he says, "believe God is omnipotent and benevolent. I don't see that being possible." (For more of this philosophical thread, try to get your hands and eyes and ears on the full interview.)
For me, the argument with his album producer about whether or not to organize an album's song order according to musical flow or lyrical flow is a thing of beauty. But the interview's best moments are where Bazan shows us his trademark inclination toward playing the prophet to his former tribe: evangelicals. And nowhere is he more incisive and more compelling than in the following highly quotable riff:
The other aspect of religion that frustrates and intrigues me is that so often, when you look at a particular religious group, on the trunk of the tree there's a little label that says, 'This Is an Apple Tree.' And then you look up, and those are cherries, not apples. In scripture, in Jesus's teaching, there is this ideal that a tree should bear the fruit that it claims to bear. I want that for myself. Whatever claims I'm making, I want the fruit to match, and I want that for evangelical Christianity, too.