Five people who kept me believin’
A few weekends ago, five friends and I drove over 6,000 km to see a single concert. We travelled through six states and blew two tires within an hour.
I also peed on a giant pink elephant wearing hipster glasses at a gas station somewhere in the Midwest. Adding to all those thrills was the fact that we were willingly travelling to Detroit, which almost always shocks people. Might be the murder stats. But it all sounds like a blast, amirite?
While the trip was, in fact, fun on a legendary scale, it served as a bit of a long-awaited pilgrimage for me, too.
Each of the three bands that performed — As Cities Burn, mewithoutYou and Underoath — have impacted my spiritual journey in ways too substantial to detail in this column. Let’s just say that on many an occasion, their lyrics were the only thing keeping me hanging on to some semblance of belief in a higher power.
To witness them all play in one night was overwhelming, to say the least, especially considering it was the farewell tour for the headlining band, Underoath. Rumours about breaking up surround the other two bands, too.
So, considering that the three bands might be retired within the year, I decided that I needed to make use of the 37-hour trip home and compile a list of other spiritual people who have and continue to push me towards growth of some type.
Here are five of the many peculiar results:
A 25-year-old rapper from Compton, California. In addition to being one of the most intriguing emcees in the industry — he spits gorgeously-written narratives with a 2Pac-inspired delivery — Lamar spends plenty of time in his lyrics wrestling with what it means to be a follower of God in our fucked-up world. Check out the breathtaking track “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” from his debut album: it’s the kind of wisdom you won’t ever hear from a seminary grad.
The current leader of the Green Party of Canada and an active member in the Anglican church. In my opinion, May has the most comprehensive understandings of the issues facing this country of all MPs; her co-workers agreed in 2012, awarding her the Parliamentarian of the Year. According to faith-focused interviews, her spirituality has had an enormous influence on the formation of her ecological and humanitarian worldview. The world needs more people like her.
A Peruvian Catholic priest, who wrote the game-changing 1971 book, A Theology of Liberation. In it, Gutiérrez contended that an interpretation of the Gospels was catastrophically flawed if it didn’t focus on liberating the socioeconomically poor. It makes perfect sense, really, considering that Christ was a rather large fan of compassion, sharing and selflessness (known in the political sphere as socialism). Catholics obviously hated Gutiérrez.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha:
A 17th century Mohawk woman who converted to Catholicism as a teenager. Tekakwitha was afflicted with smallpox at a young age, which disfigured her face and partially blinded her. She’s recorded as spending much time in the wilderness, where she went to encounter God. In 2012 she became the first Native American saint, suggesting that the Catholic Church is making the slightest bit of progress. She’s now the patron saint of the environment and ecology. Love it.
The author of Les Misérables. The unbelievably poetic Frenchman combined epic depictions of spiritual transformation with a Marx-like call for revolution to create what is easily one of the greatest works ever written. I wept more than I have in my entire life during the last few pages of the book, and realized that to reject the possibility of a God after reading such a book would be equivalent to Pentecostal crazies in Texas denying evolution.