i've never really quite understood people who can listen to an album or watch a movie and then instantly write a review about it. maybe i am just a little dense but usually i feel like it takes a few times through to really process and absorb what it is that i am taking in. of course if it is something horribly shallow then you can write it off rather quickly. but something with true depth and meaning--that requires reflection and time to unfold. curse your branches is just such an album.
"when we fell"
bazan's albums with pedro the lion have always required such an investment. they are not easy to listen to, but something always brought you back to them. it was the depth of the lyrics. it was the molding of the sound with the action of the story. but perhaps more than anything at least for a lot of young christians it was the prophetic voice that called out against hypocrisy in the church and looked at the painful realities of life as opposed to the church's frequent smiling veneer. he gave an expression to the young christian's angst. he was the evangelical's kurt cobain, and as per usual to christian culture about a decade behind (more the culture's fault, not bazan's).
but bazan's path led him to a declared agnosticism. his "break up with God" left his fans with confusion and uncertainty. even with a slightly better explained and less commercial explanation, many of bazan's christian fans are still left wondering if they can continue to listen to his music. will it lead me down the same path? and what's more it could change your perspective on his music previous--are those questions and critiques really a healthy endeavor?
perhaps the answer to those questions lies in the decision to not hate bazan for the same reason we loved him. as he declares in the previous song, he "followed his heart." will we turn away and not enter the deeper wrestling? will we only appreciate a certain depth and then walk away in fear because now there are eternal repercussions? ignorance and avoidance were never appealing characteristics of bazan's fans--no need to start now. you can disagree with him, but walking away from him and his music may only prove him right.
do we only accept doubt to a certain point? or can we admire and appreciate a true wrestling--one that a person will follow with courage no matter where it leads them? i think we must.
the album is a deep wrestling, and in that i think it is still at least something very close to prophetic. it may not be from God, but it is the cries of a wounded prophet turning his back and walking away--not too unlike some of the hebrew bible.
perhaps what it reminds me of more than anything else is a painting i saw in europe of jesus being taken down from the cross, very limp and lifeless and devoid of color. it showed a Christ defeated, destroyed by the cross. and the power of the painting was crushing, except for the realization that that painting wasn't the end of the story--and yet it told a vital aspect of it vividly. it almost dared you to find your own belief in the resurrection.