Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting Closer

A favorite band of mine has been, since they first hit the national scene in 1995, Jars of Clay. I was in 8th grade and completely obsessed with CCM. That's contemporary Christian music for the uninitiated. A mighty subculture. (My high school senior thesis was entitled "Christian Music at the Crossroads," to help you understand how enamored I was.)

The captivating thing about Jars of Clay, from the moment their hit song "Flood" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #37, was that this was a band made up of Christian guys who very clearly had a mission beyond the church. At the time, the idea of blurring the lines between sacred and secular - especially in the world of music - was still something that was dangerous in my insular little world.

Thirteen years later, I have, of course, experienced significant change in my beliefs about the sacred/secular divide; namely, that the divide is entirely invented and unnecessary - wrong and harmful, even. And thirteen years later Jars of Clay is still making music that continues to pull the veil off my eyes. Ingenuity, passion, creativity, and compassion are characteristics I would attribute to this band. Dan Haseltine and the boys just released a new EP entitled "Closer," and its title track has instantly become one of my favorites and an anthem for life now. I don't understand why we can't get close enough / I want your kite strings tangled in my trees, all wrapped up. Could double as my personal cry against the created chasm between "sacred" and "secular."

That song, along with completely reworked versions of the aforementioned "Flood" and "Love Song for a Savior," are proof positive that JOC is far from finished with their mission to sing spiritually about all of life. And the EP is just so darn good to listen to. Check it out.