Zach Lind is the drummer for the band Jimmy Eat World. He keeps up a great blog called Finding Rhythm and is constantly striving for new and relevant ways to live out his faith. He has challenged me to think bigger on a number of different of issues and how they relate to our faith.
Jeremy: Tell us something odd/unique about you.
Zach: I bake my own bread.
Jeremy: Do you think people are born leaders or develop into leaders?
Zach: I don’t think people are born to be leaders, especially good ones. In my opinion, it is something that is learned or developed. Leadership is a pretty broad category. It can require very different qualities for different settings. For example, Churchill was a good leader but so was Ghandi. It seems to me that, in general, the best leaders are the ones who can adapt to challenges, relate well to the people around them and find some way to gain respect and authority with their group. If that authority is perceived to be inauthentic or undeserved, then the only option is to control the group rather than lead the group. If that doesn’t work then maybe mutiny isn’t too far off.
Jeremy: How can people put themselves into a position to influence our culture?
Zach: I don’t really think of it that way I guess. Maybe I’m wrong, but the question seems to imply that “our culture” is divided up between “us vs. them” and that we, as Christians, need to somehow get “them” to change. I’ve given up on this way of viewing the world a long time ago. I’ve learned that, whether I like it or not, I am a participant in the culture I find myself in and the exchange of influence operates on a two-way street. The only way I’m convinced that I can positively contribute to the culture is to be humble, open, willing to listen, to be who God has made me to be, no more, no less, and to be willing to take the risk of sharing myself with the world around me. Now, whether or not I do that well is another matter.
Jeremy: Why are you a follower of Jesus Christ?
Zach: Honestly, most likely because my parents raised me in a Christian environment. I ultimately rejected the kind of belief system I was introduced to as a child, but somehow, mysteriously, God has kept me around one way or another and I’m extremely grateful he has. Now, when I ask myself that question, it all points towards the life of Christ. Jesus’ life is the divine example of humility, sacrifice, forgiveness, pure Love. It’s all too unbelievable and scandalous to ignore.
Jeremy: What do you do personally to keep your spiritual life active and healthy?
Zach: I don’t agree that there is a distinction between my life and my “spiritual life.” It’s all the same. Every choice I make, every thought that passes by, every action I take is spiritual in nature. So in order for my “spiritual life” to be healthy, I must investigate all that I think, say and do. What seems to be becoming clearer to me is that much of what I think, say and do is rooted in “my flesh” as Paul would say, or my ego, or my shadow, or my false self. To uproot the ego I must somehow die to my false self and to become aware of who God has created me to be, which has nothing to do with what I think, say and do, but because I exists, I’m a child of God and all the validation I could ever need rests solely in that fact. To shed the lie that is my false self or the “outside of the cup” and simply rest in the identity that I have in Christ is the only act that matters and the only way to be truly healthy. Over the past year I’ve been exploring the practice of contemplative or silent, centering prayer which is a kind of meditation that’s been very helpful in this regard. Father Richard Rohr and Father Thomas Keating both write wonderfully about this very pursuit. I can’t recommend their books and teachings enough.
Jeremy: What is your hope for the future of the Church in America?
Zach: I think the Church in America is at a critical crossroads and that American Christianity is at the beginning stages of a very bumpy journey. There is definitely a kind of re-formation going on and I’m afraid it’s gonna get ugly. So my hope is as these kinds of major shifts occur, it doesn’t get too bloody. I pray for unity amidst the conflict.
Jeremy: Should we abandon the use of the word “Christian” for a better term? If so, what?
Zach: I don’t think we can abandon the word, whether we want to or not. But we must recognize that the word describes or names everything and nothing at the same time. Fred Phelps (the God Hates Fags pastor) and Bishop Eugene Robinson (the first openly gay Episcopal priest) are both Christians. That’s a pretty broad spectrum and so, obviously, it’s a tricky word. Personally, I’m not all that interested in switching the wording around to make what faith I prescribe to sound more palatable. The reason why some shy away from the term “Christian” isn’t due to the failure of the word; it’s due to the failure of Christians. What we call ourselves is of little importance when having to wrestle with how we move and act in the world.
Jeremy: What blogs/websites do you regularly check?
Zach: My favorite blog is written by a guy named Andrew Sullivan. I also enjoy bloggingheads.tv. Another favorite blog is Slacktivist. I often check out Belief.net and the Christian Century.
Jeremy: Which books have shaped your thinking?
Zach: Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr
New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber
Grace and Grit by Ken Wilber
Stages of Faith by James Fowler
How (Not) to Speak of God – Peter Rollins
Open Mind Open Heart – Father Thomas Keating
Jeremy: What music moves you?
Zach: Ryan Adams, Calexico, Wheat, Wilco, Warren Zevon, Elliott Smith, Portastatic, Muse, Radiohead, Gustavo Santaololla, U2, REM
Jeremy: Any other thoughts or advice?
Zach: Never use real milk when baking bread. Always use dry milk.
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