Reaching Out Through Underground Music

Glen Galloway - Soul Junk

I've been at this for 10 years with Soul-junk. It was July of 1993 that God spoke to me while on tour with Truman's Water (a noisy indie band I sang and guitared with from 91-93, I was the only Christian and the lyrics were all pretty ridiculous/angry/abstract).

He told me I needed to quit touring with them and start a new band that would be centered around him. P eople felt strongly one way or another about Truman's Water in '93. We were abrasive and always mouthing off in interviews about how cheesy and derivative music was - even underground music. People who liked us were fanatical, but we had plenty of non-lovers.

When I was leaving the band I expected to be in similar situations with Soul-junk and having people really upset that we were so openly all about Jesus. The Holy Spirit had shown me that where Truman's Water had been “offensive” in terms of being so noisy musically, Soul-junk's noise/offense would come from Jesus.

All my expectations of how this would play out were way off. First off, nobody ever really got visibly offended at Soul-junk's singing bible verses or songs all about Jesus. We had plenty of people coming up wanting to talk about “spirituality” or give secret “I'm a Christian too” signs, or asking if it was supposed to be some sort of elaborate blasphemous joke. I had expected flying ashtrays and people heckling and trying to beat us up or throw us off stage or something.

At the same time, almost every one of the doors that were open to me in Truman's Water were quietly closed to Soul-junk. Clubs I'd played at regularly, booking agents in Europe and the States, record labels, 'zines, etc...Nobody really made a big stink about it, but we just didn't get invited to do the stuff Truman's had.

There were a few exceptions - we released our early records on non-Christian indie labels and we were booked by a non-Christian booking agent who'd get in club's faces about being prejudiced if they didn't want to book a Christian band. And every now and then magazines like Magnet or Your Flesh or Alternative Press would cover us.

It was weird - I was ready for getting beat up, but the silent treatment just kind of slowly ate at me. It took me years of looking for loopholes, playing in front of Christians and non-Christians in almost any environment imaginable to realize that it was nothing personal. In general people clam up when they hear religious stuff in public, and the way I was bringing Jesus to them wasn't producing a reaction. I was used to people freaking out over Truman's Water and I figured reactions would be even more polarized over Soul-junk, but Truman's Water was an attack on the senses, whereas Soul-junk was directed toward the spirit - and I'm convinced we didn't have enough Spirit to get the job done.

No doubt everybody who's heard Soul-junk has a strong vote pro or con - any band that sticks its neck out as far as we have spiritually and musically can't help but generate opinions. Obviously, none of these opinions bear any weight next to Father's.

The real issue to me was that at Soul-junk's beginning God had shown me the book of Luke and the book of Acts as a picture of the life I'd be living. I'd assumed it'd be town to town indie-rock-style in a van, preaching thru song with signs following.

People's opinions of aesthetic items (they rule/they suck) today are about as charged as people's snobby rich/poor judgments used to be, but both systems of judgment have no real eternal value. God's as (not) impressed with our aesthetics as he is with wealth.

My purpose isn't to hold up my band or my experience as any kind of lesson or model - what matters about this whole progression is that about 4 years ago I reached a point where I had to face that what was actually occurring wasn't anywhere close to the original excitement/possibilities/promises that the Holy Spirit showed me. I'd bought into a whole package based on the assumption that what you really need to get the gospel to a godless culture is smart and raw music/art/film. I saw dead culture and dead religion as the same enemy, and I figured the reason most people were rejecting Jesus was because they'd seen him presented in a dumb way. Over the past 4 years I've had God shake me pretty hard on what I think I'm accomplishing in his kingdom.

I know very much good is going on in the Christian underground...but I see way too much of people trying to take what little anointing they've been able to lay hold of and just go package it artistically smarter. Way too many people still looking to scene credibility (whether it be hard-core, indie, underground hip hop, metal, techno, etc...) as the anchor/backbone of their music.

I've really about-faced on where I see the flow of Spirit-inspiration finding its way into culture. I used to think the church had rejected raw creation so the Spirit was giving all the best ideas to people outside the church. Now I believe the only source of really raw creation the Holy Spirit is interested in is coming out of the church - and that'll come out of the church losing its inhibitions towards the things of the Spirit, not out of educating itself in culture.

The raw creation that'll come out of a pure flow of the Spirit thru a completely yielded church will make what we see coming out of the world right now (that impresses us so much!) look incredibly weak. In the meantime I see very little value in studying the raw creation that comes out of the world's fellowship with demons or trying to be “subversive” or something in that environment.

So much of the Christian underground has this weird taste that comes:

  1. From pulling away from the legitimate body-of-Christ church (because older brothers seem to act so culturally irrelevant and so stuck in trying to understand the things of God out of the fleshly mind), while
  2. Ending up themselves more hard-line against the things of the Spirit. I've seen younger brothers exerting all their pushing-boundaries muscles on things like legitimizing swearing and drinking, meanwhile digging deep into orthodox theologies/philosophies and away from the Holy Ghost. As if learning to tolerate swear words and “be real” was more valuable and risky than learning to cooperate with the Father and flow with the Spirit in doing all the stuff described in the Bible like speaking in tongues and living supernatural miracle-filled holy lives!

To me the fascination with making Christian culture hip/underground is as much as a rabbit-trail as making Christian culture production-savvy was 25 years ago. Unfortunately, you can't really tell people that, who are in the middle of being fascinated by it...it just sorta needs to be played out. At some point soon brothers need to realize that there's nothing man can produce or mimic from each other that can get anywhere close to what Father wants to work thru us.

At some point the young men of the church 1 John 2 talks about will be ready to step up and acknowledge there's no idea or direction out of the natural mind that can hold a candle to the mind of Christ, the mind of the anointing.

I'm so hungry to hear people who are strong and the Word of God lives in them and they've overcome the wicked one. I've had my fill of people whose music sounds strong by worldly standards, but they're as beat down as the world that they're trying to “reach.”

All of the non-issues that the apostle Paul effectively obliterated when he spoke in Romans and Corinthians about offerings sacrificed to idols are trying to reemerge as the focal point!

Brothers are spending all their energy, experimenting with how much of the world they can take on and still hold onto eternal life. “How much of the earth can we hold onto?” instead of “how much of heaven can we yield to?”

The reason that this question is so useless is the unstable lukewarm heart behind it. We need God to give us a ravenous hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Everybody who wants a strong identity these days feels the need to grow up hard - and that comes from plugging our identities into the world's ID-bases. In underground culture, these identities get based on holding up one single style/aesthetic against all the other styles and sense-inputs out there. Strength in the world comes from independence (which when you get down to it is based on either euphoric denial of reality OR hatred, anger and rebellion).

Without Christ there is no healthy source for identity. People who come out of these lifestyles into life in Christ have tremendous potential to be mighty in the kingdom, but it's not a simple matter of slapping Jesus' name over that old worldly strength/ID-base.

There's a dramatic recalibration that needs to take place - Jesus' blood buys eternal life and a new identity as a son of God and it's the Holy Spirit clothing us in power that activates that life and identity in our own consciousness. Without that indwelling power, we have a weak theoretical grasp of Christ in us and we end up wandering back to find our practical strength and identity right back where we left it, gritting teeth trying not to get dragged back into sin in the process! (Or working out a complicated rationalizing system if we do get dragged back.)

The devices of Satan are all centered around either directly occupying/destroying people with these or repackaging and distracting with them. Notice how the culture of the world continually puts new faces on old ideas, all the while dulling the hearts of the listeners and pushing them towards illusion, cynicism and perversion.

There is an aesthetic mechanism involved here. Demons are actually hard at work “inspiring” gifted people to put new faces on old idols because there's no lasting power in them and the illusion needs refueling to be any good at attracting and deceiving. Then how sad to have the people of God running along behind studying how to put together a good illusion! (If it's the only power and inspiration they have access to, what do we expect?) How sad to hold up the fact that our illusion is a great copy of a worldly illusion and think it'll have any power to communicate the power of the gospel.

How sad to think artistic cred or self-deprecation or self-expression are inroads or things to have in common with the world. Jesus isn't accepting man's testimony, and he isn't quoting “oh wretched man that I am” trying to identify with man's worldly sorrow, and he isn't interested in self-expression - he watches and hears the Father and does and says likewise. There's the power and the inspiration, and it's all by the Spirit, who searches the mind of God and makes it known to us.

I make more music than I've ever made in my life right now, but I'm not compelled to make a CD or play in a band. I'm compelled to preach the gospel. I'm compelled to live anointed. I'm compelled to take the remaining years of this short life I live and spend them truly as a son of God. I'm compelled to take hold of the great and precious promises and by them participate in the divine nature. I'm compelled to arm myself with being ready to physically beaten for the gospel, which means getting myself in situations where the manifestation of Christ is so hot in me that the demonic and dead-religious has to lash out.

The anointing of the Anointed one has to get so precious to us that we won't settle out for less.

  • Anointed music is NOT the spoonful-of-praise-sugar that helps the preaching-medicine go down.
  • Anointed music doesn't cater to men just like anointed preaching doesn't cater to men.
  • Anointed music has the presence of almighty God so tangibly thick in it that it scares the daylights out of most people. It cuts to the heart, reveals the secrets of the heart and causes people to fall down either repenting or overwhelmed with fullness of joy in God.

There's a screaming need for the young men of the church from 1 John 2 and the sons and daughters of Joel/Acts 2 to be able to produce this on the spot as the Spirit dishes it out. It isn't a reaction against anything that's come out of dead religion or the world's lusts/pride. It's a pure flow straight from under the throne of God, and it comes only by yielding.

This is what will break things open for revival and rampant salvation. Anything less is a distraction at best. I hear the Spirit of God calling for these young men and women to rise up in the anointing. This means more than slapping Jesus-stickers on guitar cases and semi-Jesus-lyrics over their favorite records and hitting the tour circuit.

This means don't speak out or sing out until the Spirit is like a fire shut up in your bones. Many people speak or sing out of their inadequacy and confusion and think other brothers are comforted or enlightened by it! The life of the Spirit is not a game. We're here to build up each other's faith - not share poetry and commiserate.

This means stop speaking against the body of Christ and the pastors Father has raised up and plug in to a Holy Spirit-fueled ministry you can serve in complete submission. Yeah!! The antidote to the deep root of rebellion the world's culture has spent almost 50 solid years trying to wedge into the church.

People move across the country for girlfriends and boyfriends and jobs and family. How about looking high and low till the Holy Ghost plants you in a local church you can pour your life into (just like Jesus did/does)?

I love the brothers deeply, and I see a powerful move of God coming on his church. It seems ridiculous to say that raw anointed music with healing for the nations will pour out from God's house when these days what's pouring out is so watered-down and it seems like you need to get in a club to hear anything real, but the Spirit's word to the church in this hour is very clear - get in the house and get it ready for what Father's going to bring in.

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