Well… he did it. For all of you Pedro-Christians out there, if you were confused where David Bazan stood midst the Evangelical realm – it’s official. It’s ‘outside.’ Bazan’s latest solo release Curse Your Branches proves to be his most autobiographical (and theological) album to date. Though committed to shedding the Pedro moniker, Bazan’s captivating sound remains. Hypnotic vocals. Patient melodies. Narrative irony. And theological undertones.
But don’t let the familiarity fool you. This is a different album. A notion we explored at a recent house show we (rednow) hosted in April of 2009. When asked whether there was a difference between his familiar “poking at the Christian community” and this album, Bazan asserted that Curse Your Branches is more “Here I am, take it or leave it” – referencing his departure from the “fold of Evangelical Christianity.”
But Bazan is not denying God’s existence – for without it, Curse Your Branches has no subject – or better yet – no ‘antagonist.’ Bazan states:
“I have to accept that [God] exists, that I perceive him to… that’s my ground zero, my reality… for me the question is ‘Who could he be?’ Who could he possibly be given the data that exists? And what could his intentions toward us be? What could his relationship with creation be? What sort of interventions might he be engaged in?… Is [God] trying to do his best to set things right?… I can’t imagine God being this way [as portrayed by the Bible]…that’s too unrealistic.”
Curse Your Branches unveils the crux of Bazan’s hangup with the Christian faith – the irony of the sovereignty of God. In other words, Bazan is recognizing the age old theological question - How can a good God let bad things happen? – for what it is. God is not only “letting” the harsh realities of life occur, he is (ultimately) the one to blame – an assertion that stands contrary to the dominant view of “original sin.”
But in many ways, Bazan is simply recognizing his true convictions – that his biblical heritage and his present reality often stand juxtaposed. Curse Your Branches tells this story – a walk through life’s beauty and pain while immersed in theological dichotomies. And if we were willing to stand outside our own presumptions for a moment, maybe we would recognize that these are not just Bazan’s questions, but our very own.