My Last Interview Before Coming Out

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MySpace was still a thing in July, 2009 when I received a request for an online interview.  I was in a very strange and transitional place.  My Christian house of cards had suddenly fallen and I had just realized that I could no longer consider myself a believer in any meaningful sense although I still had questions; lots of questions. I had told nobody about my current thinking.  There’s a whole comprehensive worldview, ethic and life-context to rebuild once the religious framework for all of that has been duly dismissed. I simply had not yet done enough of that work to talk coherently or intelligently about where I was or where I was headed.  I didn’t even know myself where that might be and what it might look like.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do the interview and answer the questions honestly and coherently and both are prerequisites for me. I agreed to do it.

Some of my uncertainty shows through and I’d probably bring a little more nuance to some answers, maybe answering just a little differently in places.  There were aspects of questions I avoided in order to address ideas I felt more strongly about and I refused one question explicitly. I don’t remember the name of the person who did the interview. All I have is that the guy went by “Jeff the Libertarian.” He posted my answers honestly and I credit him for that. That interview is no longer online, so I present it here edited only for grammar.

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JEFF: I had the honor of meeting you at an Undercover concert in ’82. I know you get together some as Undercover still. What is the current make-up of the band? Do you keep up with any of the former members of the band (e.g. original members Bill Walden and Ric Alba)? Also, I had an impression there was kind of a community feeling with Undercover and other bands like Lifesavors, the Lifters, the Chosen Ones, Youth Choir (better known as The Choir), the Alter Boys, and maybe others like the Omega Band, Crumbacher, and Common Bond. If that impression was true, do you keep up with these people?

OJO: Undercover consists of the same lineup from the Branded album through Devotion: Sim Wilson, Gary Olson, Gym, and me. The only other member we see with any regularity is Bill Walden and I am in touch with Rob Gallas (who sang the Forum album) from time to time. Whenever we are in the same geography we try to get together and we email from time to time. I got an email from Ric Alba some time ago but we lost each other again (Update: glad in so many ways that is no longer the case!).

As far as the other bands you mentioned, there will always be a sense of camaraderie with most of them because we all were working roughly around the same time. I really don’t see or talk to them much because everyone’s got their own thing going on, although Facebook has changed that somewhat and I have renewed lots of connections with some of these artists there and on My Space. The person I talk to most often is perhaps Beth Jahnsen and her sister Dawn (keyboard player for Crumbacher). They promoted the Broken Records reunion concert (2005) and that’s really the last time I physically saw anyone.

JEFF: I think I heard you were an ordained minister, and I think some members of Lifesavors were as well. Your profile mentions you were raised Catholic, which you had returned to after being involved in Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda/the Vineyard. How has your theology changed over the years?

OJO: I was never an ordained minister. I don’t know that any of the Lifesavors were either although it wouldn’t surprise me if Chris Wimber was ordained since his father was John Wimber, head of The Vineyard and I think Chris had a leadership position in that church up to the time he died. I’m not certain though. I believe Terry Taylor from DA was ordained but I’m not positive.

As far as my theology, the easy but not too helpful answer is that I went from nominal Catholicism to protestant evangelical fundamentalism back to Catholicism, although the move back to Catholicism was on my own terms. That move is really less a reflection of theology as it is other things. Undercover did many hundreds of concerts at many churches in many states and countries for a number of years. The bottom line is that through all of that, there wasn’t a single “church,” denomination or sect that I did not have rather substantial questions about at some major theological level. Of course the same is true with Catholicism. It was familiar though and appealed to me in a different way when I made the move back. I have two cousins that are missionary nuns with the Maryknoll order and they were instrumental in keeping me together back then. I appreciated the ritual, the liturgy, the sensory points of contact – incense, music, water, sacramentals. In spite of the church’s awful history through much of the medieval period and the crusades, there was something comforting in its traditional accountability compared to so many churches that just pop up out of nowhere (or anywhere) led by someone with questionable or no credentials or accountability, and little or no formal education (and yes, I think that’s important).

The priest I was speaking to at the time told me it was important for me to assent to certain doctrines and I told him flat out I could not do that on a certain number of teachings. He had to confer with his superior and came back and told me that if I at least stayed open to them I would be welcomed back. That seemed fair and reasonable so I agreed to stay open, even though I was pretty clear on some. Again though, it was not as much about doctrine as I said, as I was quite clear that I was certainly no worse off there doctrinally overall as any place else I’d been, including Calvary, Vineyard and their many offshoots and sister churches, or the more mainstream protestant churches. Of course many will disagree with me, some vehemently, but you asked me, and that’s my answer.

JEFF: My wife and I look back at the early ’80’s as a time of joy — maybe the good old days. For example, we always enjoyed seeing the joy on Bill Walden’s face when Undercover performed, and we have fond memories thinking of songs like “Heal Me“, “It’s Official“, “He’s In Love With You“, and “Excuse Us.” Was that time as much a time of joy as we thought, and is it just our imagination that the joy in contemporary Christian music is not there anymore? If there was a change, what caused it?

OJO: There was a simple joy back then and Bill was always (and still is) authentic. I appreciate that about him. I’m glad you have those memories and I think it’s a good thing to celebrate them. We were all young and that’s part of it. We had not yet had much life behind us and the songs reflected that, thus the simple joy. We loved what we were doing. As we grew and got knocked around a little, built a library of experience and had questions forced on us by life, the later songs reflected that too. There’s more to it though. It was also due to the time in which Undercover worked.

CCM was not integrated into the larger music industry. It was always a separate animal. When we started we found we were too “secular” looking and sounding for many churches and too “religious” in lyric for most record labels and venues. Those walls have been largely broken down since and I’m happy for that. I have always said that I thought the music should stand or fall on its own artistic merit and that there are not two worlds, a Christian one and a secular one. There’s only one world and we all live in it. The church at that time needed and was ready for a cultural youth revolution and they got one. Many people have written about that so I won’t say more on it here. So that revolution within the church happened. It can’t be recreated. The phenomena you miss either has to be nostalgic or new and if it’s new, it has to be its own movement based on new criteria.

I don’t really know if there were any up and coming bands after us who took on the “simple joy” mantle. For us there was no turning back and I can tell you the music reached people in the early days and the music reached at least as many people in the later stages too. So is there a place for that simplicity? Why not? Anyone can write simple joyful songs if they feel that is what they should do, just like we did. The sociology of Christian music and Christian bands has changed rather radically though in these 25 years and my guess would be that artists that do that kind of music would probably be confined to the church itself and not work much on the outside.

JEFF: One thing that was neat about Undercover was their heart of evangelism — I remember a review criticizing the “God Rules” project as every song being a paraphrase of John 3:16. This question is two-fold: 1) do you think CCM is as evangelistic as it was in those days and 2) how do you currently view evangelism?

OJO: I have to be honest with you. I have no idea what’s going on in CCM today and so I cannot comment on whether it is as evangelistic as it was during the God Rules era. My guess is that there are people still doing the work, but again, the sociology of the industry has changed and I would be very surprised if it was working the same way it did back then, and would NOT be surprised if it was done much more at a grass roots level. Let’s face it. As an entity, CCM is a commercial enterprise, not an evangelical one.

But then your second question comes into play. What exactly is evangelism? Again, I have always said from the beginning of Undercover that it must be an individual experience not a corporate experience, and must carry some level of accountability with it. One of my favorite quotes (I can’t remember if it’s Aquinas or Francis of Assisi) is “Speak the gospel and if necessary, use words.” Talk is cheap, songs are easy to write, lyrics can be slapped together by anyone. It’s too easy to create emotional appeal with sound and lights, music, theatrics, staging, and many people respond to that kind of thing. Televangelists and workaday pastors also know this all too well. I place value on the example of someone’s life, and by that, I don’t mean someone’s sinless and holy life. There is no such animal. What I mean is that I want to see integrity between one’s message and one’s life, no matter what the message is, even if it’s, for example, a celebrity endorsement of some kind. The farther we get from that individual experience and genuine example, the more tenuous and inauthentic it becomes. I think people responded to our music because our music truly reflected what was going on in our lives as I mentioned in the previous question. We always wrote that way.

Of course, many musicians do not purport to have a message, but are artists and entertainers. As long as they represent themselves that way, I don’t see any problem with authenticity. There are those who suggest that anyone with any kind of religious or spiritual angle to their art has a responsibility. I suppose that’s probably a reasonable argument. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with a Christian wanting to be in a non-religious artistic environment.

JEFF: In the late ’80’s you released a project titled “Relative“. One song that made an impression on me was “Witch Hunt”, with Lifesavors’ Michael Knott doing the lead vocals. For those who are familiar with Petra’s song by the same name, there is no musical similarity. Could you tell me a bit about that song, and how would you feel it relates to the current culture (both Christian and American)?

OJO: I don’t know the Petra song. On the liner notes to the Relative album, at the bottom of the lyrics and credits for that song, I wrote the following:

Christian militarism must end. My most difficult battle is against myself; not other people or the world. Where God Rules, Peace Reigns.

I think that pretty much sums it up. I don’t think the church has any business doing battle with others until it has mastered or at least committed to mastering, in practice, the overarching principle of this religion, and that is love.

There is an interesting story about the song though. I got a call from the head of distribution at Word Records shortly after the record came out. Apparently there was a Christian bookstore retailer who took the album off the shelf because of the lines:

Hatred and anger
Commission received
From a babe in a manger
His life is misconceived

This person (I don’t know who it was) thought I was trying to say that his life was a bad idea. That Jesus’ birth was a mistake. I told the Word rep to look the word up in the dictionary. It means misunderstood. So two things come up for me here. First, we are reactionary and I don’t think that’s a good life strategy for people of faith. Second, many religious people are averse to thinking. As far as how the song relates to the current culture, I’ll leave that one for the politics question below.

JEFF: I’ve mentioned some of my favorite Undercover songs above as well as “Witch Hunt.” What other songs have you heard people tell you that touched you? Do you have any favorites (either from Undercover or solo)?

OJO: I do have some favorites although I am reluctant to say which ones. I was interviewed for a book by Jerry Wilson (God is Not Dead, and Neither Are We, available on Amazon.com) and said that when we are working on a song, it is ours. Once it leaves my studio, it is no longer ours and belongs to everyone else in terms of how it impacts them, what it means, how it works or not. I don’t want to color that process. Every song we’ve released has had some kind of impact on any number of people and that’s a humbling idea for me. I will say one thing though, and that is that the song “He Fell in the Water” on Relative is one of my favorites because it has the recorded voices of my kids in it, and the song is really personal for me.

JEFF: Two other songs that meant a lot to me were “Promenade” and “One To One.” Could you tell me a little about those songs?

OJO:  Jim Nicholson wrote Promenade and Sim Wilson wrote the lyrics so I can’t really comment intelligently on what it meant for them. I was caught up in producing and engineering the tracks and we brought Terry Taylor in to help with backing vocal arrangements on that one. Once the song was done, as I mentioned, out it went! We didn’t play it live much so it was never too terribly high on my radar screen in terms of a song that defined that time in our history or what we were trying to say. Perhaps you could tell me about what that song means to you!

One to One was written just after Branded and is similar in tone to Witch Hunt. It’s a lament of sorts, that the church has gotten things so fundamentally backwards. God is Love, according to the bible, and yet the church is so caught up in almost any number of other things. I’m in the middle of an email exchange with Bill Walden right now where we’re talking about things the church is doing right, things it’s doing wrong, and things it should be doing. Regarding those questions relative to the idea of love, I wrote in one letter, “Ideas and clear thought come from elsewhere, and love is the domain of all people. Should the children of God, whoever they are, whatever that is, not lead in its practice and cultivation? Until they do, I don’t really want to hear another word from anyone about anything spiritual or doctrinal, nothing about worship or sin, nothing about anything, until love rules systemically, in our mission statements, in practice, in our goals, foremost in our life paths.” That’s what One to One is about.

JEFF: Please tell me about “The Book of Waiting”. Is it available for people to purchase? (By the way, I remember in ’84 you had a three part class on music theory — I would have enjoyed that class.)

OJO: Book of Waiting is a four-movement composition I wrote for string orchestra performed at my thesis recital for my masters degree in Composition and Theory. The piece was performed in June, 2007 and recorded live on a little M-box. It’s not available for purchase but anyone can hear two of the movements (my two favorite) on my own My Space page (or on Soundcloud here and here). There’s also a blog entry about it there (Update: The link is gone and the essay currently lost; still looking). It’s based on a 12th-century sequence (Gregorian Chant) and all the music is based on those simple monophonic materials. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I also like the multiple meanings of the word “waiting” and that felt relevant to me while I was finishing up the piece.

JEFF: I’ve heard one Christian say that politics were for unbelievers, while others are saying we should resist our sitting president. What is your opinion of our role in politics?

OJO: Well, I suppose this depends on how you want to interpret the bible on this, and which scripture you want to give credence to. One can either render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, respect the government as heavenly ordained, or one can take a different tack and resist. Do you mean our current sitting president or any sitting president? There are certainly many Christians virulently and rabidly resisting this president, and there are many who thought W. Bush was the antichrist too and of course both sides think they have scripture on their side. I would ask what it is exactly that they want to resist? The person? His policies? His party? The government itself? I think this is a slippery slope when one mixes politics and religion, although I think as citizens we have civic responsibilities including the right to vote one’ s conscience. When the presentation becomes anything more than personal opinion, when the discussion becomes more about whether God is more closely aligned with democrats or republicans or something else, or any of their respective platforms, it is a dead end and an albatross, a net loss for the church and its credibility, and detrimental to the Christian’s cause. The recent example where Liberty University forbade a Democratic student club to meet was an embarrassment and an outrage. Of course the Falwells and many others are no stranger to either.

The church as an institution ought to stick to its knitting, its mission statement and that is love, end of story. There will be the fringe who thinks that they are actually engaged in Christian love by such things as killing abortion providers, and spouting extremist and political vitriol (“God hates fags” for example). As individuals, I think it’s fine to have opinions and civil and respectful debate. One can responsibly oppose specific policies but we are so divided as a country right now, more than I’ve ever seen, and this goes back to my thing above: until the church can master love, I don’t think it has much business being so positional and “militant” about government or anything else.

I’ll say this too. I think any church or parachurch organization that steps even one centimeter over the political line ought to immediately lose its tax-exempt status retroactive to the time it became political. I have my own strong opinions on our country and the way it should be governed. I’m not going to make those God’s opinions. I think it’s a huge mistake to do so and this stuff sticks.

JEFF: I’d like to hear how your family are doing and especially about your dogs. Also, I’d like to hear about your local church and the encouragement they have been to you. By the way, how is Gym doing?

OJO: Thank you for asking. Everyone is doing well. My dogs are in Los Angeles for now and I miss them. My kids are scattered too now that they’re mostly grown and I miss them terribly and try to fly out to see as many of them as I can as much as I can. Gym’s also doing very well. If it’s ok with you, I’d prefer to leave any more than this out of the interview, just for my own privacy.

JEFF: In “The Supremacy Of God In Preaching”, John Piper mentions his seminary professor encouraged the students to pick a theologian to immerse themselves into (Piper chose Jonathan Edwards). I may have some reservations about that approach, but I find the question interesting. If you were to select a theologian/ apologist/ preacher/ author to immerse yourself in, who would it be and why?

OJO: I have some reservations about that too. I believe strongly in exposing myself to as many ideas as I can. I teach at a university where the exchange of different perspectives, points of view and ideas is expected and respected. I read rather voraciously and am probably on my tenth book or so this summer with a long queue. I also find it difficult to narrowly define “theology.” Einstein had a lot to say about God and what that meant to him, relative to what we know and are learning about the cosmos and ourselves. I consider that part of the theological discussion, as I do Kenneth Miller’s fine book on evolution and faith (Finding Darwin’s God). Miller is the Catholic author of the biology textbook at the center of the Kansas school board controversy on creationism and biology. He is both a devout catholic and opponent of Intelligent Design. His science is compelling.

One of my favorites this summer has been Bart D. Ehrman, probably not a favorite of most evangelicals. He does, however, have lots to say about the historical-critical study of the scriptures and what we do know, what we can and cannot know about them. Everyone interested in the scriptures ought to know this stuff, even if it challenges one’s biases, and the arguments ought to be evaluated based on their merits, not on the desirability of the conclusions reached or whether those conclusions confirm what we already believe. I have also read N.T. Wright this summer, an obviously brilliant man and probably more in line with what most Christians would be comfortable with. Right now I am reading Carl Sagan. He was not a believer in God as far as I can tell, and yet I think he asks really great and honest questions. I think the church ought to undertake answering them on their merits. I have six more Sagan books in the queue right now that I want to finish before the summer is over.

A couple years ago I got an email from a guy by the name of Preston Jones, a history professor at John Brown University in Arkansas, a private Christian college. He had just written a book with Greg Graffin, the lead singer of the band Bad Religion who is also himself a Ph.D and professor at UCLA. Preston said he mentioned Undercover in the book and that he had met his wife at an Undercover concert and asked if I’d like a copy of the book. Since then we’ve struck up a friendship and I even stayed at his house last summer on the drive back to L.A. from Virginia. Anyway, Chuck Colson loved and reviewed the book (“Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant: A Professor and a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity”) and lifted this quote of Preston’s from it, which I think is a great quote. “I suppose that sometimes I’ve felt more at ease with thoughtful atheists than with Christians because atheists often come to their beliefs after asking difficult questions about evil, suffering and the seeming indifference of the universe.” I couldn’t agree more, and I highly recommend this book.

JEFF: One of my favorite Bible promises is 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (I wonder why I don’t see this verse plastered on bumpers?) Have you encountered persecution in any form, and how did you deal with it?

OJO: Persecution in first-through-third -century mostly illiterate and pagan Palestine, Europe, and Asia-minor or in pre-enlightenment societies is a very different animal than persecution today in the modern industrialized world and I think many Christians make the mistake of equating the two. I also think Christians invite it for the sake of being able to say they were ridiculed for their beliefs and practices when really, many of the beliefs were ridiculed because they’re just stupid and uninformed beliefs and practices, often based on poorly thought out platitudes. I would not call that persecution.

Unless someone’s in certain parts of Africa or other third world countries or perhaps certain Islamic countries, any one of which could get someone killed for their beliefs, maybe China, I’m not sure what persecution really means. We don’t do lion’s dens or gladiators here or in most of the world. We don’t crucify people or stone them, although that does happen in some parts of the world. I don’t think that’s what you mean though. Overall this is more about a battle of ideas in our Western world. Some people agree and some disagree with me. That’s their prerogative. I don’t consider that persecution. I’ve never been thrown in jail or flogged for my beliefs so in that sense, I cannot say I’ve been persecuted and really don’t know anyone who has legitimately been persecuted (for their religious beliefs), although I do have friends involved in smuggling Bibles into certain countries. Is it persecution if they get caught and punished for doing what they knew was a violation of a sovereign country’s laws? Perhaps it is, or perhaps it’s just the consequences of one’s actions. If one wants to argue that a teenager who is cruelly ostracized for his or her beliefs is persecuted, perhaps that would qualify.

Overall though, I am fortunate to live in a time and place where the free exchange of ideas is the norm. Have I been sworn and yelled at? Yes, that’s just part of the debate in my mind, and in that sense, I’ve been “persecuted” for my ideas as much or more by Christians than “pagans.” In that sense, I’ve also been “persecuted” for my musical ideas as well. So I don’t know about that verse you quoted and its relevance today in our society. In fact, I am concerned that it incites Christians to invite persecution for its own sake in order to confirm in their own minds that they really are “living godly” and so  they can feel better about the treasures they are storing up for themselves in heaven. If that’s so, it actually could reward abrasive, confrontational and argumentative behavior, all in plentiful supply in the church today, all things it doesn’t need. That doesn’t serve anyone well. Personally, I think love is a better idea, and we know from Paul that love knows no offense.

Follow-up Questions

JEFF: You made a comment about me telling you what “Promenade” meant to me. I remember hearing the beginning of the chorus the line “Divided we fall, together we stand; If I should fall, come and take my hand.” It alludes to what you said about Christians needing to focus on loving one another (I’m actually thinking about writing a book on that subject). One quote of my own is “Christians too often divide from those they should be united with and unite with those we should be divided from.” Focusing on the second part, do you believe there are instances where Christians are doing the equivalent of the Israelites intermarrying with the pagans and being led astray? In other words, do you think the church has lost its discernment (not to mention a lack of effort to think)?

OJO: I think you’re asking some really good and relevant questions. They seem relevant because many of these are hot-button issues for us today. And why is that? I believe the church has a number of rather significant cultural problems on its hands and it’s not sure exactly how to deal with them. I don’t want to engage in this debate specifically, and my point will become clearer below. Take for example the question of gay marriage. There is little doubt that many christians see the bible as explicitly condemning such an idea. That’s their prerogative. Rick Warren unsuccessfully had to navigate through that when he said he never condemned gay marriage and then a number of videos came out showing him doing just that. Which is it? Choose! The bible condemns many other things too such as banking practices that charge interest, and I wonder where the outrage is for such things that we now accept as pretty normal and inescapable parts of modern life. On the other hand, the bible supports certain things that today are outrageous to us such as slavery and the oppression of women, to list only a few. We conveniently sweep these under the rug in our discussions but the church is very vocal about the things it is concerned about because those things are threatening at some level today. On what basis do we choose what parts of the Bible are relevant to us today and which are no longer? That we do so is indisputable. When’s the last time any of us stoned to death our disobedient children?

I’m aware of course that there are all kinds of ways the church rationalizes the discrepancies. The church has to jump through all kinds of hoops to talk about how some of that is the Old Testament, superseded by the New (which also has cultural problems), that God’s not really that way, that it means something else, that there’s another interpretation, that it’s supposed to foreshadow this or that or the other thing, that it’s cultural not spiritual, but the point is it’s all in there and the authors, whoever they were, and church fathers throughout history were very clear that these things are God’s preferences. The Jews still embrace their law. So what are we to do today in our post-enlightenment society? The question then, about pagans, and false gods and intermarrying seems to me to be a similar problem. I don’t know anyone who worships Baal or Diana, Zeus, or any of the thousands of other ancient deities. So perhaps you mean being led astray by intermarrying with other sects or faiths, or perhaps by marrying humanists or atheists?

There is good evidence outside of religion, that people of similar cultural perspective are more likely to have successful marriages. That includes similar religious practice. Some of those, like race, are breaking down bit by bit. There are also many people who marry outside their faith and do just fine. It takes work and respect but it can work. Is it possible that our partners and the people we associate with will influence us? I think it is, and I think it’s probably even a good thing. Remember though, my own perspective is one of not fearing different ideas that may challenge my own beliefs. To adopt Old Testament models of intolerance seems the wrong context for the dialogue. We have access to ways of learning and discovering truth that ancient superstitious and nomadic, illiterate peoples did not have and could not have even conceived, and I am only interested in the truth. We are post-enlightenment and I think that means something. So I think an upgrade of the sense of what “discernment” means is necessary when we have insight, data, technology, a methodology for collecting and evaluating evidence, empiricism, and that holding on to some of those ancient cultural ideas is not prudent and in many, many cases unsupportable any longer. That’s going to be a threatening idea to some.

So the second part of your question becomes relevant. I don’t think the church has lost its discernment but it is struggling with relevance. It is in some cases reluctant to practice or embrace the sources of “modern discernment” or “contemporary” forms of discernment if that makes anyone more comfortable, because it threatens certain precious ideas. So yes, certain church segments become reluctant to think, even condemning intellectualism, and fall back into contracted, romanticized states of pre-enlightenment religion. I don’t think that’s a good idea. It’s also a great way for people to avoid the hard work of becoming informed and learning. There are so many powerful new discoveries in archaeology, history, biblical studies, the physical sciences, many of which have profound consequences for what we believe. Falling back into that contracted romanticized religious state is a good way to avoid the effort, as you said, to think. So what of those who don’t have the capacity to understand all this stuff? The answer is simple. Love. For the rest, I think that while we don’t know everything, and in some ways we still don’t know much, we do know some things, and to deny those things is to deny the truth, and well, I don’t want to be in that place.

JEFF: You mentioned you teach at a university. Which one, and what do you teach? Do you still teach music theory as well?

OJO: I am Associate Professor of Music at James Madison University, about two hours outside of Washington DC. I teach History of Rock, Songwriting, and a number of courses on the business and legal aspects of the music industry like publishing, management, marketing of music, all that kind of stuff. We offer an undergraduate degree in Music Industry and also a minor. It’s a popular program and I feel very lucky to have this job. I feel I am uniquely prepared for it given my own music background and education. I love the students and it’s a great sense of mission and meaning for me. I never realized before how important this role could be in students’ lives; the role of being an interim or surrogate parent type to them as they transition from their teenage years to adulthood. So I get to be that parent / anti-parent type, which means I am both an authority figure in their lives but also a mentor, a coach, and then later, a friend and peer.

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After the interview we exchanged a couple of emails clarifying and talking a little more about a couple things:

Dear Ojo,

Thanks for your answers. I found it very insightful (which does not surprise me), and for the most part I’m in agreement with you. (I am probably more settled on creationism than you are.) I will mention that I personally was amused that you referred to your Calvary Chapel / Vineyard involvement as being Fundamentalist, because I was in a Fundamentalist movement that would not consider Calvary Chapel fundamentalist (due to the views on the gifts and probably the music and atmosphere), let alone the Vineyard.

[…] I really enjoyed your answers. I will add that Petra’s song “Witch Hunt” was from their ’84 “Beat The System” project, which was more pop than their typical hard rock, and was done in tongue-in-cheek, with over dubs that made you think of Steve Taylor’s first two albums (not surprisingly, because Jonathan David Brown produced both Petra and Steve Taylor’s first projects, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his work with Taylor gave him ideas for this Petra song.) I’ll also add that in my “Taylor Brothers” idea, there is more than just the common last name — all three of you are alternative Christian artists that think outside the box and are not afraid to step on toes or make people think. In other words, it would be different than having a “Steve Brothers” group with Steves Camp, Curtis Chapman, Green, and Taylor — that would be a little more schizophrenic. I could actually conceive you, Steve Taylor, and Terry working together and coming up with a great, cohesive project.

One more note — I find your answer on Catholicism interesting, knowing that both Steve Taylor and Matthew Ward (2nd Chapter of Acts) were to the last of my knowledge in Anglican churches.

Thank you again for your time.

Jeff

My reply…

Jeff,

Here are my follow up answers. I appreciate your comments and the corrections you made. I also made a couple very minor grammatical corrections I found and I added a sentence or two in a couple spots just for clarity, mostly in the Book of Waiting question.

My definition of Fundamentalist is any sect or belief system that takes the bible as the inerrant infallible word of god. So while Calvary might not be fundamentalist to some of the groups you mention, it does fit this definition at least, and I’m not sure my definition is the best one.

I like your Taylor trio comments too. Let me know if I can get you some of our songs you like but don’t have. I can burn you some. So all the stuff below includes my revisions so you might want to replace the earlier stuff with this stuff. Again, let me know if you have any questions. I’m grateful for the opportunity because interviews always present that to me, a way to examine my own thoughts and beliefs and to try to articulate them clearly. So thank you for that. Good luck!

Photo by Darin Beeman

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