Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What if Trent Reznor became a Christian????

"I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real"

Do you know him? Trent is the lead singer of one of the most popular industial bands , Nine Inch Nails. He is originally from Cleveland and everyone in Northeast Ohio knows someone who knows Trent. I knew Michael, who dated my friend Stephanie. He was a member of the Exotic Birds, Trent's first band. My old friend Jenifer Bass loved NIN. She introduced me to the music. It was music that wouldn't be making it to the radio anytime soon. My pal, Audrey, from High School, has a huge NIN tattooed on her leg and she named her first born child, Trent. One of the first times I talked to Melanie she had just moved to Ohio from Florida. We were straightening the party isle at Toys R Us. She told me she was going to see NIN by herself because she didn't know anyone else to go with. I told her a ton of other people were going and I introduced her to them. That was when she became one of the gang. Tori Amos dated Trent. Everyone knows I love Tori. She wrote about him in a song. Courtney Love also dated Trent. I went to her concert and she kept talking about the size of Trent's "manhood". It was so stupid but Courtney thought she was so cool.

"What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt"

Okay, There is the "HISTORY". Here is what brought it all up again. A couple of months ago I was standing in the Kitchen and Melanie calls. She had just won tickets on the radio. They were to see Nine Inch Nails! She asked me to go with her. To be honest, I wasn't sure at first. I had A LOT of stuff going on and concerts...well, they are part of my past. I used to love going to concerts. I went almost weekly. I've seen so many bands live. Everything from Chicago to NOFX. I worked at Blossom for 5 summers with my friend Tiffany. We served coffee and HUGE cookies. Man it was fun. I've danced on stage with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and yes, I have stage dived and been in MANY mosh pits. Either way, I digress... I used to love Nine Inch Nails. When I got married and had the respite kids coming to live with us I really censored my CD collection. I gave away or sold most of my old stuff. Besides, most of it I can hear on the computer if I want to. After settling in to my new job and moving I agreed to go to the concert with Melanie. Yes, I went to see Trent, eleven years after the last time. It was so much different this time around. First of all....I didn't dress in the normal garb. Yes, I was slightly concerned about what to wear but when it came right down to it - I really didn't care. I don't care to look like everyone else. I just went as me. Denim shorts and a black shirt with my favorite, stinky sandals. As we walked through I stared at all the people. I really felt like I was amongst a bunch of people who just hadn't arrived yet. They were mostly close to my age. I didn't really talk to any of them so I can't be quite certain but I felt like they just never grew out of that ANGST RIDDEN stage of life. I have always been about the meaning of the music. I've analysed lyrics and have even asked a few song writers what they meant by certain songs. I had forgotten about the serious religious overtones of NIN.

"God money i'll do anything for you. God money just tell me what you want me to. God money nail me up against the wall. God money don't want everything he wants it all."

The music is religous. Just not my religion. Trent sings about being hurt and strong at the same time. He gives hope to his followers. I watched people dancing and praising him. I thought (ironically) "this is what worship should be like". Unfortunately...well people are worshipping Trent Reznor. What is he going to do for them? Hmmmm.

"no you can't take it no you can't take it no you can't take that away from me"

So, I started thinking about it all. And I wondered...what would Trent Reznor do if he accepted Christ and became a Christian? Would he stop singing? Would he stop singing those songs? Would he apologize? Would his followers hate him? Or would they love him? Would it be a great testimony or would he be a traitor?

"head like a hole. black as your soul. i'd rather die than give you control."

I think he was writing about drugs??? Not sure. Definitely some religious stuff tucked away in there.

"bow down before the one you serve. you're going to get what you deserve. God money's not looking for the cure. God money's not concerned with the sick amongst the pure. God money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised. God money's not one to choose"

I did have a great time. I love the loud music and the energy. I love seeing everyone dance around, united by a common thread (even if it is a pretty small one). But I felt different this time around....A little out of place. The best part was just getting to hang out with Melanie and laugh. Thanks Melanie.


16 comments:

Kelly said...

Glad to see you're back. Missed your posts!

Anonymous said...

I'm a 40 year old woman who still secretly loves NIN. I am also a Christian. I have had similar thoughts as yours. I have long since thrown away all my treasured CDs from the past and I am still intrigued by Trent Reznor. I'm not sure if he even knows it: but some of his songs could be intrepreted from a Christian point of view. Have you heard his collaboration with E-LP and the song "Flyentology"? I hope he does come to accept Christ. Thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

I was saved a few weeks ago. Now I'm not sure how I feel about the massive amount of NIN songs that still play randomly on my Ipod. I use to think he was brilliant. Now I feel ashamed to listen to some of his songs, though I agree with the person above, some of the songs can actually be viewed from a Christian p.o.v. I hope he finds Jesus, that's all that is missing from his warped, confused, lost mind. His music is awesome, but his lyrics need a make over. The "blah" stage of music is so over anyways.

Maria, 23
Kuwait / USA

Anonymous said...

Hello Delilah. I'm 39 years old, but most people think I'm in my 20's. And yes!!! I'm also a big NIN fan, and I'm christian too. I think music goes beyond ideals, creeds, politics, race, you name it. If you have a musical talent you are entitled to express it the way you feel it. What can be more liberating than that? Music is spiritual. And if he decides to become a christian, what a powerful instrument in God's hands he would be! Bye.

Anonymous said...

Well, Trent is not in any way Christian. But for those of you who hope him to be, because some of his song can be viewed from a Christian p.o.v. they are ironic, f.e. God given. Do you really think that Trent is such a racist as the song suggest? Truth is that Trent is against all forms of organized religions. And if you look closer on the lyrics you will find out that it is the truth! And to you who thought that Trents lyrics could get better F#¤* you, they are the best things about Nine Inch Nails and Trent! And for the second as you probably understand from the rest of my text, Trent will NEVER EVER, become an instrument in god’s hands.

// Felix, 18
/ Sweden

Alien Fetus said...

Something would be lost in Trent's music if he become Christian. The brutal honesty and beauty of his art would no doubt be changed. Something as hypocritical as organized religion has no place anywhere near NIN anyway.

Knurd said...

Sorry to say that Trent's lyrics speak more loudly and clearly, hit home so much more accurately than biblical scripture ever has. I don't mind the book of Proverbs, but that still doesn't stack-up to the raw creative and honest expression that Trent demonstrates.

Christianity has almost completely shot itself in the foot culturally. There's far too much catch-up to do, and credibility is blown all to hell. People don't want more religion they want more lovin'.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm about three years late on this post. Ah well.

I've prayed for Trent. Not as much as I should, but I have just the same.

Anything that is good and beautiful in Trent's music (and there's quite a bit) gives glory to God. So I'm not sure how much of his music or lyrics would change if he were to become a Christian.

Jesus was a man of sorrows, and Trent certainly understands the twistedness of human nature and what it means to feel despair in a broken world. I think this causes Trent pain and I think Jesus understands that pain.

If Trent were to become a Christian, I think he should keep singing about the things he has throughout his career. Human pain and suffering is real and Christians need to talk about it and sing about it and write about it. A song doesn't have to have the name "Jesus" in it to be a Christian song. Trent's music points me to the cross. I pray that one day it will point him to the same place.

As for the gentleman who beleives the Bible doesn't adequately capture the human condition, I wonder if you've read Ecclesiastes or the epistles of Paul where he describes his indwelling sin and his grief over the Jewish people's failure to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah?

Knurd said...

Trent's musical expression is culturally relevant. It is conceived in the present day. The bible is relevant to a distant time and culture. No matter how you slice it, there will always be that barrier. I would give my left arm to have a face-to-face audience with Christ. It's a tragedy. The bible is more credible than the account of Julius Caesar yet we cannot relate to it very well at all. In fact it's reckless to interpret the bible on your own.

I think the majority of religious folks undermine this very simple observation. In fact, my argument is that the majority of the religious treat church as nothing more than a self-serving social club that worships the almighty comfort zone, but certainly not the Son of Man.

Darin said...

Brother Trent has a wonderful ring to it. I am thinking of Keith Green's I Only Want to See You There.
Get 'im God!!

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine listens to it and he's in his 50`s. Can't condem him . I'm a Christian and heard Trents songs. He's mentally screwed up . Who knows if he grew up in a Christian family that condemned more than love. But Trent can still turn to The Heavenly Father. But not anytime soon . He would have to want too.now that he has got this new CD.....Hopefully he turns to God instead of the record labels. Just pray that God is softening his heart
to hear The Holy spirit when its time. God bless peeps!

Me said...

1. Debating Trent's religious status is one of my biggest hobbies. It always comes down to me wondering, if his audience is so divided among devout Christians and angry atheists ISN'T he almost working for God already? For one thing, he helps people from any religion heal their deep emotional pain, that much is agreed upon across the board, and that's what everyone universally seems to love about him. So we can agree on that. That already gives him a point in God's favor for me, because he's doing good work on the earth, God's Work, that is, rather than just being a raging hate band. While many may see him as something scary, I believe that avid listeners and fans all like him for his difference in having a gentle approach to emotions. He is not a band that necessarily encourages bad behavior or worsening depression: his music helps people, so he's in the "good column" if you will. Now, just being good doesn't make him a follower of Christ; he would have to accept Christ into his soul and acknowledge Christ as his needed Savior for that to take place. But...his band is not just a yucky band full of mocking lyrics that Christians quickly leave behind again. I'm sure all of us Christians have some bands, authors, etc. that we do genuinely boycott because they are not edifying, and we have never looked back because we are strong enough to not feel that need in our life. The fact that Christians so often love Trent's music either says to me that he is a huge manipulator working for the dark side, or that he's not as bad as he would initially seem. I almost wonder sometimes if he's helping God by starting such a fierce debate about Him, that never leaves. Any time your hear NIN or Trent Reznor, you'll soon see people talking about God. Isn't that what the best youth pastor tries to do in a room full of confused teenagers?!?!? Christians can't seem to let go of Trent, and you'd think we'd be wise enough to at some point if it were as simple as that. I almost feel like he's working for the good side, both in the fact that his music helps God heal deeply wounded people the way other, lighter music just simply cannot, and then also by getting people to talk about God, wonder about God, NOT IGNORE GOD. You can't not think about your relationship with God when you listen to Trent, and isn't that vitally important in this fallen world? Trent doesn't pretend to be cheerful, but the wounded need someone to actually take them seriously, and Trent takes pain VERY seriously. I think that's why Christians secretly listen to him when they can't find other outlets, and presumably, God led some of these Christians to him. Presumably, listening to music in your room and having a good cry is also better than going out and having promiscuous sex because no one will understand you, or doping up on drugs. While Trent was a drug user for awhile, his music doesn't seem to overly glorify it the way some heavy metal bands might outright. His lyrics are always just about poetry, love, religion, fear, God, how drugs controlled him, etc. He doesn't really seem to encourage it or even focus that much on it.

Me said...

2. It could be that I (and we) have been deceived by the Devil, but I can't seem to let go of Trent. :) Either he's very lost, and the Christians are hanging onto him, or he's actually helping atheists come back around to Christ in a small way, and the Christians are going along for the ride to help. I don't know man...I just know that Trent is powerful. And he does talk about God a lot. While the typical fan of his may be an atheist who left the Church, who finds a similar peer in Trent (who grew up in the Church and then became angry and says he doesn't like organized religion [but hey, JESUS didn't like the standard religion of his day, right?!?!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?]), I think what some atheists who maybe aren't that familiar with religion don't realize is how saturated Trent's lyrics are with Biblical references and Christian things. I think thats what draws the Christians. We are totally familiar with what he's saying, down to a very detailed level in almost every song he writes! We might be sad to find that seems to be sarcastic, but his language of Christianity is constant, which certainly gets you thinking. Even as a Christian, it takes me a minute (or years) to really try to figure out what he's saying. I think maybe no one fully knows, and that's why we all keep debating. ;) And, as I said, isn't that a fantastic debate to be having in culture?!?!? I almost feel like the joke's on all of us, and maybe Trent figured out his own beliefs long ago and isn't that upset about them? Who knows?

While I completely understand the logic that he could be using that all sarcastically, I can't make myself believe that Trent is an ATHEIST as such, because he consistently refers to, or even SPEAKS to God Himself. He says things like "You get me closer to God." While that's emo, I don't think that is sarcastic. I think that's part of why he wants to have sex with the person in question in the song. He's very mopey and serious. I think a line like that is straight and not sarcastic.

It would seem most logical from the lyrics alone (not counting his behavior, that sort of errs toward showing love and helping others, though he doesn't publicly acknowledge Christ or that He is Lord) that Trent is a confused agnostic, which means that none of us win this round. I'm not sure why we can't agree on that. Sarcastic and angry or not, healing and beautiful soul or not, Trent doesn't really give us the satisfaction of knowing which way he falls. And that's again why I say it's like he knows what he's doing, and we don't! It's like maybe we think he's more confused than he is, and WE'RE the confused ones fighting this out. ;)

I read an interview that said he's spiritual and doesn't believe in Western religion, so there you have it. He's actually kind of a gentle soul, who I believe said he believes in a higher power (that seems obvious from his concerned, serious, and mopey behavior), but he's also not a Christian on paper. So I guess none of us get this one. :( I think it would be fantastic if he became a Christian.

Me said...

3. Another weird element for me is always that I listen to lots of secular artists who live a lifestyle I don't approve of, but somehow it's only Trent who concerns me that maybe I should stop. I guess it's because he's so blatant with his lyrics. I don't want to be listening to something that's insulting God. However, half the time it seems that he's imploring, pleading with, and begging for God, so I can't really fault that!! Haven't we all been there, asking God for something, whether it's faith itself or not? I've heard atheist fans say they identify with being angry at God for not allowing them to believe easily. That suggests to me that his music is just for people who are struggling, and maybe these atheists don't even want to be atheists. You know? It gets really complicated! :) And that's the beauty of Trent--working people through their complication until they feel healed and whole and can move on. :)

His latest album is really calm and zen and centered, too, from what's recently been released. He seems more at peace with himself, and I think God, judging from lyrics that as always, are very honest, than ever. I am very grateful! :)

The die-hard atheist fans always want him to not believe in God, and the Christians want him on their side. I don't think we can claim he's a Christian just because of some lyrics, but I think multiple sources and interviews have said he BELIEVES IN GOD, just not religion, so while he doesn't follow Christianity, he's not what I would say you could possibly call an atheist, either. I mean, basically, no one wins this debate the way we want to, but it does bug me that atheists claim him when he himself has stated several times that he DOES believe in God. Perhaps he does not believe in Jesus. That would be the key. It sounds like he's an in between artist who many feel drawn to, and then wonder about. But I wish people would stop saying he doesn't believe in God (or at least wonder about Him and try talking to Him to see what happens!). That part seems sort of clear to me.

Me said...

4. Here are lyrics from his latest album that he's performing in concert so far:

I am little pieces
Pieces that were picked up on the way
Invented with a purpose
A purpose that's become quite clear today

("Copy of A")

I have made a great mistake.
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

("Find My Way.") (Even this title suggest a lean toward redemption or cleaning up of some sort--which he did by going to rehab, bulking up and getting physically healthy, getting a satisfying personal life, etc.)

Saw some things on the other side
Made me promise to never tell
But you know me, I can't help myself

("Came Back Haunted")

The entire single above or even the whole album could be seen as a conversion or leaning toward a conversion. We Christians are hoping, of course. Who knows?

So there you have it, folks. The guys on the fence. And he's been singing songs about God for 25 years now, while also being angry, which just keeps drawing and the Christians and the atheists together over and over. It must be the weirdest fan base to have. And there's no way he hasn't picked up on that yet, which means he's egging us on, doesn't care when he's going to piss off one side by writing a blatant religious lyric that really is hard to interpret any other way, OR a blatant anti-God lyric with the same problem. I think neither side can call it for sure, which is why we all stick around. This isn't like some bands, who use pentagrams or something, and drive the Christians straight away. They might be praying for those heavy metal bands' souls, but they wouldn't be listening to them.

Me said...

5. Trent isn't death metal. He's actually pretty calming and soothing, which helps the world at large and is a good thing to be, and originally, he was a classically-based musician, so many of his songs are practically lullabies that will heal your tortured heart, Christian or atheist. I can see why some people say he IS their God, which I believe to be a blasphemy, but I think he's also God's instrument already. How many of you Christians here can say that his music helped you during a very dark time? I can. It kept me closer to God--the title of one of his songs, ironically--because it kept me afloat when there was pretty much nothing else in the world to turn to. I believe God answers my prayers when I turn to God, with methods such as people, music, etc., and when there are no people, and all I'm left with is NIN, I'm gonna say, while maybe not playing certain songs that make me feel uncomfortable, that that music actually came from God.

Maybe someone should just ask Trent some day what his side on all this is! ;) I remember an interview where he said he told his grandpa that the Church might be offended by his latest music video. He seems to even honor the Church a little bit and doesn't want to hurt his home town, etc. Although, I don't know anybody who knows him, I can't say!

If he became a Christian, I think he'd still write. He has the gift of being a musician, and it's in his soul. I think he'd bring his typical passion to it, and we'd know how he felt through the lyrics. :) Until then, we keep waiting and listening, I guess!! ;)

Happy listening to you all. Trent is a musical genius and has great talent and a big personality to carry it off in performances, I can say that much at least.

The bottom line of this entire rambly post of mine could be, how many people has Trent drawn away from God, and how many has he gotten closer to God??!! People need understanding. If they’ve found that through Trent, then they didn’t go into full despair. They found hope. And Trent’s a soft enough soul that he doesn’t maliciously hurt anyone after he’s drawn them in. He speaks very openly about being against hurting the innocent, etc. I think that people can’t get beyond his anger if they haven’t had much pain in his life, but let me tell you, as both a Christian and someone close to child abuse, I don’t think he has a warped mind. I grew up seeing things I should never have seen, and I am a Christian, but I’m also a dark broody person because of it. I hope that doesn’t make me “warped.” I think sin in this world (sin is one of the titles of his songs) makes things warped beyond belief. Trent might look creepy to some, but to those who have the creepiness in their life already, they are looking for a man who understands. All of us who listen to Trent love him. I just hope that he can find Jesus and find peace himself. Not because he’s particularly twister or scary to me, but because he seems unclear about God, and sad about that. He seems particularly interested in God, where others might not be. He hasn’t let go of that idea, and he cries on stage about it. So there. It’s a thing! Talk about Trent Reznor, and you’ll soon be talking about God, no matter what side you’re on, and no matter whether you wanted to or not! It even makes us Christians uncomfortable. Maybe it strengthens our faith, and we keep thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking and pondering, and returning to the music, and keeping out faith in tact. I don’t think Trent himself would be angry that we were thinking a lot. :)

-Another anon: I’m a wounded, angry, Christian, hopeful fan

PS Sorry for the long post. I think this is something that matters to all of us listeners, and most of us are hurting badly or once were.