My Epic - UltravioletLength: Length: 21:41
Life is more than what is seen. But how do we know truth in the unseen? While pre-packaged answers might make questions easy to answer, they don’t always convince us or ease our minds. In Ultraviolet, My Epic wrestles with pat answers and the unsettling search for truth.
Who should listen to this?
It is difficult, in five songs, to take much of a journey, but My Epic manages to do just that. Melding fitting music and musing lyrics, Ultraviolet challenges a listener to examine what they think they know about that which they cannot see. If we cannot see something, how do we know it is real? That, the writer of Hebrews says, is what faith is. But if faith is being certain of what we cannot see, how can we prove to ourselves that that which we believe is really there? Therein lies the rub of faith, and one that prevents many people from having faith in God.
Let’s begin the journey that My Epic invites us to take:
We start with “Of Wilderness” – arguably the most memorable song – a grooving track that opens with haunting ethereal tones. Some people are sure of what they believe and spend a lot of energy defending their ordered beliefs. But perhaps those folk have missed something? Perhaps they don’t really have it all figured out. Perhaps fear drives people to not let their ideas be challenged. Sometimes places of doubt/trial/temptation are exactly what we need to help see God more clearly and fully so we realize that we don’t have all the answers (“I think we’re all lost till we’ve lived in the wilderness”).
It’s easy to talk about others who struggle with their faith, but when it’s personal, that’s a different matter altogether. In “Voices,” the search for truth takes a personal tack, which the lyricist Mr. Stone embraces as he commits to pursuing the truth wherever it leads. He wonders if some aspects of his faith aren’t right, but he isn’t sure if this is the Spirit telling him he needs to change his beliefs or just his own wrestling with uncertainty.
Still, he can’t escape the inevitability of needing to wrestle through questions of faith so he embraces the struggle to find answers (“There’s no way to silence it. There’s nowhere to hide. I brace myself as steps approach, to eat the flesh and leave the bones. I’m scared but I will only know if I face it, so I’ll face it”).
Those raised in the church know the answers to theological questions. How? We’ve been taught the right answers. But if a person relies on pat answers, is that really faith, the certainty of things unseen? In “So Be It”, Mr. Stone struggles with doubts that have crept in about the Christian beliefs he has been taught. There’s a sense of loss, isolation, and fear of the unknown, but he has no choice but to accept this and continue to seek truth.
Still, in the midst of this doubt and confusion he holds onto the hope that God will lead him through so he will find the truth.
So here we are in our journey: you’ve been raised in the church and know what to believe but find yourself with questions for which there are no easy answers or which have seemingly valid alternative answers apart from God. What now? We fall back on God and cry out to Him. And if we can’t hear His voice?
Still we cry out and wait. “In Absentia,” the fourth track, talks about the pain of God’s silence but the hope that stills burns within a believer. When all seems lost he or she senses God in the darkness (“In this night more lovely than the dawn, Your hand finds mine here in the dark. When I’ve no form left to hold You close, Your voice itself becomes my home”).
The fifth and final track, “Two Nights,” admits that maybe no one knows the truth. Who can know if we know – after all, isn’t that where faith steps in? Just as some patterns stay hidden until revealed in ultraviolet, sometimes truth stays hidden when we look with our natural eyes. Sometimes things are only revealed spiritually (“We search for all our lives, it stays just out of sight. Some things in the light, will only show in ultraviolet”).
And with that, My Epic concludes the first part of our journey into exploring the realm of the unseen, with part two, Violence, due out in late 2018.
Since the rise of naturalism, spirituality has taken a hit. Ages ago the unseen spiritual world was taken for granted and the question wasn’t Is there a god, but Which gods are real. My, how times have changed. The pervasive attitude of Question Everything has infiltrated even the church, and to a large extent the church has done a poor job of responding.
Sure, there is the proper teaching of Scripture, but how many churches suffer from poor teaching of Scripture? And is sheer teaching enough to sustain the faith of the pew-warmers who have never experienced God and live as nominal Christians because “That’s the way we do it”? The fact that thousands have left Western churches is a telling answer.
Too often the “search for truth” is merely a platform upon which to attack Others. My Epic reminds us that a genuine search for truth can be difficult, emotionally exhausting, long, but ultimately hopeful. If there is no glimmer of hope in your own search for truth, perhaps you have gone wide of the truth.
Truth and Hope: a well-matched pair.
There is a fine line between earnestly searching for truth and coming across as angsty. There already is far too much angst-driven music out there in this emo-scarred world, but it’s an easy emotional sell so bands keep cranking it out. On the flip side, there also is far too much Christian music offering pat answers. It’s sort of like a sanitized version of country music, except Jesus is the answer to life’s problems rather than beer or a new truck and girlfriend.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for looking into Jesus as the One Way, but to flippantly say Jesus will solve everything while repeating Scripture-as-mantra smacks of Pharisaism and the very problem that My Epic rails against in Ultraviolet.
To honestly search for truth about things unseen; to earnestly seek answers at the cost of doubting what you’ve always been taught: this is not angsty emo – this is the core of being human.
And My Epic nails it.
Though Ultraviolet could be fuel for a pouty sad-fest fire, that’s not what’s intended. Ultraviolet is the soundtrack of the search for truth in a darkened world filled with prescribed beliefs. To see the truth, to see what is really real, we must not look with eyes of flesh but with spiritual eyes. This, though, can be scary. What if we were wrong before? What if we get it wrong now?
The search for meaning, purpose, and value is not a new one. Stretching back at least as far as Ecclesiastes, people have been searching for truth for millenia. In one sense, Ultraviolet adds nothing to this conversation that hasn’t already been said a thousand times. But while Ultraviolet doesn’t necessarily speak of new ideas, My Epic’s marriage of lyrics and music is masterful.
Again and again, My Epic finds the perfect tones to match the lyrical content. When the lyrics say there is a voice that cannot be silenced, a constant droning noise in the background illustrates this. When Mr. Stone sings, “So I’ll face it” a confident tone emphasizes it. When a flicker of hope is spoken of, the music locks step and we hear the hopeful tones come through.
Ultraviolet is a rare album. Though I hesitate to label this a concept album, it is rare to find an album as cohesive as this. In the world of rock, it is rare to find an album where the lyrics and music wed so masterfully. And it is a rare treat to hear the combination of honesty and soul-searching depth, to be challenged to examine my own beliefs, and to leave reminded that God is the source of truth and that in Him we can hope and trust.
The final song of Ultraviolet reveals that there must be more to this search. It can’t end here. And fortunately for us listeners, it doesn’t. Violence, the companion to Ultraviolet, is set to release in late 2018 and “promises to be the band’s heaviest project to date.” I can’t wait.