This is a tough one.
When I was a freshman in college, I had a huge, goofy crush on a seminarian. I know. I wanted to lead a man of god away from the chaste embrace of the mother church. I mean, whatever—at that point, all I had done was nervous and unsatisfying hand stuff, so mother church can stop being so paranoid.
He was sweet and silly and very devout, he loved Five Iron Frenzy, and we were getting along just fine until he asked if I loved Collective Soul and I said yes. Two clicks and three days later, I was listening to the basement-church-sale model of Eddie Vedder, Ed "My Hair Just Looks Like This Naturally" Roland, grunt at me about heaven and shining and coming home over a guitar so shiny, I could see my face in it.
My face was pained.
What I Think Now: "Guy You Just Know Wears a Thumb Ring" Ed Roland would like you to know that they, Collective Soul, are NOT A CHRISTIAN BAND. Do you hear him behind his somehow both tousled and static mane of bleached hair? NOT. CHRISTIAN. Even though everything in their music is a reference to the Bible as subtle as Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy" (OH MY GOD, IT'S ABOUT SEX? AND CANDY? BUT HOW?).
There was a rash of Christian music in the post-grunge letdown that tried its hardest to appeal to the newly minted mainstream alt kids by swearing up and down that they weren't Christian and then just being totally Christian. Like, Amy Grant–level Christian.
But then saying they weren't.
And people like my seminarian loved it. They felt like they, being dedicated Christians, weren't cut off from pop culture. It felt like a middle ground.
And while I get that, does the music have to be so bad? I listened to Collective Soul and heard glossy nothingness selling me something without telling me what it was, like I was some kid having spinach snuck into my dinner. I put that spinach in my napkin and fed it to the dog after I got an earful of these lyrics:
Poetry of politics and lost entities
Government is loneliness, on this we agree
High are the angels and low I decree
Love only burns when fueled by belief
Okay sure, "Dude Who Probably Calls His Body a Temple" Ed Roland. YOU AREN'T CHRISTIAN.
Was It Worth It: The boy I pretended to like this band for was, and is, a complete peach and nothing ever happened between us because he legit fell in love and left the seminary for a woman who would end up being his wife so EVERYTHING TURNED OUT AS IT SHOULD HAVE.
But honestly? No. No it wasn't.