I hate icons of the apostles. They seem so secure–gathering confidently around Christ or peacefully accepting their martyrdom. I feel mocked. Seriously, how can my faith hold a candle to that? I hardly feel secure speaking up in class and I’m supposed to hold it in when some stranger’s got a sword on my forehead? It’s not fair–they get to have faith in a person with whom they regularly dined. All I’ve got is a wafer. I resent them because I’ve got no idea what it feels like to have that kind of faith.
So, what does my faith feel like? Look at Daniel Johnston here.
For three decades, Johnston’s been revered among indie-rockers. His story’s a bit tragic: Failing out of college and unemployed, he started living and recording in his parents’ basement. These recordings wear on their sleeves his ongoing struggle with manic depression.
Singing, Johnston quivers somewhere between earnest belief and heartbreaking doubt. His voice tries to convince us to open ourselves and hope for the true love that is to surely come. But his tearing eyes and trembling hands betray that he’s not just singing for us, that he’s trying to convince himself of the same thing. He tells a story of hope, but offers no certitude. He wants to believe, but can’t drop his doubt. And he’s willing to bear his heart and share this struggle with us.
There’s something holy about this. The reverence of the faces at 1:06 confesses the presence of the sacred. I can relate to Johnston’s shaky but hopeful holiness. I know what that faith feels like.