Review: I have enjoyed As Cities Burn for a number of years now. In particular, Come Now Sleep and Hell or High Water. The brutal honesty of this group's lyrics resound with me. They are transparent with their spiritual struggles with Christ, as well as their struggles with the Church. Their instruments are the perfect vehicle to communicate this struggle.
And then, in the midst of the difficult relationships, the lyrics and music explode the grace of God on the listener. We see a glimmer of the light of things hoped for.
For me, As Cities Burn gives a pretty honest and typical portrayal of the Christian walk:
Struggle. Struggle. Struggle. Beauty. Struggle. Beauty. Beauty. Beauty. Rest. Struggle.
So I snatched up this memoir as soon as it came out.
The book spends most of the time exploring the difficulties of touring, starting a band, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise as a result of it. Lunsford gives a chaotic glimpse into the lives of a bunch of (mostly) Christian guys trying to find an audience for their music. There is very little reference to their faith, or walk, but when Lunsford does go there he has a fair amount of criticism for Christians and himself.
One poignant passage explains these young guys' dilemma:
Each member of As Cities Burn differed greatly from one to the next in regards to spirituality and theology. Sure there was plenty of common ground, but no real way to all be 100% behind every single action, thought, or word spoken by any one member of the band [...]
When you gain notoriety, people start to look at you as role models, but they do that through their own lens of what they believe a role model should be. Add religion into the mix and it intensifies exponentially. Fans have their version of Christianity [...] then they take this and apply it to the bands they love. When the bands fail to fit into that box, the fan feels betrayed (Lunsford, Backstage, 113).
Backstage is rather vulgar (not terribly profane, though). This doesn't bother my literary sensibilities too much, but it certainly isn't for everyone. And there were points where the vulgarity muddied the flow of text and detracted from his narration. (Oh! And he offers one band-hijinks image I would have been happy to have gone to my grave without ever visualizing).
Fans of the band will enjoy this fun and quick memoir. More than just a band book, though, voices like this are important in the Western Church these days. So much of our focus is on our actions as believers rather than the object of our belief, Jesus Christ. American Christians need to become much more honest disciples, who constantly point to their need for Jesus Christ.
Lunsford does a great job in the honesty department. The need for Jesus is only dimly implied.
Rating: 4/5 (I Really Liked It)
Find it here on Amazon.