There’s Oceans In Between Us But That’s Not Very Far

Recently, I became aware of the continuing problems within the band Puddle of Mudd, a band that was very popular in the early 2000’s with hit songs like “Blurry,” “She Hates Me,” “Psycho,” and “Drift And Die” that were successful on the Modern and Mainstream Rock charts and occasionally crossed over to the mainstream charts. While the band has not had the sort of success, and is unlikely to gain that success in the future, that would put them on my radar for snubs for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they are at least a moderately successful post-grunge group whose entrance into stardom came about with an assist from Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, who directed their early music videos. Unfortunately, the way that I became aware of what was going on with Puddle of Mudd was not the news of their completion of their latest studio album, but the fact that lead singer Wes Scantlin was left all alone on stage in front of an angry crowd by all of his bandmates after a drunken and incoherent performance, which is becoming more common than not for the band. Apparently, the bandmates are simply unwilling to take it any longer, and so Scantlin will have to find some more side musicians for at least the fourth time if he wants to continue performing. Of course, I use that term somewhat loosely, as Scantlin has been particularly notorious over the past few years for lip-syncing his performances [1], and the band has alienated many venues and fans as a result of repeated bad performances. Given that the band is long into its nostalgia act status, having not had a hit on the Hot 100 since 2007 nor a gold album since 2003, and given that it hasn’t had any new studio album at all since 2009, this is a band that does not have much goodwill to lose, if indeed it can continue after this latest embarrassment.

Although I do not consider myself a particular fan of the band, and find its music somewhat derivative, and best if not taken entirely seriously, with a sense of humor, it is hard not to take a problem like this seriously. The responses of many I have read on social media to this latest meltdown have been pretty savage, and even the most encouraging of the lot has called for friends and family and bandmates to conduct an intervention for the troubled singer/songwriter. Given that the band’s material has dealt with drug and alcohol abuse and relationship trouble, it is unsurprising that matters have gotten to this point, but still alarming nonetheless. When one is watching a train wreck in process, what is one’s responsibility? In our contemporary world, it is easy to view ourselves as spectators in the lives of others, viewing their selfies at parties, reading their tweets, and so on. Yet this awareness of what others are doing, even if it is partial, often does not lead to any sort of feeling of responsibility or influence on the behavior of others. We can look at the videos of people yelling profanity at an obviously distressed singer, and we can feel uncomfortable about it, or feel some sort of vicarious desire to mock and kick those who are already down, but what responsibility do we have? At what point is it no longer merely uncharitable to mock someone who is in trouble, but where we share some sort of blame for that which we saw, and that which we commented on and perhaps even condemned, but where we did not give any encouragement or support to those who were obviously in trouble.

Many people like the thrill of being considered a prophet, or may even consider themselves a reluctant if self-appointed prophet. Some of the comments on social media about Wes Scantlin after his latest meltdown, for example, predicted that we would soon be reading an obituary about the singer. Yet although it is quite a small thing in our own minds to appoint ourselves as prophets and make predictions, I wonder how aware we are of the responsibility that comes for it. As might be expected, the Bible talks a lot about prophets, but not always in ways that we would appreciate [2]. Zechariah 13:4-6 says, for example: “And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. But he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a farmer, for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.’ And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’” Intriguingly enough, this particular passage places those who claim some sort of prognostication abilities with those who are mentally ill, and those who are ashamed at their substance abuse are put on the same level as those whose visions and predictions will lead them to feel shame instead of a sense of glory in being gifted with such foresight. Clearly, those days have not arrived yet, yet it is worthwhile to examine what will happen when they do, so that we may at least have prepared ourselves to think of the claiming of the identity of a prophet, where one has not received a divine charge for it, as being something worthy of shame rather than an honor that we greedily seek for ourselves.

Although we might think leaders and people of importance to be the sort that would most appreciate having the foresight of others, this is not always the case. In 1 Kings 22:13-14, we see the difference between the phony court prophets that have always been popular among leaders and those who are genuinely prophets of God: “Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophet with one accord encourage the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.” And Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” The problem is in both the prophets and in those who are looking for prophetic insight, and it is a problem that is relevant for all of us, whether we are kings or rock singers or simply ordinary people. We can claim to desire insight from others when what we want instead is encouragement and approval for that which we want to do, even if that is not the best or the wisest thing to do. Others may perceive that if they wish to preserve a relationship with us that they will have to avoid criticism, that they will have to be flattering and deceptive courtiers. Yet the exact opposite problem is also the case—we may confuse our own personal disapproval of something with a divine charge to prophecy doom and gloom for that which we dislike. Micaiah’s response is instructive—he promises to speak what the Eternal tells him to speak, rather than flattering the wicked king like the court prophets, nor in speaking his own personal disapproval as if it was divine discontent with the ruler’s course of action. Both of those human responses are common temptations for us, and as a result of either seeking the opportunity to give counsel as a way of charming others through deceptive means or in getting on a bully pulpit and trying to club someone else down, we often miss the opportunity to give wise counsel that comes from a place of love and concern for the well-being of those we advise. And that is a great shame.

[1] See, for example:

“Did Puddle of Mudd lip synch their performance at the California Mid State Fair”. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2016-03-29.

“Puddle of Mudd singer in Dallas concert meltdown”. Retrieved 2016-03-29.

“Puddle Of Mudd – Blurry. Wes drunk and lip-sync”. September 28, 2015.

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to There’s Oceans In Between Us But That’s Not Very Far

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Writing The Record | Edge Induced Cohesion

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