The Twenty One Pilots obsession continues.
Someone recently sent me an interview with Twenty One Pilots lead singer, Tyler Joseph. He is so young. But what a remarkable depth. A poet’s mind, disarming authenticity who shares the anxieties of this age, making him a powerful voice for this age.
The interviewer asked him a fascinating question: what is the mission of Twenty One Pilots? From whence their lyrics, their musical style?
Tyler struggled to answer. He spoke of the numbers game that dominates the music industry — profits, number of fans. He admitted these tempt to distract him. But what really drives him, he said, is the idea that their music makes people think about life’s deepest and most universal questions. “If our music can lift up just one person, making their life better and more joyful, then that is the mission of Twenty One Pilots. I don’t just want to entertain people, I want them to think with me, to think about universally true things. I’m a seeker. I ask questions and hope they lead to joy.”
Unquestionably, there is a Christian worldview that inhabits the sounds and lyrics. But Tyler is exceedingly careful not to speak with overtly religious language. He ‘gets’ the challenge of trying to reach a broad audience in a radically pluralistic world. His approach to faith ‘latently’ informing art is, to me, brilliant.
You might say they offer their music to the world on “the altar to an unknown God” that St. Paul once identified in the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17:23). There, faith can very naturally, quietly converse with the great questions and anxieties of our day.
When I went to their concert with my daughters, I could hear in their singing an impassioned and searching faith in a hidden God who was simultaneously far and near.
I wrote a poem after hearing the interview, my summary of their artistic mission. For what it’s worth.
Prophets of Zeitgeist
Canting angst, oracle of Zeitgeist
haunted by a Father’s Love
whirling ’round the cross of Christ
twining faith to life, deftly spliced.
Rapping deep into darkest reality
facing the face of fear, and longing
to be found, and by Truth set free
as restless, all-gnarled humanity.
Nay by preaching: evoking
Nay imposing: provoking
Thinking within, seeker
the hopeless in hope soaking.
Your words cut, make us bleed
yet all deftly only heal, feed
the souls seeking primal creed
who are your fragile reed.
The call, the mission, clear
to dare us hope into fear
unveiling God, hidden near
Heart Whisperer, “I am here
wiping dry your every tear.”