Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dave Ellefson "My Life With Deth"

A letter from an LCMS pastor three years ago (Jan. 2012):

For those who have not read the newspaper article that I referenced yesterday, you now have it in this forward.  Please take the time to read it.
    After reading it, I would join all those who say: "Thank God for reclaiming to the Christian faith someone who had been led astray by bad music and human associations.  The angels in heaven rejoice.  So do we.  Thank the Lord."
    But now that Ellefson has returned to the faith and is studying for the ministry, I still have not had answered a couple of questions that pop into my mind.  No lay person or pastor or seminary person has answered these questions as of today.
1)  If you were one of the individuals who helped to start Megadeth as a hard rock musical group and your association with that group led you to deny your faith, if you returned to the faith and started MEGA Life which sends the opposite message of Megadeth, how can you continue to tour with Megadeth and still be connected with MEGA Life?
2)  Ellefson says in the second last paragraph of the article that "he has learned to keep his faith and his onstage persona separate..."  My question is this:  "Does the Bible tell us that we are supposed to separate our faith from our life?"  I thought we were supposed to let our light shine forth wherever we are, whether on stage or off stage, whether in private or in public?"  Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos would be a good example of that.  So also are we!
    I would appreciate any of your comments.
 And a follow-up to that letter a few days later from the same pastor:

    I had tried talking with Pastor Bjorgard earlier but no luck.  I tried once at church.  All I got were the recordings.  I tried again and actually got to talk to someone.  I got his cell phone number and called him.  Left a voice mail message.  He returned my phone call about an hour ago.  Our talk was most helpful.
    He said he himself had the read article.   When I told him my two fold concerns, he said:  "I don't blame you.  I had the same concerns you just expressed after I read the article.  He said my concerns were very valid on the basis of the article." 
    He told me that he was sure that most people who read the article would blow right past these valid concerns because they were seeing it only from their perspective of someone coming back to the faith after falling away from the faith and now serving the Lord in his new position.
    He thanked me for being theologically astute enough to pick up on these two following concerns since he was sure that most people would pick up on them:
1)  Concern # 1 - How can someone who had fallen away from the Christian faith because of his involvement in Megadeth now serve in MEGA Life and still go back on tour with the same group that was responsible for his departure from the faith? 
2)  Concern # 2 - How can someone separate their Christian faith from their Christian life?  When I read to him the quotations from Dr. Martin Luther in his Commentary on Galatians from Galatians 2,20 he said:  "I am in total agreement with what you have just said.  There is no way that we Christians can separate our faith life from our daily life.  They go together.
    Briefly stated, Pastor B said that this newspaper article did a great injustice to David Ellefson.  He said it totally misrepresented the real David Ellefson.  I told him I made allowance for this misrepresentation since I have often been misquoted and misrepresented in newspaper articles.
    In short, Pastor B said that David shares his Christian faith wherever he goes on tour.  David is very concerned about reaching out to those who have become addicted to many anti-Christian things since he himself had at one time become addicted to some of them.    Pastor B said that David and one of the other band member are both Christian men.  They have Bible study every day wherever they perform.  Before and after their performances, they invite people backstage so they have an opportunity to talk to people about the Christian faith.  He said David lives out his Christian faith.  Thanks be to God.
    Pastor B said that the "old Megadeth" lyrics are now different than the "new Megadeth" lyrics.  He said that their songs are not Christian songs but were mostly intended to send a political message. 
    When I asked him whether or not the lyrics agreed with the Bible, he said that it might be possible that some of the political messages may not always be Scriptural.  But at least it is not the dark kind of stuff that used to be associated and probably still is associated with heavy metal and hard rock.
    Pastor B also indicated that David is not now the leader of MEGA Life but does make appearances there once in awhile when he is off tour.  But his ministry is an outreach ministry to those who have become addicted to various sinful behaviors.
    Pastor B thanked me again for giving him a telephone call.  He said he was in full agreement with my concerns and that I was not off base in asking about them.  He said that maybe when David is on campus the next time for residential work that both he and  David can meet with me.  I said that the door is wide open as far as I am concerned for such a meeting.
Here are some clippings from Dave Ellefsen's Autobiography "My Life With Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock and Roll (Ellefson, David; McIver, Joel)".
"It was like that with a lot of things: the first time I drank I thought, “This isn’t bad—it’s awesome!” Then a couple of months later I tried pot and I was like, “This is awesome, too!” Then I did some cocaine and I thought, “Okay, this feels kinda funny—but I’m not dead, and I’m not in jail, so it can’t be that bad.” They teach you in high school that every drug is a gateway to the next drug, and they’re right, because the next thing I knew, there I was on heroin."
  • I commend Vicar (?) Ellefsen's acknowledgement of marijuana being a gateway drug.
"I was becoming a bona fide addict after only a single year in Los Angeles. By mid-1984 I was drinking, smoking pot, using cocaine, and taking heroin. Those became my Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

"These days, I find that modern church culture is fantastic. It is much different from what it was when I was growing up. Nowadays it is tied in with social media and with cool, uplifting rock music. For people of my age it needed to make that shift to remain relevant."
  • The labels cool, uplifting, and relevant are troublesome to me. Word and Sacrament are efficacious, but do they have to be relevant?

"My feelings about church were that it was culturally irrelevant, that it was dated, and that it was for my parents’ generation, not mine. Then, like I said, the church reinvented itself, and that was something that I wanted to continue with MEGA Life!"
  • More comments about relevancy...dated..."not mine..."
"And yet here we were only a few years later, with kids in tow for preschool. At the urging of our children, we started attending church there, so they could be with their friends. I presented my Lutheran Confirmation credentials and we officially joined as a family."
  • I'd never heard of a years-inactive/delinquent members showing up at a sister congregation and "presenting Lutheran Confirmation credentials" to join then. No catechesis? This sounds extremely weird.
"Music started as a passion for me, and to this day it still is. Some musical settings can really rob you of that passion and leave you empty, even to the point of disliking music altogether. I try to avoid those people and those settings. After all, if music is your gift, anyone who tries to quench that gift is like a thief robbing you of what is rightfully yours to enjoy."
  • Does that mean he's going to avoid everyone else in the church body? He's attempting to become a member of Synod, not merely a pastor of one satellite congregation.
(Index/Back of Book)
"Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod seminary, St. Louis, Mississippi, 201"
  • An editorial mistake, but one that the author should have noticed. Concordia Seminary in St. Louis is in the state of Missouri, not Mississippi.
"My faith walk continues and progresses. I now study in a Senior Mentoring Program, or SMP, for members of a congregation who wish to become ordained. It is run by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, which offers online studies."
  • I'm curious if this was a typo or is the author aware of the name of his seminary program (Ellefson stated elsewhere that he served for a time as a member of his congregation's board of elders). SMP is the LCMS seminary Specific Ministry Pastoral Program, not a Senior Mentoring Program.