JFH's Lucas Munachen caught up with Good Saint Nathaneal's Nate Allen to talk about his latest project, Hide No Truth...
Nate Allen: When I'm having a bad day, often my wife tells me to go journal or take some time alone. Quiet songs often come tumbling out of these broken moments. So in a way, Hide No Truth represents selected works from some of my more vulnerable moments. I tried to make an honest, complete album about my Christian faith experience that didn't sugarcoat hard, complex situations.
Sometimes it felt like I was at the bottom of the ocean just trying to see a bit of light. The writing was long, detailed and hard.
Nate: I would like to make more Good Saint Nathanael records.
Nate: The sounds you are referring to were provided by a talented collection of my friends. Since I'm not a noise artist, I sought help from friends with those particular talents to help fill in the sparseness under the songs. I sent each collaborator a track and asked them to add sonic accompaniment as they were inspired. I learned that Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys mostly coached others instead of playing all the parts on his albums so I tried a similar but maybe looser approach. On Hide No Truth, my main role was that of a singer-songwriter chasing the vision in his heart, which I would call producing. I wanted to make a quiet, stripped-down record that allowed the songs to be the focus while also remaining interesting. I think we accomplished that.
Nate: I'm sorry. I've been there. I'm not sure what is more detrimental. Judgement and neglect are forms of abuse from my perspective. I have found doubt to be a natural conclusion when a person is displaced from a community. Judgment & neglect are forces of displacement.
I think of it this way: If an environment is toxic enough, a person will pull away. At first, this will happen emotionally, spiritually and then maybe physically. These are actually the results of self-protections we all are wired with. These keep us alive, but eventually, it's not good to live in a state of reaction or be stuck in the fight or flight of escapism.
I often like to switch the context when I talk about church wounding. Instead of the faith experience, let's picture a family.
When we are younger and less-aware, we seem to have a higher tolerance for dysfunctional environments (which is a good thing because even an OK or moderately dysfunctional parental situation is better than no home at all!). But once we are able to stand on our own, it would seem we start to notice the atmosphere around us. We point out the bad things. Maybe we fight. Hopefully, we rebel - at least a little. The natural progression is to try and figure out who we are apart from our parents or the structures that have formed us. A teenager needs to learn independence and a person hurt by the church needs to voice their pain. It's the way we have been wired to move forward in life.
That being said, it's really easy, as you're processing your wounding, to just hang out with other hurting people. I would advise a person in this protest or healing season to not burn all their bridges. You would be surprised at what parts of your past you learn to later value. Keep trusted friends who aren't in the middle of their deconstruction process. Talk to a therapist and older people. Remember to breathe and take care of yourself. Every person is deserving of the dignity of self-care and time to heal. It does get better.
One reason I still have faith is I didn't let go and pull completely away from people who cared for me. My wife and I still attended church. This was not a perfect, comfortable place, but a safe-enough environment to support us in our process. I did step back from leadership and active service - which I would recommend to anyone facing burnout or deep internal crisis. Depending on the complexity of your story, or maybe your geographic locale, regularly attending a service might not be the right step for you. But if you want to keep your faith, some sort of support is very helpful. We aren't designed to go through life or heal ourselves alone.
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