The 100 is a series of posts predominantly about people who have caused my success. It was inspired by Jim Collins. For more about The 100, click here.
I’m not sure when I became aware of Henry Rollins. It was some point during my teens. I was familiar with him due to my musical tastes of the time. A few of the groups I liked at the time, most notably Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, would refer to Black Flag as being influential with their music. (Rollins was the lead singer of Black Flag during the early 80’s.)
Rollins is an artist. Musician. Writer. Spoken word performer. Actor. Journalist. Publisher. And more.
I was staying home from school one day, and watching tv like usual. I tuned into (I believe…) Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, and saw Rollins was one of the guests. I watched, and was drawn in by his thoughtful and different perspective with the topics, the passion which he shared, and just his overall presentation of himself. He knew who he was, knew what he was going to say, was committed to both of those things, and wasn’t going to soften any of himself or his positions just to make you feel comfortable. If his opinion made you uncomfortable, so be it. If who he was intimidated you, he wasn’t going to back down. He was raw. He was intensity. I liked it.
While I listened to some of his music, I started listening to more of his spoken word albums. It is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not necessarily something I’d recommend to people. (I once made this mistake.) It may be surprising to some, but when I was a missionary I would often listen to his work. I was on the road a lot, and his tour journals from his Black Flag days would encourage me. He would talk about the grind of touring, and the conflicts he would have to deal with on the road. Some of the hardest ministry I’ve ever done was when I was on tour. From June of 1997 through the end of 1998, I was on the road performing and sharing. I don’t know how many times I listened to Get In The Van, but it helped me as I dealt with the idiocy and stupidity that is cloaked in faux-Christianity.
I saw an original who could express himself in a variety of ways. Rollins is one of the two key individuals responsible for me delving into writing, and exploring my voice. He is one of the reasons I have journals from my missionary days. Stacks of composition books, spoken word audio tapes, and numerous word files*, that document my growth and struggle with faith and life. His do-it-yourself ethic was also influential as I looked for new ways to communicate with those that followed my missionary days.
*For example, I have a 300 page Word document from September 28, 1997 through December 31, 1998.
How I have lived my life has sometimes offended/challenged/perplexed other Christians. As some have told me later, or I have heard secondhand, I’ve intimidated people because I know who I am, know what I believe and like, and won’t kowtow to pseudo Christianity culture and traditions. Some friends would find that funny who know me. I find it funny. Still, my wife reminds me of this consistently. They can thank Rollins to some degree for that.
What does Rollins believe? Not what I believe. It’s frustrating to see artists I’ve enjoyed share their bad experiences with Christianity, but it fuels me to be more like Jesus.
I don’t follow Rollins as much as I used to, but I haven’t forgotten the influence he has had on my life.