More examples of the increasing tendency toward spiritual longing in today's mainstream music—including Daniel Bedingfield, Ben Harper, and popular hits from Train and Live.

We live in strange musical times. In 1984, pop icon Madonna gleefully declared that she was a "Material Girl" living in a material world. Now almost 20 years later, the Material Girl is decrying greed and pleading for family values on her American Life album.

For most artists, songwriting represents a process of personal growth. Albums offer snapshots of an artist's life: emotionally, socially, and spiritually. The Glimpses of God series was created to call attention to specific examples of mainstream artists exploring subjects of faith. Some are professing Christians approaching their craft outside the gospel music community; others are non-believers searching for answers. All are artists you can pray for and albums you can use as common ground with a non-Christian friend.

Volume 3 of Glimpses presents four examples of acclaimed artists who incorporate Christian themes—intentionally or not—into their songwriting.

Train
My Private Nation
(Columbia)
Classic pop/rock "I need a sign to let me know you're here/'Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear/I want a reason for the way things have to be/I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me" — from "Calling All Angels"

For Train founder Patrick Monahan, the rock star lifestyle initially included drug and alcohol abuse. With role models such as Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and The Beatles, the aspiring artist assumed such vices were necessary to inspire creativity. After years of struggles and frustrations, Monahan eventually changed his way of thinking. He cleaned up his act and left his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania for San Francisco, where he formed the Grammy Award-winning rock band Train, best known for their smash hit "Drops of Jupiter."

How things have changed since those wild days of youth. Compared to most pop/rock bands, Train is downright wholesome, espousing themes of commitment and family values along with the typical subjects of romance and life struggles. "I'm a 34-year-old guy," Monahan said in an interview with Cleveland.com. "I'm not an 18-year-old kid playing punk rock, drinking booze and smoking weed every night. I already did that. That's not what I want in my life. I want to be a great friend, husband and dad."

Such sentiments crop up in many of Train's songs, often autobiographical for Monahan. "I'm About to Come Alive," from My Private Nation , is a heartfelt outpouring of a man determined to live out his obligations as a loving father and husband. But even more intriguing is Train's willingness to explore matters of faith. The band's mainstream hit, "Calling All Angels" (excerpted above) is a response to tragedy and a fallen world, likely inspired in part by the events of 9/11. A song of faith and hope, it can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Monahan told Cleveland.com he didn't envision angels in a biblical sense, but as a call to action for all of us to practice more random acts of kindness to one another. Either perspective fits in with a Christian worldview.

When Monahan sings "I need a sign," it's less an expression of doubt than it is a plea for reassurance-similar to Styx's 1990 inspirational hit "Show Me the Way." The line "I won't give up, if you don't give up" may simply be intended to encourage peace among the nations, but it might also be viewed as a pledge to a merciful and patient God. Regardless of the multiple takes, there's little question the song is ultimately directed to God. The video even shows the band treading a bleak wasteland with the heavens eventually opening to shower the world with light.