Squint Entertainment's new acoustic/rock/worship band, {{Waterdeep}}, is anything but a newcomer to the Christian music scene. With a history that dates back nearly a decade, and includes sales in excess of 40,000 units of their 4 to 6 indie projects sold (depending on which incarnations of the band you wish to include), it is obvious that {{Waterdeep}} connects with their dedicated ,and rapidly expanding, audience on a very basic level. Composed of drummer Brandon Graves and his wife, Christena (keyboards), Kenny Carter on bass, frontman Don Chaffer, and his wife Lori who doubles on guitar and vocals, the band delivers intensely personal live performances. But what drives the live performance? Great songs.

Click to hear a clip from "He Will Come"

Don and Lori Chaffer, the husband and wife team responsible for the majority of the band's songwriting, took time out of their busy tour schedule to share their secret formula for crafting a song.
Inspiration + Passion = Creation.

"I realized yesterday that it has been a long time since I have written a song," Lori confesses while munching on fresh veggies between the sound check and concert. "I can't write unless I have a good chunk of time to unwind, and when we are on the road it is just hard to find the time."

Click to hear a clip from "Sweet River Roll"

"The road is a hard thing," Don agrees. "But at the same the show itself is a creative endeavor. We do a lot of improvisational stuff, particularly during the worship portion. But the truth is that I write from what I call 'dire inspiration.' In other words, I write when I am inspired, emotionally moved, to write. As opposed to people who turn the TV on, turn down the volume and just write along to the images. I've never done that."

While Don says his inspiration grows out of life experience, Lori finds her muse in the media: television; the nightly news; magazines; contemporary culture. "People in media," she clarifies, "mainly because they are in front of people. It's not like I want to read gossipy things," she adds. "I try to stay away from that kind of media. But when you read about people in different situations, it just magnifies what everybody in our culture is going through."

"There are these little openings in the clouds, where honesty sneaks out," she says. "Little passing phrases that indicate the depths of trauma or grief, or enthusiasm or passion that a certain person has about a given situation. It is when that person keys in on a topic that is evocative or compelling that the inspiration starts."

Click to hear a clip from "Whenever God Shines His Light"

Rather than the personalities involved, Don says he finds the media itself intriguing, filled with symbolic significance; a microcosm of cultural soul-searching.

"I recently read a good portion of a college magazine," he relates. "It fascinated me - the topics they covered, the way they wrote, their moral stances, the things that were hip, and the things that weren't. And it begs the question, 'how much of the writer's bias am I getting? How much of the editor's bias?' The reality is, all media is ultimately someone's opinion, but their opinions are about topics that they think are important, that have symbolic significance, that are tied to reality. For us, it is really a matter of seeing it through the glasses of someone who has had their own life redeemed. It is a matter of recognizing where those things, even the terrible things, even the dangerous things, fit into the redemptive story. I think that is the best way to explain how these things inspire us."

Few would argue with the Chaffers on the need for inspiration. It's the "passion" part of the equation that tends to raise a few eyebrows in the Christian community. Passion is not a word that Christians are comfortable with, Don says. Indeed, he would argue that Christians are deathly afraid of it.

"I think we are so afraid that, 'if I am passionate, then I will sin,'" he explains. "But the reality is that whether or not you are passionate, you are going to sin. In fact, the attempt to strap that passion down on the operating table and remove it like a cancer from your breast - that's what the Pharisees did. Because passion was suspect. It was responsible for sin. It was 'as rottenness to the bone.' But I think that scripture was talking about having a 'skeleton,' a foundation of passion. Your 'skeleton' has to be your identity in the Lord."

While Don doesn't advocate living on a "roaring sea of passion," he does believe that, as redeemed people, our passions are much purer than we think. The key, he says, is learning to channel that passion into the pursuit of God. And when passion meets inspiration, creation occurs, and that is when we are most like God.

"I think because we were created in His image, God gave us the ability to create," Lori explains. "And He gave us that gift so that we can communicate, so that we can have community with other people. That is why I believe so strongly in getting the church back into the arts."

Click to hear a clip from "I'm Still Here"

"And I don't think the church needs a lot of convincing," Don adds. "Because the arts bring a sense of worship to the Body of Christ. Every human being is made with both rational and intuitive aspects. But with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the whole idea of 'I just have a hunch,' is completely out the window. What the arts do is bring back that intuitive thing. I think that faith, ultimately, is the highest expression of intuitive, or poetic, knowledge. And if we don't have both the rational and the intuitive sides functioning, then we are going to get skewed people and diseased thinking. I think it was Kirkegaard who said, 'Leave science for the world of plants and animals. For if you apply scientific thinking to the human soul, it is nothing short of blasphemy.'"

Lori is a little less analytical. "I just know that for myself, I have been moved by the arts. And I think we have cut off a lot of our ability to worship God because we have cut off that creativity."

While extolling the virtues of the arts, as both a gift from God and as an act of worship toward God, Lori is also cognizant the potential dangers inherent in such a passionate enterprise.

Click to hear a clip from "Everyone's Beautiful"

"The hard thing about art is that it evokes so much emotion," she says. "And some people who are very depraved create art that can actually make you feel sick. It's hard to deal with. It forces you to grapple with the issues of, 'What does God think of this?' and 'How does God see these people?' Rather than spending most of your time judging the artist, perhaps we should spend more of our time trying to hear God, and asking Him, 'Why do I feel this bad when I see this? Tell me what the truth is, so I can separate the truth from lies.' I know there have been times when I have seen or heard art, and I have been grieved for the artist. And God has used that in my life to start interceding for them."

{{Waterdeep}}'s major label debut, ==Everyone's Beautiful==, is inspirational, passionate, and creative. It qualifies as an aural work of art.

Please let us know your thoughts on
how we can get the arts
back into the church - in our
CHURCH/ARTS FORUM