Eavesdropping: Waco’s Cachinnator And Me Part 1

The Cachinnator, aka Scott Baker, runs the Hippodrome Theatre in Waco, Texas where I’ll be performing in a couple weeks.  Between now and then he’ll be interviewing me via Yahoo Messenger about whatever strikes his fancy – so far why I’m coming to Waco and what my life there as a student from ‘94-’97 was like.

We talked before the interview began, a couple days ago, about my experiences at Baylor University in Waco: playing at University Baptist Church with David Crowder (now a rock star/worship leader/hair growing machine), learning from and working with Louie Giglio (now a famed speaker and founder of One Day events and the Passion CDs), playing Hootie songs at church, and working at the Methodist Childrens Home.

Then we sat down this morning for the first part of our “interview.” I took a break from mowing the yard to sit on my couch, sip some Dr. Pepper (caffeine free) and talk.  Here’s what was said:

thecachinnator [offline 9:36:56 AM]: Good morning, Shaun!

shlogdotcom [9:57:25 AM]: Sorry I’m late.

thecachinnator [9:58:11 AM]: Don’t worry about it!  I imagine my mornings are a bit easier to predict than yours.  I only have puppies to worry about.

shlogdotcom [9:58:12 AM]: I was mowing the yard and caught up in the existential pleasure that can be…yea right

shlogdotcom [9:58:33 AM]: Puppies are just kids with fur…and worse smelling poop

shlogdotcom [9:58:41 AM]: Fire away

thecachinnator [9:59:54 AM]: Yessssss…. well, I have a lot of the background information covered, so let’s jut gloss over a bit of it before digging in, shall we?

shlogdotcom [10:00:17 AM]: Alrighty then

thecachinnator [10:02:39 AM]: Now, this may sound like a strange statement, but your roots in Waco may be the kind of thing that people look back to as the start of something much bigger than it seems.  Giglio, Crowder, UBC, Hootie…, well maybe not that last one…, I mean, each individual thing has grown beyond its roots into a different and viable ministry of its own rights.  Am I off?

shlogdotcom [10:10:24 AM]: No, you’re not off at all.  Giglio taught me what “worship” was – a response to God and not only a song.  I’ve built on that and tried to weave my growing understanding of this in-fashion word “worship” into my music and teaching at ikon.  Crowder’s music early on (and today to a lesser degree) was unlike any other congregational music out there – that I’d heard anyway.  Now Christian music is bit more progressive.  When I was in school Crowder was the most progressive church music I’d ever heard.  And this inspired me, along with early Jars of Clay stuff, to write well with less regard for making music like everyone is making.  He’s an excellent musician that Crowder, who I’m sure has inspired lots of other people in the same way.  I hope I’ve followed through with making music that leans away from the crowd fearlessly at times.  UBC taught me that passion is not enough – we need multiple generations working together.  No one model has all the answers.  We need the entire Church, all generations, to inform what we do and how we see and communicate God.  We learned that the hard way together and I’d like to think I’ve carried this awareness that we need each other into what I do today.  Hootie?  Well, playing Hootie songs definitely taught me that fame is fleeting – it’s a vapor – and cool is a meaningless shape-shifting word that isn’t worth chasing.  What one generation of college students calls cool and makes famous will be called crap and made fun of by the next….

shlogdotcom [10:12:42 AM]: But the Childrens Home changed me most.  And I still take those kids’ faces with me on stage every night.  The hope is that somehow someone in the crowd every night will be dragged kicking and screaming past religion and into a life of mercy showing.  And the hope is…

shlogdotcom [10:15:22 AM]: that they’ll like it there, want to stay, want to bring others with them, and that the kicking and screaming will turn into the kind of satisfaction I’ve expereinced there.  I don’t have selfless living down yet – probably never will – but what I’ve tasted of it, starting back at the Childrens Home in Waco, I’d really like to bring with me wherever I sing or teach.

shlogdotcom [10:15:34 AM]: I’m done rambling now

thecachinnator [10:18:49 AM]: Yes, the Children’s Home.  This is an interesting highlight for you to mention.  Not because it seems unlike you or anything, but simply because as a professional musician, one might expect that Giglio, Crowder, or heck, even Hootie, might have had a stronger influence on you.  And yet, what you seem to be saying is that at its heart, “Christian” music needs to come from a deeper place than the right chords and the right beats.  What I mean is that to be the kind of spiritual and worshipful leader that you need to be to fight through ‘real’ ministry, you have to be connected to something so beyond yourself that you can truly be the conduit through which God works.  These are the kinds of things I hear when I hear you talk about the Methodist Children’s Home.

thecachinnator [10:20:59 AM]: Am I putting words in your mouth?  Or is it accurate to say that the kind of change that you experienced while serving those who could never offer anything in return, who aren’t likely album-buyers, and who desperately, desperately need your offering and your presence more than anything else in the world is the kind of experience that leaves you with few other options than a life that is never again content to skim the surface?

shlogdotcom [10:21:21 AM]: I wouldn’t be able to put it so poetically – “conduit” and all – but, yes, I guess that’s what I’m realizing the older I get, the more ground covered.  I can look back now on my life and see that so much of what has left me better than I was came from unlikely places…

shlogdotcom [10:21:33 AM]: The Childrens Home is a great example of that…

shlogdotcom [10:24:38 AM]: I went there because I saw a flyer in the Baptist Student Center at Baylor saying they needed a worship leader – a music guy.  I thought it paid so I applied, eager to escape hotdog hell at Sam’s Wholesale.  It didn’t pay but I was too spineless to quit.  So I stayed.  And I went from being a keyboard player supporting the music director to being the music director and finally to teaching.  By then I was getting paid but I was staying for entirely different reasons.  Finding those kids was very much like finding my wife – they made me better.  I liked who i was and what God did through me when I was with them.

thecachinnator [10:25:45 AM]: So the MCH was overrun with volunteers from Baylor right?  All eager to be serve and be forever changed by living out the Gospel?

shlogdotcom [10:30:49 AM]: Well, that’s where cynicism blind sided me.  I spent a good part of middle school and high school angry at God and God’s people for not taking care of me and my family when we wondered how we were going to eat and keep the lights on.  I just got over all that and “grew up” enough to believe God and trust church folks and – BAM!! – the Childrens Home came into my life.  Two things hit me suddenly: In all my years griping about not being helped by God or God’s people I had done NOTHING myself for people who needed my help – and the Childrens home was the first time I had personally invested hours and talent in someone who could give me nothing in return.  Secondly, I realized that Baylor – at the time – was as apathetic and self-centered as I had previously been.  but instead of cutting fellow students some slack and saying to myself, “Hey, you were that way once and hey, buddy, you’re still not through growing up yourself, you know” –

shlogdotcom [10:31:17 AM]: well, instead of being understanding and merciful and seeing myself in their apathy I got ticked…really , really ticked…

shlogdotcom [10:33:28 AM]: See, I was starting a non-Greek Sing thing – sort of like the Sing Alliance a guy started a few years after me.  I want students who were talented but not rich enough to be Greeks to come together and put on a killer sing act.  So I had flyers all over campus asking people to join me in a Sing act AND, at the same time, I had flyers up asking people to read to kids at the MCH, play ball with them, sit in a pew by them at our services, volunteer just a few hours every week…

shlogdotcom [10:34:46 AM]: I got ZERO calls about helping at the MCH and almost a hundred about Sing.  I didn’t know how to handle that so I got angry.  I didn’t do a Sing act and I stopped asking Baylor students for help at the MCH.  That’s one of my biggest regrets in life.  I gave up on them when God didn’t give up on me – when I was apathetic.

shlogdotcom [10:36:00 AM]: In a way, coming back to Baylor soon is a second chance for me.  It’s another flyer for another generation.

thecachinnator [10:39:05 AM]: Well this seems like a great place to wrap the first part of this interview.  I dare say that you won’t be alone among Baylor grads and students who have experienced similar frustration.  But what should our response be?  While our responses may be far less than perfect, it doesn’t diminish a real and honest problem.  So how do we react?  And what are the biggest challenges facing Baylor and young Christians there today?  Let’s talk about these things in a few days!

shlogdotcom [10:39:47 AM]: See you then.

So there’s part one of our conversation.  More to come.

I’ll be in Waco, Texas on April 24th.  I’ll be in Baylor University’s chapel service at 10AM and at Scott’s Hippdrome Theatre downtown at 7PM.  I may hit some music or religion classes during the day too.  Tickets to the Hippodrome Show are $10.  Call 254.752.7745 for more info.