Tag Archives: Spirituality

God, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll

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Abstract Art, Dubai

Abstract Art, Dubai (Photo credit: Virtual BCM-Bobb & Company Marketing)

I had taken a dose of LSD that he couldn’t handle in the Summer of 1998.  The effects of the LSD went completely haywire.  I was in a dark fantasy world of which  had no control, nor escape. The people I saw contorted into minions…  the very air I breathed seemed to be filled with acidic poison.  The back of my brain felt like it was melting off of my head.  I didn’t know then that LSD physically made my brain hemorrhage.  I only felt completely out of control.  I remembered reading of Mephistopheles in the legend of Faust.  Had I been overcome by some dark angel like him?  Would I ever make it out of this state of mind, or was I doomed to wear a straightjacket in a little white room for the rest of my life?

The profound, dark thoughts seemed to overcome my mind like a swarm of wasps…  

A year before, I was smoking weed every day and getting drunk on weekends.  Two years before I was dabbling with pot and alcohol.  Three years before it was just cigarettes and an occasional shot of alcohol.  All that to say, what started as a mildly mischievous juvenile pursuit, had turned into an obvious problem.

There were reasons why I did the things I did, and reasons why I shouldn’t have done them.

Analogously, there are reasons why we all do the things we do.  Some of them are justified, and some are selfish.  We’re all products of the nature and nurture that we’ve been handed.  In one sense we’re all victims, and yet in another sense we’re all completely responsible for our actions.  Jerry Cantrell wrote words in song to his bandmate, Layne Staley in the song “No Excuses” in 1994;

Everyday
Something hits me all so cold
Find me sitting by myself
No excuses that I know

Every addict finds themselves sitting alone with no excuses left at some point in their addiction… usually numerous times. Layne Staley died from a mixture of heroin and cocaine…  Laboratory results determined the singer died April 5, 2002, according to a spokesperson for the King County medical examiner’s office, the same day fellow grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. Staley was found dead two weeks later, surrounded by intravenous drug paraphernalia in his Seattle apartment.  The death certificate reads Staley’s death resulted from “an acute intoxication due to the combined effects of opiate (heroin) and cocaine.” The death was classified as “accidental.” (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1453818/staley-died-from-mix-heroin-cocaine.jhtml)

I was and am not a famous musician like Staley, though I’ve had delusions of grandeur wishing I would be, and my story did not end like Staley’s, or so many other forgotten phantoms who never got national publicity for their overdose.  (In 2010, there were 25 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. (www.popsci.com))  My story of addiction ended with redemption.  My story ended with a life completely enraptured with the presence, sacrifice, and teachings of Jesus Christ.  It hasn’t made life easier, or like some Ned Flanders, cornucopian, utopian day-dream.  But it has made it clearer and more beautiful.

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Eccl.  1:14)

But we must ask the question…  are drugs a channel for spirituality?  A lot of people would hear this question and easily dismiss it- of course drugs aren’t “spiritual”!  Other people would go to the other extreme and say “they are the only channel into the spiritual!”  The fact is, drugs are spiritual.  The real quandary is whether or not the spirituality they induce has a positive or negative effect.  Do they uncover an insidious darkness or a utopian dream-world?  Are they gateways into true consciousness and the other unused ninety-percent of our brains, or are they toxic poisons that cause irreparable damage to our sanity and physical health?

I was raised by parents who were basically agnostic, and they encouraged me all of my life to expand my horizons and search for enlightened creativity, individual expression, and freedom.

Much like my Father, whose spiritual search led him down a road of using drugs and playing in the Cleveland rock and roll scene of the 1970’s.  I spent a lot of my youth listening to the BeatlesPink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and played music.  I began to believe that experimenting with drugs would lead me to a higher plane of enlightenment, and give me greater creativity.  I was writing songs at the age of 12, and began using drugs at the age of 14.  I really did approach using them on a spiritual level, and felt that somehow they would give me a greater connection to the mystical.

But in the story that will follow, we will see how that journey ended up hitting some very serious dead-ends, and eventually I was at the end of my rope, and miraculously stumbled into a real, vibrant relationship with God that changed my life completely.

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Denoument

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English: Jesus Christ

English: Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I sit now, writing this last excerpt on my thirty-second birthday, July 20th, 2013, thirteen years removed from that climactic moment when the Lord of the Universe made Himself known to me as I made myself known to Him.  I’ve been married for what will be nine years this August to an amazing, talented, wonderful girl named Sarah.  We love each other more each day, even through the trials that we face in life.  We have an amazing firecracker of a daughter named Charlotte, who just turned one year old on July 12th.  I have been officially off of drugs for twelve years, if you count a little relapse I had in the summer of 2001.  I have actually never even been legally drunk, because the last time was at the age of twenty.  If you want to see my spiritual story in a nutshell, check out http://benjaminbradfordwhite.wordpress.com/about/.  There you’ll also find other blogs that I write specifically about topics centered on Jesus which also deal with culture, philosophy and other such things.  Obviously you’ll see that it wasn’t a candy-coated journey after my initial “conversion”, because I had so much more to work out and understand.

And I could say the same now and forever.  I haven’t figured God out completely, nor will I ever until eternity arrives in its fullness.  But He has brought me joy that sustains itself through darkness and happiness.  He has given me a hope and meaning that carries me.  It makes me the husband and father I had always dreamed to me, and makes all the negative temporary “highs” that happen in this life, whether from money, kicks, substances, feelings, recognition, power or control, revealed for what they really are- worthless.  The only thing that is of any value is what He has given us, and He has truly given us so much on this earth to be joyful about- like good music, married sex, coffee, and sunrises to name a few.  His power at work in me has truly produced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in me that isn’t a fabricated, plastic, Ned Flanders phony façade.  They’re rather genuine virtues that have unveiled themselves through suffering and being molded by His power to move my character away from itself and towards His (John 15:1-17).  And like I said, I have so much further to go- in all of these areas.  But I know this one thing for sure, that I can’t wait until I am given a new body that doesn’t desire to destroy, devolve and devour, or as the Bible would describe it, sin (1 Cor. 15).  I know that Jesus will one day return and establish a perfect Kingdom.  I long for this beauty and perfection to be known, and desire to live a life of love and service to His people and all people until it does.

And potentially the greatest freedom of all is knowing that I no longer need to numb myself with drugs or other things to avoid reality.  I have found that the Bible actually explains reality as it is, and though I know I’m viewed as being insane for believing it and embracing it, I have actually found a greater clarity, peace, and love for everyone I encounter because of it.

I love the words of Paul.  He was a man who was once such a religious whacko that he went around trying to murder early followers of Jesus.  He thought they were blasphemers and polluters of the ritualistic Judaism that he thought he perfectly kept.  Jesus got a hold of him, and he became a man who was willing to suffer, be beaten, and driven out of town for his love for Jesus.  I’m not Paul, but I relate somewhat to what he was saying, and I think in most ways he was a normal human being like all of us, not some super saint.  These words prove that.  I’ll end the story with them:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17)