"I don't need no one to tell me about heaven/I look at my daughter and I believe/I don't need no proof when it comes to God and truth/I can see the sunset and I perceive"
— from "Heaven"

In a sense, Live is to mainstream music what The Matrix is to the movie industry. Like the films, Live combines loud bombast with striking beauty. The band also boasts big–budget polish and production, due especially to the mixing talents of the great knob–twirler Tom Lord–Alge. Most analogous of all, Live presents a hodgepodge of spiritual beliefs like The Matrix films, with songs that explore Christian themes from time to time.

Together for more than 15 years, Live's quest for faith and truth is fascinating. Though lead singer and lyricist Ed Kowalczyk apparently grew up in a Christian home, he came to resent the religion in the years leading to the formation of Live. With the band's 1991 debut Mental Jewelry, based on the writings of Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, Kowalczyk–who had apparently embraced Eastern religion–blasted Christianity in the song, "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)."

Rejecting Christianity would not prove permanent, however. The band's 1994 breakthrough sophomore effort, Throwing Copper, marked a seemingly reluctant return to Christian imagery, though offering a few mixed messages in the process–the cover art is an indictment of Christians too pious to show love and compassion. Not until Live's fourth album, 1999's The Distance to Here, was there a seemingly dramatic turnaround in Kowalczyk's beliefs. "Where Fishes Go" is a solid illustration of evangelism, "Run to the Water" a powerful testament of grace and renewal, and "Dance with You" is virtually a prayer of thanks and surrender. Such themes continued to a lesser extent into Live's fifth effort, 2001's V, with such faith–based songs as "Hero of Love" and "Call Me a Fool."

Live's latest, Birds of Pray, isn't quite as faith–focused as the title might imply, but there are some interesting glimpses of faith. "Heaven," excerpted above, is the album's first single and was inspired by the birth of Kowalczyk's daughter. Though some may react to such sentiments as New Age treacle, the additional lyrics suggest a faith strengthened by the evidence of God in creation. In the idealistic (and rather confusing) "The Sanctity of Dreams," Kowalczyk may be hinting at the miracle of Christ's resurrection: "I dream of love and of the empty graveyard." On "What Are We Fighting For?" he uses Christian imagery to decry war: "The crucifix ain't no baseball bat/Tell me what kind of God is that?/Ain't nothing more godless than a war/So what are we fighting for?"

Sensitive listeners beware: Live uses several profanities on each of their albums. They also regularly return to a theme of sexuality—sometimes treated crudely, sometimes with reverence. Birds of Pray may not offer nearly as much spiritual nourishment as The Distance to Here, but if you're looking for songs addressing issues of faith, this is a band to pay attention to. Live's inclination toward exploring spiritual themes has consistently earned them comparisons to U2. It will be interesting to see if their spiritual journey leads them to a point of fully embracing and clearly communicating the gospel.

Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here.