Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Book Review: Save Me From Myself by Brian Welch.

Brian Welch's Save Me From Myself is not a typical celebrity conversion story.

Unfortunately, many celebrity conversion tales seem like marketing gimmicks. They either seem designed to wring a few dollars out of a fading celebrity or to "go Christian" to enhance marketability without any downside.

By contrast, Welch lost everything to "get saved." And he gained everything. This raw, emotional book records this dual-directional transformation.

Lead guitarist for one of the world's biggest hard-rock bands, Korn, Welch converted to Christianity and quit the group in 2005--probably at the peak of its powers. He literally left millions of dollars on the table. He even told his lawyers to drop an "audit" into his partnership share. And he walked away. I can't identify a single modern person who rejected so much fame and fortune to follow Christ. If you can, please enlighten me in the comments.

What did Welch gain? As the title implies, everything--it saved his life. Welch could not pull himself out of the death spiral his life had become. Powerless on his own to stop the drug addiction, depression, avarice and anger wrecking his life, he turned (back) to God. An emotional man, Welch said he felt God's "liquid love" enveloping him and overpowering his life's pathologies.

Second, as a single dad, it restored his relationship with his young daughter, who was five at the time. Welch stopped the touring and actively engaged in her life.

Mercifully eschewing triumphalism, Welch also records the struggles of his nascent faith. He doesn't gloss over his troubles and even describes some doctrinal confusion, such as how to deal with speaking in tongues. In that regard, Welch seems to embrace a "signs and wonders" brand of Christianity, where he records what God has literally spoken to him, spiritual dreams and their interpretations, demonic conflicts and prophetic words.

Nevertheless, Welch's earnestness comes off the pages. Welch yearns for an authentic, active faith, and he has seemingly dedicated himself to its practice. Shortly after his conversion, he went to Israel and was baptized in the Jordan River. He has studied the Bible voraciously even though he admits he couldn't understand much of it--at least at first. He was mentored by pastors and other mature believers. He made amends to those he wronged and those who wronged him. He went to India and established an orphanage. He has donated sizable amounts to churches and charities. In so doing, he said he freed himself from dependence on money and established dependence on God.

Interestingly, a secular publisher published this conversion book. Its intended audience accordingly is probably not Christians. There are contextual uses of profanity that might surprise. Some of the touring stories, while not sensationalized, might offend some. If anything, these anecdotes deglamorized the rocker lifestyle, and he didn't dwell on them. I suspect he judiciously edited many out.

Admittedly not a writer, Welch concedes his only prior experience with writing was school papers to get his teachers and parents off his case. (Yes, Welch hailed from an intact family.) Nevertheless, the text's basic style lends to its credibility, authenticity and readability.

Welch has penned a remarkably intriguing book. Save Me From Myself's lack of convention and contrivance makes it a potent combination for believers and unbelievers alike.

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