Music Rising from the Ruins of Mars Hill: Listening Closer to Dustin Kensrue

Dustin_Kensrue_-_Carry_The_Fire“If you know anything about the story of Mars Hill [Church in Seattle],” says Bryan, “if you know the story of the downfall and disintegration of Mars Hill Church, the story of [the pastor’s] resignation, and the relationship between him and Dustin, then you’ll know what Dustin is singing about when you listen to ‘Gallows.’”

We listen.

And, frankly, even if I hadn’t heard testimonies of hurt and betrayal and loss from so many who experienced Mars Hill’s disintegration, I would sense that this is not a generic, all-purpose song about pride. It’s a song written with a real human being in mind.

Check out my latest edition of Listening Closer over at Christ and Pop Culture, and you can read all about my road-trip listening adventure with Bryan Zug, as we attended to new music by former Mars Hill worship leader and Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue. It was an eye-opening — or, better, an ear-opening — experience.

This edition is actually Part Two of a two-part reflections on the power of particularity in songwriting. You can read last week’s installment, Part One, which focused on new music by Josh Garrels, here.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Don't you hate these ugly click-bait ads? Visit for a bigger, better, ad-free version of Jeffrey Overstreet's blog. Jeffrey Overstreet is the senior film critic for Christianity Today, the author of Through a Screen Darkly and Auralia's Colors, and he teaches writing and film at Seattle Pacific University, Houston Baptist University, and Northwest University.