Jars of Clay’s name was inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:7: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Band members Dan Haseltine (vocals), Charlie Lowell (keys), Stephen Mason (lead guitar) and Matthew Odmark (rhythm guitar) have been together for 20 years after meeting at Greenville College in Illinois.
“The first time we wrote those songs in college, as idealistic as we were, we wanted to make a seat at the table available to everyone—all walks of life, all faiths, no faith,” Mason said in a recent interview with the Daily Times of Maryville, TN. “We’re trying to say there’s room for everyone, and frankly the work we’re trying to accomplish within our songs is about asking better questions of our lives and relationships.
“Our faith certainly plays into that, but that’s not part of an agenda, hidden or otherwise, that we have in the music. If we have an agenda, it’s to be honest as songwriters, to tell a true story of who we are, and invite others to respond and to engage with us in that conversation,” he told the newspaper.
After 5 million albums sold and three Grammys, the conversation about faith continues.
Pope Francis became part of the rock band’s conversation in April 2013 when he referred to the frailty of humans. “We are all jars of clay, fragile and poor, yet we carry within us an immense treasure,” wrote the pope, who has 7.2 million followers on Twitter.
The group posted a picture of the pope on its Facebook page, which has more than 500,000 likes. The pope’s words, and the band’s name, set off a wide-ranging conversation about religion and living a Christian life.
“I think the older I get, the more I am interested by the common tones and the common chords within all of our stories, regardless of our faith and where we’re coming from.” Mason told examiner.com. “I think that’s the essence of good art. It tells a story that everyone can relate to, and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that or to apologize for in that.”
“I think there are just some people who feel like their life’s calling is to convert people. And that’s cool if that’s what they think. I’m not here to judge anyone else. I just know that for us, we want to make great art that asks honest questions, do it well and do it in a compelling way that draws people into the conversation. We believe that there’s room at the table for everyone, regardless of where they’re coming from, and that’s the essence of true community. Maybe I’m an idealist to think that’s possible.”