Stuart Murdoch Has Experienced Faith
Stuart Murdoch with his latest album with Belle & Sebastian, A Bit of Previous, has got people talking about his complicated relationship with Christianity, Buddhism and faith.
Stuart was born in 1968 in Ayr, a small town on the southwest coast of Scotland, but moved to Glasgow and grew up there. He took piano lessons and by age 12 was in a band, though his first time getting into the public eye was as a radio DJ for Subcity Radio at the University of Glasgow. By 1989 he started to experience a severe drop in physical energy, so much so that it led to his dropping out of college and prevented his ability to work. He moved back in with his family and struggled for a diagnosis and cure for his condition. After over a year spent going from one doctor to the next, it was his mother, a nurse, who suspected chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Though it was confirmed it would be years before Stuart would work again.
After six months spent with another doctor while battling CFS with alternative therapies the doctor, hopeful at the outset, said there was nothing else he could do for Stuart.
Shaken, Stuart went to see a Christian healer. He described the experience in an interview: “She was the opposite of the other medical person that I told you about. She promised nothing, but actually gave a lot. And she charged nothing, but gave a lot…I wouldn’t describe myself fully as a Christian at that point…She did her energy stuff…Almost like ‘hands-on-healing,’ except she would have her hands above me…She was obviously praying or focusing, and I would be thinking the same thing. And it was a powerful experience. And it wasn’t until a few weeks afterwards that something broke and I felt that the healer had been part of the catalyst. Now even if all this stuff was only going on in my mind, you can see how something like that could be a catalyst.” Later he began attending services at a Christian church, and in his words, “it just felt like you were coming home.”
Before recovering from CFS, Stuart began writing songs that he would later record as part of the indie band Belle & Sebastian. Since their first album in 1996, Belle & Sebastian have released 11 studio albums and five made it into the top 10 album charts in the UK. The latest, A Bit of Previous, refers to past lives, infinite rebirth, universal compassion and impermanence. While Stuart is a Christian and goes to God for refuge, he has been studying Buddhism for the past eight years, practicing meditation and even leading others in meditation through online classes.
Stuart said his writing starts with how he is feeling, then he looks at what is happening to other people. “Sometimes things are happening to you, they’re quite small compared to the things that are happening to other people. People are dying, people are being tortured, people are imprisoned—there’s terrible, terrible things happening…I can’t imagine facing those things. But I know, and I’ve seen it, people have faith. Sometimes that’s the only thing that can get them through it. I know faith isn’t for everybody, but I’ve experienced faith.”