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Breakout country music star Oliver Anthony blew Joe Rogan away this week with the profundity of scriptural insights several millennia old while detailing how centering his existence on God changed his life for the better.
Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, went viral with not one but several songs earlier this month, skyrocketing from obscurity to the top of various music charts internationally. His hit "Rich Men North of Richmond" remains in the top ten for various Apple Music categories, including "Top Songs" and "Top 100: Global," and continues to hold the top position both on the iTunes chart and the Billboard Hot 100.
In an Aug. 17 Facebook post, Anthony indicated he had dropped out of high school at age 17 and worked "multiple plant jobs in Western NC, [his] last being at the paper mill in McDowell county" where he "worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell."
The 31-year-old recalled fracturing his skull in a "bad fall at work," which forced him to return home to Virginia.
After rehabilitating, he spent years working various blue-collar jobs in the Carolinas and Virginia, ultimately acquiring some land and moving into a 27' camper he reported purchasing for $750 on Craigslist.
The overnight country star, whose first paid gig happened to be his show just weeks ago at Morris Farm in Currituck County, North Carolina, has spoken openly about his bout with depression, drinking, and drug abuse, as well as what raised him from the depths.
Anthony explained on the Thursday episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience" that he had been "in a really just f***ed-up place," stressing he uses that that word "with discretion" but that in this case, it was an apt descriptor.
In was in that particular state of mind, body, and soul that Anthony indicated he "found a lot of peace from this book," referencing the Bible on the table between him and Rogan, though it was not always so.
Anthony recalled having attended church growing up, but being put off of what he perceived to be "a lot of theatrics and a lot of politics."
Rogan pressed the musician on the nature of his spiritual reawakening, asking, "What was like the day you picked it up? What was the feeling you had? Like, what caused you to act? What was it like when you did it?"
"I had been reading [the Bible] here and there, off and on, and I had ... off and on for a long time, like, 'cause again, I was introduced to it as a kid," said Anthony, who has taken to reading Scripture during his recent shows.
However, upon being taken to the emergency room with a stinging sense of mortality, what had apparently been lurking in the background came to dominate Anthony's thoughts and heart.
"I went to the ER for everything that was going on. I mean I thought I was seriously going to die. Like I was having shooting pains up under my jaw, down in my wrist, in my leg. ... Just cardiovascular 101 symptoms," said Anthony. "I remember being in the truck after that ... and I just, yeah, just had a breakdown moment. I was just crying."
Anthony continued, "I just felt hopeless like almost the way a child feels hopeless when, you know, you can't find your parent or something, like a 4-year-old that can't find his parents or something. I was just like, didn't have anything left in me."
The 31-year-old indicated he turned to the one parent who can never be lost.
"I just decided like, right then and there, I was like, 'I can't do this any more,'" continued Anthony. "'But I know ... there's things I need to do.' And I just — I just told God, I was like, 'Just let me do it.'"
In the bargain he then made with God, Anthony recalled promising to "give all this sh** up" and telling the Almighty, "'I'll give up the weed and I'll quit getting drunk and I'll quit being so angry about things.'"
Anthony told Rogan he had further asked God for a blank slate and to "start over again," making "Him the focus and not me."
Accordingly, the country star said he has since sought to discard his ego and everything he was, working instead to center his life on God.
To this end, Anthony indicated that rather than the ostensibly dominant Epicurean mode of thinking, in which people slavishly serve the desires of the flesh, he has instead sought to serve God.
"I quit worrying about me and I started worrying about what it is I'm supposed to do," Anthony told Rogan. "It talks in the Bible about ... being a servant and, you know, giving up — I guess — my desire and my will and whatever it is that I want to do. I don't know the best way to describe it, but it's about trying to use what I have as a tool versus doing what I can in the moment to give myself whatever satisfaction that it is I'm trying to get."
This thinking might account in part for why the musician has reportedly turned down at least one multimillion-dollar record deal.
While Anthony acknowledged that many people faithlessly strive after things greater than themselves, he indicated much of this ends up being mundane idolatry.
"I think inherently all human beings idolize something," said Anthony. "It talks in the Bible about false idols. We all have false idols. Like whether it's our phone or its a celebrity or it's something we do or it's our addiction to food or drugs or whatever. ... There's always something above us, right? Because we're always in pursuit of something bigger than whatever it is in that moment. And I think for me it was just about taking everything else, all the distractions and all the other things in my life, away."
"It's just about trying to ... make God and the concept of what it is that He wants done on this earth my idol versus anything else," added Anthony. "We all serve some master, whether we realize it or not, so why not let it be the master that is above all?"
Joe Rogan often has self-help gurus, dieticians, and motivational speakers on his show who share the fashionable insights of the day. Anthony instead appealed to insights several millennia old, quoting from Proverbs 4:20:
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free from perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Rogan appeared taken aback, responding, "That's pretty f***ing profound."
Anthony stressed, "The whole book of Proverbs is like that. Like it's not preachy, it's not what you think. ... It's like good guidance you would want a father to give to his son."
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.