There is often plenty of fanfare when a rock musician decides to go on a spiritual search. But people don't always hear about a more modest approach to spiritual questions or about a musician's quiet effort to help others through prayer. That's why we felt this interview might be of special interest to our readers.
For nine years, along with his brother, Kevin, wrote music for, played with, and managed the Wommack Brothers Band. They were successful enough to have tours both in the United States and Europe. We first learned of Keith when he sent us an article describing some of the lessons he had learned through his study of Christian Science. His article was packed with a number of treasured spiritual insights he had collected over the years from the Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal. When he mentioned he had also been in a rock band, we decided to ask him to talk further with us about the band and his spiritual journey.
For many years, after high school, I performed in a rock band that traveled to a number of cities primarily in the United States. Since the band performed at night, during the day in every city we went to, I would find a quiet place where I could study and pray to gain more spiritual insight and to learn how to heal as Christ Jesus healed. In most cities that place was the Christian Science Reading Room.
I probably shocked more than one attendant when I sauntered into the Reading Room with a full beard and hair down to my waist. And several times the rest of the band would follow me a few hours later, to see what I was up to.
How big was the band?
At different times it was different sizes, usually about five people. With a crew, you are always traveling with a bunch of people. My brother and I really had to rely on Christian Science because we were responsible for these musicians and their families. My brother kept three calendars—one for the month we were working on and two ahead for booking the shows. And sometimes we would look at these calendars, and it would look really bleak. But we would just know that every need was met by God.
Let's go back to how you got started studying Christian Science.
I got started when I was much younger. I'm a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and while I was growing up, there were always scattered piles of Sentinels and Journals stacked high in the family storage area. Over the years I explored the entire collection. In the articles I found thoughts of healing, love, care, and the constant assurance that man is not separate from God, because man is His perfect expression.
These truths have guided my journey of spiritual discovery. They have helped me to begin proving in my own life that I am indeed God's child—spiritual, complete. These wonderful truths fortified me through my years in high school. They gave me a Christlike foundation from which to begin to tackle problems that came up. Smoking, drinking, or drug abuse never were the slightest temptation; my thoughts were already filled with my Father's plan.
In fact, later when we had the band we found that people would refrain from using drugs because they knew that we didn't use them. We were probably offered more shows because we were not doing drugs. They knew we would show up in the first place, and they knew we would perform. Also they found that our business dealings were professional.
Some people might say that the life of a rock musician and the kind of study you were doing don't mix. What made you stick with your study?
I think it was just a basic yearning for Truth. Those truths were making footholds in my thought.
Had you seen healings through Christian Science in your family, and did that make you want to know more?
Actually it was just a search for Truth. I've always known that Christian Science heals and never really doubted it. I don't know of a particular healing in my family that caused me to do deeper study.
There was a healing that I had that really stands out to me. It was after I had made the decision that I was quitting the band, and we had maybe three months of shows to do in order to give everyone time to find other work. I was working on an amplifier with a long-handled screwdriver, and it slipped and went right into my eye. And at first there was no pain, and I just prayed, recalling some truths I had learned.
I had a lunch date and had to go to it immediately. During the lunch date, all of a sudden the pain hit me so severely that I couldn't open my eye to see. It took me hours to drive several blocks to get home.
Once home I had to wear sunglasses and close the blinds because the light was so painful to the eye. I called a Christian Science practitioner to help me through prayer. At one point my brother came into the room and read to me from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. I remember he read this passage, which begins with a statement about God as divine Mind: "Mind is the master of the corporeal senses, and can conquer sickness, sin, and death. Exercise this God-given authority. Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action." Science and Health, p. 393. I thought, "If everything I learned in Christian Science Sunday School is true, and if everything I learned in Primary class instruction is true, then it's true right here and now, and I'm the spiritual child of God." I took off the glasses and opened the blinds, and the whole difficulty disappeared.
The next day we had a show in Corpus Christi, Texas. I believe the only problem left was that the eye was just a little out of focus. I never had had any problem with my eyes before. We played four nights, and on the last morning I woke up with extreme pain again, but there was no evidence of the scratch; that had been completely healed. The pain was so severe I couldn't really think; so I woke my brother up, and he went and called the practitioner that I was working with. My brother came back and said, "The practitioner wants to know if you've ever been to Moscow." And I said, "What? No." He said, "The practitioner said, 'If you haven't been there, then you can't return.'" With that I laughed out loud. The pain disappeared and my eye came in focus.
You mentioned when you wrote us that you often shared Christian Science with people you met while you were traveling. Did you share with other musicians?
There were a lot of instances with different performers. There was one time that a band was ready to tape a show for Austin City Limits on public television, and the lead singer had lost his voice the day before. The people knew that I was really into prayer and Christian Science, and they asked me to pray, and the next day he did just a marvelous job. I was just knowing that God's work is never delayed or suspended. I was keeping it very simple.
Did he acknowledge that it was the prayer that had helped?
There was another instance about a year earlier—a guitar player with our band. He had a baby daughter, who was diagnosed as having a hole in her heart. The parents were told that she was too small for open-heart surgery. The operation was scheduled for several months later. The band was playing heavily at that time, and seeing the father worry, I would share little tidbits of spiritual truth with him during that time. We booked the band in Galveston, Texas, because there is a children's hospital down there where they had the surgery scheduled for the little girl. We just thought we should be there and get some money coming in to support his family.
When the time came for the corrective surgery, the doctors started doing tests on the child, and they were amazed that the hole had almost disappeared to just a little pinpoint. They said it was going to close naturally. So we were all elated because earlier the parents had been told that, because of the location of the hole, there was almost no chance of its closing.
The next morning we got a call from the emergency room that our guitarist was down there. After months of worry, he just kind of collapsed. My brother Kevin and I went there and got him out of the emergency room and said, "OK, let's get going." He got up and we played that night.
The parents tell me that the baby continued to improve until all signs of the difficulty were gone. That was several years ago, and now she's a very energetic schoolgirl who among other things plays baseball.
What happened to the band after you quit?
When I quit the band to go into the full-time practice of Christian Science, my brother became the manager of another band that has gone on to be international recording artists. We were inundated with bands that wanted him and his expertise in management. Clubs would call up and ask what I was doing, and he would say "He's a Christian Science practitioner," and they would say, "What is that?" He would tell them that I was going to be helping people through prayer.
Once I had quit, I was able to serve as the librarian in my branch church's Reading Room. It was a pleasure to serve three years in a place where I could help others as so many wonderful people in Reading Rooms throughout the United States had encouraged me. It's a joy to share with someone in need a powerful article from the Sentinel or Journal—just what will lift this one out of the mire that is pulling him down for the moment. These articles constantly lead us back to the Bible and to Science and Health, where we find healing.
The great thing is to be found at one's post as a child of God . . . .
The Grand Miracle, Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright © 1970 by The Trustees of the Estate of C. S. Lewis. Reprinted with permission.