U2 Have Spiritual Questions? [v81]

NOVEMBER 2005

MANY PEOPLE ‘WRESTLE’ WITH SPIRITUAL QUESTIONS…U2?
Last week I was very fortunate to be given a ticket (the best in the place—10th row from the floor, just off the front ‘tip’ of the stage) to a concert that has been sold out for over a year! It was for U2 at The Palace. Absolutely phenomenal!!! (Lost my voice).

Why are they so popular? For over 25 years they have been at the top of the charts—more that any other rock band—including The Beatles and the Rolling Stones!

Why the long-time fascination? Well, in part, it’s the constant re-invention of the band’s music. But it also ‘hinges’ on its lead singer, Bono—an unpredictable combination of intensity, honesty, and attitude.

Some say that underpinning the band’s popularity, from the beginning, is their passion for touring. For more than twenty years, U2 has been primarily a live band—hardly ever off the road. Performing live is what they love to do best—and it is their touring that defines their creativity and reflects the direction of the band. Others mention their influence on popular culture and politics worldwide—they are cultural icons as well as multimillion-album-selling pop stars. Still others say it is the ‘edge’ of their musical style—unlike any other.

I, though, think that it goes much ‘deeper’ than all of these. If you look beneath the ‘surface’ of the hard-driving riffs, the lyrics ‘push’ listeners to consider spiritual issues.

During their formative era (early 80’s—just out of high school), Larry (drummer), “the Edge” (guitar), and “Bono” (lead singer), became deeply involved in an intentional Christian community called “Shalom”—which was non-denominational and charismatic. One can hear this influence in their second and third records, “October” and “War,” capturing the ‘fervor’ of the band’s outwardly ‘evangelistic’ material. The albums after these would ‘tone down’ the fervor a bit, and add another major note to their work: social justice.

Then, in 1987, the release of “The Joshua Tree” would propel them into superstardom (a perennial frontrunner in lists of the greatest rock albums). This record brought together the musical themes and techniques with which they were experimenting with the message of contemporary ‘prophets’ calling down the Spirit of God on a self-absorbed and frivolous decade. Listeners were ‘riveted’ by the album’s solemn ambiance, its recourse to the most basic of Biblical images (thorns, nails, wind, locusts, deserts, mountains, fire, and rain), and its ‘nakedly’ honest aspiration for justice and the ‘holy’.

To give you a better idea of some of these ‘themes’, “Where the Streets Have No Name,” both evoke and mysteriously fulfill a longing for a place where the ‘streets’ will not have names—Heaven.  “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” affirms, in explicit terms, faith in Christ and in the Atonement (‘payment’ for our sins)—but holds in ‘tension’ those who that are not yet Christians a ‘yearning’ for the fullness of the ‘Kingdom’ to come.

“One Tree Hill” vows faith in the face of loss, combining elegiac lines about a friend (to whom the song was dedicated), and the martyred Chilean activist and folksinger Victor Jara, with a subtle evocation of ‘end-time’ redemption and a wrenching ‘wail’ to God to send the “Latter Rain.”

In the 90’s, Bono sometimes took on the persona of a fanatical televangelist—-borrowing a ‘page’ from C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”—as the devil himself, giving Satan’s traditional name an Irish ‘twist’: “MacPhisto.” Bono used this character to show the subtle display of the ‘wages’ of sin (One concert he called the Archbishop of Canterbury to tell him he thought that the “Church” was doing a better job than the Evil One at alienating people from God).

Perhaps the most ‘poignant’ speech from Bono about U2’s lifetime longing for God ‘slipped out’ refracted through MacPhisto’s (Satan) warped sadness: “There is someone who used to come and see us all the time… we used to be so close. People think I’ve forgotten about Him, but I haven’t… I was His most magnificent creation, the brightest ‘star’ in His sky, and now look at me… Who can I get to help me make peace with Him? Who will mediate for me?”

In the mid 90’s they released “Zooropa,” and moved, in their words, “from Psalms to Ecclesiastes” (books of the Bible) in songs like “The First Time,” “The Wanderer,” and “Numb.” Many of the tracks during this second decade had a bitter God-hauntedness about them—many were ‘psalms’ of lament disguised as pulsing ‘rave’ pieces.

In “Wake Up Dead Man,” ‘addressed’ to Jesus Christ, Bono begs “tell me the story…about how it’s all gonna be…maybe your hands aren’t free”… will you put a word in for me?” Though this is a very ‘raw’ song, so were the  ‘laments’ of the Biblical psalmists in the Old Testament. Both ‘songs’ have the audacity to raise a ‘bitter’ voice to the Creator, but, in both instances, it is a ‘wake-up call’ sung from a stance of faith, and not disbelief—confessing that “You are King and my God,”—still sure that Jesus is ‘looking out’ for them. By uttering their abrasive ‘prayers’, they are giving voice to a faith that knows for sure that this God can ‘handle’ being spoken to in such a manner, and that such cries of pain are precisely what motivates this God to redemptive action (Do you have the honesty, courage, and audacity to give full ‘voice’ to your laments?)

So, just at the time when most thought U2 had gone off the deep end, getting caught in the ‘whirlpool’ of heavy themes like loss and death, the rebirth of hope was ‘intoxicating’ with the release of “Beautiful Day.” This song celebrated the rainbow after the ‘flood’ in a rapturous ‘survey’ of creation. The song “Elevation” sings of how ‘beautiful’ we are in God’s eyes, how much He loves us, and He will “dig deep” into your life to help you become all that He has planned for you!

The “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album (released in 2000) concludes with a pearl-like ‘confession’: “Grace removes the stain; grace makes beauty out of old things.”

Then, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of “9-11,” popular culture ‘appropriated’ this album as a way of working through the grief—and U2 created a ‘liturgy’ in the guise of a rock show, reworking their set list and their symbolism in a way that opened the event up to the Spirit of God without manipulating or lecturing—and something EXTRAORDINARY happened!

Bono talked about “God walking through the room” on tour—as many commented on ‘really’ experiencing a “healing.” Even the press began writing that if you would participate in this event, you would “experience healing!”

So, to my mind, when the lyrics of one of U2’s songs inspires the listener to confront their beliefs on the ‘ultimate questions’, or when an anthem of ‘longing’ lays bare their own “God-shaped hole,” it can lay the preliminary ‘groundwork’ for the deepest need of all—to be reconciled and have a restored relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus—the “Good News” that God has given us a ‘way out’ of the eternal punishment—a way to Heaven—THE ANSWER to our spiritual ‘questions’!

Some have said that U2 is a “prophetic voice” for today’s culture—one where religion belongs to the ‘private’ world, and ‘pop culture’ to the public—divided by a vast chasm. Culture critiques and shapes ‘faith’—faith critiques and shapes culture. The relationship is dialectical—and never-ending ‘dance’.

Well, what ‘prophets’ do, at least the ‘good’ ones, is purge our imaginations of the culture’s assumptions on what counts in life and how life is ‘supposed’ to be lived. Over and over again, God has use prophets to separate people from the ‘lies’ and ‘illusions’ to which they’ve come accustomed to and put them back on the ‘path’ of simple faith and obedience and worship in defiance of all that the ‘world’ admires and rewards. Prophets ‘train’ us in discerning the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God—keeping us present in His Presence.

Today’s culture expresses the longings, the doubts, the hopes, and the celebrations of the human spirit, are the same that are ‘woven’ into Christian spirituality. Pop culture challenges religious practice, while simultaneously ‘drawing’ upon the wealth of spiritual ‘tradition’—ultimately ‘pointing’ to the living, active God of the Bible.

So, in the words of U2’s song “Mofo” (Album: “Pop” 1987), then, “Rule me, father/ Move me, brother/ Woo me, sister.” God lived and died among us and dares to keep speaking the ‘language’ of love.

I am going to try to be diligent in investigating God through this new ‘lens’—will U2?

[NOTE: If you would like to download a document that gives a spiritual ‘interpretation’ of the following songs (“Elevation”; “Where The Streets Have No Name”; Until The End of The World”; I Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For”; “Pride (In The Name of Love)”; “40”; “Walk On”), click on the following link:

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/U2_PreConcert_Thoughts.pdf

[NOTE: If you would like to see some of there live performances, click on the following links (Quicktime 7 req:  http://www.apple.com/quicktime/). It will take about a minute to download each ‘movie’ with a cable Internet connection].

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/BeautifulDay(Slane).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/Elevation(Slane).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/IWillFollow(Boston).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/NewYearsDay(Slane).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/Vertigo(3Songs).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/WakeUpDeadMan(Slane).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/WhenLoveComes(Rattle).MOV

http://www.spiritedesign.com/MISC/WhereTheStreets(Boston).MOV

[Excerpts from: Raewynne  J. Whiteley and Beth Maynard (Editors of the book: “Get Up Off Your Knees”); Steve Faulk; John Trapane]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v81) for NOVEMBER 2005
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

THANKS TO:
– Joel Bussell
– Susan Garr

*****************************
*****************************
“You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.”   [St. Augustine]

*****************************
A COUPLE OF ‘FUNNIES’

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn’t find one big enough for her family. She asked a butcher, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?” The butcher replied, “No, ma’am, they’re dead.”

The cop got out of his car and the kid who was stopped for speeding rolled down his window. “I’ve been waiting for you all day,” the cop said. The kid replied, “Yeah, well I got here as fast as I could.” When the cop finally stopped laughing, he sent the kid on his way without a ticket. (Scott…don’t go for this one!)

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads “Low Bridge Ahead.” Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks around to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, “Got stuck, huh?” The truck driver says, “No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas.”

*****************************
HOW ‘CLEVER’ ARE YOU?

Try this one. You’ll definitely be surprised at the results. No cheating!!!

Here are four (4) primary questions—and a bonus question. Answer them instantly. Don’t take your time—answer all of them immediately. OK?

Ready? GO!!! (scroll down)

FIRST QUESTION: You are participating in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?

Scroll Down
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

Answer: If you answered that you are first, you are absolutely wrong! If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you are now second!

Try not to mess up next time!

Okay, now for the second question—but don’t take as much time as you took for the first question! Okay, go…

SECOND QUESTION: If you overtake the last person, then you are…?

Scroll Down
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

Answer: If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again. Tell me, how can you overtake the LAST Person?

You’re not very good at this, are you?

THIRD QUESTION: Very tricky math!

NOTE: This must be done in your head only.

DO NOT use paper and pencil, or a calculator. Give it a try…

Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30.
Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000
Now add 10. What is the total?

Scroll Down
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

Did you get 5000?

The correct answer is actually 4100.

If you don’t believe it, check it with a calculator!

Today is definitely not your day, is it? Maybe you’ll get the last question right…

FOURTH QUESTION: Mary’s father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Scroll Down
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

Did you answer Nunu?

NOPE! Of course it isn’t.
Her name is Mary. Read the question again!

Okay…now the ‘BONUS’ ROUND:

A mute person goes into a shop and wants to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the action of brushing his teeth he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done.

Next, a blind man comes into the shop who wants to buy a pair of sunglasses; how does he indicate what he wants?

Scroll Down
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

He just has to open his mouth and ask!!!

Better ‘luck’ next time!

[Received from Joel Bussell]

*****************************
*****************************
DEEP THOUGHT:

Sorrow looks back; Worry looks around; Faith looks up.

[Received from Susan Garr]

*****************************
*****************************

*************************************************************
*************************************************************
PRIVATE ‘PRE-SCREENING’ OF “NARNIA” MOVIE:
I would like to invite you and your friends to a special “pre-screening” of the movie, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on Saturday, 10 DEC 05 at the E-magine theater in Novi (across from Twelve  Oaks Mall).

The ticket includes “Lunch in Narnia,” and a discussion group after the lunch to get a deeper understanding of the ‘hidden’ meanings presented in the movie.

Tickets are available at Faith Covenant Church (14 Mile and Drake Roads). For more information call 248-661-9191 or visit their web site at:  http://www.4FCC.org

*************************************************************
*************************************************************

I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” [Psalms 40:1-3].

Mark

*****************************
*****************************
Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

<‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><     <‘)))><

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: