A Brief Thought on the new U2 Album

Like almost everyone who breathes oxygen, I love the music of U2.  And like so many who pledged their allegiance to the epic works during the days of Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby and who lived through the American reactions of Zooropa & Pop (which were brilliantly misunderstood albums not only ahead of their time but in a different dimension.  Some call it Europe but I’m not sure it’s that easily identifiable), you always have a bit of anxiety whenever a new U2 album drops.

I understand why many people despise Bono and his band.  They’re so big that they are “The Man” and we all know it’s cool to hate the man.  I will still never forget the argument I had with someone who told me that if I wanted to listen to real rock’n roll, I needed to listen to Aerosmith.  We all know that Steven Tyler has a life-size poster of Bono above his bed and we all know the best thing about Aerosmith is Liv Tyler. It’s ok, there will always be people who hate God too.   Anyway, while it is not the Achtung Baby reinvention we were promised, No Line on the Horizon is still fantastic.  

Of course so much has been written already, but here are some of the posts I’ve appreciated.

Don Miller’s post was really insightful.  (What else would you expect from Don?).  I don’t know how to summarize it without creating a  long post so you can just read it.

From a NY Times article:

“How do you puncture pop consciousness with a tune anymore?” Bono said later over a pint of Guinness in the restaurant of the venerable hotel Claridge’s. “That’s actually your first job as a songwriter.”

A conversation with Bono is a free-associative adventure. Between thoughts about the album he dispensed fascinating digressions, casual but carefully placed on and off the record. He gave a full-voiced demonstration of Italian opera vowels and Frank Sinatra style — heads swiveled nearby — and mused on cathedral architecture; he described encounters with presidential candidates and plans for his future columns on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. He spoke fondly about his band mates as characters he’s still trying to figure out, about songs as bursts of serendipity and about what he wants in a performance: “spastic elastic energy.” more.”

Ask Not if Pete Rollins Believes the Resurrection, Ask If he’s Made a Good Point.

Pete Rollins was asked if he believed in the resurrection during a time of presentation and discussion at Calvin College (which by the way, I think it’s great that Calvin invited him).  He blogs his answer and many are still talking about it.  Like many, I read it on my RSS Feeder and my first thought was, “Here we go again”,  second was, “He really does this paradox thing well.”  I loved Thomas’ (who just had a post picked on The High Calling blog) post about it yesterday and it’s been brought to my attention a couple of times now too (and I suppose I may have brought it to a few people’s attention as well).

Thomas got me thinking though.  After the Mid-Atlantic Conference he sat in my living room and we conversed and he was gracious enough to listen to my questions.  I’m not name-dropping here, he talks to anyone.  Anyway,  to one he responded, “I think it’s crazy if people take me too seriously.  I’m just trying to add a point here and there …”  Now maybe that was an understatement, but I appreciated that he didn’t say something like, “People need to wake up and listen to what I am saying …” and act as if he had it all figured out.  Because he writes/speaks from that humble posture, I think it’s wise to, at the very least, consider the point he’s trying to make.  Like the point that Bono was making when he dressed up as MacPhisto (the devil-character he created on the Zoo TV tour, he wasn’t endorsing the devil but quite the opposite).  In fact, if Rollins has a problem is that this thought is not original though he just does a great job in echoing it today.  Paul says in I Corinthians 13, that “…  but have not love then I am but only  a clanging cymbal.” 

I do not know really the context nor the person who asked the question.  For all I know, it could have been Sam Harris or John McArthur or Brian McLaren or a student  or professor.  It could have even been one of Pete’s friends planted in the crowd to give us something to blog about it.  In my history of attending conferences, numerous times there has been the person that wants to “expose” the speaker as a heretic. Then there’s the guy who needs to ask these questions in order to trust the speaker.  I’ve been that guy, may we be given wisdom for the journey.  But to the former, I remind you to be careful that you do not resemble the Pharisees that were trying to trap Jesus (like in John 8).

Now I’m told that Pete does believe in the literal, physical resurrection (so there are two of you reading this that are relieved), but what if he didn’t believe or stops believing it one day or stops one day and believes it again on another?  While I want to say that it would be an utter shame if he didn’t believe it, I think another shame is to miss this point.

Regarding his statement, I believe his argument is valid.  What point is it to believe in the resurrection if we don’t believe in all the words of the One that was raised?  What point is it to believe in the One that encompassed perfect love if we don’t share it in witness in the forms of words and action?  What point is it to believe in the abundant life, if we ignore those barely living and dying around us? 

I believe the Spirit uses that answer even if Pete denies the resurrection to promote the resurrection!  Let me ask it in this way. Can we not gain from his point? I say from my perspective he’s wrong on that point while he may be right that I neglect the needs around me, thereby demonstrating his point!

Let’s forget about this hyper-caffeinated, Irish philosopher for a second.   How important is the resurrection to us as believers?   We may be quick to say that it’s the central tenant of our faith but is it? Here’s something interesting to me, I wonder how many more people would believe in the resurrection if we did in fact care more for the marginalized in the many, many ways they appear.  Is this not a great conversation?

"U2-charist": Bono moves in mysterious ways

Mon Jan 29, 9:18 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – For Anglicans who still haven’t found what they’re looking for, the Church of England is staging its first “U2-charist” communion service — replacing hymns with hit songs by the Irish supergroup.

“Rock music can be a vehicle of immense spirituality,” said Bishop of Grantham Timothy Ellis, announcing plans for the unique service in the central English town of Lincoln in May.

A live band is to play U2 classics like “Beautiful Day” and “Mysterious Ways” with special singalong lyrics displayed on a giant screen. Seating for the 500-strong congregation is to be re-arranged so everyone can dance and wave their hands.

The service is to focus on the Millennium development goals — U2’s lead singer Bono is a leading promoter of the targets to alleviate world poverty. (original article linked to title)

* Now I love U2, I love Bono, I’m a fan.
Though I believe that we can touched by God listening to music, (as I have been by U2 and many others), I am not sure this church has to go so far with this. I’m saying this more from a preferece thing. Why not include U2 songs in addition to the thousands of other works our faith has produced. As a church, we tend to go from one extreme to another.
But what do I know. I’m still signing up on their newsletter list so I will be notified for Gun’s Roses Sunday. I would love to see Slash play November Rain inside the church again.