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Friday, May 22, 2015

"Drawing Our Fish in the Sand: Secret Biblical Allusions in the Music of U2"

"Drawing Our Fish in the Sand: Secret Biblical Allusions in the Music of U2" by Deanne Galbraith in   Biblical Interpretation 19 (2011) 181-222


Confronted with a popular music subculture which is predominantly antipathetic to Christianity, the charismatic-evangelical members of rock band U2 double code their lyrics in such a manner that Christian references are hidden from mainstream listenersa nd media while being readily recognizable to their Christian fans. The device of allusion is especially amenable to this end, as the meaning of an allusion can only be considered by a reader or listener who possesses the requisite competency in respect of the evoked text(s). Through  their  utilization of biblical allusions, U2 therefore construct two dierent, perhaps even irreconcilable, groups of listeners—a knowledgeable Christian in-group and an unknowledgeable non-Christian out-group. With detailed reference to U2’s songs, this paper examines the covert tendencies of allusion and the manner by which it is able to engage the listener’s intertextual imagination. The paper also distinguishes a secret or hidden allusion from a generic allusion on pragmatic and socio-cultural grounds, and demonstrates the potential of secret allusions to increase semantic indeterminacy. Lastly, the paper examines some examples of the reception of the U2 song ‘Magnificent’ which demonstrate the eectiveness of U2’s secret biblical allusions in creating two largely discrete groups of listeners.

Paper  is here

"We've found different ways of expressing it, and recognized the power of the media to manipulate such signs. Maybe we just have to sort of draw our fish in the sand. It's there for people who are interested. It shouldn't be there for people who aren't." -- Bono on faith, quoted in U2 at the End of the World 

Colbert gives comencement speech; Chi-Rho and Alpha-Omega patches on his robe

HT to Matt Schneider at Mockingbird for noticing this about Colbert's comemencement address at Wake Forest:

              "Note the
         Chi-Rho and Alpha-Omega
             patches on his robe!"
   (link:"Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015..So Far")

                     In character? and/or Drawing his fish in the sand/wearing his faith on his sleeve? 


Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 apocalyptic horseriders (and horse shift) for hard ceilings in liquid modernity

Ian Morris, in his  big “big book" talks about
 "hard ceilings"

 in times of  axial/historical shift
(They are often accompanied by  the "Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse": climate change, migration, famine, epidemic and state failure).

I love that we have 
hard ceilings 
in  "this weird moment in history " that is 

liminal and "liquid  (post)modernity."

(Aqua Church, punctuated equilibrium, etc)

Maybe the horseriders (and their horseshift) are asking us to
open up the sky...

An "exotic and exquisite" worship service: "I feel like a fraud, but I know that I'm not" . I'm actually just looking for my "inner human condition" and the God Particle in the City of Blinding Colliders

photo credit, Shawn Farmer

Here are some of my thoughts, pics and videos  (some by others) of  U2's " Innocence and Experience" tour  5/19/15 San Jose (second night) stop.

It's only four nights into the tour, and as Gavin Friday quipped, "It usually takes six nights for the Baby to become Achtung."

I think this time the Mojo is  already in the house, as is the Baby.
Premature, but healthy.

Also...Second nights (or third, fourth...of fifth)  by U2 in the same city are often characterized as "walking all over the first night."  (see "U2 is good, not great in San Jose"night 1) .  Thi sometimes reminds me of what Mark DeRaud used to call the fourth (of our four Sunday church  services (they went from very traditional to traditional to contemporary to...uh, very contemporary): "the exotic service."   For U2, it's a bit looser (as far as nerves),  tighter (as far as music) , and sometimes that results in  more  Spiritaneous setlist moments.  Tonight was, as Tim Neufeld tweeted me below, exquisite.

Tim N  also catches  a  liturgical phenomenon that can happen with the night one vs night two: "Where the first night in Vancouver reminded me of the fallenness of our humanity, the second restored a sense of hope. "   Bono once told Rolling Stone, "They call it the rhema. It’s a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you’re in. It seems to do that for me."
Edge:It's funny how you take an old song, but it in a different part of the set, and it suddenly has a new meaning."

Sitting next to me was another Tim,  my son --a Periscope  broadcasting star who had  hundreds of viewers from all over the world!  (Check to see if his video is still viewable).

It's impossible..and should be illegal.. to unpack a concert by U2.
(I still haven't come home from my first!)
I won't even try.
Just a few highlights this time..

I won't even go in chronological/liturgical order..

But I know which song to start with:


...but where to start in commenting on this Bad 6.0 version.
(Note that in The Matrix,  Neo was the sixth..and final.. iteration in a series of candidates to be "The One")

As Tim Neufeld noted:

Bad, which the other night (Second night, Vancouver) had the amazing addiction-recovery altar call (see this), tonight's version (unplanned, as you can tell by the first moments..) had  this tearful "Into The Mystic" intro followed by the "This is a song of surrender..Whatever it is you want to let go of tonight, let it go free! are being freed. ...Our music, God gave us it.."   invitation/prelude,,   (Not sure what he says at 27-30 sec mark. Anybody? "it's just dissonance"?):

A vintage interview:

 Do you occasionally lose control when you’re singing? Not get out of control, but you just get so transported into the song.

 That’s when it’s good. When it’s good you don’t know it’s happening. It really is an extraordinary thing because it seems to require no effort. And of course the other side of it is you can bump into some aspects of your character that you’d rather not have bumped into.

 What are you trying to do with the audience?

 To lose my own sense of self, self-consciousness – and theirs. It’s an amazing thing. We’re not really a rock & roll band. We’re pretending to be a rock & roll band, and sometimes we get away with it.
Sometimes a song like “Desire” or “Vertigo” will arrive, and you go, Whoa! That’s rock & roll! But what we actually do is something completely different. Our set list is designed in a kind of three-act structure, to get people out of themselves and to get ourselves out of ourselves. And to get to that place where everything feels possible and you want to call your mother, leave your wife, start a revolution or crack open the piggy bank and go on holiday for a year. link

Hmm..Second night; fourth service; third act..
or as Edge just said:
"There's really four different phases within the show of quite different feelings. Then we're tying it together. Making the emotional arc of it work is the real challenge."

At one point, it sounds like they were plotting a lot more moments  (technological and lyrical) throughout the songs and show  where the older Bono(or band) would talk to their younger selves, and vice versa) . Even though Bono  obviously "talked" to his younger self at one point "Song for Someone" (which took the song to a whole new level (of many) meanings,  some of the moments would be harder to these new lyrics in the "Bullet" rant:

So this boy comes up to me,
His face red like a rose on a thorn bush,
A young man with a young man's blush,
Young boy looked a lot like me.

And he's pulling the dollar bills outta my hand,
Patting me down, patting me down,
Says you have more than you need!
You got 100, you got 200, 300

And I can see those private planes,
I can see those private planes,
And you're in one of those private planes aren't you?
And he's right.

And I'm off a flight in Davos, Switzerland,
I'm in the lobby of the Belvedere Hotel,
Where a jazz-man breathes into his saxophone,
While everybody stares at their cell phone,
And in my ear the young boy groans,

Outside it's America!
Outside it's America!


As I step outside, snow is falling like a curtain of silence
I'm on the other side of the barricade now,
I'm on the other side of the barricade to myself, aged 19, n-n-n-n-nineteen

And I try to tell the young man,
that ideas deserve a plan,
And to build a better world,
It's gonna take every woman and man

It's gonna take you, me,
The reds and the greens,
The nows and forevers and the yet-to-bes
The "where ya going?"
The "where ya been?"
The living and the dead, and the unseen
The somebodies,
The nobodies,
The who's who,
The Gentile and the Jew,
The gays and the straights,
The sevens and the eights,
The nines and the tens,
The Dollars and the Yens,

And I feel like a fraud, but I know that I'm not,

I try to do my very

with everything I've got, which is not a lot,
to not get caught,
with my pants down,
 my hands up, my hands up

Any second now,
Things are going to get rough,
So I run, I run, I run,
Into the arms, of America  link

Sherry said:

Bono’s channeling his inner hypocrite, changing the lyrics from “fighter planes” to “private planes,” shifting the focus from military interest to the Occupy Wall Street movement. “You’ve got more than you need” is part of Bono’s rap. It’s a conversation he’s having with his 19-year-old self who would see him now and condemn him, and his 55-year-old self is explaining the purpose behind it all. He’s trying to reconcile that he’s become the thing he protested all those decades ago. The reinvention of this song is outstanding. - See more at:


The core idea behind the Innocence + Experience tour is this movement from "them and us" to "there is no them, only us."
When we were younger our enemies were clearly drawn, very visible to us. They were very real, they weren't imagined. And we organized against them, whether that's with Amnesty International or anti-apartheid groups. As you get older, you start to discover that the greatest enemy you will encounter in your life is often yourself. You are the biggest obstacle in your own way. Suddenly then the landscape changes. I don't know who wrote the line, "I have met my enemy and it's partly right," but it's a great line. It's a book title. When there's no clearly defined "us" and "them," the world changes shape. It's harder to negotiate. It's really your own hypocrisy in the crosshairs. We started that journey with Achtung Baby and Zoo TV. It continues today, but what's happened recently is that I've personally been revisiting the black-and-white monochrome days, because I miss that person.

I'll give you a lyric from [the upcoming U2 album] Songs of Experience. "I was living a lie. I was calling it a compromise. I was making bad deals in front of everyone's eyes. Deals now everyone denies. I was giving evidence in the court of the hearts desire, falsifying documents, virtue thrown in the fire. Sometimes I wish that I was stupid and you were not so smart. Overcome the head will always overcome the heart." The chorus goes, "Lead me in the way I should go. I'm running out of chances to blow. That's what you told me and you should know. Lead me in the way I should be. Unravel the mystery of the heart and its defense. The morning after innocence." The song is called "The Morning After Innocence."
Then it goes, "Is that your fountain pen? Navy with a nib of gold. Could you write your name again and do anything you were told in 10 Cedarwood Road. I'm your older self, the song of experience. I've come to ask for help from your song of innocence. Lead me in the way I should go. I'm running out of chances to blow. That's what you told me and you should know."
So, the older self is coming and asking the younger one for hope. It's interesting. It's a reverse. That happens in this show. What happens in this show is the younger self harangues, harasses, the older self. That's what we were just practicing out there trying to figure out in "Bullet the Blue Sky." The guy who used to be on the barricades in black and white comes up to the guy who is on the other side of the barricades and says, "What are you doing here?" He says, "It takes everybody. It takes the blues, the greens, the me's, the you." He goes into this rant. That's the dialectic at the heart of the tour from a lyrical perspective.

Read more: 


In  a delightful, cross-framed moment during "City Of Blinding Lights,"the boy  ("innocence" incarnate) Bono brought up on stage (as promised  earlier in the day, see video here.. start at 2 min mark), teased Bono about one of his trademarked and "experienced" grownup bad self poses.>> 

Sherry caught this:
video footage from the Higgs Boson Collider appeared to be used for “City Of Blinding Lights,” a song with overtones about heaven, with visuals of a collider trying to find the God particle - See more at:
Photo: Tim N

Tell me about it.  To me, the film on the screen   during "Streets" showed creation/our current city-creation..including the Joshua Tree... with a  collider/transmitter/transporter to  New Creation/heaven/heavens..

..or something like that. (:
photo Tim N

Someone captured this, see 3:37ff...and the rock(Rock)/mountain (Mountain) at 5:32ff? Love it:

Some of my brief clips:

Posted by Dave Wainscott on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

U2 "End of the World"
San Jose 5/19/15..a new twist on the Jesus and Judas scene
Posted by Dave Wainscott on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

U2 "Where the Streets Have No Name" intro
Posted by Dave Wainscott on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Posted by Dave Wainscott on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

U2 Cedarwood Road
Bono inside the screen, walking the road he grew up on. "Come with me, see the road I should've grown up on.."
Posted by Dave Wainscott on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"the preacher didn't convince me, but Johnny Cash tried"

 This loaded "devotional" gem is tucked into  a "secular" book..
                  Sarah Vowell's journal entry for January 5 in "Radio On: A Listener's Diary"

...Yesterday, Portland made me nervous, and the radio didn't help...
I tuned in an AM sermon hosted by a singsongy preacher with an ironic bent.

"Why, if man is basically good..." he begins  the next thirty-three sentences: 
"Why, if man is basically good..."  did a man in the choir get mugged last night, did a woman he knows get raped, did thieves break in and steal a family's belongings, did he hear on the news that two teenagers killed their parents, and so on. Man is basically evil, he cries, that's why. He didn't convince me, but Johnny Cash tried.

This morning before everyone  else woke up, I went through 
my friend Chris's records and played a really rise-and-shine, high-voltage album by sunshine chanteuse Nico before I switched to the Man in Black's last effort, American Recordings.  A dreary little ballad, by Mr. Pure Pop for Now People, Nick Lowe,
 called “The Beast in Me” stopped me cold.

Its slow; though it's not the tempo but rather Cash's bleak and painful voice that forced me to face my own ugliness.  "God help the beast in me,"  he moans.

That Portland preacher bought a ticket on the wrong guilt trip, relying on examples of commandments broken, of killing and headline crime. By drilling his congregation with dramatic case histories, he neglects the smaller, infinitely more suitable acts against goodness and decency. Most likely, his average listener had never mugged another pedestrian, shot her husband, or robbed from the poor, but what if, like the beast in me, she had just abandoned her best friend in a time of crisis to ward off her own paranoia by getting drunk alone?  -link, p. 11-12

Related Johnny Cash posts:

  • holy heteroclite:: Johnny Cash officiating communion for ...
    Aug 7, 2007 - Johnny Cash officiating communion for Rick Rubin. "We're one, but not the same...we get to carry each other.." Somehow the lyrics to U2's "One ...
  • holy heteroclite:: Johnny Cash: Amazing Grace and Pagan.. "st ...
    May 30, 2013 - holy heteroclite: Welcome! ..... Johnny Cash on "Amazing Grace" and the prison crow... vs "Man, we sure demolished that pagan atheist's a.
    You've visited this page many times. Last visit: 5/12/15
  • holy heteroclite:: "He preaches WITH, not TO the damned ...
    Nov 8, 2006 - Those three terms, then (uncalculated, uncredentialed, and prophetic) fit U2 and Johnny Cash well. Unlike many Christians...let alone pastors.
  • holy heteroclite:: COFFEE, NOT JESUS
    Jul 24, 2007 - Here is the easiest way to explain the genius of Johnny Cash: Singing from the perspective of a convicted murderer in the song 'Folsom Prison ...
  • holy heteroclite:: psalms with street cred and drums that ...
    Oct 6, 2013 - (see U2 devotional #7b:"like a preacher needs pain") Great testimony in Christianity Today.includes some great U2 (and Johnny Cash) nods): ...
  • Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    U2's claw as organic architecture

    Liz suggests that the U2 Claw (clawthedral) fits  every criteria of the charter for organic architecture and design.

    Let the design:
    • Be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse.
    • Unfold, like an organism, from the seed within.
    • Exist in the “continuous present” and “begin again and again”.
    • Follow the flows and be flexible and adaptable.
    • Satisfy social, physical, and spiritual needs.
    • “Grow out of the site” and be unique.
    • Celebrate the spirit of youth, play and surprise.
    • Express the rhythm of music and the power of dance    LINK