Friday, September 24, 2010

there is no private "conversation between me and the echo": Lessons from The Edge on kenotic communitas

It appears to be for real that The Edge is not proud of his humility.
Sometimes he is even self-effacing about

his self-effacing.

(Even Bono's much more obvious ego and  self-confessed "messianic complex" is largely misunderstood as pure pride, but a careful reading of his interviews, and his life, will suggest that he has humbled himself in the sight of the Lord, and of his own potential for pride).

I think with The Edge it is  largely due to the fact that early on, Lypton Village, The Monday Night House Church, the Shalom Community, and  (especially) U2
(watch 12:30ff in the Beth Maynard video at bottom for that important backstory) allowed Edge to taste and see that communitas is good and is of God.

He certainly seems to be a naturally humble and modest person, but being formed and forged in that rarest of environments and crucibles--community with grows a 'tas'--has gently and powerfully set such as his very core and course.

In the language of Lord of the Rings, he has been endlessly intrigued by that "" that creative community creates...and that necessarily leaves one at a loss for words.

Thus the need for a guitar..or two.

Or two in one...

In this video interview/demonstration of his guitar technique, Edge notes (00:35ff) that "the
 two  (playing and echo effect) work off each other totally ...I discovered early on that playing rthymically with echo gives you opportunity  to almost play off a second musician,  its almost like a conversation... the conversation in this case is between me and the echo."

Note that he has discovered..ironically while being alone..that  the best introverted alone work/art happens when one creates and facilitates conversation/community.  Matthew Fox talks of "extroverted monasticism."
Edge sets it to music, and on fire.  What happens between Edge and his guitar is so holy and hushed that it might seem wrong and exhibitionist to yank it out of the (prayer and practice) closet.  But it is in essence a relationship; a relational essence that emerges when Edge plays (prays) his guitar.  That may sound like the ultimate in narcissism, but I think he "gets" that with any inhouse conversation/intra-relationship that one has created, one is responsible to missionally move that relationship outward, inviting others in.

Just as their is something profound and confounding when male and female "create" the corporate image of God...when Edge talks and listens to his guitar and echo, it is at heart a marriage , and a tri-une relationship.
Which saves everything from inexorable entropy and default setting of spiritual ,  musical,  cultural and social masturbation (that last phrase is N.T. Wright's!)

The Trinity of course is the primary paradigm here: Three Persons whom the Scripture takes pains and pages to show have relationships with each other.  But since God is also One, he cannot be content to just talk to himself.  Inevitably, the missio dei kicks in,  the dance of pericherosis is in motion...and elevation happens.

You too (and U2) have been invited to overhear the conversation God is having with himself.
"I feel like a lot of our songs are overheard conversations," Bono offers, "sometimes they are not my stories."

When one plays/prays through guitar and voice,  within a context of community and conversation (communisation),one begins telling  (even instrumentally/glossolaically) the stories of others...and The Other.

"Here's where we've got to be/Love and community
Laughter is eternity/if Joy is real."
(U2, "Get on Your Boots").

For most folks, that's a big "IF."  But to be discovered by real joy is to create community that can't
create koinonitis, only community; that won't wind up myopic,  but mystic.

All of life is "playing rhythmically with echo."
Which calls to mind the Divine Echo of prayer that Margaret Feinberg has (over)heard.

I love this vintage 1984  article about  Edge  that  atU2 recently hauled out of the vault:

Bob Dylan once called Robbie Robertson "a mathematical guitar genius," a description which also seems to fit the Edge's goldcrested style. I hope it won't damage his modesty. Most times I asked the Edge about himself, he kept pulling back to "we," the community of the band. He seems to huddle aside from fame. "I cannot ever really comprehend what our fans see me as," he says, "I can only observe it from the eye of the storm."  
"Probably the people who buy our records or go to our shows are far more aware of the Edge as the public person than I am. I happen to be more aware of his private side." Thus the Edge: the semi-detached guitar hero. 

But do you see tihis gifted guitarists' dilemma.  He indeed might still be tempted to play "just for himself,"
and surely the energy that is created/recreated when he is alone in his room doing what only he can do on guitar is rewarding.  When you are that good, one might also be tempted to "shoot your wad and  name yourself God.":

 "As a guitar player, I've always done the work of two. One of the reasons Dik left was because two guitar players never worked. I never had that discipline. I was always filling up every spare moment with guitar." 

..Yet its not truly a dilemma but a trilemma that he is on the horns of:
One choice: play for yourself.  Another choice: play for others.
Third, and only choice: The above is not only  false dichotomy and dilemma,  but misses that
 life, faith, conversation and community are inherently  incarnational,  Trinitarian in unity,  fissional and missional.

Beth Maynard  (Beth's blog here) gave a delightful talk at Gordon College on U2 and Community..

(Note: the embedded video has some blips...until they fix it, best place to watch the complete video is
here, mp3 here).  Excerpts below are  from 22:07ff on the embedded video:

"Shane Claiborne has paraphrased Dietrich Bonhoeffer as saying, 'Love community and you will kill it'..
It's just way too ingrown in a Christian worldview for the raison d'être  of a community to be nothing more than 'having a community''s much more healthy and much more biblical for a mission to generate its community..
there are no [monastic] orders whose call is 
just to be an order.  Classically, that question of vocation comes before the question of community.'

Ah...does missiology precede ecclesiolgy after all?  (See "chickens and eggs"
and "Ontology of Missional Community").

You might be surprised that early on U2 articulated their vocation with a founding Scripture, which shaped  them  early on, and for the long term "not as onstage evangelists, but as way-clearers, as obstacle removers, as objection-raisers ...thirty years of...asking thorny qiestions that only turn out to ultimately make sense if Jesus is Lord."  (Maynard)

But that Lordship leads to giving oneself "first to the Lord, and then to others."
Beth quotes Edge:

"In the long run, I suspect that other people will wind up doing far more than us...and that's an exciting idea.

Easy enough to say..or is it...but Edge just  believes it...even  (especially) when  he plays alone in a room.  It's humbling to live in kenotic community, but ironically it's the only path to "doing the greater works than Jesus" that Jesus himself promised would be normative for followers...who hear the Echo.

Since, like St. Carla of Delano, he knows he is never alone, and always for others...
Philippians 2-style.

It is not good for humans to be alone, God is quoted as saying in Genesis.
By the time one finishes Revelation, one is convinced it is not good or possible for God to be alone either.

"The Spirit and the Bride say 'Come.'"

I hear (and see....holy synesthesia is often the subversive language of U2...and Scripture) that United Voice every time The Edges' "swirling epiphanies"   talk to themselves..
and thus to me.


P.S.  By the way, that smile of the Edge's, that begins at 1:33 at the instructional video above...and grows with a recognition that "something is up" is priceless, and wordlessly summarizes everything I've tried to say with words.

When you watch the Edge demonstrate "Where The Streets have No Name" played "normally,"   and then after his explanation, with the Echo..
he cannot help but he knows the 'conversation with the echo" makes all the difference....and he knows its not about him.

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