Wednesday, February 05, 2014

U2theology on Interference

Interesting that almost all  the articles listed under a current click of the tab called "U2 Commentary, Essays and Analysis" on the Interference site are explicitly theological.

 Andrew William Smith:

Sacred Stables, Sacred Stadiums: Lifting the Veil on “Zooropa” at Christmas  by Andrew William Smith
...........Something got hidden away in the starry starburst of rising young rockstars. God gets lost in man chasing mammon. God gets lost from man. Like God hiding from Moses in the rocks, this is rock that hides God only to reveal God. Bono recalls, “I wanted to get away from the weight of where I was going. I wanted to fly. . . . And I have no religion, I don’t know what’s what. There is a line in the New Testament [John 3:8] which says that the Spirit moves and no one knows where it comes from or where it is going. It’s like a wind. I have always felt that about my faith. Religion is often the enemy of God because it denies the spontaneity of the Spirit and almost anarchistic nature of the Spirit.”

At its dirty Christmas core, the Christ story is an anarchic breaking through. The veil of colored lights gets lifted, and we get lifeblood. The dirty story of Christmas finds this unmarried teenager and faithful fiancé finding the unfound, unfettered scandalous incarnation of a baby king.
The “Zooropa” narrative of human-techno hybrids in hope and fear throws back a couple of millennia to the divine-human dangerous idea of messianic and revolutionary Jesus. Bono sings, “Let’s go to the overground/Get your head out of the mud baby/Put flowers in the mud baby/Overground.”

Jesus Christ is the flower in the mud, the flower in the gunbarrel of history, saying love still wins. The author of Love Wins, Rob Bell, in his followup treatise What We Talk About When We Talk About God, rips the veil even further.

Referencing Hebrews 10:20, Bell suggests the Christ-event ripped open history and lifted the veil. Bell proclaims, “[T]his ripping was a picture of how, because of Jesus, we can have new, direct access to God. […T]he curtain ripping also means that God comes out, that God is no longer confined to the temple as God was previously. God, of course, was never confined by a building. The point of the story is that our understanding of God was.”

Perhaps Bell and Bono of the post-Zoo period are onto the same thing: ripping away the veils between secular and sacred dualities, human and divine dichotomies. When the veil of lights lifted from the 360-stage to reveal the band again, the new setting set fires in souls..

.Then the next U2 rock show, whether in stadiums or back to arenas, can be again, like Bell writes, a place to say: “You are on holy ground wherever you are, and Jesus comes to let us know that the whole world is a temple because we’re temples, all of life is spiritual, all space sacred, all ground holy.” Even stables of the first century, even stadiums of the 21st century. 

Pastor Jonathan Martin:

U2 & the Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle
...There may well be a rational explanation to the timing and sequencing of those songs on my iPod that day, but even if that were true, it wouldn’t change or diminish the impact of what I heard.  My response was not irrational, but it transcended my capacity for reason.  I wasn’t just hearing U2 play a rock song.  I was hearing an ancient song.  I was hearing the music of God’s love in the same way I believe David heard it in the field as a boy.  It was the wonder that called me back to who I really am, that called me forward to who I am meant to become.  That’s what music does; that’s what wonder does.  God uses these things to remind us of who we really are. Jonathan Martin

Ted Trost:

Transgressing Theology: Locating Jesus in a “F—ed-Up World” by Religious Studies Prof  Ted Trost
In the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Pink Floyd (in very different contexts), U2′s songs amount to the plea: “tear down the wall.”  Within the framework of Christian doctrine, U2 put forward a “transgressive theology.”  In these POP tunes, U2 transgress the borders between spirit and flesh, sacred and profane, high and low.  On this album, the “Popmart” as medium of pop culture in the context of commercial exchange becomes hallowed ground.  To be extreme about it:  God is Pop.....

The POP album opens in the tradition of David.. 

...this pursuit includes the search for “baby Jesus under the trash”—that is, in the midst of the muck and mire of human existence, once again challenging the dividing line between sacred realm and the earth-bound.   Locating Jesus under the trash is not the same thing as positioning him “at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,” to quote a doctrinal formulation.  Indeed (as Bono will sing in a different but related context in the song “If God Will Send His Angels”):  “the High Street never looked so low.”  Still, there’s something hauntingly familiar about this dislocation to “the places where no flowers grow,” to the realm of the discarded, to the barn out back after permission to enter the inn has been withheld.POP becomes a theological assertion.  It claims the commercial realm as God’s realm.  link


Flamethrower Holiness: Bono, Brueggemann, & the Psalms (Headphone Devotionals, part two)

...Rock music as a daily devotional tool surely gets practiced by runners, walkers, weight-lifters, and coffee-sipping hipsters on the daily, but to theorize such in a theological-liturgical manner means new terrain. Like with the songs “Bad” or “Drowning Man,” like “Vertigo” or “Wake Up Dead Man,” the psalms have an aching rock-bottom blues disposition that’s not pretty or pious. Even ever popular and too readily categorized U2, rock music itself remains a renegade force in culture, still largely undomesticated in its musicological meme. Brueggemann begs us to see past what he calls “equilibrium” to that queasy and uneasy place that the Psalter takes us, liminal “experiences of dislocation and relocation” because it “is experiences of being overwhelmed, nearly destroyed, and surprisingly given life that empower us to pray and sing.” 
Check out the Headphone Devotionals project blog where we can pray the U2 songs together:    link

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