Saturday, April 19, 2014

What would Bono read? "Invisible" and two Spanish mystics

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If you know the U2 song, "Invisible," how do you NOT hear it when you read this section of  Yovel's The Other Within:The Marranos: Split Identity and Emerging Modernity:

"the simplistic mysticism of the Alumbrados was superseded by the mystical theology of the Converso monk Francisco Osuna.  Osunsa's follower, Saint Teresa of Avila, became the greatest mystic of Spain, and her own disciple and partner, Saint John of the Cross (Juan de la Cruz), is Spain's towering mystical poet.
The mystical theology was opposed to the prevailing scholastic theology.  God was not an object of knowledge--certainly not the kind of dogmatic knowledge promulgated by the ruling scholastic schools--but of love, and ultimately, union.  To reach God the soul must sink deeply into itself and  be purified of all thoughts of created things.  The lover of God must be free of sensation, desire and rational reasoning; she or he must transcend all particular forms of life, thought, and wish, and plunge in silent concentration into that "dark night of the soul"  (the title of Juan de la Cruz's best known poetic collection), from which God alone might respond to his love.  Ceremonies and vocal prayers are equally of little use.  What matters is the heart; and the heart, in order to find its religious intensity and depth, must be liberated from external distractions like speech and ritual.
Yes, Osuna insisted, this does not lead to nothingness, but rather to supreme being and totality.  Our thinking nothing is also thinking all. for in it we think nondiscursively of Him who by wonderous eminence is everything."  -Yovel, p. 255
The line I am trainspotting here in U2's "Invisible" is one of the following (the actual lyric is debated; it's a new song and no official lyrics are available):

  • "I don't think about you that much..unless I stop to think at all"
  • "I don't even think about you that much...unless I stop to think it all"
  • "I don't think about you that much...unless I start to think at all"
  • "I don't even think about you that much..unless I start  to think it all"

See  Invisible - U2 Lyrics from @U2, listen up and decide for yourself..

As if that's not enough, a few pages later, in an analysis of Teresa's spirituality:

"When the soul is out of itself in the state of union, it suddenly surges into great heights, like a huge tongue of flame bursting from a fire, or a giant eagle kidnapping the soul and flying with it to majestic heights.  This creates an experience of sublimity, leading to sweet, painless suffering during which Teresa remembered herself as "flooded with tears without pain."  Her description suggests that the whole human being, and not only the soul as opposed to the body, attains  elevated existence."  -Yovel,  bold emphases mine

Of course, here is another tie to a key line of "Invisible":

a body in a soul

This line is probably  partially triggered by a known influencer of Bono, C.S. Lewis.

(See a great post on this song  by Tim Neufeld here.  Excerpt: "He often suggests that spirit and flesh are inextricably linked : 'A body in a soul'—really, did he sing that?? Yep. That’s some great theology! Could be the subtitle for a whole course on theology of the human person. 

But, it  also makes one Bono read Teresa as well
                                               ..or Yovel?

¿Quién sabe?

Of course, fans will also note Yovel/s/Teresa's reference  above to elevation, yet another U2 song, based on a mystical prayer technique.

I have wondered about his bedside reading before...See:

We know the B-Man  has read Lewis,
            Eugene Peterson, 
                            Watchman Nee...
                                           and even Smith Wigglesworth..

but how deep does his well go?

Bonus: See Mother Beth's post on "Invisible"  here.
Obviously with a visibly invisible God, there's plenty of good theologizing to be done..

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