Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just lookin for a little Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum!

Several things stand out about this 2001 concert version of the U2 classic "I Still Haven't found What I'm Looking For."
You need a break; watch it and then read on.

Among the highlights for me: the unexpected (accidental?) lead vocal by the Edge on the outro, the falsetto on "I believe in the kingdom come...then all the colors will bleed into one...bleeeeed"..

But my favorite, and my focus here:

Bono announces mid-song, "We're gonna take you to church...'

That in itself was no surprise; he says that a lot at some point in the song...I heard him say it in Sacramento a few weeks later on the same tour..

But then..looks like in response to an audience (congregation) member's comment... he adds with a grin:

"That's right; We're IN church."

That's what I needed to hear. I am always in a church, the church. It's impossible for me to leave a church; I am inevitably part and a part of the Church/Body. In fact, if anything, I am more "in church" when I am out of a church-related building then when I am in one.
Church is inevitably in me.
        I am inextricably in it.
Jesus commanded us to go into all the world, but never to "go to church."

Yes, I know I am a pastor.

Or something like that.

Maybe I am a merely a facilitator for a group that meets throughout the week, at some unlikely "secular," real and third places, but ALSO on Sunday mornings; a motley flashmob crew that needs to often be "reminded about how easy it is to simply do a Sunday remix than completely re-work the way church is done" (as Nathan said so well here).

Those of us that are "in the church but not of it"...some not even (gasp!) "officially" meeting on Sunday morning with an "official group," are in uncharted waters (that's the GOOD news, by the way. The waters are liminal, deep and delightfully dangerous....and whoever said there had to be a chart in aquachurch anyway?) may desperately need a helpful post by Brother Maynard, who wrestles well on the truth we are all supposed to know: "Church does not mean Sunday, and Vice-Versa".

Another of my favorite wrestlers, Len Hjalmarson, quotes the U2 song at hand, as he admits:

Since leaving our church home in the fall of 2000 we have been on a wandering journey. There have been high spots, and low spots, times of refreshment and hope, and times of discouragement and doubt. But our journey with God has continued, we have learned a great deal more about our world and our God and our faith. We remain on a less travelled path, not always comfortable, but informally connected with several communities and many friends, and covenantally connected with a few. But we aren’t content, and “we still haven’t found what we’re looking for.” Thinking about this today, and holding it before the Lord this morning, I felt a hint of change coming. What will it be? I don’t know. (link)

Then he offers (maybe with that same knowing smile Bono gave above) the word we have been looking for:



It was a new word for me, too.

Sing it:

"But I still haven't found Turangawaewae!"
Amazing, it even fits the meter of the song(:
Send it to Bono immediately!

Turns out to be a Maori word that Alan Jamieson exegetes here, and Len summarizes as:

Turangawaewae - a place to belong. But not just any place, though perhaps a third place - a place to continue to continue to explore faith and discipleship, a place to share those deep places in ourselves and and to be formed in the way of Jesus.

You're looking for that, aren't you?
Sounds like a U2 concert (or Lianna Klassen, or Sigur Ros, or Cockburn, or Sinead, or .....)
....and (hopefully) a church gathering. Of course, it's not always/often/ever a literal "place"...partly our point, but it is a space that can be in large part found..

..but not bought by entrance into a building, and not necessarily in a prescribed place or time. Remember the guru in Zappa's "Cosmic Debris") who promised: "for a nominal service charge, I can help you find Nirvana tonight"...

So to help me find it..
Remember and memorize that first key word for Kingdomchurch living:
And you pronounced it well.
Now hold onto that word, as I want to throw another crazy and complementary word into the mix:



Some who know me can guess where this is headed: I want a bumper sticker which proclaims:
Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum!
or how about:
Follow Me To Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum ...
So far, I have not seen it at the Christian store.
Maybe because it sounds like a rectal disease (it is a pain in the butt).
Maybe because institutional church doesn't tend to believe in it.
Okay, since you asked, Leonard Sweet unpacks this second term:

Authentic participation requires what Appalachian culture often calls a good shot of spezzerinctum....a word that combines initiative, industry, independence and spontaneity. Perhaps the closest synonym is chutzpah ("holy boldness"), but chutzpah with responsibility, hospitality and the will to succeed...unfair and unpredictable .
(chapter 6 of "The Gospel According To Starbucks" )

There you have it.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for:
               Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum..
                                             a liminal spacetime of holy belonging and spontaneity.

I have found glimpses and portals to it at U2 concerts, coffee shops, and even spite of  Sunday morning gatherings.

"This IS a church."
Explore and dream with me what this looks like.
Where have you found it?

Since that first term is a Maori concept..
and since Bono's dear friend Greg Carrol was a Maori- Christian,
(watch this powerful song dedicated to Greg),
I'll bet Bono has heard the word (He certainly knows how to midwife and transubstantiate  the experience.

Now someone email the Bonoman and see if I'm right.
And let's get that song updated.
NOT in the way so many churches have actually updated/baptized it (adding a verse that clarifies that through Jesus we have found what we're looking for),
but in a way that will make it even holier:
"..I believe in the Kingdom come...but I still haven't found Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum.."
Just kidding.
I think.
Bono speaks in tongues/scat/Bongolose enough that he just might do it.
If so, U2 can record it, and we'll do it "in church."
Oops. Those are the exact two words I can't ever use together any more. They are oxymoromic and moronic.
I prefer my new 2-word bumper sticker.
It takes me to church.
No, this IS church.

Leader: Turangawaewae Spezzerinctum
People: And also with you.


  1. Dave, this reminds me of the unique U2 concert at Sarajevo, full of both Turangawaewae and Spezzerinctum -- and where Bono, in the middle of this same song, does in fact declare, "This is it! I can't ask for anything more! This is it!"

    BTW, at the first U2 concert I ever saw he did that same thing, said "this is church."

  2. fantastic story, Beth..i feel like that once in awhile "in church".

    And in the theme of "church in secular places", in the Milan video of this song..He says not "take us to the church" but "Take us to the Duomo," having given his speech about stained glass being the first film:

  3. Ps...looks like he gets upset with himself when he forgets to say "gonna take you to church"...see 5:06 below:


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!