Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"You don’t get into your car looking for a traffic jam." -Bono on Nee

I have long been drawn to Watchman Nee's writings on the interior life, and church life.
Gotta love AND hate that guy's writings, but wrestle with him we must.

It is well known that Nee's theology was influential on the Shalom movement that U2 connected with in the early 1980s..

.that is, until they were licked out of their church for doing what God wanted them to do (be Christians in music and "in the world."
See 4:41ff in this clip:

...and my prior post:

"New U2 song: The Sound

of Watchman Nee's

Girly Boots From the Future"

If you hang around these parts of the internet, you likely know that Mike Morrell is an amazing and apostolic resourcer . Below are some helpful thoughts of Mike's ...lifted below from his comments on a post.

I have often wondered what Watchman himelf would have counseled U2.
I don't imagine him embracing ZOO TV (:
....though I think at his best and most consistent he might have appreciated its "holy fool" theology and subversion of simulacra.

Same goals as Nee, right?

Knowing that surrender to God is the only message I have,
knowing that I am called to secure such surrender in the public sphere;
in the world--but not out of it yet
with a holy worldliness..

knowing that we are (g)not gnostic,

here's Mike:

I kinda like Nee & The Normal Christian Life. I mean, I have the same issues with Nee that Bono does (no really), and really it’s the same issues I have with any Plymouth Brethren-influenced folks; an unhealthy understanding of ‘the world’ and aversion to it that can lead to a kind of matter-hating gnosticism. But! I’d say that’s ’soft’ rather than ‘hard’ in Nee’s writing. (His trilogy ‘The Spiritual Man’ is way more hard-core in this regard - kind of ascetic - but he himself renounces this work later in life) I think you should read ‘The Normal Christian Life’ for yourself, Michael. Or better yet, ‘Christ: The Sum of All Spiritual Things’ (It’s shorter) You might be surprised. All I know is, a man who planted more churches in his lifetime than the Wesley brothers shouldn’t be too quickly discounted.

In case you thought I was making that stuff about Bono & Nee up, here’s a piece from an interview:

In November of 1982 you, The Edge, and Larry Mullins announced to your manager that you didn’t want to tour in support of your second LP, that the rock world was at odds with your Christianity. What happened?

We were just being pulled in two different directions. A lot of it was based on the idea of the ego. We’d been reading a lot of Watchman Nee, a Chinese Christian mystic. His idea was: “Unless the seed shall die and be crushed into the earth, it cannot bear fruit.”

Rock ‘n’ roll had this idea: “It’s me!” You know, “Look at me, ’cause I’m looking at you, m%$#!!!” Like, “Out of my way, looking out for number one, ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction!’” Watchman Nee’s attitude to that would be: “So what? What’s so important about you anyway?” (laughs)

So it was like we were being torn in two. We felt almost subconscious pressure being applied to us by a lot of people we looked up to within that spiritual community that we were in and out of. In the end, I realized it was bull$#!t, that what these people were getting close to with this idea was denial, rather than willful surrender. It was denial, which is the next-door neighbor to self-flagellation, and that awful idea that “through pain is gain.” Yes, there is pain. Yes, you may gain from it. But you don’t get into your car looking for a traffic jam. (laughs)”

- from Mother Jones

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