Friday, July 08, 2011

U2 devotions #8: blind guitar player healed by evangelists Bono and Steve Martin

I am sure most reader of this blog are up to date with what Bono did in Nashville the other night, letting Adam Bevell, who is blind, onstage to play "All I Want is You."  But did you catch the irony/prophecy in the line that :just happens to be in that song, :you say you'll give me eyes in a time of blindness."

It's chilling to watch Bono sing that line, while looking at the blind man..
(video at "Adam Bevell on CNN: "Blind guitar player" onstage with U2")

As Andrew William Smith, who was there, posted: " No, Bono didn’t go as far as laying-on-hands and restoring eyesight to our special guest. But at this point, I doubt any of us would have been surprised had that happened."

Who knows, maybe it did.  I wouldn't be surprised to hear in the next few weeks that somehow, inexplicably his eyesight is improving:

Mark 8:22-25
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
The Healing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida

 22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

That aounds like first choice.
But a closer look at the song reveals the poignancy of Bevell and his wife saying it's "their song":

"you say you'll give me eyes in a  time of blindness...but all I want is you."

Granted the song is often interpreted as being written by Bono to his wife, but Bono himself says all his songs can be turned into a prayer:

"You say You'll give me eyes in a  time of blindness...but all I want is You."

As in:

"Even if God slays me, I'll trust him.. " (Job)

"Even if God doesn't heal my eyes.."

Sometimes in the process of waiting out an answer to prayer/fulfillment of prophecy,  it's hard to know if God is healing us, giving us grace to go without the healing....or worse: abandoning us ("Jesus, I'm waiting here, Boss/I know you're looking out for us/But maybe Your hands aren't free"-U2,
"Wake Up, Dead Man")

"Is it healing me or drowning me?/The more I live, the less I know.ust a little bit helpless.."

-The Violet Burning, "Underwater"

Which brings us of course to the theologian Steve Martin.  Yes, THAT Steve Martin.
In a post called  "Can Steve Martin Teach Us Something About How God Answers Prayer?,"  Vince Brackett writes:

Chicago played host this past weekend to the Just For Laughs comedy festival (headlined by a favorite here: Louis C.K.).  I read a review of one of its acts, “A Very Stupid Conversation” with Steve Martin and Martin Short, and was struck by a little nugget from Steve Martin.  The reviewer, Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune, wrote:
“At one point, Martin was coaxed into a fascinating explanation of how he'd decided, early in his truly formidable career, to adapt the old comedic saw that jokes must build tension in the listeners which only the punch line can release. As Martin saw it, that was not the way people laugh when they're with their friends. So how do you re-create that kind of laughter from a stage? Well, why not just keep building tension?

‘If you do that,’ Martin said, to the murmurs of a house that contained plenty of awestruck young comics, ‘they're going to pick their own place to laugh. And that way, they're going to feel smarter and think you're funnier.’

You just have to think about that for a moment to see its truth. Ironic, really, that a man with clear misanthropic qualities figured out how to empower his audience.”
I love the use of the word “empower” to describe Martin’s effect on his audience.  For me, this feels really applicable to how we think about God answering prayer.  Our old saw is that all of our praying builds tension which God’s answer finally releases.  But what if God’s approach is often more like Steve Martin’s approach to comedy?  What if he thinks: why not just keep building tension?  Adapting Martin’s words: if God does that, we discover on our own places to acknowledge his power and movement; that way, we feel like greater participants in the process and we see God as much bigger.
I’m all about the times when God does emphatically answer prayers with a sort of “punch line” effect, but “just keep building tension” feels a much better descriptor of the vast majority of my day-to-day experiences of prayer.  The idea that God wants to empower me to participate in the process of his answering my prayer (and not just be a vending machine..
Vince Brackett

Steve Martin may have played a fake healing

evangelist once, but he sure has been playing the pastor lately. ( 

I think God is using this guy more and more to speak to the church.
We need that word about tension...

Maybe if Steve Martin opens up for U2, and Adam Bevell is called up on stage again.
Maybe, just maybe...those men who look like tress will come into full focus and he'll be healed.


But even if he's not...

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