Saturday, February 23, 2013

U2 devotionals: A Cheap Trick of a U2 midrash mashup: "Surrender...but don't give yourself away"

There are no lack of officially Christian songs with lyrics involving the call to surrender.

As I joked once in a Salt Fresno Magazine article on the topic of surrender:

As you may have noticed, the hymn isn’t called “I Surrender 87 percent.” (link)

But some days that's about the max percent Jesus is going to get from any of us.
I am sure there are many reasons for that...but do they all boil down to fear?:

Do you remember Jim Carrey’s character in the film “Bruce Almighty” finally getting to the point of radical repentance and deep desperation; kneeling down emotionally in the middle of the road and rainstorm, and praying with all his might,
I surrender to Your will!”

He was promptly run over by a truck!

Don’t we sometimes fear surrender?

Do you ever feel and fear that if you offer God a total surrender, He’ll take you up on it?

But the only thing to fear about surrender is fear of surrender itself. 

story here

To this day, many lampoon Bono for his "white flag of surrender" days.
Heck, you could even

 buy mini-surrender flags at the concerts!>>

Only two  U2 songs...decades and worlds apart... carry the word  "surrender" in the title:
1983's "Surrender"  and  from their most recent album, "Moment of Surrender."

But if as Bono freely admits, all their songs can be turned into prayer...then all their songs may well be about surrender; at least surrendering to surrender.

Ian Ryan recently wrote a fascinating column, suggesting that "Surrrnder" can be seen as sister song to  "City of Blinding Lights," as they are the " only  two  [U2] songs that I can think of about the city as a concept."  Fascinating insight, and a great read here.  To explore the city as a context for temptation and crucible for surrender, see  my thoughts on  another Mashup: "Walking in the City"/"Moment of Surrender", and the U2 song "New York."

Beth Maynard comments on Ryan's article,

Ian Ryan, the lyrics guru at @U2, has an interesting post up about "Surrender" in which he links it with "City of Blinding Lights." "Surrender" has long been a favorite U2 track of mine, one which I tend to pair in presentations with "Discotheque" as essentially treating the topic of true versus false surrender (in Bono's words, the fact that "there are two roads out of town.")   link

Hmmm, there are several great candidates for sister songs on surrender.

But my ultimate pairing, if I were the DJ for church Sunday..and I just might be...
might be a messianic mashup of:

U2's "Surrender" and (at least the chorus of ) Cheap Trick's "Surrender"

How obvious is that?(:

You can find some interesting debate on the meaning (or non-meaning, if it's just a fun throwaway song) of the Cheap Trick Song  on Song Meanings here (be sure to catch  how one interpreter  even brings Žižek to the table!)  and some thoughts on authorial intent on  a fan forum here.

One of the intriguing lines is the chorus; namely, what does it mean to "surrender, but don't give yourself away"?  I want it to mean,  "Surrender completely to God, but there's no need to surrender who you really are," in the sense of Larry Wood's book title, "Truly Ourselves, Truly The Spirit's."

But even that can be scary enough to postpone full surrender indefinitely!
Is that why the Christian uses of the "Bruce Almighty" clip all stop before the truck hits Bruce?

One of my favorite lines in the U2 song is the  also intriguing"If I want to live, I have to die to myself someday."
Like Beth, I have

 assumed that the "someday" of that dying to self was a bitter jab at the narrator's own apathy. (Like Augustine: Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.)  LINK

On that classic Augustinian prayer, see this:


So the U2 song in it's "someday"  and the Cheap Trick song's "don't give yourself away" may be more sisterly than previously seen: Both capture and subvert.. with humor, wink, and dead-on prophecy...our hesitance and reticence to  enter into "Abandonment to Divine Providence"
for fear we will  have to be chaste; or worse: be abandoned by God, not abandoned to God.

If only we realized that The Secret is Letting Go!

Even if it does hurt:

"God teaches the soul by pains and obstacles;

not by ideas."

"God teaches the heart not by ideas,
but by pain and contradiction."

-de Caussade, "Abandonment to Divine Providence  (PDF)

We fear the leap of faith, when we can and should yield to it "heartily"

Uh, "heartily"?

I cherish the “Covenant Prayer” from the 1700s; John Wesley suggested every congregation pray it corporately on New Year’s (Hmm, another potential U2 connection(: ):

I am no longer my own, but Thine.
Put me to what Thou wilt, rank me with whom Thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for Thee or laid aside for Thee,
exalted for Thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am Thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.  link

Technically, the word “surrender” doesn’t show up in that passionate, provocative prayer.

But it’s on and between every line.

And betwixt  and between every prayerline of my U2-Cheap Trick midrash and mashup.

As a bonus, to quote an actual devotional I found on the Cheap Trick song, surrender can be navigated even when I am in a crappy mood.  Thus I don't need to give myself away, only give myself over.


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