Friday, September 26, 2014

Two Irish traditions (U2 and The Taking Salmon of Slane) grapple with innocence and experience

"One of the finest stories grappling with the balance between innocence and experience comes from the Irish tradition..."

No, the writer (David Whyte) does not mean the Irish tradition that is U2, even though their two new CDs  ("Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" ) do grapple right there.

 Here's (p. 148ff in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America)  his reference.

Whyte also coins the delightful phrase"innocence in the world of experience."  (154)

 All this in the chapter, "Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge," subtitled, "Innocence and Experience in Corporate America."  (see link above, p. 161, for the "fish story").

How do we live this out in other corporate entities and organisms..


   ..... especially the Corpus Christi?

Explore all this,
         soundtracked by U2
             and guided by Whyte..

"Anyone who wants to understand this pope must grasp _______________"

find out here

"the supreme heroes in our soulless society"

"Only a few achieve the colossal task of holding together, without being split asunder, the clarity of their vision alongside an ability to take their place in a materialistic world. They are the modern heroes.... Artists at least have a form within which they can hold their own conflicting opposites together. But there are some who have no recognized artistic form to serve this purpose, they are the artists of living. To my mind these last are the supreme heroes in our soulless society. "
- Irene Clairmont de Castillejo, quoted in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Coporate America

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Steve Stockman on "the hurting heart" of the mid-album songs in U2's "Songs of Innocence"

 "a heart that is broken/is a heart that is open" -U2, Cedarwood Road

Steve Stockman writes:

One of the things that stands out on this new U2 record is the personal raw emotion of the songs. The heart of the record is where the hurt is, to paraphrase an old Bono line. From Iris (Hold Me Close) to Cedarwood Road we are on a 4 song sequence that is a painful journey from tragic personal loss to the door that opened for redemption to be found. I believe it to be the heart of the album. To record an album of songs of youth is nothing new to U2. 
"Boy" was exactly that but it was actually written in their youth as they left the exit door from adolescence. These songs have been thirty five years in the bubbling, brooding and making sense of. Where the other songs on Songs Of Innocence are also crucial building blocks that made Bono a man, this little section from Iris to Cedarwood Road are the trauma, the deepest fault lines of Bono’s shaping. Song For Someone is also a crucial building block but let us work through Iris to Cedarwood Road and get back to there.  link

complete series:






U2's thick ecclesiology: aesthetic over institution


"U2: Seeking An Ecclesiology" by Tripp Hudgins for Sojourners-excerpt:

...What I want you to see is this post from the New Yorker. Do we truly have a "Church of U2" and is it in the cloud as well as the arenas around the globe? Can they send their sonic tracts anywhere they want? With 33 million downloads, is this a form of evangelism or is it simply "offering something beautiful?" It is so wed with making money to support the mammoth (and fading) music industry, that it's hard to know where the market begins and the ekklesia ends.
Of course, trying to disentangle those two is always a right mess. Ask Henry VIII. It ain' easy.
But this is why I'm so damn curious about it. Even the New Yorker gets it:
The story of U2 might be this: having begun as a band that was uncertain about the idea of pursuing a life of faith through music, they have resolved that uncertainty. Their thin ecclesiology has become thick. Today, they are their own faith community; they even have a philanthropic arm, which has improved the lives of millions of people. They know they made the right choice, and they seem happy. Possibly, their growing comfort is bad for their art. But how long could they have kept singing the same song of yearning and doubt? “I waited patiently for the Lord,” Bono sings, in the band’s version of Psalm 40. “He inclined and heard my cry.”
Yeah. There it is. And the connection to the new album? Here: "It expresses a particular combination of faith and disquiet, exaltation and desperation, that is too spiritual for rock but too strange for church—classic U2."
Right. There.
There is our "authenticity." There is the new ecclesiology that we see emerging. It is not an institution in the brick and mortar sense. No, it is an aesthetic. It is "authenticity' that is too spiritual for rock (the pure market) but too strange for church (sorry, Pope Francis).
What we're seeing is four guys from Ireland with way the hell too much money showing us what we have been wanting all along: a new way of being the institutional church

-Tripp Hudgins

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

U2’s central preoccupation is...

Great article in New Yorker, The Church of U2:

...almost every U2 album contains a song about their decision to belong to a band rather than a church. (“One,” for example, is about the challenges of joining together with your friends to try and find God on your own.).. 

...The tension in spiritual life—between discipline and vulnerability, order and openness, being willful and giving in—became U2’s central preoccupation, and gave it its aesthetic..

...most of the time, when Bono uses the words “love,” “she,” “you,” or “baby”—which he does often—a listener can hear “God” instead..

..People sometimes sway to “With or Without You” at weddings, but the “you” isn’t a romantic partner (the line about seeing “the thorn twist in your side” should be a giveaway); the song is about how the intense demands of faith are both intolerable and invaluable (“I can’t live / With or without you”). “The Fly,” on “Achtung Baby,” seems a little overwrought as a love song, but as a song about the writing of the Gospels it’s surprisingly concrete (“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, / All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief”). “Until the End of the World” is meaningless until you realize that it’s a love song for Jesus, sung by Judas, as portrayed by Bono. (This becomes especially obvious when the song is juxtaposed with scenes from “The Passion of the Christ.”) The best of these songs may be “Ultra Violet (Light My Way),” which sounds like it’s about a desperate romance, but is actually about the cruelty of God’s reticence:
You bury your treasure where it can’t be found,
But your love is like a secret that’s been passed around.
There is a silence that comes to a house
Where no one can sleep.
I guess it’s the price of love; I know it’s not cheap.
In the chorus, Bono alludes to the Book of Job (“Baby, baby, baby, light my way”), while the Edge offers a metaphor for the near-invisibility of God (“ultraviolet love”). On their recent “U2 360°” tour, the band came up with a clever visual metaphor for the song’s big idea: Bono wears a jacket trimmed in red lasers that point out into the crowd. It’s a pained, incomplete aura—trashy, but beautiful.
U2’s best songs were written during these years—roughly from 1986, when they began recording “The Joshua Tree,” to 1997, the year “Pop” (which is actually very good) was released. But there was a problem: the songs depended for their power on the dramatization of Bono’s ambivalence about God. Onstage, he theatrically performed his doubt: on the “ZooTV” tour, in support of “Achtung Baby,” Bono regularly dressed up as the devil, singing songs of romantic-religious anguish in costume. That anguish was genuine, but there was something unseemly about his flaunting of faith and doubt. It was a peep show in which, instead of showing a little leg, Bono teased us with his spiritual uncertainty. In a song called “Acrobat,” on “Achtung Baby,” he accused himself of hypocrisy: “I must be an acrobat / To talk like this and act like that.” He quoted Delmore Schwartz: “In dreams begin responsibilities.”
U2 have continued to write songs of doubt (“Wake Up Dead Man,” off “Pop,” is especially good). But they are no longer wild, ludic, and unhinged in the way they talk about God. There used to be something improvisational and risky about their spirituality—it seemed as though it might go off the rails, veering into anger or despair. Now, for the most part, they focus on a positive message, expressed directly and without ambiguity. The band’s live shows have a liturgical feel: Bono, who regularly interpolates hymns and bits of Scripture into his live performances, leads the congregation with confidence.
On their most recent albums, including “Songs of Innocence”—which Sasha Frere-Jones, the magazine’s pop music critic, reviewed last week—Bono sings about religious subjects with the kind of unfussy directness that, perversely, makes the songs less open to the resolutely secular. Two songs on the new album, “Every Breaking Wave” and “Song for Someone,” express rich ideas about God—in the first case, the paradoxical idea that, to really sink into faith, you have to stop questing after new experiences of it; in the second, the idea that fleeting moments of religious feeling, even when they don’t make sense in your own life, might be a “song for someone” you don’t know, perhaps someone in need, or some other version of yourself. These songs aim for clarity but end up being uncommunicative; they aren’t rough enough around the edges, and so there’s nothing to grab on to if you’re not already interested. If you aren’t listening carefully, it’s easy to think they’re about nothing.

The story of U2 might be this: having begun as a band that was uncertain about the idea of pursuing a life of faith through music, they have resolved that uncertainty. Their thin ecclesiology has become thick. Today, they are their own faith community; they even have a philanthropic arm, which has improved the lives of millions of people.  

The Church of U2

Monday, September 15, 2014

I know Someone who "revels in paradox and subversion":

image from the Mark Meynell post
I know Someone who "revels in paradox and subversion":

See Mark Meynell's post on "Song for Someone" here

"When you first hear a U2 album.."

"When you first hear a U2 album you think they’ve lost their faith and then after awhile you wish you had their faith."-David Dark

Jason Sebastian Russo,Hopewell, Common Prayer

  I just found out about him; and I don't know where to "file" Jason Sebastian Russo and his bands Hopewell and Common Prayer (and formerly of Mercury Rev)...some say space rock..others psychedelic indie rock, shoegaze, scifi gospel artrock (just made that one up) etc..

I don't know where to file Jason Sebastian Russo  himself spiritually.  From my first glnce at his lyrics  on the Hopewell and The Birds of Appetite CD, I said, "Wow, there is a Godhaunted man who obviously grew up in church."  Articles and interview do often mention that he grew up in "very religious" home, but nowhere is the tradition specified.  Russo: "I grew up in a really religious household where we were taught that the world is going to hell, Satan was going to be released from his chains and we probably would have to live in the basement and eat the cat to survive. "   Hmm,  That doesn't sound very Catholic, but strangely he speaks of childhood church services as  "mass".

JR:Hopewell definitely focuses on the transcendental, and Common Prayer sticks around the house. The sanctity of the mundane..

I think it's safe to say that the two bands are trying to arrive at the same place by going in opposite directions. One going out, one going in. After enough interstellar travel, you start to notice that the pattern is self-replicating. The more you zoom out to take in the data, the more the picture keep resolving to be the same basic shape. As above so below. Perhaps it's just a matter of scale..

 Question: You've said 'I say a prayer to everything going.' Is this a matter of not holding on, being open to everything; finding wonder in the new, to keep moving?

JR: At some point, I realized that what my parents call God, I call "everything going how everything goes" - so, prayer.  link


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bill Maher Chews Out Charlie Rose over Islam

U2 "Songs of Innocence" early reviews

U2’s “Songs of Innocence”Is It Their Best Work Yet?A Composer’s Perspective! by Kevin Ott, Rockin' God's House


Greg Clarke  on  the miracle in the U2 bloodstream :The new U2 album – Songs of Innocence – is gorgeous. It’s instantly familiar, obviously U2 and deeply Christian. This  continued


On first take, the latest U2 album still offers grace

The band’s latest release is theologically rich, though subtler than its earlier work. By Steven Harmon  link

by RevNathanHart:
that in fact the album had been paid for, just not by the listeners. Apple Corporation paid the price. “I don’t believe in free music,” Bono said, “music is a sacrament.”

The power of Songs of Innocence is found within its sacramental atmosphere. There are holy moments throughout. With very personal and vulnerable lyrics, Bono has (probably temporarily) laid down his political megaphone. It feels less like a prophetic diatribe and more like a prayer of confession.  link

Review: No surprise the surprise U2 album shines

Rolling Stone 5-star review

New York Times review
Sep 10, 2014
The result is their best and most thematically complete album since Achtung Baby. By turning towards their past, U2 have found their way back to the future.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bible as center

Of course, this post connected me to "bounded sets" and "centered sets," though Enns doesn't use that language:

The Bible is the center of the Christian faith (and don’t assume you know what I mean by that) by Peter Enns

I once  Googled, and was surprised to find some churches advertising as "Bible-centered" opposed to "Christ-centered."


Blake on ecclesiology, profane becoming sacred, and thinking against oneself

It's kind of freaky that just a few days ago--before you and I had any idea that U2's surprise releases
would be called "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience"..

..I pulled out two books:

One theory is that "The Joshua Tree" was to be a double album; one disc "Songs of Innocence" and the other  "Songs of Experience".

One reviewer headlined a review of U2's "Pop" as  More Songs of Innocence and Experience.

One can see why Bono likes Blake. From Inchausti:

If one were to seek the great archetypal  precursor for prophetic Christian thinker championing the soul's return from the spiritual exile of Enlightenment rationalism, William Blake comes very close to casting the mold.  Condemned as heretical by some and as too orthodox by others, he was one of the first to point out exactly how the new sciences were distorting the role of the imagination in human affairs and putting the soul to sleep.
          Altizer  and Hamilton..described Blake's contribution to Western thought
Blake was the first of the modern seers.  Through Blake we can sense the theological significance of a poetic reversal of our mythical traditions, and become open to the possibility that the uniquely modern metamorphosis of the sacred into the profane is the culmination of a redemptive and kenotic movement of the Godhead
          This, I think, is an essentially accurate description of Blake's intellectual influence.
           I would, however, reverse the figure and the field.  Blake does not celebrate the sacred 
           becoming profane, but the profane becoming sacred.
....Blake reminds us again and again that true knowledge--that is to say, knowledge of our ontological status as creatures made in the image of God--cannot be grasped by calculation; only through a vision.  And vision--in its most concentrated and inclusive firm --is what psychoanalysts call the "imago," an internal picture that transform s facts into meanings..

..His theme is that the church lost its radical energy by giving up its apocalyptic vision for a more accommodating set of doctrines, and so the church became more hierarchical and tradition-bound at the very moment it should have become more democratic and imaginative..

Christian thought critiques mainstream culture but also sees itself under judgment; our best modern Christian intellectuals have turned thinking against themselves into a veritable art form: from Blake to Dostoyevsky, from Kierkegaard to Chesterton, all the way to Dorothy Day and Walker Percy, the exemplary mode of Christian thought has been a triadic structure of self-reflection, paradox and irony that reverses the values of this world and the logic of cause and effect  pp 19-28, 178

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

2 new U2 CDs: thanks to William Blake

After the surprise  free release of U2's "Songs of Inncence" today, I posted (in faith,,or at least prayer) this picture.
A couple hours later...I find it's true.
"Songs of Experience" to follow soon.

U2 Performs New Song, Releases 'Songs Of Innocence' Album Free via iTunes

Bono: Stay Tuned for Another U2 Album, 'Songs of Experience'

Rolling Stone surveys the songs

Saturday, September 06, 2014

following "I Will Follow" : backdropped by stalking agape

In a post on the Hurst Review, several U2 fans post on the "Celebrating U2" theme, including this item by Beth Maynard on "I Will Follow."
(related:  see Two posts on Bloody Sunday)_

One of my fantasies for some time has been offering a retreat based around how U2 have worked and reworked “I Will Follow” over their career. Their 29 years of changes to this song track a classic spiritual pilgrimage: from seeking to fervor to sending to struggle to reconciliation.  The constants have been the chorus and verse structure,  Larry’s drums, Edge’s relentless two-string assault, and Bono’s stalker chant: a minor third in the verses and one obsessive note in the chorus. But so much else has morphed from year to year.
The lyrics are an obvious example. As the seasons of U2’s work pass, is it a “mother” or “lover” in verse 2?  “They pulled the four walls down,” or “you tore my four walls down”?  Is the narrator’s predicament being “lost,” “caught at a stoplight,” or “chased by amazing grace”?  And does the story end neatly with him “found,” or is the verdict Popmart’s trapped, angry “you took the soul from me/you put a  
hole in me”? (Or do we even sing the song at all?  Not on ZooTV we don’t.)
Then there’s the mood of the center bridge.  The original on Boy to  
me comes out eerie and maybe even a tad frightening.  (“Your eyes” — they fascinate me, I can’t stay away, but when I do “go in there,” what am I getting myself into? )  In the later 80s it’s a more trusting encounter, and the transition out of it turns exultant.  But the whole section is summarily cut for the Pop era: not quite able to meet those eyes just now?  After 2001, the bridge returns, often with an extended numinous improvisation, band and crowd hovering in the moment as at the Elevation show in Turin: “Let the Spirit descend on this place/let the lines disappear off my face.”
Or finally the ending.  “I Will Follow” concludes with a high-energy drive to the final note, but on the studio version  20-year-old Bono delivers his last word as if sleepwalking, almost as a question: “…follow…?”  However, listen to a live performance just a year or so later, and caution is gone as he’s shouting “I will!” The band rush the tempo.  It’s a vow.  In Popmart, he’s age 37, “I Will Follow” has become a cry of mother-loss paired with “Mofo,” and the end is broken and desperate: “Don’t walk away!” And post-midlife, during the Vertigo tour, sometimes the song actually winds up in Koine Greek: “Agape, agape.”
Stalking agape, or facing the reality that it will never stop stalking you, or renewing your vows to it as in a lifelong marriage – those kinds of relational negotiations backdrop all  the different versions of “I Will Follow.”  If it’s in the setlist for the upcoming tour, I’ll be looking for it to reveal yet another nuance of how four artists are living a life in love with Love.

Re: The quote at Turin mentioned above: variations:

PS an interesting exaltation i noticed during I will follow in the elevation san remo concert..."let the lines disappear on my face, let the spirit descend on this place..our spirits will never grow old..."also..i noticed a different intro than usual on the oakland Nov 15 concert to streets...."Who's gonna fall in front of Thee...Who's gonna fall in front of Thee...You have my heart. You have my heart"  link

The Naked and The Famous


missional Bar Mitzvahs

Kids forego Jewish coming-of-age parties to build playground for other kids

Read more here:

help a newbie: R.E.M., anybody? U2 vs. REM?

This was previously posted on my facebook here..
be sure to click to see/add comments over there.

Some of you will be surprised to hear this, but I came late... really late (after they broke up)... to R.E.M. Sure, I had heard a few songs and liked them, but never owned any REM until this year. That may seem funny, but I just found an article that said you are either an REM or U2 person... well, that explains it--I have been no small U2 fan since 1980!(: But I know geniuses that I think are both (Richard S Rawls??).....So anyone chime in: Favorite REM CD or era? Love? Hate? Argue the U2 or REM theory? ANYWAY.. thanks to the 50 cent sale at Rasputin Music - Fresno... as you can see.. I now have a complete collection of studio albums for about the price of one(: I'm sure I will blog on this in a few weeks, but chime in!