Monday, October 06, 2014

the top two misundertaken secuhymns of the 20th Century

They both have been hugely misunderstood,
 misappropriated into acceptable evangelicalized versions.

It's amazing how many people have "fixed" U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", by adding a verse about finally finding it once and for all, and no longer having any need to search.  That supposedly makes it church-ready.  Arrgg.  Do they know that
"not having found what you’re looking for is not a sign of apostasy but a sign of faith. It means you’re still alive, still travelling, still growing, still learning. Keep looking and you’ll keep finding, and then finding that you still need to keep looking…" 

And of course, there's Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which a couple of years ago was  sanitized (sigh) and Christianized  (no!) by some well-meaning they know the writer is Jewish, and that sex is in the Bible?  (see A Special Version of Hallelujah With a Christian Twist 
and Christian Writer Ruins the Best Song Ever   and more here)

1)"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For":

"There has never been a more concise theology of redemption, atonement and the substitutionary death of Christ. No clearer proclamation of theGospel has ever sold so many copies...But he hasn't found what he is lookingfor. I remember speaking in Dublin and seeing this rather exuberant Christian atthe front of the hall. I began my address by asking had anyone found what they were looking for. "Amen brother. Yes Hallelujah!" I am not sure how my dearbrother came to earth as he discovered that for the next hour I was exposing that to have found what we are looking for has nothing to do with BiblicalChristianity...So my conclusion is that U2's I Still Haven't Found What I Am Looking For is probably the best hymn written in this century, it has the theology of the cross but is centred in the reality of a fallen humanity and i sabout striving towards a better man and a better world" (Rev Setve Stockman, read it

So why do Christians feel they have to change the lyric to sing it in church?:

 think Bono said it best, when he exclaimed,“You broke the bonds and you loosed the chainscarried the cross of my shame, of my shame.You know I believe it.“But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Said what best Mike? He didn’t say anything!I mean, that doesn’t make any sense does it?Jesus is what we’re looking for. Right?
Well, yes.
I remember a particular chapel service at my Christian high school,when a worship band came and sang this song.It was terribly cool at that time to sing a U2 song for worship too,but when it came time to sing the refrain after that verse,they cleverly changed the lyrics to,“and now I have found, what I’m looking for!”It was quite a moment too. Hands going up all over the place,people shouting, flags waving, it was totally amazing.And I remember pumping my fist, and thinking, “yeah! That’s right.What does Bono know? How could he talk about Jesus and thensay that he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for?Not me! I’ve found what I’m looking for! I’m not still searching,I’m not still looking….right?
Well, yes and no.
Ten years ago I thought U2 was trying to say that Jesus wasn’t really the answer.Now, I’m starting to see that they just understood something that I didn’t.You see, I think Bono was simply reiterating something that theologians havebeen writing about for centuries. He wasn’t making blasphemous statements as much as he was poeticizing what is commonly referred to as,“the already and the not yet.”And you know, I’d say it might just be the most difficult truth that a Christianwill ever have to wrestle with.The fact that we already have what we’re looking for,and in the same moment, haven’t yet received it,isn’t so easily reconciled as one would hope.   link


The generic genius of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

In his impressive new book The Holy or The Broken, veteran rock writer Alan Light meditates on “Hallelujah,” the song that may be the 20th century’s most influential and misunderstood secular hymn. In the way other books tell the story of a particular person, this is the biography of a song. Sure, it was penned by celebrated poet-writer-singer Leonard Cohen, but it is clearly much bigger than him or any of the hundreds of other artists who have interpreted it. It is regularly called one of the greatest songs of all time by people who should know about these things.
As a songwriter myself, as well as someone who has worked with songwriters for years, this is a fascinating book. Light reveals something surprising, and not all that comforting, about the modern popular culture’s power to pluck anything with commercial value out of obscurity and then profit wildly from it - even if that “something” is a maudlin meditation on personal failure, sexuality and fractured spirituality.

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