Sacred Stables, Sacred Stadiums: Lifting the Veil on “Zooropa” at Christmas

December 19, 2013

During the “Zooropa” section in the U2 360 live set, the stage got cloaked in shimmering lights like a Christmas tree, obscuring the band, blurring the land where technology-meets-humanity that the song invokes. A rugged tapeloop litters the mind with “WTF” random blips of spoken media babble.

In the book U2 by U2, Bono reflects that Zooropa was “our attempt to create a world rather than just songs, and it’s a beautiful world. The opening was our new manifesto: I have no compass, I have no maps, and I have no reason to go back. . . . The opening was the audio equivalent of Blade Runner’s visuals. If you closed your eyes you could see the neon, the giant LED screens advertising all manner of ephmera.”

zoo23

Something got hidden away in the starry starburst of rising young rockstars. God gets lost in man chasing mammon. God gets lost from man. Like God hiding from Moses in the rocks, this is rock that hides God only to reveal God. Bono recalls, “I wanted to get away from the weight of where I was going. I wanted to fly. . . . And I have no religion, I don’t know what’s what. There is a line in the New Testament [John 3:8] which says that the spirit moves and no one knows where it comes from or where it is going. It’s like a wind. I have always felt that about my faith. Religion is often the enemy of God because it denies the spontaneity of the spirit and almost anarchistic nature of the spirit.”

At its dirty Christmas core, the Christ story is an anarchic breaking through. The veil of colored lights gets lifted, and we get lifeblood. The dirty story of Christmas finds this unmarried teenager and faithful fiancé finding the unfound, unfettered scandalous incarnation of a baby king.

The “Zooropa” narrative of human-techno hybrids in hope and fear throws back a couple of millennia to the divine-human dangerous idea of messianic and revolutionary Jesus. Bono sings, “Let’s go to the overground/Get your head out of the mud baby/Put flowers in the mud baby/Overground.”

Jesus Christ is the flower in the mud, the flower in the gunbarrel of history, saying love still wins. The author of Love Wins, Rob Bell, in his followup treatise What We Talk About When We Talk About God, rips the veil even further.

Referencing Hebrews 10:20, Bell suggests the Christ-event ripped open history and lifted the veil. Bell proclaims, “[T]his ripping was a picture of how, because of Jesus, we can have new, direct access to God. […T]he curtain ripping also means that God comes out, that God is no longer confined to the temple as God was previously. God, of course, was never confined by a building. The point of the story is that our understanding of God was.”

Perhaps Bell and Bono of the post-Zoo period are onto the same thing: ripping away the veils between secular and sacred dualities, human and divine dichotomies. When the veil of lights lifted from the 360-stage to reveal the band again, the new setting set fires in souls.

rob-bell-2

Massive pop-culture spirituality runs the risk of all kinds of sacrilege. Bell warns us of that muddy random mess where everything is “common, average, ordinary, and mundane.” At its best, rock music reconciles the wretched and the wicked with the wondrous otherworldly message of hope. Bell asserts, “This is why the Jesus story is so massive, progressive, and forward looking in human history.”

The 360 tour transformed football stadiums and entire downtown areas into sacred spaces. Headphone downloads and YouTube videos are transformative transmissions. There’s risk in all of it, but the risky for the anarchic holy spirit begun with Zooropa continues today and will hopefully smash more paradigms with the forthcoming record.

Then the next U2 rock show, whether in stadiums or back to arenas, can be again, like Bell writes, a place to say: “You are on holy ground wherever you are, and Jesus comes to let us know that the whole world is a temple because we’re temples, all of life is spiritual, all space sacred, all ground holy.” Even stables of the first century, even stadiums of the 21st century. –Andrew William Smith, Editor

 

U2 & the Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle

July 23, 2013

 Did you ever have the random shuffle on your music player speak to you in a profound way? We’re honored to have author & preacher Jonathan Martin share a U2 story about what he calls the “Holy Ghost iPod Shuffle,” an excerpt from his new book Prototype.

Like many people of my generation, I’ve spent far too much of my life with headphones on my ears.  I have a big DJ-style pair that I use every day, because I love to be immersed in music—I love songs big enough to swim around in.  That’s one reason why I’ve had a lifelong affinity for the Irish rock group U2.  I know it’s a huge cliché for a thirtysomething pastor to be a massive U2 fan.  But I don’t care.  I was listening to their album Zooropa on endless repeat on my boom box long before I cared anything about ministry.  They have always spoken the language of my spirit – and, thankfully, our communicative God is conversant in all of my dialects.  More than once, He has used the music of U2 to touch me and guide me.

Jonathan-Martin-e1327632893142

There was a particularly dark day several years ago when I was convinced that the life I had built for myself was crumbling around me. I had never felt more hurt or confused.  Not knowing what else to do on that Saturday, I decided to go to a nearby gym to try to work off some of the tension I felt.  As I stepped onto the elliptical machine, I turned on my iPod and set it on “shuffle.”  (I’ve always liked that feature because it’s like having your own personal radio station – except all the bands are awesome and there are no commercials.)

As I began to work the elliptical machine, the anthem “Beautiful Day” came on.  Being a U2 buff, I knew the history of that song: Lead singer Bono once said in an interview that he was inspired by the teaching of Christ that you have to lose your life in order to find it.  It’s a song about losing everything you held dear, and yet somehow finding that you’ve gained everything that really counts:

Sky falls, you feel like

It’s a beautiful day,

Don’t let it get away

As I was listening to the music that day, something inside me broke.  I felt a distinct inner confirmation – a virtual witness deep within me — that I was experiencing the truth of that song through my particular circumstances

What you don’t have you don’t need it now.

What you don’t know you can feel it somehow.

I had felt as if I was going to lose everything, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with the certainty that it was actually the beginning of something new and unspeakably beautiful.  I didn’t know how to articulate it at the time, but I now believe that the distinct vision of the church we planted in Charlotte was birthed in that moment.

I had heard that song hundreds of times before, but that time I heard it differently.  It was as if something had come to life inside me and was getting out, like the creature that bursts from the chest cavity of the guy in the first Alien movie.  I felt so silly on that elliptical machine in the middle of a crowded gym on a Saturday morning.

This experience took place over the span of about four minutes.  As the song was winding down, I was still overcome, but my emotions were starting to settle — that is until my iPod, still set on “shuffle” and crammed with thousands of songs to choose from, played a live version of “Beautiful Day” right on the heels of the studio cut.  At that point, I really began to weep.  It was as if the voice of Love was saying, “In case you didn’t recognize me the first time . . . . “

There may well be a rational explanation to the timing and sequencing of those songs on my iPod that day, but even if that were true, it wouldn’t change or diminish the impact of what I heard.  My response was not irrational, but it transcended my capacity for reason.  I wasn’t just hearing U2 play a rock song.  I was hearing an ancient song.  I was hearing the music of God’s love in the same way I believe David heard it in the field as a boy.  It was the wonder that called me back to who I really am, that called me forward to who I am meant to become.  That’s what music does; that’s what wonder does.  God uses these things to remind us of who we really are. –Jonathan Martin

From Prototype by Jonathan Martin, pages 34-36. Reprinted by permission of the author. Please check out his church homepage: http://renovatuschurch.com

Transgressing Theology: Locating Jesus in a “F—ed-Up World”

June 25, 2013

For many fans, POP marks the moment when U2 went too far.  The word “excess” is often associated with the album and the tour that promoted it.  The auricular experimentation amounts to a sonic assault, a breaking of the sound barrier, a soniferous boom and bust.  The album offers too much glitz and glitter; it’s an immersion in the momentary; it seems a celebration—or it is a seamy celebration—of the transient.   As the authorized lore goes, U2 regrouped after POP, returned to their roots, and started writing recognizable songs again.  In short, they came to their senses.

I see it differently.  For me, POP is that extra push over the cliff, as Nigel Tuffnel once remarked.  On this album, U2 “go up to 11.”

While I think this album challenges and breaks all sorts of musical boundaries for the band (supersonic guitar expeditions, funkified percussion, techno dance rhythms, drum loops, bits of sampled and synthesized esoterica, the short wave distortion fading in and out of “Wake Up Dead Man” to intimate Araby, etc.), I find most endearing (and enduring) the theological leap, the “leap of faith,” as it were, that U2 take on POP.

U2 Pop Mart Tour 97

In the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Pink Floyd (in very different contexts), U2′s songs amount to the plea: “tear down the wall.”  Within the framework of Christian doctrine, U2 put forward a “transgressive theology.”  In these POP tunes, U2 transgress the borders between spirit and flesh, sacred and profane, high and low.  On this album, the “Popmart” as medium of pop culture in the context of commercial exchange becomes hallowed ground.  To be extreme about it:  God is Pop.  This is the revelation U2 disclose and pursue through the 12 songs that constitute their 1997 album.

The POP album opens in the tradition of David—the songwriter who danced suggestively before the ark of the covenant—with an invitation to dance.  Over an entrancing beat and the relentless assault of electric guitars, Bono implores:  “Let go!  Let’s go:  Discotheque!”  This impulse to dance, to surrender to the moment, permeates the album.  And as in the biblical tales of David, God is not far removed from the scene.  Out there on the dance floor, the dancer is engaged in a search for “the One.”  Who precisely this one might be remains an open question here at the beginning of the album.  It could be the search for self; it could be the search for romance with an Other; it could even be the search for a savior—a messiah of some sort or other—who can effect the mystical union in which the seeker becomes the song.

Take for another example the dance tune “Mofo.”  At first listen, the song sounds like a paean to “mother sucking rock and roll” or something even more profane as the slang of the title suggests.  Still, the song is also driven by the same kind of quest enunciated in “Discotheque”—and articulated in the opening stanza:

Looking for to save my save my soul

Looking in the places where no flowers grow

Looking for to fill that God-shaped hole….

In “Mofo,” this pursuit includes the search for “baby Jesus under the trash”—that is, in the midst of the muck and mire of human existence, once again challenging the dividing line between sacred realm and the earth-bound.   Locating Jesus under the trash is not the same thing as positioning him “at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,” to quote a doctrinal formulation.  Indeed (as Bono will sing in a different but related context in the song “If God Will Send His Angels”):  “the High Street never looked so low.”  Still, there’s something hauntingly familiar about this dislocation to “the places where no flowers grow,” to the realm of the discarded, to the barn out back after permission to enter the inn has been withheld.

While “Mofo” is about the yearning to draw near to God or mother, or both, “The Playboy Mansion” concerns itself with the desire to pass through the “Narrow Gate” which, in the religious imagination, in any case, leads to “mystical ecstasy, absolute knowledge, or faith.”  Mention of the gate brings to mind the passage in the Gospel of Matthew (7. 13-14) that warns:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide

and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and

there are many who take it.  For the gate is narrow

and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are

few who find it.

Mention of the mansion, meanwhile, recalls Jesus’ saying from the Gospel of John:  “In my father’s house, there are many mansions.”  These suggestions of the New Testament are brought into contact with what might be called a survey of contemporary values—or at least, a catalogue of product trademarks.

“If coke (rather than or in addition to bread and wine?) is a mystery…” begins the theoretical givens upon which contemporary culture appears to be established.  If Michael Jackson’s 1997 album can be declared “history” (and only “book 1″ at that); “if talk shows [are] confession,” then what symbol represents “the good,” or the noble, or the “true,” in a culture such as this?  Where does one find eternal bliss?  U2′s answer, though given away in the song’s title, is held in suspension until almost the end of the song:  “the Playboy mansion.”

But then the judgments one must endure to secure passage into the mansion are finally thrown into eschatological relief.  The song fades into the distance with a heavenly choir repeating words from the Book of Revelation:

Then will there be no time of sorrow

Then will there be no time for pain

Then will there be no time of sorrow

Then will there be no time for shame

U2′s listeners are thus left to judge this ambiguous song.  Is it a satire on contemporary values?  Or is it an anthem for the dawning of the millennial age?

After many references to Jesus throughout the album, POP concludes with a direct address to Jesus, a prayer in the form of the song “Wake Up Dead Man.”  The person praying calls upon Jesus for help in sorting out his sense of being caught between two worlds:  the fallen world (the song uses the somewhat less theological “F-word”) and the world suggested in stories about eternity.  Here we return to a familiar theme that figured prominently in the song “The Playboy Mansion.”

The refrain employed in this song, “Wake up, dead man,” has been pointed to by some reviewers as evidence that U2 was flirting with blasphemy and entering into a post-Christian phase with POP.  But the demand that God “Wake up” and come to the troubled one’s rescue has pious precedents in the Psalms.  Not only that, but in the New Testament the command “Wake up” is an invitation to return to life from the dead; it is the call to healed; to be fully alive.

The middle section of this song advances the perspective that has been presented throughout the POP album:  it is in the common, the profane, the mundane that the uncommon breaks through, becomes recognizable.  I interpret this section to be a sort of response to the despair of the pious one who is caught in categories like “fallen” and eternal.

“Listen over the rhythm that’s confusing you” for the antidote to death, comes the reply—from within?  From without?  The distinction does not seem to matter.  Creation itself is meant to be engaged.  This reply is not the last word of the song, however.  The despairing voice reasserts itself as the song and the album come to the end.  Thus in the tradition of the Psalms, “Wake up Dead Man” invokes God’s presence by denouncing God’s absence.

A casual confession is uttered in POP‘s first song:

You know you’re chewing bubble gum

You know what that is but you still want some

You just can’t get enough of that lovey-dovey stuff

U2 may be creating bubblegum music on POP.  But POP can also be read in forward and reverse:  a palindromic testimony.  Perhaps in the midst of pop music, that “lovey dovey stuff,” the grand transgression occurs.  To recall a line from the Rattle and Hum era:  “I’ve seen love conquer the great divide.”  Bono asks his Jesus in “Wake Up, Dead Man”:

Is there an order in all of this disorder

Is it like a tape recorder

Can you rewind it just once more?

Read backwards and forwards, POP becomes a theological assertion.  It claims the commercial realm as God’s realm.  At the risk and the resort to profanity, it names the commercial realm “Abba, father,” that is to say:  “POP.” –Ted Trost

Ted Trost teaches religious studies at the University of Alabama.  During the 2013-14 academic year, he will be Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.  The Interference webzine staff met up with Professor Trost at the recent U2 Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, where he presented a version of this essay. http://u2conference.com/

Why Is Bono Endorsing Monsanto In Africa?

May 24, 2013

Tomorrow is a day of international protest against Monsanto (http://occupy-monsanto.com/), the American-based multinational agricultural and biotechnology corporation. To mark this occasion, we invited Marenka Cerny, admin for the Facebook page Bono and Monsanto Forum for Conscious Debate and Discovery https://www.facebook.com/BonoMonsanto, to share her work, activism, and thoughts in a guest editorial on U2’s Bono supporting Monsanto in his strategies for fighting poverty in Africa. We at the webzine encourage fans to read, research on their own to reach their own conclusions, and act as they are so moved. –Andrew William Smith, webzine editor

Perhaps years ago the technique of genetically engineered crops was understood by Bono as the miracle Africa needed to produce food in extreme climates. Maybe it actually is. We are calling for Bono to speak explicitly about GE technology and the maligned practices of the chemical-agriculture companies. In the meantime, we are examining the evidence that humanity is being used as a science experiment for profit and without permission.

We created the Facebook page Bono and Monsanto Forum for Conscious Debate and Discovery four months ago in response to the cognitive dissonance that has resulted from the involvement of one of the most politically influential and venerated artists of our time in highly questionable activity with potentially disastrous consequences. Because he has the hearts of millions and the ear of every political leader—and because he is a most beloved, consummate, and sagacious poet of our generation—Bono deserves the respect of accountability.

Wikipedia describes “Bono [as] one of the world’s best-known philanthropic performers and was named the most politically effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal… He has been dubbed, “the face of fusion philanthropy,” both for his success enlisting powerful allies from a diverse spectrum of leaders in government, religious institutions, philanthropic organizations, popular media, and the business world, as well as for spearheading new organizational networks that bind global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise…”

At one time or another, we have all been let down by people we look up to. But in this case, the effects of Bono’s actions are far-reaching in potentially dangerous ways. His tacit alliance with the chemical companies is confusing. We are wondering what his motivations are. With his 25+ years experience lobbying to end extreme poverty in Africa, is this truly the best way he can see to get Africa the food it needs? What does he think about feeding Africa and the world genetically modified food? Bono gives very brief mention in these two links to chem-ag companies and indirectly to the technique of genetic engineering, one in a newscast and one speaking to the pre-G8 symposium a year ago:

For a partial transcription—“Bono Addresses global leaders on hunger, agriculture and transparency at pre-G8 symposium”

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=202581213221794&set=a.205527179593864.67907.202446536568595&type=1&theater

If you’re not on facebook— http://www.one.org/international/blog/bono-addresses-global-leaders-on-hunger-agriculture-and-transparency-at-pre-g8-symposium/

In this interview, Bono references “whole new methods of agriculture to increase productivity” within the first minutes. “Bono – Well Paid Spokesman for the Elitists” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CvlQLcyawg

This is the main article that has been reposted many times since the G8 Summit last year.
ActivistPost: “U2, Bono? Celeb partners with Monsanto, G8, to biowreck African farms with GMOs”
http://www.activistpost.com/2012/05/u2-bono-celeb-partners-with-monsanto-g8.html

Bono-drawing

Most comments on the web about Bono and Monsanto are about giving up on him (to put it mildly). We’re looking for the fans who care about what’s in our food and don’t want to give up on him. Of course Bono’s allowed to make mistakes, be a bad-boy rock star, or be misguided, and still be loved. Through our Facebook page, we seek to know whether Bono’s intentions to solve extreme poverty have been compromised from extraordinary altruism to a power-hungry alliance with the chem-ag companies for global domination of the world’s food supply. We hope that’s not true—we want to think Bono can be a venture capitalist and still be cool. We want fans to speak louder—we need him and want him on our side—to say, Bono, please come back. Whatever the results of this conversation, our advocacy and engagement are not about disrespecting Bono. We seek to understand the apparent dissonance between his actions and his words.

Seeking transparency for unconscious and unconscionable capitalism is not just a luxury of an armchair activist, but imperative for humanity’s future and present. The research that is available shows that as well as the apparent dangers to human health, genetically-engineered (GE) crops are known to damage topsoil through monocropping, to require ever-increasing amounts of pesticide, and have not yet proven to reliably produce higher yields. Monsanto has been strong-arming the U.S. government and small farmers around the world, and has spent tens of millions of dollars to withhold labeling of their products. GE science is young, and the long-term effects on humans and the environment are unknown.

   10 Reasons Why We Don’t Need GM Foods

http://gmoinside.org/news/10-reasons-why-we-dont-need-gm-foods/

After 5 months of searching for the backstory of how it is Bono seems so comfortable promoting GE food in Africa, there’s also the larger question of the approach of capitalism as a solution to poverty, which is a fundamental part of Bono’s speeches in the past decade, and which he calls “Entrepreneurial Capitalism.” Is this a viable subset of capitalism, the basic existence of which is not to provide social service agencies, but to make a profit? We’d be curious to hear from everyone who is criticizing Bono’s association with Monsanto what you also think of capitalism and corporate power as a means for ending extreme poverty.

We are gathering energy to add to the momentum of the world’s resistance to the chemical companies’ intention to control food production and distribution on this planet. Many people have alternative solutions to meeting the needs of the world’s food supply. Help us to compose and promote a letter to Bono and others. Tell us what you think of all this and ask any questions. Help us address the question of revering the work of an artist while questioning their integrity elsewhere. What would you say, in your own words, to Bono? –Marenka Cerny, Life-long U2-lover, Admin on Facebook: Bono and Monsanto Forum for Conscious Debate and Discovery https://www.facebook.com/BonoMonsanto

‘Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad’ is a stunning song written for Sinatra. For those who are pro-Bono and anti-GMO, this is surely one of our songs in this moment in time.

Two shots of happy, one shot of sad
You think I’m no good, well I know I’ve been bad
Took you to a place, now you can’t get back
Two shots of happy, one shot of sad

Bono, Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad
Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=wOJAUs4b28U&feature=fvwp
also (poor video quality but beautiful performance) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzgCPimHu7w
“Frank Sinatra just blew me away. Actually, me and Edge wrote a tune called ‘Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad.’ We made a drinks cabinet shrine to Frank that when you open it plays that song! We’ve never released it… I sent it to him for his 80th birthday, full orchestra, the whole thing. Quite an indulgence.” – Bono, NME 1997

 

 

Flamethrower Holiness: Bono, Brueggemann, & the Psalms (Headphone Devotionals, part two)

May 18, 2013

Psalms present us with cultural linguistic poem-experiences of passion and pleading, praise and pain, love and loss, anticipation and anger, worship and wonder. Rock music also offers religiously relevant encounters in an electronic correlation of guitars and lyrics—a new kind of text for a different context—yet songs similarly saturate us in sonic blasts of poetic pop culture and spirited counterculture to water our souls with a wager that there’s a way out of teenage boredom and middle-aged malaise. We can scream, shout, singalong. We can defy, dance, and devote. Linking the Psalms to U2 songs means all of the above and much more, keeping God in the conversation as we open the door.

The fan-band experience could seem unequal or it could be conversational. The great teacher Walter Brueggemann encourages us to read the Psalms in prayer and thus in dialogue with God, and the fan’s relationship to the U2 catalog could follow a similar tack, not just listening, but talking back. If courageous enough to converse with the Creator in prayer, Brueggemann suggests we could thusly speak truth to earthly power in protest. Naming this subversive, the theologian arms us not only with thorns to poke the sides of empire but to “stand up to rock stars” and embrace a critical fandom that engages U2 without reducing fandom to idolatry.

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The Psalter’s “boldness and passion” take us “out beyond our conventional liturgical and devotional practices.” Headphone devotions take the same trip through the wires past traditional worship towards transformation, to “nothing less than resurrection,” as Brueggemann puts it, “the gift of new life that the God praised and summoned intends us to have.”

Rock music as a daily devotional tool surely gets practiced by runners, walkers, weight-lifters, and coffee-sipping hipsters on the daily, but to theorize such in a theological-liturgical manner means new terrain. Like with the songs “Bad” or “Drowning Man,” like “Vertigo” or “Wake Up Dead Man,” the psalms have an aching rock-bottom blues disposition that’s not pretty or pious. Even ever popular and too readily categorized U2, rock music itself remains a renegade force in culture, still largely undomesticated in its musicological meme. Brueggemann begs us to see past what he calls “equilibrium” to that queasy and uneasy place that the Psalter takes us, liminal “experiences of dislocation and relocation” because it “is experiences of being overwhelmed, nearly destroyed, and surprisingly given life that empower us to pray and sing.”

walter

Brueggemann names the valleys and plateaus as “the edge of humanness” or as limit-experiences and peak experiences. U2’s career-spanning sonic song catalog relishes in the underbelly: sparring with war and addiction; flirting with celebrity cults and trashcan messiahs; tempting our ears and eyes with sparkly technological-meets-existential dread and drama.

While it would be fun to try to pinpoint an album, song, or trilogy where Bono was lyrically at his most junkyard sacred, he allows us no such epiphany, for there is no such line on the horizon. The Psalms get mashed-up in a clever and almost sinister blender with American modernist writers like Ginsberg and Bukowski to fuel Hewson’s lyrics with flourishing hooks, flamboyant hope, and flamethrower holiness.

Like the elusive but enigmatic “Holy One” of the psalter and the gospels, U2 songs give us what Brueggemann describes as the “powerful, dangerous, and joyful rawness of human reality.” Like the Bible, U2 songs take unlikely and unsavory protagonists and turn them into saints. But to render rawness rightly in a late 20th century and early 21st century context, sometimes the poet needs backup, preferably a backing band of ex-surrealist pranksters from the Streets of Dublin. Sometimes we forget that the bloke blithely blessing popes and politicians was once the lark from Lypton Village. It’s no accident on my ledger that when Bono showed up in the Beatles-inspired Across the Universe, he ended up “on the bus” as a west coast hippy priest in suede fringe, a Neal Cassady/Ken Kesey-inspired psychedelic trickster.

The likes of Brueggemann would warn us not to domesticate divinity into irrelevance or sanitize the Psalms into sugary sweetness. We best not do this with the U2 catalog, which in part influenced why the songs I first chose to “pray” include tracks that can sometimes be “abrasive, revolutionary, and dangerous.”

Brueggemann tells us, “The Psalms are an assurance to us that when we pray and worship, we are not expected to censure or deny the deepness of our own human pilgrimage.” In light of this, I have chosen to pray first with a lot B-sides and non-album tracks, because sadly, as sacred as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Where The Streets Have No Name,” their jukebox familiarity can breed contempt with curtained seasoned listeners. When I put on the headphones for U2, I take off my scholar’s hat, put down my preacher’s pen, and get as vulnerable and prostrate for their message as the fanboy who first discovered them three decades ago. To pray these songs in private is to rediscover them. They are wild horses to ride, cash to steal, a deep blue sea in which to drown, and lies to transform into truth. – Andrew William Smith, Editor

Check out the Headphone Devotionals project blog where we can pray the U2 songs together: http://headphonedevotionals.blogspot.com/

Quotes from Walter Brueggemann come from the book Praying the Psalms – support his prophetic voice by checking out his work. Photo of Walter Brueggemann from the 2013 Festival of Homiletics in Nashville, TN by Andrew W. Smith.

http://www.amazon.com/Praying-Psalms-Engaging-Scripture-Spirit/dp/1556352832/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1368870296&sr=8-8&keywords=walter+brueggemann

 

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