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Old 09-10-2002, 01:32 PM   #1
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Bono & Faith - 1997

Twenty One Years of Pop Music
Propaganda, Issue 26, June 01, 1997
Neil McCormick

His conversation shoots off down unexpected alleyways. Discussing one of the album's standout tracks, "Mofo," a wailing techno-blues for an absent mother, he'll suddenly launch into an animated flight of fancy. "We should have called it Oedipussy," he declares, laughing. "Maybe I could sing it hanging from a giant umbilical cord." There is, however, darkness lurking behind the humour. Bono's mother died when he was 14 years old, and he has long recognised that this was a defining moment in his life, pushing him in two directions at once: toward his profound faith in God and towards rock and roll.

The prevailing wisdom is that the devil has all the best tunes. Yet three members of U2 (Bono, Edge and Larry) have been devout Christians since their teens. Although they avoid preaching or crusading, their spiritual faith infuses their music. It could even be argued that the tension between their Christian values and the very primal, sexually and usually hedonistic nature of their chosen art form lies at the very heart of U2's creativity. As Bono sings on "Mofo," he has been "Lookin' for to save my soul/Lookin' for to fill that God-shaped hole."

"Everyone's got one," he says. "Some are blacker and wider than others. It goes right back to the blues, it's what first makes you want to shout at God, when you've been abandoned or someone's been taken away from you. And I don't think you ever fill it, not completely. You can fill it up with time, by living a full life, but if you're silent enough, you can still hear the hissing." Lightening the mood, he starts to sing, to a familiar Bruce Springsteen tune, "Everybody's got a hungry hole."

Some might imagine that faith would be enough to fill that hole. Yet several tracks on Pop suggest Bono might be experiencing a crisis in this department. On songs like "If God Will Send His Angels," "Please," a stunningly ironic paean to the values of quick-fix capitalism entitled "The Playboy Mansion" and the album's emotionally raw closing track "Wake Up Dead Man," he seems to be searching in vain for evidence of the hand of God amidst the chaos and injustice of worldly life ("Jesus, were you just around the corner? / Did You think to try and warn her? / Or are you working on something new? / If there's an order in all of this disorder / Is it like a tape recorder? / Can we rewind it just once more?").

"Belief and confusion are not mutually exclusive," Bono insists. "I think belief gives you a direction in the confusion. But you don't see the full picture. That's the point. That's what faith is. You can't see it."

Which brings us back to another argument we've been having ever since we first met. Between faith and faithlessness, I am an atheist and he's a believer and sometimes the gulf of mutual incomprehension that lies between these opposing points of view seems more than even friendship can compensate for.

"It's a hard thing to explain to another person," he says (although it does not seem to stop him trying). "It hasn't happened to you, so why should you believe it? I was just lucky. I just saw that there was logic in the universe, I could see it in everything, by just looking around me. When I was just a kid I could see it in flowers, or in a beautiful woman, or in the sound of strings, the sound of an electric guitar, just life. Life had a real beauty to it. I looked around and I saw it. It comes back to instinct. You're a writer, you know about instinct. Faith is just up the street, if not next-door neighbours. Faith and instinct. But you can't just rely on it. I'm sure you question your atheism, just as I question faith. You have to beat it up. You have to pummel it to make sure that it can withstand it, to make sure you can trust it."
© Propaganda, 1997. All rights reserved.
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Old 09-11-2002, 01:59 PM   #2
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Re: Bono & Faith - 1997

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Originally posted by U2Soar
"It's a hard thing to explain to another person," he says (although it does not seem to stop him trying). "It hasn't happened to you, so why should you believe it? I was just lucky. I just saw that there was logic in the universe, I could see it in everything, by just looking around me. When I was just a kid I could see it in flowers, or in a beautiful woman, or in the sound of strings, the sound of an electric guitar, just life. "
'in the sound of an electric guitar'...........I would like to understand that, but I can't. What did Bono see in the sound of an electric guitar? Somehow...God? Or what? Really, I want to understand that sentence. I can understand when he says in 'flowers' because it is God's creation, but in sound?
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Old 10-30-2002, 11:33 AM   #3
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Sound is a sense, and to some people sound is a very sensitive sense. God did create sound and our ability to hear. Sounds affect us all different. Think of receiving a compliement vs. an insult...

Being a musician, good music probably impacts Bono very deeply, as it does myself. I feel God in U2's music. The passion and depth of the sounds (not even the lyrics) give me a lust for life and causes me to realize that life is to be enjoyed, that God created life.

I'm trying to explain how I understand, but am having a hard time.
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Old 10-30-2002, 12:05 PM   #4
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Re: Re: Bono & Faith - 1997

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Originally posted by FallingStar

'in the sound of an electric guitar'...........I would like to understand that, but I can't. What did Bono see in the sound of an electric guitar? Somehow...God? Or what? Really, I want to understand that sentence. I can understand when he says in 'flowers' because it is God's creation, but in sound?
I am having explaining the same thoughts as UltravioletU2. God speaks to us, not only through lyrics, but also with sound, the music.

From my earliest days of following U2, I was always touched by the music, (not the lyrics). There are times where I can feel the Holy Spirit stirring within me as I listen to U2 music.

This is one of my favorite forums, but I really struggled and could not articulate a post to the Soul Journey: Favorite Spiritual U2 Lyric thread. I do enjoy U2 lyrics, especially when I catch the Scriptural references Bono sprinkles in his songs (thatís the bible study side of me). But the lyrics overall have never really spoken to me (that doesn't mean they won't in the future) Ė but the music has!!!

I hope I didnít just make this even more confusing.

Go in His Grace!
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Old 10-30-2002, 02:50 PM   #5
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Okay, thanks to both of you. I understand what he meant when he said that, but I don't think I ever sensed God through lyrics or music....maybe I have, but I haven't realized it. Thank you.
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