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Old 02-11-2006, 12:36 PM   #1
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The Faith Of Someone Who Knows He's Flawed

Rock singer exhibits faith of someone who knows he’s flawed

By JALETTA ALBRIGHT DESMOND
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
February 10, 2006

Two days ago, it was the Grammy Awards, where the band took home five
statues, including Album of the Year. Last week, it was the President’s
National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. Two months ago, it was
Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year photo shoot along with Bill and
Melinda Gates. Bono’s scheduling calendar is as diverse as the man
himself.

But who else — besides this front man for the rock band U2 — can bring
to his or her celebrity such an eclectic mix? It has become quite
natural to see the singer/activist/faith follower blend
politics/poverty/religion into one powerful persona that rings more
true than most people who devote themselves entirely to one of those
areas.

Let me say first and foremost that I am a fan — I’m not an objective
music critic here — I am an unabashed and adoring fan. Not only am I a
fan of his music, his scruffy rocker good looks, his utter devotion to
his wife and his good humanitarian leadership, but I am a fan of his
spirituality most of all.

He sings from the soul — not the pretty golden soul dressed up to drop
some bills into the collection plate on Sunday but the dirty, grimy,
flawed soul that desperately needs to be saved seven days a week. That
is a soul I understand.

No matter how famous or infamous his friends (he dined with Jesse Helms
backstage before the North Carolina concert I attended), no matter how
many world leaders take his calls, no matter how rich and high-flying
his rocker lifestyle, no matter how many millions in national debt
relief he collects, you still get the feeling he thinks of himself as a
foul-mouthed, rough-hewn kid from Dublin who needs — no, requires —
redemption.

That may be at the core of his politically effective, spiritually
inspiring and musically successful allure. He knows that, despite his
best efforts to save and change the lives of the world’s forgotten, he
can’t save his own soul. I believe that knowledge both humbles and
motivates him. As it should us all.

Bono’s alleged “messianic complex” has been joked about repeatedly in
public view. (“Some people got way too much confidence, baby” he sings
on stage during the song “The Original of the Species” as he arcs his
arm and points an accusing finger at the top of his own head.) But he
is humble and self-aware enough to recognize that it is “unnatural …
even unseemly” for a rock star to mount a pulpit and preach to
presidents and then retire to his wealth. At the National Prayer
Breakfast he said, “I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth.
Unless that cloth is leather.”

When U2 came on the music scene nearly 30 years ago, the traditional
button-down church was not quick to welcome this mullet-haired,
four-letter-word-dropping rebel who was raised both Catholic and
Protestant in volatile Ireland. He didn’t fit an acceptable mold for
most conservative Christians. But neither does he fit the mold of the
bad boy rocker. Most musicians have strings of faceless, nameless women
on one arm and tracks of addiction and self-destruction on the other.
But not Bono, who has been married for 23 years to his teenage
sweetheart and who has apparently avoided most of the rock ‘n’ roll
lifestyle clichés, along with his irreplaceable bandmates David “The
Edge” Evans, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton.

For his part, Bono has admitted a past discomfort with the church, but
is now a new believer, so to speak. He has seen how churches,
particularly ones in the U.S., have recently responded to the call to
offer aid to our modern-day “lepers,” victims of AIDS, and to the
“least of those,” the poverty-stricken Third World countries. Thanking
the faithful at the prayer breakfast for their efforts in these causes,
he said, “It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is
mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of
airtime. You know, the only time Jesus Christ is judgmental is on the
subject of the poor. ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my
brethren, you have done it unto me.’” God is with us, Bono said, if we
are with them.

Yet, while his lyrics beg for blessings from God and document his
real-life relationship with Him, he still stands cautiously in the
shadow of the Christian label. “The story of Christ makes sense to me …
as an artist, I see the poetry of it,” he told Jann S. Wenner, editor
and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine last year. “… I guess that
would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it
is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it,
so I just kinda keep my mouth shut.”

He went on to tell Wenner that the Bible, from which he has openly
stolen pages and pages of lyrics, “sustains” him. “As a belief, or as a
literary thing?” he was asked. “As a belief,” he said. U2’s songs are
jam-packed with biblical references — nearly every one has religious
meaning. If you listen to the songs that way.

“We’ve found different ways of expressing (our faith). …Maybe we just
have to sort of draw our fish in the sand,” Bono said in the book “U2:
At the End of the World .” “It’s there for people who are interested.
It shouldn’t be there for people who aren’t.”

Bruce Springsteen thinks its there. While introducing U2 when the band
was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, Springsteen
said, “In their music you hear their spirituality as home and as quest.
How do you find God unless he’s in your heart, in your desire?”

“The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away
from God,” Bono told Rolling Stone. “Both recognize the pivot, that God
is at the center.” The singer says the psalms of David are like blues
songs — that he was praising and criticizing God while living in a
cave.

Depending on the listener, U2’s songs can be prayers to God or pillow
talk to a lover. That may sound obscene to some people, but consider
the fact that Bono’s lyrics might slowly reveal to someone that drawing
of the fish in the sand. The band is collecting dozens of awards,
selling millions of recordings and playing venues packed with 20,000
people — all while singing songs that are basically prayers.

They aren’t relegated to Christian radio stations where they would be
singing to the choir. Don’t put Bono in a box, traditionalists, and
he’ll have more impact revealing Christ’s love than the entire channel
listing of televangelists flickering on your TV set.

As Wenner wrote in his preface before the Rolling Stone interview, “He
speaks about faith in a way that even a non-believer can embrace.”

That statement is music to my ears, equal to the melodic pleasure I get
from my collection of U2 CDs.


Jaletta Albright Desmond, of Bluefield, Va., is a syndicated columnist
who writes about faith and family for the Daily Telegraph.
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Old 02-17-2006, 09:46 PM   #2
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I enjoyed that piece very much and echo most of the sentiments expressed by the author.

Thank you very much for sharing.
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Old 02-18-2006, 06:09 PM   #3
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This really was one of the more insightful and heartfelt pieces written about Bono that I've ever read.

Thanks Mrs Springsteen for posting it here in this forum.
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Old 04-04-2006, 07:17 AM   #4
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I echo that - Thanks for sharing that with us
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:57 AM   #5
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cheers
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Old 04-11-2006, 02:35 AM   #6
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I just now found this article. It was very good. Thanks for sharing it.
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