Sunday, February 18, 2007

The U2-charist

A play on words? Yes. But the gist of this short article shows the depth and breadth of the lyrics of one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

The Pope may have condemned rock music as "anti-religion" but the Church of England has announced it is to use the songs of a global supergroup in an effort to boost congregations.

If one hasn't followed U2 throughout their career, it might be easy to be a bit skeptical about the use of their music in worship services. With all of the junk the music industry puts out, it's easy to see why. Some bands put out absolute garbage, that's for sure. But in U2's early days, their lyrics were very strongly rooted in their faith. Today, one can listen to many of their more recent songs and still hear (at least in some measure) valuable prose based on the very faith that was the early the basis, of their calling.

Few would know that early in their career there was an inner conflict, a dilemma of sorts, with the band. Their struggle was complex, because they were at a crossroads with the direction of their music. Early on, they were legitimately torn between maintaining total Christian themes, and branching out into a wider scope of vision. The Edge almost left the band over Bono and the others' decision to do the branching out.

But did they do the right thing here?

Some would say they compromised their standards. Others would say they gave into "the devil" and are going to burn in hell. But me? I say it's neither.

The band has maintained some sense of a theological foundation, throughout their reign of the charts. The lyrics of their songs speak of peace, love, and understanding. Some promote hope and vision. But one thing is for sure, they all carry a deeper message than the old "rock and roll is good time music" genre. The words to many of their songs cry out a lament at various social injustices, to include poverty and war.

Having grown up in Ireland and knowing firsthand the brutality of a war between Protestants and Catholics, they (no doubt) were influenced to be the cynics they were (and still are), by that insane process. Christians fighting Christians was the main topic of Sunday Bloody Sunday.

And it's true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality.
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die.

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday..

The descriptive analysis of a possible future life rendered in Where The Streets have No Name, is second to none in the vivid and detailed imagery department.

The city's a flood, and our love turns to rust.
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust.
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name.

I could go on with the lyrics presentation, but there's more to this story than just a music review.

Christ said in Mt 7:

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits you will know them He says. So if we examine the fruits of the lead singer Paul David Hewson (better known to the world as, Bono), we see quite a unique individual. He has been married for close to 25 years to a woman that he has been involved with, for over 30. Womanizing is not something he is known for. Neither is he tabloid material, because he does not hang out with the drug and alcohol club, as many others do in the rock world. Britany Spears would do well to emulate him, instead of others that have gone down a dangerous and destructive path.

But that doesn't mean he is a recluse and does not get out and about. And it does not mean he is perfect, I am sure.

However, one only needs to see
the list of humanitarian work he does, to know that he is driven to correct some things he sees as wrong and attempts (to the best of his ability) to right them. It is my firm belief that he behaves in the manner he does and does these things, out of a sincere appreciation for what God has done for him. By his being a successful rock icon, he has had the opportunity to use his platform and mouthpiece for improving the world. He has raised awareness of things that others in his field, care little or nothing about.

He has won the respect of many, to include the President of the United States (and others). Not only has he won respect, he has inspired, persuaded, and convinced. Much of that comes from setting an example, first and foremost. It does not come from hypocritical and pious moralizing, like many in the religious world seem to think is necessary to get a message out.

So when we see a church (like the one mentioned in the article used as the reference point for this post) using the music of U2 to reach a new generation of people that otherwise may be unreachable, it should come as no surprise. It should not be condemned, nor frowned upon. Looking at all of the temptations that this band has (no doubt) experienced in their line of work over the many years, and having rejected the lion's share of them for a more spiritually profitable path of existence, I have to say my hat's off to them. They are in a humanly way, to be praised and respected.

So, in my view, it's easy to see that when they had to decide to be just another Christian band playing at church functions or branch out into a wider spectrum of music-making, they made the right choice. Otherwise, they would not have had the ability to have the influence or ability to reach the many that needed reaching.

What do you think?