U2 isn’t history just yet.
This week, the “world’s most popular band” is performing in Poland. That’s after having wowed 80,000 fans in Dublin—before the band headed out to tour the rest of the world. There’s a whole lot of “voice” left in these four guys. So, it may be too early to write the final book on their prophetic legacy.
But somebody’s got to try. The band’s body of work is too huge and important to ignore. The task fell to Greg Garrett, who regularly tackles the convergences of spirituality and popular culture. (We featured Greg earlier talking about the spiritual messages in comic books.)
Greg’s new book is “We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2” and in Part 2 of this series, tomorrow, you’ll hear from Greg. His research into U2 is the focus of our Wednesday interview this week.
In this case, though, you can decide for yourself what you think about the overall message. That’s not always so easy to do. When we profiled the fairy-tale life of Madame Blavatsky or described the remarkable defense of the natural world by Holmes Rolston III—most of our readers didn’t know much about these figures.
But U2? You know ‘em! We’re talking—145 million albums sold worldwide! We’re talking—22 Grammy Awards.
So, today, to get you thinking, here are some words from U2 to ponder.
FIRST, BONO and THE BIBLE:
Did you know that Bono wrote a “Preface to Psalms”? He did. It was an introduction to the Bible’s ancient “song book” that was bound into some very popular editions of the Bible sold in the UK some years ago. His “Preface to Psalms” and other unusual introductions to books of the Bible (by other famous writers) are available now in a book called “Revelations.” Here’s part of what Bono says about the Psalms:
“David was said to have composed the first Psalm—a Blues. That’s
what a lot of the Psalms feel like to me: the Blues. Man shouting at
God—’My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far
from helping me?’ (Psalm 22)
“I hear echoes of this holy row when
un-holy bluesman Robert Johnson howls ‘There’s a hellhound on my
trail!’ or Van Morrison sings ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless
child.’ Texas Alexander mimics the Psalms in ‘Justice Blues’: ‘I cried
Lord my father, Lord-eh Kingdom come. Send me back my woman, then thy
will be done.’”
BONO and GOD:
Greg Garrett found this concise bit of preaching by Bono about the nature of God. The U2 frontman spoke from the heart at a prayer breakfast he attended:
“Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.
“Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone. I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. … I hope so. He may well be with us in all manner of controversial stuff … maybe, maybe not. … But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.”
U2 and MODERN PSALMS:
As the title of Greg’s book suggests, he argues that the band’s central theme is the need for global community—caring for one another instead of finding excuses to grab the best of the world for ourselves.
That’s a warm and easy-to-accept message. But there’s also real fire in U2’s music—like the song “Cedars of Lebanon” in the band’s latest album, “No Line on the Horizon.”
The song is a complex meditation on love, loss and potential flashpoints of conflict in regions like the Middle East. Indeed! Amazing that they include all of that in a single, fairly short song!
The real fire in the song, though, comes in the final lines, warning us all against the temptation to define our lives by our enemies. We may not intend to do it, the band sings, but it is ohhh so tempting to let our hatred become our life’s testament. The final lines of the song go like this:
“Choose your enemies carefully ‘cause they will define you
Make them interesting ‘cause in some ways they will mind you
They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friends.”
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(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)