Friday, October 17, 2014

God and Jesus: no bill to be paid...a union to be named

This Fall, we have two groups of people at All Saints' Littleton gathering for Christian Formation/Spiritual Growth by exploring a video series called Embracing an Alternative Orthodoxy:  Richard Rohr on the Legacy of St. Francis.  I will be posting some of what we hear from Rohr and his conversation with a group of Episcopalians on the blog, in hope that people beyond our group may participate.


Beginning of Session One:  Two viewpoints...

Western theology mainline position:  Jesus died for our sins.

Based on Dominican argument, using quotes from the New Testament, that a transaction was necessary to make humanity alright with God…and that transaction was the death of Jesus.

Creates a barrier to mystic exploration:  God's love had to be bought...

Franciscan minority viewpoint within Western Christianity:  used other New Testament texts to illustrate that the Christ existed for all eternity, and so Jesus’ life is part of God’s inherent love for creation.

“Jesus did not come to change God's mind about humanity...God's mind didn't need change...Jesus came to change humanity on the idea of God!”

No bill to be paid...a union to be named.






Thursday, September 25, 2014

More U2 conversation: Christian band?


Episcopal Cafe covered some more U2 conversation, the often discussed "Christian band?" question:

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This just in. U2 is a "semi-secret Christian band" that fills their lyrics with religious themes, makes no secret of how the members attempt to live their faith but does not aligns itself with a particular denomination or segment of the Church.


If you carefully attune your ears to U2’s lyrics, you’ll find there are 50 or more references to Bible verses in their songs. In “Bullet the Blue Sky,” for example, they sing about Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 32) and there is a reference to speaking with “the tongues of angels” (1 Corinthians 13) in “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Bono even belts “see the thorn twist in your side”—an obvious reference to the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7—in the song “With or Without You.”

If by "Christian rock band" you mean a group that repetitively parroting pop-culture with theologically homogenized lyrics then, no, U2 is not a "Christian rock band." If you mean a band that takes a more complex view of faith and life, then that's something else. Maybe what you have is a rock band peopled by Christians.


Much of the confusion around U2’s faith stems from the fact that they’ve never been an “officially” Christian rock band. The ambiguity goes back to the band’s origins, in the Dublin of the late seventies, during the Troubles. In a country divided along sectarian lines, little about organized religion was attractive. U2 were teen-agers when they got together (Larry Mullen, Jr., the drummer, was just fourteen), but they were beginning to see outside of the faith traditions of their families. Bono’s father was a Catholic, his mother an Anglican. Adam Clayton (the bassist, English) and David Evans (the Edge, Welsh) came from Protestant backgrounds; Mullen had Irish-Catholic parents. In “North Side Story: U2 in Dublin, 1978-1983,” Niall Stokes, the editor of the Irish music magazine Hot Press, writes that the members of U2 were “primed” to ask what it meant to be Irish. They were “as close as you could get at the time, in an Ireland that was monocultural to an extraordinary degree, to a licorice all-sorts of nationalities and faiths.”Their break with organized religion was probably inevitable. But it was still traumatic, which is perhaps why almost every U2 album contains a song about their decision to belong to a band rather than a church. (“One,” for example, is about the challenges of joining together with your friends to try and find God on your own.) Greg Garrett, an English professor at Baylor, a Baptist university in Waco, Texas, explains U2’s lack of religious identification in his book “We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2.” In high school, Bono, the Edge, and Mullen grew close to a faith community called Shalom, whose members Bono has described as living on the Dublin streets “like first-century Christians.” The group was a big presence in their lives during the recording of U2’s first two albums, “Boy” and “October” (“Gloria,” the best song on “October,” has a liturgical chorus, sung in Latin). The turning point came just as the “October” tour was set to begin: the Edge announced that he wanted to leave U2, because the twin demands of piety and rock stardom could not be reconciled. (“If God had something to say about this tour, he should have raised his hand a little earlier,” the band’s manager, Paul McGuinness, said.) Ultimately, of course, U2 stayed together: Bono, Mullen, and the Edge left Shalom. “I realized it was bullshit, that what these people were getting close to … was denial, rather than willful surrender,” Bono told an interviewer. 
The tension in spiritual life—between discipline and vulnerability, order and openness, being willful and giving in—became U2’s central preoccupation, and gave it its aesthetic. During the Troubles, the band witnessed the consequences of an approach to faith that had become too organized and martial. Against that, they argued for “surrender,” in both its political and its religious senses. When Bono ran around onstage with a white flag during performances of “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” he was expressing not only an approach to politics but also an approach to faith (often, the song suggested, they were the same thing). U2 were learning to infuse their music with a sensibility that had been unreachable in their religious lives—a kind of militant surrendering.
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It is always important to mention that U2 is NOT part of the Christian music industry, which tends to frown on deep exploration and anything that suggests ways to God other than Christianity.  The faith journey found in U2's music continues to resinate in me, and millions of other fans (watch any of their concert videos to explore this idea).  I can't wait until they tour with these new songs...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NEW U2 ALBUM!!!

Not only did U2 surprise everyone by releasing Songs of Innocence yesterday, their 13th album, but now it appears that there will be a SECOND album in the not to distance future, Songs of Experience!!!


That's from a letter to U2 fans posted a short time ago on U2.com where Bono basically re-introduces the band after the long hiatus between albums. In addition to talking about today's album release, he says we can expect a second album (while also admitting that he's said that in the past):  
"We're collaborating with Apple on some cool stuff over the next couple of years, innovations that will transform the way music is listened to and viewed. We'll keep you posted. If you like Songs of Innocence, stay with us for Songs of Experience. It should be ready soon enough… although I know I've said that before…"  
You might recognize the titles from your high school literature classes: There's a famous book of poetry by William Blake called Songs of Innocence and of Experience.


Been listening threw my work today to Innocence:  this is epic work....