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Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 02:10
by Ann Powers, NPR:

The Dream Of Ridiculous Men

The last short story Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote is about being seriously ridiculous. In "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man," an intellectual prone to existentialist despair is saved from suicide when, in a vision, he discovers a parallel planet where humanity has never sinned. "It was like being in love with each other, but an all-embracing, universal feeling," he tells the reader. This contact with Eden reinvigorates him, but then, during a playful moment, he teaches the planet's innocents how to deceive each other — and this leads to a catastrophic, Biblical fall. By the time the man awakens, his Eden has become just like Earth, full of violence, crime and war. It's the world he once thought was meaningless. And still, the man finds himself redeemed. He stands on a corner, preaching the essential goodness of humanity, despite his knowledge of the equally omnipresent potential for corruption. He's a rube for being optimistic, and he knows it. But he declares at the story's end, "I shall go on and on!"

The serious ridiculousness expressed in that conclusion differs from the unthinking kind that entangles people every day. Ordinary ridiculousness comes from not being aware — from either simply not thinking about bad or excessive choices, or from embracing blind faith in the self, a God or a system. A seriously ridiculous person is clear-eyed. She knows that idealism is a fool's game to begin with, and that every conviction carries the risk of closed-mindedness. But she takes on belief as a practice, a way of being around others that seeks common ground. The ridiculous man or woman has found a way to connect things within life's inevitably broken landscape. It's an act of reaching out that can never be fully fulfilled, but which changes things in the moment, which is all we really have.

When Bono told a Time magazine reporter in 2002 that the right to be ridiculous was something he held dear, he was...continued here
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Dostoevsky, U2, U2 2010s"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 13:35
They both have been hugely misunderstood,
 misappropriated into acceptable evangelicalized versions.

It's amazing how many people have "fixed" U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", by adding a verse about finally finding it once and for all, and no longer having any need to search.  That supposedly makes it church-ready.  Arrgg.  Do they know that
"not having found what you’re looking for is not a sign of apostasy but a sign of faith. It means you’re still alive, still travelling, still growing, still learning. Keep looking and you’ll keep finding, and then finding that you still need to keep looking…" 

And of course, there's Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which a couple of years ago was  sanitized (sigh) and Christianized  (no!) by some well-meaning followers....do they know the writer is Jewish, and that sex is in the Bible?  (see A Special Version of Hallelujah With a Christian Twist 
and Christian Writer Ruins the Best Song Ever   and more here)

1)"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For":

"There has never been a more concise theology of redemption, atonement and the substitutionary death of Christ. No clearer proclamation of theGospel has ever sold so many copies...But he hasn't found what he is lookingfor. I remember speaking in Dublin and seeing this rather exuberant Christian atthe front of the hall. I began my address by asking had anyone found what they were looking for. "Amen brother. Yes Hallelujah!" I am not sure how my dearbrother came to earth as he discovered that for the next hour I was exposing that to have found what we are looking for has nothing to do with BiblicalChristianity...So my conclusion is that U2's I Still Haven't Found What I Am Looking For is probably the best hymn written in this century, it has the theology of the cross but is centred in the reality of a fallen humanity and i sabout striving towards a better man and a better world" (Rev Setve Stockman, read it

So why do Christians feel they have to change the lyric to sing it in church?:

 think Bono said it best, when he exclaimed,“You broke the bonds and you loosed the chainscarried the cross of my shame, of my shame.You know I believe it.“But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Said what best Mike? He didn’t say anything!I mean, that doesn’t make any sense does it?Jesus is what we’re looking for. Right?
Well, yes.
I remember a particular chapel service at my Christian high school,when a worship band came and sang this song.It was terribly cool at that time to sing a U2 song for worship too,but when it came time to sing the refrain after that verse,they cleverly changed the lyrics to,“and now I have found, what I’m looking for!”It was quite a moment too. Hands going up all over the place,people shouting, flags waving, it was totally amazing.And I remember pumping my fist, and thinking, “yeah! That’s right.What does Bono know? How could he talk about Jesus and thensay that he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for?Not me! I’ve found what I’m looking for! I’m not still searching,I’m not still looking….right?
Well, yes and no.
Ten years ago I thought U2 was trying to say that Jesus wasn’t really the answer.Now, I’m starting to see that they just understood something that I didn’t.You see, I think Bono was simply reiterating something that theologians havebeen writing about for centuries. He wasn’t making blasphemous statements as much as he was poeticizing what is commonly referred to as,“the already and the not yet.”And you know, I’d say it might just be the most difficult truth that a Christianwill ever have to wrestle with.The fact that we already have what we’re looking for,and in the same moment, haven’t yet received it,isn’t so easily reconciled as one would hope.   link


The generic genius of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

In his impressive new book The Holy or The Broken, veteran rock writer Alan Light meditates on “Hallelujah,” the song that may be the 20th century’s most influential and misunderstood secular hymn. In the way other books tell the story of a particular person, this is the biography of a song. Sure, it was penned by celebrated poet-writer-singer Leonard Cohen, but it is clearly much bigger than him or any of the hundreds of other artists who have interpreted it. It is regularly called one of the greatest songs of all time by people who should know about these things.
As a songwriter myself, as well as someone who has worked with songwriters for years, this is a fascinating book. Light reveals something surprising, and not all that comforting, about the modern popular culture’s power to pluck anything with commercial value out of obscurity and then profit wildly from it - even if that “something” is a maudlin meditation on personal failure, sexuality and fractured spirituality.
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "death of Jesus, sexuality, spirituality ..."
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 11:29
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "translation, women in leadership"
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Date: Saturday, 04 Oct 2014 21:23

Christina Lee:
In a chapter of Works of Love entitled “Love Believes All Things –And Yet is Never Deceived,” Kierkegaard describes two levels of love: the lower level, self-love, which seeks out self-affirmation and is easily deceived, and the higher level, the level he tells us we must reach — a love so strong that it wards off all deception.

I’ve read this chapter many times, but it never quite clicked for me. Until I started binge-watching “Columbo”. God bless Netflix.

Let me tell you a little about Columbo. First of all, I adore him. At this point, I’ve logged so many hours with the old codger that he seems like a dear uncle. He’s a mess: he drives an old beater, he wears a ratty raincoat, and he never combs his hair. He’s stingy, groveling, and usually hungry. And he always gets his man.

As for the plot of the show, the formula never wavers: a murder is committed in the first few minutes, on-camera. Columbo shows up at the scene of the crime. He slinks through the crowd, often being mistaken for a bum or the help. Soon, he’s sniffed out the murderer — usually a vain, powerful and smooth-talking fellow

As Kierkegaard points out, “Do you know any stronger expression for superiority than this, that the superior one also has the appearance of being the weaker? Consider someone who is infinitely superior to others in understanding, and you will see that he has the appearance of an ordinary person.”

The murderer dismisses Columbo because of his clothes, his shoes, his height, his propensity to bring his dog on assignment or to ramble on about his extended family.
Columbo just doesn’t care. He knows where his self-worth lies — not in their opinion, but in unearthing the truth.

Since we, the audience, have witnessed the crime, we side with Columbo, no matter how he appears to bumble. We’re in on the joke. We understand Kierkegaard when he writes, “True superiority can never be deceived.”

As the plot unfolds, the murderer grows more confident, just as Kierkegaard describes those embroiled in self-love: “The cunning deceiver, who moves with the most supple, most ingratiating flexibility of craftiness — he does not perceive how clumsily he proceeds.”,,,  LINK
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "kierkegaard, self-disclosure"
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 13:51
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "myers briggs"
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 13:45
1)As with tech, so with church.  From WIRED Magazine:

"When Platforms Change, Old Leaders Are Seldom the New Ones"..link

2)From Ken Schenck, in context of demise of Nazarene Publishing House as we know it:

"I'm reminded of something said to me in relation to academic institutions about a year ago. In this climate, one false move can take a solid institution and tank it."  Link
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "ecclesiology, leadership, role of the pa..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 13:37
Here's a chart tracking use of "personal Savior" and "personal relationship with Jesus" from article by Joel Miller here

The same could/should be done with the word "worship" being synonymous with "music," and "worship leader" or "worship pastor" with "music leader."  Etc etc...   See this
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "reading the Bible, words about words"
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 12:55
Acceptance speech upon winning "Prog God" award:
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Peter Gabriel, spirituality of music"
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 15:26
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "ecclesiology, Pope Francis"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 13:56
"One of the finest stories grappling with the balance between innocence and experience comes from the Irish tradition..."

No, the writer (David Whyte) does not mean the Irish tradition that is U2, even though their two new CDs  ("Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" ) do grapple right there.

 Here's (p. 148ff in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America)  his reference.

Whyte also coins the delightful phrase"innocence in the world of experience."  (154)

 All this in the chapter, "Fionn and the Salmon of Knowledge," subtitled, "Innocence and Experience in Corporate America."  (see link above, p. 161, for the "fish story").

How do we live this out in other corporate entities and organisms..


   ..... especially the Corpus Christi?

Explore all this,
         soundtracked by U2
             and guided by Whyte..
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "book reviews, ecclesiology, epistemology..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 13:31
find out here
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "economic, Pope Francis, spiritual format..."
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 13:29
"Only a few achieve the colossal task of holding together, without being split asunder, the clarity of their vision alongside an ability to take their place in a materialistic world. They are the modern heroes.... Artists at least have a form within which they can hold their own conflicting opposites together. But there are some who have no recognized artistic form to serve this purpose, they are the artists of living. To my mind these last are the supreme heroes in our soulless society. "
- Irene Clairmont de Castillejo, quoted in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Coporate America
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "art"
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 15:47

"U2: Seeking An Ecclesiology" by Tripp Hudgins for Sojourners-excerpt:

...What I want you to see is this post from the New Yorker. Do we truly have a "Church of U2" and is it in the cloud as well as the arenas around the globe? Can they send their sonic tracts anywhere they want? With 33 million downloads, is this a form of evangelism or is it simply "offering something beautiful?" It is so wed with making money to support the mammoth (and fading) music industry, that it's hard to know where the market begins and the ekklesia ends.
Of course, trying to disentangle those two is always a right mess. Ask Henry VIII. It ain' easy.
But this is why I'm so damn curious about it. Even the New Yorker gets it:
The story of U2 might be this: having begun as a band that was uncertain about the idea of pursuing a life of faith through music, they have resolved that uncertainty. Their thin ecclesiology has become thick. Today, they are their own faith community; they even have a philanthropic arm, which has improved the lives of millions of people. They know they made the right choice, and they seem happy. Possibly, their growing comfort is bad for their art. But how long could they have kept singing the same song of yearning and doubt? “I waited patiently for the Lord,” Bono sings, in the band’s version of Psalm 40. “He inclined and heard my cry.”
Yeah. There it is. And the connection to the new album? Here: "It expresses a particular combination of faith and disquiet, exaltation and desperation, that is too spiritual for rock but too strange for church—classic U2."
Right. There.
There is our "authenticity." There is the new ecclesiology that we see emerging. It is not an institution in the brick and mortar sense. No, it is an aesthetic. It is "authenticity' that is too spiritual for rock (the pure market) but too strange for church (sorry, Pope Francis).
What we're seeing is four guys from Ireland with way the hell too much money showing us what we have been wanting all along: a new way of being the institutional church

-Tripp Hudgins

Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "ecclesiology, U2"
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 15:40

 "a heart that is broken/is a heart that is open" -U2, Cedarwood Road

Steve Stockman writes:

One of the things that stands out on this new U2 record is the personal raw emotion of the songs. The heart of the record is where the hurt is, to paraphrase an old Bono line. From Iris (Hold Me Close) to Cedarwood Road we are on a 4 song sequence that is a painful journey from tragic personal loss to the door that opened for redemption to be found. I believe it to be the heart of the album. To record an album of songs of youth is nothing new to U2. 
"Boy" was exactly that but it was actually written in their youth as they left the exit door from adolescence. These songs have been thirty five years in the bubbling, brooding and making sense of. Where the other songs on Songs Of Innocence are also crucial building blocks that made Bono a man, this little section from Iris to Cedarwood Road are the trauma, the deepest fault lines of Bono’s shaping. Song For Someone is also a crucial building block but let us work through Iris to Cedarwood Road and get back to there.  link

complete series:






Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "spirituality of music, U2, U2 2010s"
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 17:37
Great article in New Yorker, The Church of U2:

...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.).. 

...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..

...most of the time, when Bono uses the words “love,” “she,” “you,” or “baby”—which he does often—a listener can hear “God” instead..

..People sometimes sway to “With or Without You” at weddings, but the “you” isn’t a romantic partner (the line about seeing “the thorn twist in your side” should be a giveaway); the song is about how the intense demands of faith are both intolerable and invaluable (“I can’t live / With or without you”). “The Fly,” on “Achtung Baby,” seems a little overwrought as a love song, but as a song about the writing of the Gospels it’s surprisingly concrete (“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, / All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief”). “Until the End of the World” is meaningless until you realize that it’s a love song for Jesus, sung by Judas, as portrayed by Bono. (This becomes especially obvious when the song is juxtaposed with scenes from “The Passion of the Christ.”) The best of these songs may be “Ultra Violet (Light My Way),” which sounds like it’s about a desperate romance, but is actually about the cruelty of God’s reticence:
You bury your treasure where it can’t be found,
But your love is like a secret that’s been passed around.
There is a silence that comes to a house
Where no one can sleep.
I guess it’s the price of love; I know it’s not cheap.
In the chorus, Bono alludes to the Book of Job (“Baby, baby, baby, light my way”), while the Edge offers a metaphor for the near-invisibility of God (“ultraviolet love”). On their recent “U2 360°” tour, the band came up with a clever visual metaphor for the song’s big idea: Bono wears a jacket trimmed in red lasers that point out into the crowd. It’s a pained, incomplete aura—trashy, but beautiful.
U2’s best songs were written during these years—roughly from 1986, when they began recording “The Joshua Tree,” to 1997, the year “Pop” (which is actually very good) was released. But there was a problem: the songs depended for their power on the dramatization of Bono’s ambivalence about God. Onstage, he theatrically performed his doubt: on the “ZooTV” tour, in support of “Achtung Baby,” Bono regularly dressed up as the devil, singing songs of romantic-religious anguish in costume. That anguish was genuine, but there was something unseemly about his flaunting of faith and doubt. It was a peep show in which, instead of showing a little leg, Bono teased us with his spiritual uncertainty. In a song called “Acrobat,” on “Achtung Baby,” he accused himself of hypocrisy: “I must be an acrobat / To talk like this and act like that.” He quoted Delmore Schwartz: “In dreams begin responsibilities.”
U2 have continued to write songs of doubt (“Wake Up Dead Man,” off “Pop,” is especially good). But they are no longer wild, ludic, and unhinged in the way they talk about God. There used to be something improvisational and risky about their spirituality—it seemed as though it might go off the rails, veering into anger or despair. Now, for the most part, they focus on a positive message, expressed directly and without ambiguity. The band’s live shows have a liturgical feel: Bono, who regularly interpolates hymns and bits of Scripture into his live performances, leads the congregation with confidence.
On their most recent albums, including “Songs of Innocence”—which Sasha Frere-Jones, the magazine’s pop music critic, reviewed last week—Bono sings about religious subjects with the kind of unfussy directness that, perversely, makes the songs less open to the resolutely secular. Two songs on the new album, “Every Breaking Wave” and “Song for Someone,” express rich ideas about God—in the first case, the paradoxical idea that, to really sink into faith, you have to stop questing after new experiences of it; in the second, the idea that fleeting moments of religious feeling, even when they don’t make sense in your own life, might be a “song for someone” you don’t know, perhaps someone in need, or some other version of yourself. These songs aim for clarity but end up being uncommunicative; they aren’t rough enough around the edges, and so there’s nothing to grab on to if you’re not already interested. If you aren’t listening carefully, it’s easy to think they’re about nothing.

The story of U2 might be this: having begun as a band that was uncertain about the idea of pursuing a life of faith through music, they have resolved that uncertainty. Their thin ecclesiology has become thick. Today, they are their own faith community; they even have a philanthropic arm, which has improved the lives of millions of people.  

The Church of U2

Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "spirituality of music, U2, U2 2010s"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 22:33
image from the Mark Meynell post
I know Someone who "revels in paradox and subversion":

See Mark Meynell's post on "Song for Someone" here
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "spirituality of music, U2 2010s"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 22:33
"When you first hear a U2 album you think they’ve lost their faith and then after awhile you wish you had their faith."-David Dark
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "david dark, spirituality of music, U2"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 13:34
  I just found out about him; and I don't know where to "file" Jason Sebastian Russo and his bands Hopewell and Common Prayer (and formerly of Mercury Rev)...some say space rock..others psychedelic indie rock, shoegaze, scifi gospel artrock (just made that one up) etc..

I don't know where to file Jason Sebastian Russo  himself spiritually.  From my first glnce at his lyrics  on the Hopewell and The Birds of Appetite CD, I said, "Wow, there is a Godhaunted man who obviously grew up in church."  Articles and interview do often mention that he grew up in "very religious" home, but nowhere is the tradition specified.  Russo: "I grew up in a really religious household where we were taught that the world is going to hell, Satan was going to be released from his chains and we probably would have to live in the basement and eat the cat to survive. "   Hmm,  That doesn't sound very Catholic, but strangely he speaks of childhood church services as  "mass".

JR:Hopewell definitely focuses on the transcendental, and Common Prayer sticks around the house. The sanctity of the mundane..

I think it's safe to say that the two bands are trying to arrive at the same place by going in opposite directions. One going out, one going in. After enough interstellar travel, you start to notice that the pattern is self-replicating. The more you zoom out to take in the data, the more the picture keep resolving to be the same basic shape. As above so below. Perhaps it's just a matter of scale..

 Question: You've said 'I say a prayer to everything going.' Is this a matter of not holding on, being open to everything; finding wonder in the new, to keep moving?

JR: At some point, I realized that what my parents call God, I call "everything going how everything goes" - so, prayer.  link

Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "spirituality of music"
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 09:33

U2’s “Songs of Innocence”Is It Their Best Work Yet?A Composer’s Perspective! by Kevin Ott, Rockin' God's House


Greg Clarke  on  the miracle in the U2 bloodstream :The new U2 album – Songs of Innocence – is gorgeous. It’s instantly familiar, obviously U2 and deeply Christian. This  continued


On first take, the latest U2 album still offers grace

The band’s latest release is theologically rich, though subtler than its earlier work. By Steven Harmon  link

by RevNathanHart:
that in fact the album had been paid for, just not by the listeners. Apple Corporation paid the price. “I don’t believe in free music,” Bono said, “music is a sacrament.”

The power of Songs of Innocence is found within its sacramental atmosphere. There are holy moments throughout. With very personal and vulnerable lyrics, Bono has (probably temporarily) laid down his political megaphone. It feels less like a prophetic diatribe and more like a prayer of confession.  link

Review: No surprise the surprise U2 album shines

Rolling Stone 5-star review

New York Times review
Sep 10, 2014
The result is their best and most thematically complete album since Achtung Baby. By turning towards their past, U2 have found their way back to the future.
Author: "dave (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "spirituality of music, U2 2010s"
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