Posts Tagged With: u2

Mourning Madiba: Ndiyakuthanda, Tata

mandela-smileI stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.

~ Nelson Mandela

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Cry of a Tiny Baby: Merry Christmas, Everyone!

“The idea that there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it,” he told me in his raspy brogue, sipping black coffee out of a Styrofoam cup. “But the idea that the same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty is genius. And it brings me to my knees, literally. To me, as a poet, I’m just in awe of that. It makes some sort of poetic sense. It’s the thing that makes me a believer, although it didn’t dawn on me for many years.”

- Bono on Christmas and the Incarnation from The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People (p. 10) by Cathleen Falsani. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Kindle Edition.

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U2’s Joshua Tree: 25 Years in God’s Country

Desert sky
Dream beneath the desert sky
The rivers run, but soon run dry
We need new dreams tonight

~ from “In God’s Country” by U2

On March 9, 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree, its fifth studio album and one that would catapult the Irish rock quartet from popularity to international superstardom.

Twenty-five years later, today The Joshua Tree is one of the most bestselling albums in history — with more than 25 million copies sold — and is considered to be among the best rock albums of all time.

Upon it’s release in 1987, Rolling Stone Magazine critic Anthony DeCurtis wrote:

“The wild beauty, cultural richness, spiritual vacancy and ferocious violence of America are explored to compelling effect in virtually every aspect of The Joshua Tree — in the title and the cover art, the blues and country borrowings evident in the music … Indeed, Bono says that ‘dismantling the mythology of America’ is an important part of The Joshua Tree‘s artistic objective.”

The Joshua Tree also happens to be my favorite record, the one I’ve played more than any other and have worn out on at least three different audio media (vinyl, cassette tape and CD) since I waited in line to purchase the LP the day it went on sale when I was a 16-year-old junior in high school. (God bless my longsuffering parents.)

Its spiritual and socio-political heft has, for me at least, only grown more powerful over the years. As I listened to it again today, the soul-shaking music and lyrics sounded even fresher in our current nervous times than they did to my teenage ears in the twilight of the Reagan era.

Perhaps as iconic as the songs on the album itself — “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where The Streets Have No Name,” “With or Without You,” “In God’s Country,” etc. — are the black-and-white photos of the bandmembers Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton taken in the California high desert by photographer Anton Corbijn.

Corbijn, U2’s longtime shooter, immortalized a scruffy-if-fresh-faced band in the barren backdrop of the Mojave desert. A single tree in particular — a yucca palm (Yucca brevifolia) or Joshua tree located in the middle of Death Valley National Park. The trees are unique in that their trunks are comprised of thousands of fibers and therefore contain no growth rings. It is believed that many Joshua trees live hundreds if not a thousands of years.

The yucca trees got their colloquial name from Mormon settlers in the 19th century who thought their outstretched, arm-like branches resembled the biblical character Joshua reaching his hands heavenward in prayer. When Bono reportedly learned that story of the Joshua tree name’s provenance, he was pleased about the spiritual significance and persuaded his bandmates they should name their album after it.

The Joshua tree that’s pictured in the original album artwork died (presumably of old age) and fell in 2000. But that hasn’t stopped scores of U2 fans from all over the world making the pilgrimage to the way-off-the-beaten-track desert locale to pay their respects to the famous fallen tree. There’s even a bronze plaque at the site that reads, “Have you found what you’re looking for?”

@U2 Staff’s Pilgrimage to the Joshua Tree

Happy anniversary to The Joshua Tree and U2, who created it “from the sky down.”

“From inaccessible mountain range by way of desert untrod by human foot to the ends of the unknown seas, the breath of the everlasting creative spirit is felt, rejoicing over every speck of dust that hearkens to it and lives.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Cathleen Falsani is Web Editor and Director of New Media for Sojourners. She edits the God’s Politics blog, where this post first appeared. Follow Cathleen on Twitter @GodGrrl.

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Jack Heaslip: “What if God is even greater than we think?” (Oh, Yes.)

Apologies for the dodgy photo, Jack. The only one we could find is your Interpol mug shot (apparently.)

Our wonderful friend Jack Heaslip (possibly the coolest man alive) gave the church my family attends, Little Church by the Sea in Laguna Beach, Calif., the most marvelous of gifts last weekend: His presence.

Jack, who hails from just north of Dublin in Howth, County Fingal  (by way of County Mayo), Ireland, was our guest at the weekend at on Sunday, blessed us by delivering two poleaxingly beautiful sermons at the morning services. An ordained Anglican clergyman, for the last 15 years of so, Jack has been the chaplain for the band U2, traveling all over the world with Bono, the Edge, Larry and Adam, ministering to the band and their small city of 500 crew members who build the sets, hang the lights, move girders, construct the huge Claw for the 360 tour and help put the show on for untold thousands of fans.

Jack had a few days of leisure in Los Angeles before U2’s shows at Angels Stadium in Annaheim this coming weekend, so graciously agreed to join Little Church for worship and teach us a thing or two about this God of Grace of ours.

Unfortunately (the devil was, apparently, in the details) the audio recording from the church sound board went wonky and didn’t record Jack’s sermons for the usual MP3 posting on the church Web site. So (with apologies to Joe O’Herlihy) the only audio we have is from my iPhone from the 8:30 a.m. (read: early) service. I’ve tinkered with it a bit and the sound quality is passable, but you’ll have to excuse hearing every breath, snort and chortle of mine as the phone picked all of them up from its perch on the pew next to me.

Here is what Jack, with his inimitable good humor and wisdom, shared with us. May his words bless you as much as the did those of us lucky enough to have heard him in person.

(The passage Jack preached from, Ephesians 3, is reprinted below the audio link.)

Jack, thank you for … you. And for your generosity of time, spirit and friendship. Laguna misses you already. You have a home here, spiritual and otherwise, anytime you want it.


Ephesians 3

from The Message (MSG) Para-translation by Eugene Peterson

Ephesians 3

The Secret Plan of God

 1-3This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

 4-6As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

 7-8This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

 8-10And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

 11-13All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

 14-19My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

 20-21God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

   Glory to God in the church!
   Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
   Glory down all the generations!
   Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

Categories: LURKING IN THE NARTHEX | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

People of the Second Chance: U2&Faith Quiz Extended Until TUESDAY 9:30 a.m.


I guess it really is a tough quiz.

By the time the quiz expired this a.m., only 10 of you had taken it and the score to beat so far is 65 percent.


So…in the interested of fair play and harmony in the community, I’ve extended the quiz until TUESDAY AT 9:30 A.M. PST

If you haven’t tried, try again. If you tried and got spanked, try again.

I’ll even up the ante: Grand Prize is a copy of U2: The Complete Encyclopedia and an authentic back-stage pass (mine) from the first leg of the No Line on the Horizon tour.


Good luck to all!

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Friday Swag Bag Grab Quiz: U2 and Faith – Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

We’re a wee bit late celebrating U2’s 34th birthday (September 25, 1976), but what the hell. It’s never to late for a bit of good Irish craic.

Calling all U2 fans:

Today’s Swag Bag Grab Quiz is in honor of the boys from Dublin and takes a look at the spiritual content of U2’s oeuvre.


Are you a fan? A Superfan?

See if you can correctly identify the songs and albums with the lyrics replete with spiritual, biblical and religious images and references.

The Grand Prize Winner gets a copy of The Complete Encyclopedia of U2.

Runners up with receive a copy of the Official God Girl U2&GOD Mix Tape. (Well, it’s a CD, actually.)

Winners will be announced on Monday. You have seven minutes to complete the quiz, which will close at 9 a.m. PST Sunday.

Good Luck!

Take the Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For? Quiz HERE.

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