I've now read the JRS article on Jeremiah, ATYCLB, and Aung San Suu Kyi. My first comment: in case you were wondering, this article is not at all the kind of work you will find in Get Up Off Your Knees.

Second, it is a good example of two things: 1) finding interesting Biblical connections with something in the corpus of U2's music and 2) working with them rather naively and clumsily.

You can say reading Aung San Suu Kyi's situation through the lens of Jeremiah's story is illuminating. You can say reading ATYCLB through the lens of Jeremiah's story is illuminating. You can point to ways that U2 seem to resonate with (and draw attention to other people who resonate with) some of the Biblical themes given prominence in Jeremiah. You can even get all those voices in the same room (metaphorically) and see what they sound like put next to each other.

But what you just can't do is what this article does: argue from some ways in which two unrelated stories illuminate one another to Bono's having consciously intended to link them -- at least, not unless Bono has told you in an interview why he wrote what he did. (And, if Into the Heart is any indication, probably not even then!)

So to my mind, the article makes a completely inappropriate leap in trying to convince us that U2 (whom it refers to throughout as "Bono") made a conscious parallel between Jeremiah and Aung San Suu Kyi and threaded Jeremiah references throughout ATYCLB because "Jeremiah spoke words of comfort that modern day victims of injustice need to hear," and in order to "elevate [her] to the status of prophet" and equate repressive governments with the "unrepentant establishment which opposed Jeremiah." Maybe that was part of what was going on -- though I doubt it; surely there are more obvious parallels for justice-seekers who kept working in prison and more obvious sources for promises of comfort -- but it is very very far from exhausting the themes even of the one song "Walk On."

Once again, I'll hop up on my soapbox about the futility of looking for The Meaning of U2 lyrics. There is not one meaning to any work of art, especially songs as allusive and interactive as U2's. Point out quotes, point out echoes, point out people who think or write in the same way, point out experiences the band have said shaped a piece of music, but don't try and tell us the one thing your finger is aimed at just now is all there is.

My other soapbox: there are 4 people in this band.

Things I like about the article: the way he points out the band's particular gift for holding together prayer and activism; the cute little J33:3 story; those "in a hole" citations.

By the way Remember Aung San Suu Kyi and the more than 100 members and supporters of the National League for Democracy who are missing and/or injured after a violent incident last May.

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