Buffalo News - Spirited sounds

Gotta hat-tip the @U2 mailing list here since I wouldn't have found this without them. Jeff Miers, the pop critic for the Buffalo News, writes a column on successful meldings of spirituality and rock 'n' roll, by which he sort of seems to mean CCM but not strictly CCM. Thus, King's X, Newsboys, Switchfoot, and U2 are his only candidates, which is a bit odd, but he admirably has U2 represented by not just the usual-suspect October, but also by Pop ("startlingly confrontational religious lyrics.")

I had to smile at Miers' description of "Gloria" -- Bono "begs some spiritual force to 'loosen my lips.'" In a song that locates its "you" in a verse from Colossians and cobbles together its chorus out of incipits from the Gregorian psalter (I owe that insight to Angela Pancella) is it really that hard to figure out whom "O Lord" is addressed to?

To make a more generic comment, I'm also quite struck by the beginning of the piece, which gives a frightening window into a set of (common? yikes!) assumptions about the interface of Christian experience and the intellect/body politic. I know not all our readers are followers of Jesus, but for those who are, can you imagine thinking of that experience in the way this paragraph does?
Rock music has always been best when dedicated to ideas of individualism, the questioning of authority, the marriage of the intellectual, spiritual and physical, and the positing of new notions concerning freedom and responsibility. That's why the concept of Christian rock is troubling for so many. Rock music has so long been the voice of the exile that to see it joining a club with predescribed notions of morality and spirituality seems deeply contradictory.

OK, I'll spot him "individualism." But the rest of that... whoa. The marriage of the intellectual, spiritual, and physical... questioning established authority... and positing new notions about freedom and responsibility -- wait, don't those things all form a significant part of what Kingdom life is and what discipleship is training us for? Doesn't it all tie in, for example, with what U2 are trying to do, and motivate audiences to do, specifically by integrating their Christian faith with their lyrics? The voice of the exile - isn't that pretty much a main Biblical metaphor for where believers are and what our call is? A club with predescribed notions of morality and spirituality - isn't what that idea is really "deeply contradictory" to the experience of grace, of being set free by Jesus?

And I can't end without citing what, from a Christian point of view, is the theologically subtle ZooTV slogan, "RELIGION IS A CLUB." Sure, religion is a club. But neither Jesus nor grace is religion. That's kind of the point.

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