Tuesday, March 3, 2009

U2 is on God’s Ipod

I’m pretty sure.
I’m listening to the new U2, No Line on the Horizon, and I love it. The weakest part of the album is the title. I’m not going to review the album, (leaving the reviewing to persons of Musical Proficiency, like Rolling Stone Magazine, who gave it perfect marks). Instead I’m going to list a few reasons why I love U2, and why U2 fans are becoming more rabid, and why new crops of U2 fans are continually being harvested.

1. Instant Nostalgia.
I don’t know a single band that can make me longingly remember the past like U2. And it doesn’t have to be the distant past, either. “Mike, remember when you first heard the song, Moment of Surrender?” and I’d answer absolutely, and my eyes would glaze over a bit with romance. I remember exactly what I was doing. I was sitting on my bed, writing on my laptop, and waxing nostalgic. That was a good memory. It was like 4 minutes ago, but already in my golden past. Only U2 can do that.

2. Legitimate Nostalgia.
I can timeline my life by U2 albums. I was in Junior High when Unforgettable Fire came out, and there were two videos on MTV (Surrender was one, and I watched it with my mom). I talked to my buddy Gary Johnson about how they were Christians, and he said horrified, “WHAT! But they’re COOL!” In High School my buddy Robby Adams invited me to go to the Joshua Tree Concert and I blew it off. To this day, I’m pretty sure that’s my biggest bonehead regret. I kissed Jenny Hill at a Sophomore Dance to With or Without You. In college, I listened to Actung, Baby literally everyday for two semesters. In my travels, U2 was a constant soundtrack to inter-continental road trips. So today, listening to my U2 collection on shuffle, takes me through the epochs of my life.

3. Continual Innovation.
Some might even claim, “self-betterment.” Each subsequent album is a refreshing nod to the music that is already loved, and a stretch to new heights. When I first heard, “All that You Can’t Leave Behind,” I was amazed at the synthesis they were able to pull off…combining great sounds from their past but clearly pulling us into the future. When my son was three, he learned to make a ‘Rock and Roll’ face while drumming to Vertigo in his carseat.

4. Incredible Concerts.
If you’ve never been to a U2 show, I just need to encourage you to make the investment. 20,000 people with their hands raised singing “Yahweh, Yahweh” or the words to Psalm 40, or “Hallelujah” well…there really isn’t anything in our culture at large that is as unifying, nor as uplifting while being flat out fun.

5. Bono’s Work on Behalf of the Poor.
Celebrities have often picked causes to champion, but no one has logged more hours or miles, no one has met with more politicians, no one has accomplished more on behalf of the voiceless, and no one has invested that kind of effort without a paycheck of any kind. The One Campaign is just the tip of this guy’s berg. Bono and his wife have logged months in refugee camps. He’s the real deal.

6. Faith Matters.
My big love. Whether Bono is wailing about hope, or growling about loss of faith, God is in the Wings. The yearning for redemption is pervasive. Only these guys can pull of a whole song as a prayer to Jesus. Bono isn’t as big on theology as he is on poetry, which is perfect for his medium. But as a hawker of God’s grace, I don’t know of anyone who has touched more people with that good news. God is, God is love, and there will be a day when we all will be running where the streets have no name.

And Bono, if you’re reading this, I’d love to hang out sometime.
Call me.


Jodie Howerton said...

I love U2. Not more than Jesus, but close.

Andrew said...

I know you were being tongue-in-cheek with the title, but it reminded me of some random musings that I thought I’d share.

It seems like the music in heaven must draw something from almost any (and every) style we’ve yet seen on earth, and probably a few we haven’t seen yet. I do agree that U2 is unique in their talent and ability – I’m an electronic music fan and tend to view live guitar and drums with suspicion, but am still moved by many of their songs. But I occasionally wonder what we’ll all be singing to in heaven, and the way I always see it is everyone finally understanding how whatever music that they personally love is just a corrupted fragment of an infinitely larger and more complete form of music.

So when you hear the music in heaven, you’ll hear faint strains that remind you of the best U2 songs you’ve heard – but they’re still only a part of this massively greater thing that is far beyond human understanding. When I hear that same music, I’ll hear faint strains of the trance music I love that instinctively makes me want to raise my hands – but it’s still this tiny, pale imitation of the full wonder and majesty of heaven’s songs.

(granted, I don’t know how Britney Spears fans fit into this theory…)

kyle said...

when bono calls to take you out for a beer can i come too? please?

Mike Howerton said...

Kyle, certainly. I'm sitting by the phone...

Terrace Crawford said...

I'm loving them on Dave Letterman this week. All week long baby.

Just ran across your blog. Thought I'd say hello!

--Terrace Crawford

Walsh said...

Pastor Mike,

Been enjoying U2 on Letterman everyday this week. Hope someone is Tivo'ing them for you!

BTW - Just want to send some thanks to you too. Back in 2005, Jesus grabbed my heart that had strayed for years. In that, I attend for a season the Saturday night gatherings at Overlake (Illuminate). Those evenings feed my born again excitement and your teachings were very helpful in my near journey at that time. I continue to watch your vodcasts from afar (well, West Seattle) where I attend the MH West Seattle campus. I really enjoyed your summer series in the Psalms and I continue to pray for the work that is happening at Overlake (Jesse too!). God Bless all of you!

Gwen said...

We are Christ followers as well as U2 groupies. I know you posted this, this last spring, but I got a fb note from a old friend who has been going to your church and I wanted to take a peek at your blog. Good stuff. I kept reading and found this. I do believe that Bono has pounded the path the throne room and God has used him tremendously. Troy has used his music a number of times for sermon series. He has also written music with the U2 influence, all to the glory of God. Say Hi to Jodie for us. By the way, your church looks slammin'!