Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bullet in the Blue Sky

So, since I've been back on my U2 Kick (thanks Tyler for your influence), I was listening to Joshua Tree and reading "U2 Into the Heart:The Story Behind Every Song". Since my last post, and my hatred of war-like language when talking about faith, "bullet in the blue sky" caught my attention. So I read the story behind it and found something interesting. Just something to ponder that was said. Not my words, and no commentary...take it for what you will! Please note the context was Bono's trip to Central America during the 80's when US foreign policy was impoverishing parts Central America, making the area very unstable, as well as supporting civil wars in some of the countries. (sound familiar?)

"'I still believe in Americans' Bono added, 'I think they're a very open people. It's their openness which leads them to trust a man as dangerous as Ronald Reagan. They want to believe he's a good guy. They want to believe he's in the calvary, coming to rescue America's reputation after the 70's. But he was only an actor. It was only a movie. I think the picture's ended now and Americans are leaving the cinema a little down in the mouth.' 'Bullet in the Blue Sky' made one other connection, linking the disastrous US foreign policy under Reagan to his own religious fundamentalism and that of the Christian tele-evengelists who had flourished in his version of America. U2 recognized that imperialism is fuelled by a righteousness that denies others their OWN right to believe, and to express those beliefs.

"'I would say that none of my fundamental beliefs have changed,' The Edge said during 1986, 'but they've broadened and matured and been tempered with a wider experience of a) what's good about the rest of the world and b) what's bad about religion everywhere. I basically assume that every single religious group, or community, has a problem, is in some way screwed up. I don't believe that there is one, single, perfect spiritual way and, in realizing that, obviously you become a lot more open.'"

"The mention of the [former] preacher Jerry Falwell inspired anger, bordering on contempt. 'He preaches that God dresses in a three-piece polyester suit, is white, speaks in a southern accent, is from an Anglo-Saxon background and has a wife and children. And then you say, how does that relate to a Chinese peasant? And you realize it doesn't at all.

"or a southern black? The song contrasts the burning crosses of the [KKK] with the liberating sound of john Coletrane's saxophone breathing into the New york Night. America: the land of paradoxes. Everything that's great about the world, and everything that's repulsive about it. rolled into one. That's what 'Bullet in the Blue Sky' is about"


  1. "U2 recognized that imperialism is fuelled by a righteousness that denies others their OWN right to believe, and to express those beliefs."
    That's very true. Now, how does that connect with evangelism (aka religious imperialism)? :)

  2. good question. The other question is can we define "evangelism" without an imperial lens? I've departed from what has traditionally been taught as "evangelism" (telling other's that no matter what they think, they are wrong because I (as a Christian) have all the answers)... Instead I form relationships, and live out the life that I feel God calls me to.

    This is why pluralism scares the crap out of most evangelicals. they don't know how to work in that understanding/worldview. There are several books and articles that attempt to approach this problem, but it seems no one trusts the Holy Spirit.

    Evangelism needs to be reimagined (and in my opinion renamed) as simply telling your story--mine coming from a Christian understanding, although that would have to be explained in order not to be stereotyped.

    there should be no preconceived plan of conversion when forming relationships, because that is the basis of imperialism: Change to conformity. If one could tell their story of their life beliefs in a non-hostile, honest, and revealing way, then perhaps that is what evangelism will become. We make the excuse that, "we love people too much to let them walk away without KNOWING and ACCEPTING the Truth." (whatever that means). Yet, sometimes love is allowing people to walk away, and perhaps never knowing what happened....leaving their fate up to God and the work of the HS. But we seem to forget that there was a certain rich man whom Christ allowed to walk away. Never has that been questioned as an unloving act, although we don't practice that today. instead, we use every underhanded trick in the book (i.e. long alter calls, emotional speeches and music, hell-scaring tactics, etc...) We've lost the power of our personal narrative!

    The flaw in that tactic, is that even that option that is put forth is that it still has the underlying imperialistic mindset (the we're right and everyone else is wrong). I guess the even bigger question is how can we get past that mindset as Christians? or can we without being labeled (as i have been) universalistic? But hey, i'm ok with being labeled a heretic because I admit that I don't completely understand all of God, and leave some room for him to work in the midst of my questions. I'm not saying that i think that is an accurate title for me, but people call me what they will, I'm the one who believes God is big enough and strong enough to work outside of the systematic box we've prescribed for him.

  3. tell me why I should follow Jesus anyway. why not just pursue a life of pleasure and wealth? (like hugh hefner or a rock and roll star). I'll bet you if you ask them they'll say that their life is a great deal of fun, what do i need Jesus for?

  4. dear anonymous,
    I really hate to tell you this, but I cannot answer that question for you. YOU are the only one that can answer why you would need Christ in your life. I know why I need Christ in MY life, but my life experience has nothing to do with yours that I know of. perhaps if you were to hear the story of my journey, you would find something in it that resonates with your own story that would lead you to look into following Christ as a way of living.

    The parallels you draw i find flawed (for they are not of a spiritual nature), but still I ask the question, is having a life that is "having a great deal of fun" really leading a fulfilled life? Is there more to life than fun? I'm sure that even Hef. and Bon Jovi have their bad days...for they are human. But all I can do is ask them questions, I can't force the answers because i am not pompous enough to believe that I have ALL of the answers! I don't mean that statement cruel, I remind myself of a time when i did THINK i had all the answers and what an arrogant person i could be. I hate thinking about that time in my life because i was fake, and drove more people away from the very thing into which i was trying to bring them.

    I can tell you at this point in my life, from my own personal experience, understood within the framework of my own upbringing, education, and relationships, that I believe Christ to be worth following! I believe that He taught and showed us how to live life to the fullest, a life fulfilled; not just a life filled with love, hope, peace, understanding, humility, caring etc..., but I find his example, his teachings and his sacrifice leading me to a life filled with God! A life of purpose, even in the tough times, and a life with a loving companion to be a beacon in this world. It is a life filled with responsibility: to the poor, the outcasts, the impoverished, the sick, the needy, the imprisoned,etc... but a life filled with the power to heal the world and to be a part of God's holy work in his world.

    But really, i have still not answered your question about why you should follow Christ. Perhaps you should ask him yourself, as you need no mediator. Only you can decide if and why you should follow Christ. No one can make that decision for you. It is your choice and your choice alone. All I can do is share in someone's journey, not force them to mirror mine!

    in love,

  5. Well said on both of those posts, my friend.
    One thing that strikes me about most Christians who venture more into the po-mo thinking is that they really have a strong belief in the sovereignty of God and the Holy Spirit.
    They will gladly share what they think, but they don't find the need to force people into conversion (you can't do that anyways, but you know what I'm saying). But I think they realize that it's the Holy Spirit that does the work of conversion, and it's not they are not capable of ramming the Gospel down someone's throat and thus getting them to believe.

  6. jeff
    what you point out is that which makes me the most excited about the postmodern era is the reclamation of things that modernity has lost/pushed out. the power of God and the sovereignty of the HS is one you mention, as well as (hopefully) a new mind-frame when it comes to evangelism.

    I know that the premodern worldview slanted Christianity as much as the modern worldview has, just in different ways (sometimes compounded on top of each other). so I'm not going to say that the same won't happen once we've moved into post-postmodernity (whatever they end up calling it) and look back. Each worldview will inevitably, and only seen in retrospect, will open it's own set of problems for the next transition to react to, but for the time being, in THIS transition, I am very excited about the move to reclaim some of those things that we have lost, forgotten, or silenced through our modern lenses!