Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Tablet Beatifies Bono


U2's Bono: Purveyor of Catholic Spirituality?

The Telegraph commentator, Ed West, who recently won my affection with some very intelligent and provocative posts on abortion has joined in the cruel, bloodthirsty but incredibly entertaining sport of 'Tablet-baiting'.

West notes that in The Tablet article, 'Declan McConville writes, "Through their art, U2 are connecting with millions of people, engaging with them on themes of social awareness, touching their souls and lifting their souls and lifting their spirit in a way that organised religion has ceased to do for many".'

Hmm...try telling that to St Teresa of Avila or any of the mystic saints of the Church in history, or those hidden now, who, I would imagine, would think that the music of U2 comes straight from the Netherworld. Secular music can lift the spirits true, but it is not Gregorian Chant, has nothing to do with prayer and is usually very self-indulgent and notoriously unedifying. I should know! You wouldn't believe the diabolical bile and trite that emerges from my songwriting.

West goes on: 'McConville concludes in what is, to be fair, a well-written article: "U2's spirituality is not about escaping from the world but about getting fully involved in the suffering of that world, because the resurrected Jesus is to be found in the midst of that suffering."'

Hmm...it's hardly Marvin Gaye's 'What's Goin' On?' though is it? I admire that Bono and his crew do care sincerely about the poverty of the developing World and use their influence to do good in the World. However, none of the spirituality of the Church is to be found in Bono's music. One of their songs from recent years had the lyrics, "It's a beautiful day/to live your life/it's a beautiful day/to live your life," lyrics which, although reflective of the shallow level of the spirituality of The Tablet, quite rightly belong on an advert for sanitary towels.

Aside from a few old U2 songs such as 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'With or Without You', which do tug on the old heartstrings, U2s music has become so pompous and overblown that one often imagines Bono and his band will descend onto the stage with crowns and sceptres on gigantic golden thrones and demand the adulation and worship they think they deserve. That is the great problem with the conflict between the music of the Church and secular music. It is the age old conflict between worshipping God and Mammon. Out of the two, by his ringing endorsement of President Obama, his public refusal to lend vocal support to the Holy Father on the condom/AIDS/HIV/Pope debate, his constant wearing of dark shades and all-in-one black leather jumpsuits and the fact that, while he bemoans African poverty, he and his mates live in castles, it is clear to all where his loyalty lies.

Unfortunately, this is the level at which The Tablet aspires to spirituality, which is why wise priests are banning it from their parish churches. Wait a few months and they'll be campaigning to have Bono in charge of musical direction in Churches across the British Isles, the replacement of the Holy Father with a dream-ticket-dual papacy of Tony and Cherie Blair on the Throne of St Peter and Bob Geldof in charge of enforcing compulsory recycling schemes and FairTrade coffee mornings in every diocese in the land.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking all of this about U2 recently..

Anonymous said...

i hate to say it - but you couldn't be more wrong. U2's shallow songs (such as from the POP album) were indeed shallow, however were shallow on purpose as a display of how shallow commercial music and culture is. if you actually take the time to check out the lyrics, i mean really reflect on them, you will find extreme spirituality, and a Catholic spirituality at that. there are countless examples, i will give you one:

this song is called 40 - have any guesses as to why it's called that?

"I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long...how long...how long...
How long...to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long...how long...how long..."

ps if you haven't figured it out check out psalm 40. many of their songs are similar - you just need to open your heart to it and dig a bit deeper...

(ps i think your quote of the song beautiful day is incorrect. the lyrics are "it's a beautiful day, don't let it get away...")

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