Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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The Forgotten and Endangered Species

April 27, 2007

A couple of days ago I was shocked to hear a country song playing on the radio as I pulled our car into the garage at night — country music is very rare in Mexico.  I really liked the sound of the song, even though I only caught the last 15 seconds of it, and therefore went and bought it from iTunes (oh, the wonder of modern technology!).  The song, by Kenny Rogers, is called “Coward of the County” and it’s really good.  Basically, it tells the story of a man (named Tommy) who goes through life known as the “coward of the county” because of his refusal to ever get into a fight.  His father told him that “You don’t have to fight to be a man” and encouraged him to live peacefully.  When Tommy is wronged in a very personal and hurtful way, however, (I’ll let you find out exactly how by listening to the song), he realizes that he must do something to preserve his honor.  At the end of the song, Tommy finally realizes that “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”  (Kinda goes along nicely with Man on Fire and Casino Royale, no?)  Try listening to the whole song here (if you live within the United States) — it’s much more effective than reading my little summary of the thing 😉

So after discovering this song that in a way celebrates manhood, today I listened to the 42nd episode of Ryan Dobson’s podcast.  The main theme he addresses in this great episode (probably his best yet) is — you guessed it! — manhood.  Ryan bemoans how feminism and modern culture have emasculated the vast majority of men today, telling them that they’re stupid and should look to women for advice and leadership.  According to the Bible, though, this is wrong!  Men were made for leadership, and they should not be afraid of themselves and go running to women to tell them what to do.  I won’t do all the ranting, though — I’ll leave that to Ryan.  If you’re interested in what it means to be a man and want to hear someone’s passionate discourse on the subject, download the podcast.  It’s really worth a listen.  I found it particularly interesting that Ryan mentions the book 6 Rules Every Man Must Break and says that the first rule is “The Rule of Passivity: Never Get In a Fight.”  Sometimes it’s necessary to fight if you’re going to preserve your manhood. Kinda like Tommy…  Anyway, here’s a video that Ryan made on the subject — it’ll give you a hint as to what the title of this post is referring to, if you haven’t already guessed 🙂

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Bono’s Genuine Faith

April 24, 2007

It has been awhile since I’ve been able to blog, and I apologize.  Homework, essays, and laziness do get in the way of everyday or even frequent posting, I’m afraid.  Anyway, enough remorsefulness about the fact that I don’t have unlimited time to blog and to the subject of this post!

Over a month ago (sorry!), I posted my comments and analysis of some of U2’s lyrics from their CD How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.  I was particularly interested in lyrics that seem vaguely spiritual in nature.  I had heard on several occasions that Bono is a real Christian, but I did not know how to verify whether or not his faith is, in fact, bona fide.  Granted, I did know that Bono is actively involved in fighting AIDS and poverty worldwide; I should know, since I own a (Product) Red iPod Nano (which Apple, Inc. produced in order to earn money for the Global Fund which fight AIDS worldwide).  I’m not sure about the exact connection, but I know that Bono is in some way connected to and involved with this Global Fund.  Anyway, the fact remains that Bono is at the forefront of many charitable causes, yet that does not prove his Christianity.

Imagine my interest, then, when I ran across this post at The Point:

You’ve seen him trotting around shopping for Red products with Oprah. You’ve heard about how the Pope wanted to wear his sunglasses. Now you can read about Bono’s very real faith, a faith which he shares so openly and eloquently that he does the very best thing possible–makes non-believers wish for a God like the one he believes in.

The post describes a little more about Bono’s faith and then links to this very insightful article by Steve Beard that takes a closer look at Bono’s Christianity.  I was particularly impressed by the fact that Bono’s father recognized that Bono has a genuine relationship with God, something that his father claims he could never achieve:

At the height of his success and fame, Bono and his father would often go down to a local pub and drink Irish whiskey on Sunday afternoons. On one occasion his father told him, “There’s one thing I envy of you. I don’t envy anything else. You do seem to have a relationship with God.” Bono asked: “Didn’t you ever have one?” “No,” he said. “But you have been a Catholic for most of your life,” Bono responded. “Yeah, lots of people are Catholic. It was a one-way conversation. . . . You seem to hear something back from the silence!” Bono said: “That’s true, I do.”

Bono not only affirms that he does indeed have a personal relationship with God, but in the article he goes on to describe in very clear terms the faith that he has in Jesus Christ.  As I read the article, I was struck by the powerful way in which this mega rock star articulates his faith in Christ, probably even better than I do!  And, while speaking about Christ’s sacrificial death for our sins, Bono demonstrates that he clearly understands that salvation does not come through good deeds.

It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

I feared that Bono — as many rich people do — was seeking to buy his way into Heaven through his charitable works.  Reading Mr. Beard’s article, however, showed me that Bono does truly understand Christian doctrine and theology in a way that I would never have guessed.  If you still have any doubts about Bono’s genuine faith, I encourage you to take a look at the article I linked to above.  It’s good to be reassured that there are real Christians in influential Christian positions — way to go, Bono!

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Interpreting U2

March 22, 2007

I recently bought U2‘s latest album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, from the iTunes music store.  I’ve been interested in U2 for some time, but had never actually bought any of their music.  (I’m fully aware that U2 has released a CD of 18 of their singles after How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, but U218 Singles is not really a new album, is it?)  Anyway, I am quite pleased to finally possess my own U2 CD and thus be able to familiarize myself with the group.  I liked the CD quite a bit, too.  Songs range from calm and pensive (A Man and a Woman, One Step Closer) to more upbeat, rocky tunes (Vertigo, Love and Peace or Else, All Because of You).  I’m not going to go into a full review of the album (I would have to listen to it a few more times to write a fair one), but would rather like to highlight two songs that impressed me with their seemingly spiritual lyrics.  The first is the aforementioned “All Because of You.”  When I first listened to this track without really thinking about the lyrics, I mistook it for an ordinary love song.  Upon closer listening, however, a certain part of the song struck me as a bit odd.  Here are the lyrics for the chorus:

All because of you
All because of you
All because of you
I am, I am

Without the music, that seems a bit repetitive and not too profound.  Here’s the first verse to the same song:

I was born a child of grace
Nothing else about the place
Everything was ugly but your beautiful face
And it left me no illusion
I saw you in the curve of the moon
In the shadow cast across my room
You heard me in my tune
When I just heard confusion

Basically, after listening to the song a bit more carefully, I started to think that perhaps this is a song thanking God for all he has done in Bono’s life.  There is no clear meaning on why Bono wrote “All because of you / I am, I am” because he doesn’t go on to describe what he is “because of you.”  Rather, I wondered if perhaps Bono is referring to I AM, the Christian God.  The first verse doesn’t seem to be talking about any person, but rather (I believe) presents a possible depiction of God.  Bono does say, “I was born a child of grace,” which could be a reference to his conversion to Christianity.  PluggedIn seems to share my opinion about this song, for they mention in their review of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that “‘All Because of You’ thanks God for life itself.”

The second song that really struck me as being explicitly Christian in this album is “Yahweh.”  These lyrics do not need that much interpretation — they are clearly referring to Yahweh, the God of the Bible.  I thought that, coming from a secular group, this song was very profound.  The lyrics sound more Christian than the lyrics of a lot of Christian songs I own!  Take a look at the first verse of the song:

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

The last verse, however, is even deeper in my opinion:

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

Wow!  Bono is pleading with Yahweh to break his hard heart and make his soul sing.  Besides being a very catchy song, the lyrics are great.  These songs are just some evidence that Bono is, in fact, a genuine Christian.  I’m working on an article that details more of his faith, but that is coming a little later (not too much later, I promise!)  Until I post that, pick up (or legally download) a copy of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb — it’s a wonderful album.

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Love’s Inevitable Risk

February 10, 2007

Heartbreak — one of those inevitable disturbances that must happen to everyone as they grow up.  Certainly, it needn’t be heartbreak in a romantic affair: love a dog, and when that dog dies, your heart will break.  Love a gift, a family heirloom, and when you lose that thing you cannot replace, tears will stream down you face (props to Coldplay!).  Actually, I think Coldplay has a lot of wisdom on this subject.  They recognize quite well in their song “What If” that love, by its very nature, is prone to the risk of heartbreak.  Look at what they have to say on the subject (and this is only one verse of the song):

Every step that you take
Could be your biggest mistake.
It could bend or it could break
But that’s the risk that you take.
What if you should decide
That you don’t want me there in your life?
That you don’t want me there by your side?

Coldplay goes on to say that because of this risk, “Let’s take a breath, jump over the side.”  In other words, yes, there is a fundamental risk involved in love, but we can’t let that risk keep us from loving.  I think C. S. Lewis makes this point masterfully in The Four Loves (a book that I haven’t read in its entirety yet, but I will the first chance I get!):

There is no escape along the lines St. Augustine suggests.  Nor along any other lines.  There is no safe investment.  To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.  The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

 Wow, that is a long quote, but Lewis captures the essence of love’s risk so poetically that I had to include the whole thing.  For clarity and profundity, there’s no one that can beat C. S. Lewis!  Before I close this assimilated post of sundry quotes on this topic, I thought I would make one last reference.  I watched Casino Royale a couple of weeks ago and it quickly became one of my favorite movies (thoughts on it are coming soon, I promise!).  One thing in particular impacted me about the movie.  Here is James Bond, agent 007, the nearly-invincible Mr. Macho himself.  Who can hurt him?  Yet, in this movie, Mr. Bond finally finds true love (I’m sure some would debate this claim, but I think this is what the filmmakers wanted to communicate at the end of the film).  How does Bond describe this new love he has found?

I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me – whatever is left of me – whatever I am – I’m yours.

Sounds a lot like vulnerability, doesn’t it?  Love is the loss of one’s armor, the opening of one’s heart; what could be more dangerous than that?  Closing one’s self off from love to avoid pain.  As Coldplay melodiously says, “Let’s take a breath, jump over the side.”  Will it hurt?  Most definitely.  But that’s the way it’s done, and there’s no other alternative but Hell.

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A Great and Terrible Quote

January 9, 2007

Over Christmas vacation, I took a break from the rather difficult books I’ve been reading lately (Locke, Hobbes, and Edwards are not easy pleasure reading material!) and decided to read something for sheer pleasure (I know, naughty, naughty me).  I decided on a book that I had read in my younger days, when I still had time to read exciting novels for hours every day.  The book I selected is Margaret Lovett’s The Great and Terrible Quest.  I  remembered reading this book several years ago and liking it immensely; thus, to satisfy my weary mind with some good fiction, I reread this book during vacation.

First of all, I was not disappointed at all by rereading this book.  I know that sometimes, when we remember something as beautiful and sublime (hmm, Edmund Burke would consider describing something with those two words contradictory, considering what he wrote on beauty and sublimity) when we are young, we are disappointed when we return to it after years have passed.  The wonder and magic that was there in childhood commonly abandons the work once we have left infancy.  That was not the case with this book, however.  If you want to read an entertaining, exciting, and even humorous account of a knight in the Middle Ages, you should read this book.

Without going into the plot or giving a complete review of the book, I just wanted to note one very interesting quote that struck me as I read it.  A young boy is talking to a wise, old woman about his despicable, hateful grandfather and how anyone could turn out as he did.  The old woman replies that the old man is embittered by the hurt his daughter — whom he dearly loved — caused him.  The little boy cannot comprehend this statement at all, and the woman replies by saying,

Ah, you’m too young to know the hate that love flouted can turn to.

I’m not making any arcane statements here, but I did find that quote extremely interesting and profound.  Yes, silly human beings that we are; what we think is love can easily turn to hate if we’re not careful to forgive and forget.  In the words of Coldplay (which has very quickly joined the ranks of my five favorite musical groups),

Oh, what good is it to live
With nothing left to give?
Forget, but not forgive
Not loving all you see?
(From “Swallowed in the Sea“)

Anyway, just a couple of random thoughts that I’ve had lately.  I felt like I should post, since it probably looks like I’ve abandoned this blog.  I’m going to write some thoughts on movies we watched during vacation, including Lady in the Water, V for Vendetta, and Casino Royale.  That’ll be coming soon!  Until then, find a copy of The Great and Terrible Quest and enjoy a great little book!