Category: Gospel and Culture

U2 and Keane in Concert

How do you begin to download one of the best concerts you’ve ever been to? The night was a double-header. Most opening acts I skip, but thanks to Mark Nelson, we showed up in time to catch aobut 10 songs by Keane. An English band, not new and incorrectly compared to Coldplay, opened for U2. Suprisingly, they possess some of the stuff of U2, not in musical similarity but in raw, emotive displays of musical talent and power. Yeah, they are excellent live. Whats crazy is they are a trio, with no guitar (keyboard, drums and vocals)! If you dont have a cd, get Hopes and Fears and sit back and chill, meditate, enjoy. Sample them at

Opening with “City of Blinding Lights,” a song I didnt care for until I heard it live in May, U2 cranked the Garden in a way that Keane probably dreams of. Bono set the tone for the night saying, “Let’s turn this Tuesday night into a Saturday night and Sunday morning.” Although there was less Sunday morning than I would have liked, it was a party from beginning to end.

Bono’s vocals were stronger than any of the five U2 shows I’ve seen. Hitting the high notes of “Still Havent Found” with ease and digging deep to belt out Pavarotti’s italian opera in “Miss Sarajevo,” which stole the night, you thought you were listening to a much younger Bono. The unexpected and inaugural acoustic “Stuck in a Moment” left you, well, stuck in a moment that you didnt want to get out of.

The typical human rights and political activism formed the center of the night with a interesting seguy out of Sunday Bloody Sunday and into Miss Sarajevo. Bono pleaded for coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews, a noble and rather Christian thing to do. He claimed that Sarajevo was an beautiful example of this coexistence, accounting for why evil men destroyed it.

What drives Bono’s activism is the Justice he sees in Scripture: “Holding the children to ransom for the debts of thier grandparents, that’s a justice issue. Or not lettting the poorest of te poor put thier products on our shelves whilst advertsing the free market, that’s a justice issue to me. These things are rooted in my study of the Scriptures.” (Bono in Conversation, 123)

The night ended on a spiritual note with the ancient psalm 40. How long must we sing this song? Probably for eternity.

A Meditation on Meditation (or lack thereof)

A number of thoughts converged today painting an inviting yet repelling picture of self— yeah, me. I guess they have been swirling for some time, sourced by different influences and, like everything I ever write or think, they aren’t new or groundbreaking. Every theologian is a thief.

Instead of rambling on about the times and places in which the various detected influences emerged today, I’ll just list some sound bytes in chronological order from my internal, sometimes prayerful, dialogue which are shaping the picture I’m beginning to make out…

“…Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah” ~ Psalm 4.4

“I love these quiet, early Saturday mornings; they are so peaceful, so full of potential…that often goes untapped.”

Oscillating between reading Psalm 4 and staring at my son, I realize that both are important and have trouble dividing the time (something I anticipate will become much more difficult).

~ “Now if you accepted the constant promiscuous broadcasts as normalcy, there were messages in them to inflate and pet and flatter you. If you simply said this chatter was altering your life, killing your privacy or altering your ability to think in silence, there were alternative messages that whispered of humiliation, craziness and vanishing. What sort of crank needs silence? What could be more harmless than a few words of advice?” ~ Mark Greif

“Malls are so anti-contemplative.”

“I don’t want to read; I want to converse with someone in depth.”

“I think, when I spend time on my own, a few things happen. After some hours, I start to laugh out loud. I do. After a few days, I’m having a great time. I go for a walk, and I read, because its so fresh for me. Then, I’m brought back not to any new insight on the world, but to what I already knew. The noise separates me from my instincts.” ~ Bono

“I just want to walk around some isolated places.” ~ some guy on a cell phone in B&N

In a sentence, I’m starving for space, solitude, reflection but addicted to sound, stimulation, information.

Of course, space, solitude and reflection are not ultimately ends in themselves. If I am to withdraw from the mass of cultural sounds, stimulations and an addiction to information, if I am to meditate in my heart on my bed, I must meditate, think on something or someone. What I need is Someone. Too often I turn away from His invitation to the noise of nothing, the action of distraction and egotism of acquired information.

O’ to be still…Selah.

Patience Through Swing Assembly

Owen is now one week old. I’ve never been one to keep up with anniversaries, certainly not one week dates. However, love has a way of etching events into your heart and mind. I also didn’t know it was possible to fall in love twice, but Owen and Robie are the center of my affection. Of course, the kind of love I have for my son differs from my love for my wife, but it is love nonetheless.

Like all other loves, fatherly love is tested, even from infancy. Surprisingly, the screaming, pooping and general lack of reciprocity aren’t what test my love for Owen. Of the three, I think his crying is the most painful. Partly because I don’t want him to be sad, uncomfortable, etc. and partly because I lack patience. In reflection upon my poverty of patience I’ve realized my warped perspective on what patience really is.

Although I would have never told you that patience is a remedial attribute, I have believed so. Somehow (in my selfishness), I’ve thought and acted as if patience is a product of welfare. Its something I give to things and people because they require it. When confronted with a trying circumstance, I descend the hill of my superior level of life and satisfaction in order to accommodate the needs of less fortunate souls. In short, when I’m patient people benefit- a pretty arrogant view of patience.

This all came to a head when I was putting together an automatic swing for Owen that I didn’t want to keep. We’ve already accumulated too much baby stuff…I was thinking (and I know, we’ll be offered much more). Frustrated that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, I tackled the swing assembly with irritation. This irritation, which I was doing a poor job of fighting off, quickly turned to silent anger as I corrected mistakes made it the assembly process. Dissatisfaction, discontent and negative vibes radiated outwards, rocking the ones I love. After being confronted lovingly by my wife, I repented and apologized to my mother-in-law. You can hurt people without even touching or speaking. Now that I think of it, I need to go apologize to Owen too. If there is one thing I’ve learned in being a husband, its to be a “lead repenter,” even if you feel like others are also in the wrong.

The next morning, the Spirit moved me gently from my current source of meditation, Colossians, to Ecclesiastes via Galatians. The subject of meditation and learning was plain- patience. Reminding me that patience is not so much a virtue as it is a fruit of the Spirit, the Lord called to mind Galatians 5. Patience is not remedial; its Spirit-ual. Its on par with love, joy, and peace and is a product of keeping in step with the Spirit. The only welfare with patience is divine welfare, something I’m in infinite need of.

Then came Ecc 7.8: “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Why was I impatient with the inanimate swing? Because haughty me had better things to do! Why was the end of the swing assembly not better than the beginning? Because I didn’t chose the better way. Oh for the greater satisfaction of a patient spirit, whose patience is of the Spirit!

Praying for true patience.