Twice, I have been brought to my knees by the testimony of this gentle, rocker soul. I watched clips of him speak; His casual–and yet, extremely reverent–understanding of the Biblical God, pouring from his eyes, lips, demeanor. The honesty overwhelmed me. Paul “Bono” Hewson has (and has always had) every intention of breaking down the barrier that lies between the visceral, every-day humanity we have, and our “Sunday best” mode that seems to surface when we come before God. He argues that the significance of the Psalms, and more specifically, the life of men like King David, is their ability to be “ugly” before a Holy Creator. The Psalms don’t attempt to dress themselves up in anything other than humility before approaching the throne. Their author often crawls, scratches and writhes his way to God’s feet, showing himself inside out and surrendered. Honest. Truthful.
“I find a lot of dishonesty in Christian art. I think it’s a shame because, these are people who are vulnerable to God… In a good way. Vulnerable, I mean, porous, open.
…Write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. Because that’s what God wants from you. The truth. The Way, The Truth. And that truthfulness–‘know the truth and the truth will set you free’– It’ll blow things apart! Why I’m suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of, of realism and I’d like to see more of that. In art, in life, and in music.”
You can watch the video here, for yourself:
My own relationship with the Lord has been one of tenuous soul-giving, followed by a quick recoil. I desire to have a deep knowledge of Him, a love for Him, but am often scared of what I find once I’ve finally pressed close enough to catch a glimpse of exactly who and what God is. I’m frightened by the things I can’t comprehend… which, in case you’re wondering, is A LOT.
I’ve known God since even before I can remember. I was brought up in a home full of His love and truth and influence. My parents channeled such things in to me, from the very beginning. As a young person of faith, God feels so much easier to comprehend. The longer we are on this earth, the various conflicts of intellect, doubt, and evil tend to lodge themselves in the once-clear, child-minded lens, through which we “see” God. No longer a simple love and trust relationship, the adult world of faith is entirely complex. I don’t believe that to always be a negative thing, but it certainly makes things… difficult, to put it lightly. Or at least it did for me. Finding a way to navigate those complexities has been a mission of mine for years. Not until I came across this mini documentary, featuring Eugene Peterson ( author of The Message; a contemporary paraphrasing of the Bible) and Bono (frontman of the iconic band U2), did I feel like I had “struck gold.” I watched it a full time through, cried my eyes out and then watched it again, letting the words of these wise men sink in and permanently effect my heart.
I was particularly struck by Bono’s theory on art. Yes it’s a way to “express ourselves” and so forth…but we’ve heard all that before. That’s not the half of it. “Why do we need art? Why do we need the lyric poetry in Psalms? Because the only way we can approach God is if we’re honest; Through metaphor, through symbol. So art becomes essential, not decorative.”
Hmm. Essential. That word implies it’s non-negotiable. And what if it is? What if art, imagination and metaphor are the very mechanisms intended to bridge the gap between humanity and deity? What if the frustration and fear that wells up in me, each time I get close to God can be placated by the use of such art? The Psalms show us how to wrestle this fear, how to “punch the nose” of the enemy, who stands to separate us from a relationship with our Creator. Can it be that simply employing these art forms will bring us to a deeper, safer and more meaningful place with Him?
When this world is too confusing, too violent, too vast to understand, I’ll write you a song, or I’ll play you tune. I’ll paint a picture or dance a dance to break the fear and limitations of my flesh. There, in that art, I’ll be honest in a way my soul otherwise can’t be.
When I feel incapable of reaching you in any other way, will you reach me there?
That’ll be the prayer on repeat, around here.
Love you all! Have a happy little weekend!