Author Topic: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?  (Read 1040 times)

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Offline ricebird5678

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U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« on: November 20, 2018, 09:08:31 AM »
This is a big sticking point for me. U2 has made it no secret to overtly refer Christian references in their songs. What is their most Christian song to you?



Offline ToRontoRon

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2018, 01:09:08 PM »
Great question.

I'm a devout Christian, and their spirituality got me into the band.  It was nice hearing a rock band sing so many songs either overtly, or discreetly, about God, considering that most rock bands go in the other direction. 

I like Travis's choice of Rejoice, as October is probably their most spiritual album.  I'm sure I wouldn't be nearly as big a fan of that album if I wasn't a Christian. 

My pick is going to be from the same album, just a different track.  I'm going to go with Gloria.  A lot of U2's songs can either have a spiritual or secular theme to them depending on what you like, (you certainly don't have to be a Christian to be a U2 fan), but this one is pretty straightforward with regards to it's Christianity.

An honourable mention, though, to yet another October song...  Scarlet.

I think a lot of U2 song lyrics are like art in the sense that you can make of them what you want.  I haven't seen it online, so maybe I'm completely pulling this lyrical interpretation out of my ass, but I always interpreted that song as Jesus Himself singing it, as He's dying on the cross.  The mood of the song is quite down given that the crucifixion is taking place, but also quite hopeful, as Jesus Himself is telling us that this horrible moment is one that we should rejoice about because it means our freedom from sin.  The title of the track, 'Scarlet', having to do with the red blood of Jesus, shed for our sins.

Maybe that's nowhere near what the song was written about, but I don't care, because that's what it means to me.  Like I said, I consider their songs to be like art, and that's what I hear when I listen to the track.  Other interpretations are equally valid if that's what it means to you.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2018, 01:18:38 PM »
I'm going to comment more later but to me this is like asking what the most spiritual book in the Bible is.

The list of non-spiritual songs is significantly shorter, and even that list will be debatable as I have many times realized - oh! That's actually a spiritual song after all!

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 02:39:03 PM »
I'll try to answer a slightly different question: which songs are most spiritually inspiring for me?

In no particular order:

Streets - this song hits the sweet spot between acknowledging our suffering and our weaknesses (we're beaten and blown by the wind) but offering strong faith in salvation (Sper Bowl version: I'll show you a place where there's no sorrow and no pain).

Breathe - gives strength to us in the face of evil.

Beautiful Day - I really like "what you don't have, you don't need it now"; the implication is that we only need God's grace.

With a Shout - explicit reference to Jesus's sacrifice, and a shout for joy for our salvation.

Magnificent - "I was born to sing for You, I didn't have a choice but to lift You up and sing whatever song You wanted me to. I give You back my voice."

Ordinary Love - I love the whole idea of ordinary love, but my favorite part is "birds fly high in the summer sky and rest on the breeze, the same wind will take care of you and I," referring to Jesus telling his followers that God will take care of us just like He does the birds, and as they have faith and no worry so should we.

Drowning Man - I think it's the voice of God to a man who needs help.

Oh, and there are more of course.

I do find some other songs intriguing as well, those I don't classify them as spiritually uplifting as much as thought-provoking:

The Playboy Mansion - amusing juxtaposition of consumerism and spirituality, with a twist at the end just when you think the singer might be getting it but he doesn't

Vertigo - you think this song is about drinking but it's a rejection of Satan, love how deep it is when hardly anybody even realizes it.

Daddy's Gonna Pay - CS Lewis's Screwtape sings us a song.

I could go on and on but I guess I'll shut up now.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2018, 02:45:19 PM »
ToRontoRon, I love your idea about Scarlet, which is an old favorite of mine. The tone of the song has always struck me as being SLIGHTLY askew. No, it's not really sad but it's not the obviously rejoiceful tone of, say, well, Rejoice.

I kind of heard it in a centered, musing, possibly bittersweet way, and your idea fits that nicely I think.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 02:58:13 PM »
I don’t know about spiritual, but one of the most religious is SHFWILF.  I really like how SHFWILF suggests that faith is just a starting point, not the end game.  So often Christians define faith as the end objective....belief for beliefs sake as some kind of test of worthiness for salvation.  Faith is worth nothing if it doesn’t prompt you to act in compassion.  It is a means to an end, not the end objective itself.  The end objective is love.

In the song, the singer believes but realizes that “he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”.  Belief is merely the beginning of finding your spiritual purpose, your way of doing what you can to make God real in the world.  If you view it as a doctrinal ticket to salvation, you’ve missed the point.


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Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2018, 03:31:54 PM »
Sorry to post so many in a row.

Did you guys see The Psalms with Bono and Eugene Peterson (RIP)? Absolutely terrific and worth checking out of you haven't.

Well anyway the theologist - I think it was him, anyway, David ________? - was talking to Bono about this concept of categorizing the psalms as Orienting, Disorienting, and Reorienting, and apparently Bono knew exactly where he was going with that and said, "which do you think I'm good at?" He asked it rhetorically, so I had to go figure out the answer.

Looks like he's done all three, but Reorienting must be his calling.

October is a great example of oriented psalms - they are simply oriented to God. "Rejoice," "Gloria in te dominine," etc.

Disoriented psalms struggle, have lost their way, ask where God has gone. "How long must we sing this song?"

And reoriented psalms find their way back. "I was lost" but now I'm found.

I think that the reoriented perspective of Bono's lyrics carry the appeal to me. It's not just "Jesus loves me this I know" but a full on acknowledgment of the pain and suffering in the world. But he doesn't leave it at that. His strong optimism and faith shine through the suffering. He doesn't brush the pain aside or say it's not that bad. He holds it up to the light and says you can do this.

Sorry for disjointed posts today, very muddled head today.

Offline ToRontoRon

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2018, 05:47:22 PM »
No, I think you're crushing this thread laoghaire!  Keep it coming!

Great list of songs.  I agree with all of them, but especially Drowning Man, "take my hand", "I'll cross the sky for your love", and you're right about people not getting Vertigo.  He's at this club with all of Earth's desires around him, resisting temptations from Satan, and instead choosing "something, I can feel", namely God. 

To me, Discotheque has a very similar theme.  At a club, trying to resist the "bubble gum" kinds of temptations in life.  Stuff that you know won't last, and doesn't have any substance, but it tastes good anyways.  At this club "you take what you can get, 'cause it's all that you can find, but you know there's something more, tonight, tonight, tonight."  You won't find lasting happiness at the discotheque, but at least it's something and it's better than nothing.  Also from the song, to me the following verse is just about God's grace:
"It's not a trick, 'cause you can't learn it.  It's the way you don't pay, that's ok, 'cause you can't earn it."  You don't have to pay for your sins since daddy's already paid for your crashed car...  Wait, I think I'm mixing up songs here.

Anyways, that part about the three types of psalms is interesting.  I'll have to check out that interview at some point.

If October is an example of oriented psalms, Pop is definitely an example of disoriented.  I wonder which album best fits with reoriented.  Off the top of my head, and putting very little thought into the lyrics, maybe All That You Can't Leave Behind?  I don't know.       

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2018, 08:08:15 PM »
Re: Discotheque
Mind <BLOWN>

See, I would have put that song on the short list of non-spiritual songs - yet another example of seemingly throwaway songs (lyrically speaking) like Vertigo having layers.

Will be looking at the lyrics to that one more.

Agree that October is orienting and maybe all of 90s is disorienting. For reorienting, I think maybe all of 2000s. Certainly ATYCLB may be the most explicit example. Vertigo, Moment of Surrender, Unknown Caller, White as Snow all seem very reorienting to me. California, Lights of Home, and 13. Bono seemed to think he had one particular aspect pretty well covered but maybe he specializes in two of them or maybe all three.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2018, 08:16:34 PM »
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That's the discussion of the psalms, beautiful film.

It doesn't include the orienting/disorienting/reorienting discussion. It either didn't make the cut or that happened another time.

Great part at the very end. Bono clearly sees Jan as a mother figure and it's very sweet to see. As he leaves, he runs up the steps in the yard (enviable energy for a 50-something) and she calls out in maternal concern, "don't run!" His reaction to that is priceless - he absolutely loved it.

Offline summerholly

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2018, 09:00:51 PM »
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I don’t know about spiritual, but one of the most religious is SHFWILF.  I really like how SHFWILF suggests that faith is just a starting point, not the end game.  So often Christians define faith as the end objective....belief for beliefs sake as some kind of test of worthiness for salvation.  Faith is worth nothing if it doesn’t prompt you to act in compassion.  It is a means to an end, not the end objective itself.  The end objective is love.

In the song, the singer believes but realizes that “he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”.  Belief is merely the beginning of finding your spiritual purpose, your way of doing what you can to make God real in the world.  If you view it as a doctrinal ticket to salvation, you’ve missed the point.


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Yes I would agree.  I am not a Christian but this song resonated with me and is one of my favourites and I like the way that Bono as a Christian was thinking when he wrote the song.  There are a lot of U2 songs that I can interpret in a spiritual way and makes sense to me in life without me having to think about religion which I prefer not to.  This is Bono's gift I think.

Offline Tortuga

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2018, 10:13:31 PM »
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I don’t know about spiritual, but one of the most religious is SHFWILF.  I really like how SHFWILF suggests that faith is just a starting point, not the end game.  So often Christians define faith as the end objective....belief for beliefs sake as some kind of test of worthiness for salvation.  Faith is worth nothing if it doesn’t prompt you to act in compassion.  It is a means to an end, not the end objective itself.  The end objective is love.

In the song, the singer believes but realizes that “he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”.  Belief is merely the beginning of finding your spiritual purpose, your way of doing what you can to make God real in the world.  If you view it as a doctrinal ticket to salvation, you’ve missed the point.


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Yes I would agree.  I am not a Christian but this song resonated with me and is one of my favourites and I like the way that Bono as a Christian was thinking when he wrote the song.  There are a lot of U2 songs that I can interpret in a spiritual way and makes sense to me in life without me having to think about religion which I prefer not to.  This is Bono's gift I think.

YES!  It makes you realize that the religion and doctrine and dogma are really just chains weighing down and tangling up what really matters.  Christianity is supposed to make it all more clear and in some ways it does.  But in other ways it just drags it all down.  Bono clearly embraces the simple core of the faith but also realizes the problems it creates.


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Offline dirtdrybonesandstone

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2018, 12:17:55 AM »
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I don’t know about spiritual, but one of the most religious is SHFWILF.  I really like how SHFWILF suggests that faith is just a starting point, not the end game.  So often Christians define faith as the end objective....belief for beliefs sake as some kind of test of worthiness for salvation.  Faith is worth nothing if it doesn’t prompt you to act in compassion.  It is a means to an end, not the end objective itself.  The end objective is love.

In the song, the singer believes but realizes that “he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”.  Belief is merely the beginning of finding your spiritual purpose, your way of doing what you can to make God real in the world.  If you view it as a doctrinal ticket to salvation, you’ve missed the point.


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Good stuff

Offline ricebird5678

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2018, 11:31:49 AM »
Lots of intrigue in this thread.

Personally, 'Ultraviolet' is my go to right now.

Offline laoghaire

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Re: U2's most spiritual song and your reasoning?
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2018, 11:48:41 AM »
I love Ultraviolet. And I would really like to hear thoughts on the spiritual direction of that song. It's dark but I think has redemption. But some lyrics seem... nasty, maybe? Your love is like a secret, it's been passed around - who is he talking to there? Is there anything beyond the insult implied?

Is it ultraviolet light/love because it exists just beyond our ability to see it?