In Memoriam

I must say, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sensei Jeff’s reflections this week on Martin Luther King, Jr., with nods to U2’s “Pride.” To contribute to the remembrance – one of the more constructive things we do as people, I think: remember – I wanted to direct our attention to another appropriate U2 song, one of the briefest in their catalogue:

Sleep…sleep tonight, and may your dreams be realized.
If the thundercloud passes rain, so let it rain, rain down on he.
So let it be.
So let it be.
(- “MLK” from The Unforgettable Fire)

I used to revel in the ambiguity of those lyrics, my first exposure to which was the version on the film Rattle and Hum, where the gorgeous black and white film in Phil Joanou’s camera is saturated by the floodlight that drowns out Bono as he sings those words. I used to wonder: Is he singing “may your dreams be realized” or “may your dreams be real life”? Is it “rain on he” or “rain on me”? (Now that ambiguity has been squashed by the availability of the lyrics on the U2 website, but that’s okay, too – I can still have my first-naivete.)

Another connection worth drawing came in the form of an email from my undergraduate mentor, Dr. Rob Blann: “I just realized today (4/4) is the day in 1968 that 39 year-old Martin Luther King was assassinated. According to the “Today’s Birthdays” section of the Tennessean, it is also Maya Angelou’s 77th birthday. If my math is right, that means that she turned 40 on the day he was killed.” This coincidence is hardly insignificant, as these lines from her poem “Human Family” denote:

…In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike,
my friends than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

In the shadows of these two truly great figures, let us be content to dwell – to remember their passion, in life and in death. May their light wash over us like so much rain, drowning us and flooding us with the desire to live lives even fractionally as redemptive as theirs. To their common dream, with Bono’s “so let it be,” all God’s people (and that’s everyone) say “Amen.”

3 Comments

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  1. great posting, Brannon – I absolutely agree with your sense of abiguity in ‘MLK’ and the return to first naivete… always a nice riff on Ricouer 🙂

  2. Thank you, sensei. if you were here, we’d do a Rattle and Hum evening at our flat…

    Speaking of ambiguity – bought tickets today to see Sigur Ros at Carling Academy July 8th (will be my graduation present, I guess). So we’ll be in for a good evening of heteroglossic “Hope-landic.” Lucinda Williams is playing later in July – thinking about going to that one too. have you seen her in concert?

  3. Havent seen Lucinda in concert, but dang… she is the Naomi Watts of alt.country for me… makes my head spin… Do see the show, should be great.

    Relevant magazine did a ‘music’ issue and had Sigur Ros as a band to watch. That said, you should be having post-evangelicals diggin your ‘hope-landic’ paper if published 🙂

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