The Ache after the Glory – U2 in Lent, feeling spiritual jetlag before Ash Wednesday

Go ahead – color me Emo… I dig Lent. This year Lent begins pretty early this year – the earliest in quite a few years… which is OK by me. I have serious spiritual jetlag these days – I find myself looking up at the sky and wondering if I missed the Rapture or something. This weekend in the church calendar has Matthew 17: 1 – 9 as the appointed reading in the lectionary – the Transfiguration of Jesus. I can relate to Peter’s wish to build a mobile home park (vs. 4) and just hangout in all the holy afterglow of being in the midst of wonder. That said, we are called to leave the wonder and glory (Gk: ‘doxo’) behind for a season and now head down the mountain. This is the lenten time… the residue of glory in our hearts and minds as we walk the valley in need of healing. In order to do this we need to let go, get lean, and walk in faith. Now is the dim-lighted time. Now is the winter of our re-contentment if you will (sorry Billy Shakesphere…). I think I am ready for the wilderness thank you very much. I have too much crowding my heart that needs to be cut away…

I was just writing a student asking about where to start in the U2 catalog – what a difficult question. For me, the ‘Wesleyan Quadrilateral’ in the U2 canon in CDs (singles are another matter) comes down to (1) 1983 War – most realized album as a whole and has the raw unpolished energy of youth… they dont know how good they are yet; (2) 1987 The Joshua Tree – truly an amazing album start to finish… certainly shines under Daniel Lanois’ production soft touch – more of a commentary on America in late 80’s Reganomics than a self contained concept album; and (3) Achtung Baby – In 1991 U2 goes to Berlin and embraces electronica and darkness for the sake of light… scared U2 fans but the vision paid off; and (4) Pop – For a release in 1997, it is certainly an album dismissed in its time, but it still sounds fresh today after 10 years and is arguably one of the most spiritual albums they have made. Since Lent is coming up, bring this Quadrilateral full circle for the church calendar – listen to “40” from ‘War’ and “Wake Up Dead Man” from Pop back-to-back…

See you in the wilderness my friends…

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