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Filtering by Tag: church

Ordinary Round Moments

Joanna Campbell


  • I cheated again at Centering Prayer.
  • Instead of repeating one sacred word, I contemplated the weight of my prayer beads.  Or rather, their lightness, how they rest in my palm like a cloud.
  • Each wooden bead is a container for hundreds of prayers.  The cumbersome words are an unfinished painting.

  • There is an eye on each bead.
  • Really, these are knots.  They are the connective tissue from when the wood was part of a tiny branch—the place where the branch met the body of the tree.
  • I roll the beads between thumb and forefinger.  Often, there are no words—only the hope I am pushing toward something.
  • I try to ease into uncertainty.
  • There is a squirrel storing acorns inside our house.
  • My brother-in-law has Stage 4 cancer.
  • A woman will likely be executed tonight in Georgia.  Not even the Pope could sway the clemency board.
  • Seeing Jesus in the eyes of everyone we pass is an act of resurrection. Rarely do I practice this kind of medicine.
  • Buried beneath my anxiety is a young woman, deeply shaken by the sudden deaths of friends.
  • At a recent ordination, love rolled inside the sanctuary like a pinball. Give your clever talents over I heard in a hymn. They spilled out as tears.
  • I could not hide my face.
  • I want to be like the woman who sings at the oddest times.
  • Today, my loved ones are alive.
  • I need things to push against in order to give shape to a day.
  • The catch phrase, life is short, catches me in all the wrong ways.
  • Dang it.
  • I may already be living my dream.
  • I listen to a favorite song and hear familiar words for the first time, words like cool water, elegant and true. I make them my own, and they move between the beads.
  • Roll and push and touch our perfect bodies with your mind.  Touch our perfect bodies with your mind. Hear this broken meditation and touch our perfect bodies with your mind.

The Art of Rock and Roll Memoir

Howard Schaap

16 Schaap August “U2 is what church should be”; so read a line in Time Magazine when I was 13, a line that confirmed my fledgling belief in U2. I certainly felt elated and worshipful listening to The Joshua Tree, though I wasn’t entirely sure it was right to feel that way. This was just after The Joshua Tree had broken U2 worldwide enough to reach rural Minnesota, and just as the album and film Rattle and Hum, according to most critics, showed they had feet of clay.

Personally, I loved the black and white concert footage of Rattle and Hum.  I loved the impassioned diatribe in “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” so much I used it to pump myself up before junior varsity basketball games.

I first got to see U2 live during the Zoo TV tour, a very different animal.  Bono licked the camera; Bono pulled the camera up to his leather-clad crotch; Bono came out dressed up as Mephistopheles.  It wasn’t very churchy.  Critics loved it.  I was 16 and in the tenth row and unsure about these rock and roll antics.

I missed the Pop Mart tour, noted for its spectacle, and the props I saw on later tours—a laser-laced jacket, a swinging microphone, a stage like a spaceship—were perhaps not as grand or silly as the giant lemon.

This time around the U2 tour is called Innocence to Experience and, via home movie and songs new and old, concert-goers are invited on a trip down U2’s own memory lane while live tweets and fan-cams attempt to keep us in the present.

I was also struck by the emotions that I went through at this U2 concert.  There was still the old elation, this time consciously tied up with surrender: at one point Bono went to his knees and said that very word (“Surrender to what?” I can hear my catechism teacher say).  It sounds contrived, but to be fair, as Joshua Rothman points out, surrender is where U2 lyrics have been pointing all along.

And there was conviction, as usual.  “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” is still like an open wound that brings me into the present moment and forces me to give a shit.  Then, too, I’m not sure what American can listen to “Bullet the Blue Sky” and not consider it a call to repentance.

Perhaps more than in the past, though, this concert invited introspection, because if anything “Innocence to Experience” is memoir.  Some have called that self-important, but it’s also just plain risky.  You don’t go to a rock concert to introspect.  It’s also rare.  Rock concert memoir is simply not very common, the half-life on rockers being less than the average pair of jeans.

As good memoir does, I to E also provided leaping off points to consider where our own stories might intersect with the one being told on stage.  For me, that moment was when confetti in the form of book quotes fell from the ceiling.  I found myself gathering them madly, like veritable manna from heaven, to see what works they might be from:  Alice in Wonderland, The Divine Comedy, the Psalms.

Over the years, U2 concerts have put me in the moment, moved me to care, frightened me with tongues and crotches, confused me with Mephistopheles, asked me to surrender, connected me to Alice in Wonderland.  Is U2 what church should be?  I don’t think so.  U2 concerts are their own space, the artistic space of a rock and roll concert.