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The Real Thing

I’m rather loathe to hop on two horses that have been ridden as promiscuously and enthusiastically within some Christian circles as U2 and C.S. Lewis, but coming across both in the same week is bound to be at least somewhat thought-provoking, right? I’ve been a U2 fan for quite a while now—at least since The Joshua Tree was immortalized as my first “secular” music purchase in 1987 (by “secular music purchase” I mean the first cassette tape (!) that was not selected from among the six meager offerings at the local Christian bookstore). While I’m not one of these rabid fans who think that life as we know it began with U2, or that Bono is going to save the world, I do enjoy their music immensely (and I’m not quite as cynical as some re: the perceived endless moralizing of Bono).

So, you can imagine that I was pretty excited to go see U2 3D with a couple of friends at the IMAX theatre last night. I figured that this was about as close as I would ever get to seeing them live, and I was not disappointed. I have to say that it was a pretty cool show. I think the last 3D show I saw was roughly a decade ago, so my memory was a little foggy as far as what to expect. Once the glasses were on, though, it was pretty amazing. You almost feel like you’re a part of the concert itself (filmed in Buenos Aires)—there are arms raised in front of you, sweeping panoramic shots of the stadium, and the members of U2 doing their thing virtually right in your lap.

As always, the music was solid. One of my favourite U2 songs has always been “One.” While the lyrics of the song have, undoubtedly, been subject to many misguided interpretations, I will unashamedly take the liberty of adding my own to the mix. I’ve heard the song probably a hundred times or so, but last night, for reasons that will soon become apparent, the following line stuck out to me:

One love, we get to share it

Leaves you baby if you don’t care for it.

I read C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce for the first time this week and found his conception of the nature of heaven and hell to be a compelling one. I was particularly intrigued by his notion that heaven represents a “more real” world than the world we currently inhabit—more solid, more beautiful, more good, etc. It is, in a sense, the most “worldly” world there could possibly be, a place where every hint of goodness and beauty and nobility and purity is validated and received its fullest expression.

By contrast, hell is the least “real” place imaginable. Those who inhabit it are fearful, transparent, selfish, and characterized by an increasing desire for solitude. And according to Lewis, we who currently occupy the planet are always in the process of becoming either more or less “real”—more or less of what we were created to be.

So I found myself wondering last night, as I was up close and personal with Bono and the boys, if love really does “leave us if we don’t care for it.” I think Lewis would say that it does. The choices we make in life place us on a trajectory that will, one day, be finally honoured and rendered permanent. We are entrusted with the fearfully unique ability to become either more or less human.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gil #

    I think Lewis does a better job than most of presenting heaven and hell in terms that are continuous with our actual choices and what we become in this life. His approach has really transformed the way I think about these topics, particularly since he locates the issue in human decisions as opposed to divine decisions (reward/punishment).

    Thanks for a very good reminder on the link between love and becoming what we were ultimately meant to become.

    January 25, 2008
  2. Dave Chow #

    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the post. It made me think of U2’s ‘Even better than the real thing’.

    I just found out that their next album is coming out in October – word from their manager, Paul McGuinness.

    see: http://www.atu2.com/news/article.src?ID=4879

    January 30, 2008
  3. jc #

    I went to go see this movie tonight. It really just made me want to seem them live again. I liked that the sound was really good and the 3D thing was interesting. The downside was that there were no songs from Pop. It also felt a little weird watching people watch a concert. But I guess its as good as gets without actually being there. If you are still in Vancouver when they come around next, I will be making sure you are in attendance.

    Dave Chow,

    I would just like one of those album release predictions to actually be true. They always say stuff like this about such and such a release date and then that day comes and goes and it turns out that they release it six or eight months later. I suppose we should be grateful that most of the time they don’t release crap just to meet a deadline.

    February 10, 2008
  4. I’m in, if they come back! I’ve been casting longing eyes upon recordings of their concerts for long enough…

    February 11, 2008

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