From the Vault: Jimmy, Bono & Joe

On Mondays, I’m going into the vault, reworking an old post, and then reposting it with some comments attached. This morning’s post comes from February 18, 2014. Additional thoughts have been added at the end of the post.

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Facing a mix of “winter blues” and the remnants of a head cold, I was ready to pull the covers over my head by about nine o’clock last night. But, like many of you, I was excited to see Jimmy Fallon take the reigns of The Tonight Show, so I stayed up to watch, but channel surfing during commercials.

On AXS.tv I came across a re-airing of Def Leppard‘s “Viva! Hysteria” concert shot in late-2013 in Las Vegas. I was in 7th grade when “Hysteria” came out and Def Leppard was my favorite of the “hair bands.” When I started driving, Def Leppard was always in heavy rotation as I attempted to blow out the speakers of my red Buick Skyhawk. So, I was intrigued to hear what Def Leppard sounded like 25 years later.

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Back to Fallon, U2 was performing their new song “Invisible” on the roof of The Rockefeller Center. It was beautifully shot with the sun setting in the background over New York City. (You can watch it here.) And performing with a drum line from Rutger’s University, U2 sounded amazing. What an iconic kickoff for The Tonight Show returning to NYC.

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Commerical. Jump back to Def Leppard. Joe Elliott is trying to get through their 1987 hit “Love Bites,” but he’s having a hard time finding the notes that came so easily 25 years ago. My friend Jamie, who saw them when they came through Peoria in the late 80’s told me that they could never reproduce in concert the background vocals that gave them their unique sound. And if that was true in the fall of 1987, it’s more true today. While the music is still there, the vocals – lead and background – are long gone.

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Back to The Tonight Show, Jimmy has U2 on the couch and wants people to hear how good U2 is even when they’re not in front of an arena, so he asks them to do a song acoustically. And they perform their Golden Globe Winning “Ordinary Love,” the song they wrote as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. The Edge starts off playing the opening riff of “Stairway to Heaven,” they laugh, then he starts “Ordinary Love” and it’s so good. No, Bono doesn’t have the strength of vocals that he had back in the 80’s or 90’s, but because they’re writing new stuff, they create things that work today.

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One one channel, an 80’s hair band trying to re-live the glory days, to reproduce something that is long past. They still dress much the same way. Phil Collen still has his shirt off, they’re doing the same old songs and it comes off as tired, sad, and not very good or particularly relevant. I don’t see anyone in the crowd much younger than 40.

On the other channel there’s another band from the 80’s, except this band is constantly writing new material, “reinventing” themselves, still pursuing something, not looking back. They’re as relevant as they were when they recorded “The Joshua Tree,” in 1987.

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It seems like many religious people are like the 80’s band trying to relive their glory days. They pine for “the way it used to be,” they talk about “getting back to the good ol’ day when…” They ask the same old questions, belt out the same old answers, and wonder why the next generation chooses to stay home on Sunday mornings.

But for me, faith is like the 80’s band that isn’t resting on their laurels, simply replaying all the songs that made them famous. Instead it’s forward facing, asking new questions, offering new answers, describing new ways of what it means to be God’s people in the world. It’s relevant and significant because it’s interacting with the world now, as it is, and not as they wish it would be again.

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This was fun to go back and revisit about a year-and-a-half later. My writing has gotten stronger – I changed some words, cut a lot, and reworked probably 10-12 sentences. In the original post, the links had been uploaded yet, but I’ve included them here. 

I had a conversation 6 months ago with someone who was asking me about how our church is relevant to young adults. The church I pastor is the desired demographic for many churches – young adults, young families. I told him that it’s not because of music, or because we serve coffee or wear jeans, but rather it’s because of what I describe in this last paragraph.

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