Friday, March 06, 2009

Finding Grace Inside a Sound

Following Scripture, Reformed theology has always placed great emphasis on the ear over the eye. The gospel is called by Paul "the word of faith," a message that produces belief "by hearing the Word of Christ." The opposite of faith, of course, is not doubt but sight. A person is most faithless, therefore, not when disbelief is mingled with his belief, but when he demands to see, to experience, to feel the truth before he'll believe it. "We walk by faith," says Paul, "and not by sight."

Go ahead and roll your eyes, but I maintain that Bono understands this. U2's music often elevates faith over sight as, for example, in 1987's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," where Bono sings:

I believe in the Kingdom Come,
When all the colors will bleed into one,
But yes I'm still running.
You broke the bonds, you loosed the chains,
Carried the cross, and all my shame, all my shame;
You know I believe it,
But I still aven't found what I'm looking for.
On 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind, Bono sings of the "grace that travels outside of karma," which, "when she goes to work, you can hear the strings." Get it? Grace is something you hear.

This theme is prevalent on their new release, No Line on the Horizon, as well. In the song "Moment of Surrender" Bono sings:
At the moment of surrender,
I folded to my knees;
I did not notice the passers-by,
And they did not notice me.

At the moment of surrender,
Of vision over visibility,
I did not notice the passers-by,
And they did not notice me.
True surrender, in other words, can only happen with "visibility" is relinquished.
In their lead single "Get On Your Boots," Bono repeats the line "Let me in the sound!" over and over (the same line is also sampled in "Fez - Being Born"). Lest we scratch our heads over what this "sound" is, the song "Breathe" tells us:

We are people borne of sound;
The songs are in our eyes,
Gonna wear them like a crown ...
I’ve found grace inside a sound,
I found grace, it’s all that I found;
And I can breathe,
Breathe now.
Remember, Newton told us that God's grace is not only "amazing," but that it's "the sound that saved a wretch like me." This is why ears are better than eyes, and why blindness is to be preferred over deafness.