Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At Long Last...the U2charist!


This past Saturday, I finally attended a U2charist after hearing about it for a couple years now. This post was originally meant for Sunday, but I didn't get around to blogging on Sunday.

Though I'm a huge fan of U2 and love their music a lot more than Bruce Springsteen, I kind of felt let down after last month's awesome Bruce Springsteen Eucharist. For one thing, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral went all out with the Springsteen Eucharist, holding it in the main sanctuary of the cathedral. The beauty of that sacred space, with the huge ceiling, beautiful stained glass, and formal decorum contributed to an impressive spiritual experience. It was also packed with several hundred people (I believe I read somewhere that over 600 people attended).

For the U2charist, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral held it in a smaller space that functions as a theater with folding chairs instead of pews. The turn-out was far less than for the Springsteen Eucharist and this one wasn't advertised in several newspapers, either. Even the live band seemed to be "phoning it in". The singers weren't all that spectacular. The "vibe" just wasn't there, this time. Maybe its because this is the second time they've done a U2charist.

Despite the "letdown" from the awesome Springsteen Eucharist, I just let the music fill me as I read the lyrics on the overhead projection (oh, they didn't print awesome programs for the service, either, as they did for the Springsteen Eucharist). The songs that the live band (and the audience) sung included: "Magnificent", "Beautiful Day", "Where the Streets Have No Name", "One Step Closer", "Stuck in a Moment (That You Can't Get Out Of It)" (I was pleasantly surprised that this one was included, as this song was my choice for Best Song of the 2000s Decade), "Yahweh", "Grace", a couple others that I can't remember the names of, and the closing song, "Walk On", which featured the beautiful photo of Aung San Suu Kyi. That was a pleasant surprise. I love seeing her photo.

U2 has so many songs with a deeply spiritual content that choosing which ones to include can be a difficult task. The church certainly did a good job with the ones they selected. However, I was hoping that "One", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "In God's Country" would have also been included. But, that's okay if those didn't make the selection. The ones that did were impressive enough. This was the first time when I really paid attention to the lyrics on some of the songs, with a spiritual focus.

I'd love to do a U2-music worship service in my church someday, though I don't know how open the older members of the congregation would be. Not that I'm making a point to be actively involved in a local congregation. I'm still on my "sabbatical" from church as I explore other spiritual options. More and more, I'm thinking that it might be best to "name my own" just for the sake of having complete ownership of my own spiritual ideas. I'm tired of explaining to people what my church believes, its contrasting history from the Mormons, and what I personally believe. Its too confusing to most people who dare ask. It would be far simpler to just say I am "this", whatever "this" is. Naming my own "religion" does not mean I have an interest in founding a new religion, because I don't. Its not to me to tell anyone what to believe or what is true. I'm just one individual seeking to build and maintain a network of spiritually-minded people who all base their religious beliefs on their own experiences and tolerate others and whatever religion they belong to. I guess I dream of the day when we can all sit down at the table of spiritual brother-/sister-hood, complete equals and secure in our own spiritual experiences that we don't seek to convert each other to our way of viewing the world.

I might have enjoyed this U2charist more if it happened before the Bruce Springsteen Eucharist, when I had no expectations. The Springsteen Eucharist really raised the bar on awesome religious experiences in a church setting. After you've experienced that, any scaled down version is going to appear disappointing, which is a shame. U2's music deserves a full scale, highly energized worship service.

The reverend (or pastor?) said that this was the last "special worship services" of the season and that they planned to have more innovative worship services starting in the fall. He didn't ask for suggestions, but I'd love to see an Enya Eucharist and a Johnny Clegg Eucharist. But, I'm not holding my breath!

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