Wednesday, September 22, 2004

walking through a minefield

U2 have released the title for their new album; How to dismantle an atomic bomb.

On the other hand, Christian weaver of metaphor, Len Sweet, is speaking of time bomb scriptures: God has some time-bomb scriptures that go off at certain times. Romans and Pauline literature, for example, exploded during the Reformation and its effect was felt for hundreds of years. From here

Don’t we have enough violence in our world today, without co-opting the said words of wisdom and words of Jesus? If the words of the prophet expect us to dismantle swords, does that mean we should dismantle and defuse Scriptural incendiary devices? Does not the raw terror of our times require us to seek different images?

I’m in the U2 corner on this one.

Posted by steve at 10:09 AM


  1. It’s amazing how often that kind of language is used – this in an endorsement for a book soon to be published: “This book is a Molotov cocktail lobbed into the midst of contemporary biblical studies and the American empire…”

    Comment by Paul Fromont — September 22, 2004 @ 7:16 pm

  2. well said steve. as an aussie living in the US i’m appalled by the military-speak christians use to articulate kingdom principles. the medium is the message.

    Comment by geoff — September 22, 2004 @ 9:35 pm

  3. Wow. I think that’s a little reductionistic, don’t you? A time bomb denotes a radical change. It’s metaphorical language. I appreciate the concern, but this seems a silly attack, particularly on someone who like Sweet who has been a real advocate for a reformation of language.

    Comment by will — September 22, 2004 @ 11:15 pm

  4. I see where your coming from Steve, I absolutely cringe when I hear christians using military language to describe God-Christ-Church etc. But isn’t there also something in the use of language called irony? Think of how boring language would be if we lost the use of all kinds of literary devices! I didn’t immediately have images of military madness or hand grenades or suicide bombers when I read that passage – instead I imagined what kind of effect the gospel and wisdom and prophets would have on those theologies that most staunchly promote actual military responses from “christian governments” and individuals supporting them.

    P.S. Having once frequented anarchist circles in NZ I’ve heard far more references to bombs, slingshots and other forms of activist violence than I’d ever care to hear. So I agree, lets not hear them from Jesus’ people.

    Comment by Andrew Mac — September 23, 2004 @ 9:55 am

  5. but sometimes jesus used violent language to describe the power of His message:

    Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will turn against their parents and send them to their death. All will hate you for your allegiance to me; but the man who holds out to the end will be saved….You must not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a son’s wife against her mother-in-law; and a man will find his enemies under his own roof.

    violence was no less real and no less destructive when He chose to use those words.

    Comment by kelli — September 23, 2004 @ 1:49 pm

  6. Agreed…too much military speak in US Christiandom. Which is part of the reason why there is a growing movement here to leave Christiandom.

    Spencer Burke speaks of this subject well in his recent book Making Sense of Church as he devotes an entire chapter on it called moving from Warrior to Gardner. Burke admits that there is plenty of warrior metaphors in both the OT and the NT…but points out that the peaceful, loving, gentle-natured passages are atleast equally abundant and blatantly discarded by the established church in the US.

    As has been done so often with scripture throughout recent history, church folk have picked and chosen those scriptures that they feel most comfortable with. Scriptures that line up with their own prejudices. But we don’t have that luxury. And at the risk of using yet another military speak
    ‘ism yhat’s why the scripture is a “two edged sword”…it cuts us as well. We don’t have the luxury to pick and choose what scripture we follow.

    If the Church wants to be truly revolutionary, trying REALLY loving your neighbor (i.e. everyone…including enemies). Now THAT is revolutionary.

    Comment by Rich — September 26, 2004 @ 3:45 am

  7. Btw, I hadn’t yet heard the title of the new U2 project…VERY COOL!

    Peace, Y’all.

    Comment by Rich — September 26, 2004 @ 3:46 am

  8. The first single, ‘Vertigo’, is out Friday.

    Comment by Christop — October 5, 2004 @ 11:47 pm

  9. Just popped on while surfing. Steve… I really like your style. I too am tired of the absolute millitant attitude that some churches and religious organizations have taken. It seems to me most followers have forgotten the concept of mercy and grace.

    In the last few months of the election I was chastized, criticized, insulted and personally attacked for my political views. My parents were nearly run out of their church due to the incessant negative comments made by the pastor towards Democrats. I was told I was lost, blinded and manipulated by liberal Hollywood types.

    Actually, I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Regardless of my political affiliation, I do not believe anyone has the right to accuse me of being spiritually weak due to how I chose to vote. I think churches really pushed the envelope on this last election, and one of the few things I truly believe belongs no where near the pulpit is political opinion.

    I have been a U2 fan for decades. I am constantly defending them to friends and fellow Christians who want to debunk the band for being outspoken in their faith but continuing to act as rock stars. I don’t believe this is true. We all sin and we all slip… only unlike Bono and the boys when we do it a few hundred thousand people aren’t watching. The band never ceases to amaze me with their strong spiritual lyrics and their continuous search for truth in today’s world. I believe Bono has done more for Christian love and charity with his campaign for Africa and the AIDS epidemic than most evangelists can accomplish with their hatred, intolerance and indifference towards AIDS related issues. Most churches don’t want to get their hands dirty with AIDS because of the gay connection. I think that’s perverse. When Christ healed the lepers, He did not condemn them for living unclean in the first place. Nor did He condemn the prostitute, the tax collector or anyone else who saught His mercy and power. As I recall, the only people Christ really did condemn were the Pharisees, who used His Father’s house as a private sanctuary, deeming who was fit to enter.

    We as Christians need only one form of spiritual warfare and that is the tender heart and loving attitude of Christ. Rather than point our fingers and parade in our own self-issued glory, let us show them we are Christian by our love. Love is the only way to conquer a world nearly drowned in hatred.

    Or maybe I’m just a big liberal hippie…

    And by the way, if this is the same Steve Taylor I think it is from Contemporary Christian music, I LOVE YOU MAN and WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

    “To Forgive” is like one of the greatest songs ever written…

    Peace people… seek Christ and others will follow.

    Comment by Joel — November 13, 2004 @ 10:41 am

  10. sorry, i can’t sing …. but i do enjoy u2. peace to you joel

    Comment by steve — November 13, 2004 @ 1:04 pm

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