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U2: ’When I Look at the World’

D 18 February 2007     H 20:50     A Corine/Dead     C 0 messages


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For years I have been a fan of the rock band U2, so I was excited last year when I received for my birthday the book "U2 by U2." The book contains stories of the band’s history, but also insights on most of their songs. One song that has intrigued me is called "When I Look at the World." It’s not one of their most popular songs, so you might not have heard of it.

The song is about someone struggling to believe in God. In the book, Bono discloses that the song is about how people look at him and wonder how he can still believe in God while the world suffers. How does he hold on to his faith in God with hurricanes, tsunamis, AIDS, hunger, terrorists and war?

The song is written from the point of view of someone who is having a crisis of faith. They are looking at a believer who, Bono says, "has built their house upon a rock." When there is all kinds of chaos.

"And everyone is walking lame. You don’t even blink now do you? Don’t even look away. So I try to be like you. Try to feel it like you do. But without you it’s no use. I can’t see what you see / When I look at the world.

I’m sure you know someone like this. Someone who struggles to believe. It might be your husband or your wife; your mom or dad; your son or daughter; a friend or coworker, or you.

You wonder why they can’t see what you see. Why they can’t feel what you feel, believe what you believe. To you, your faith seems so obvious. In fact, you speak of it with such certainty and absolute that you can’t believe others don’t get it. "How could they be so blind? It’s right there in front of them," you say. And yet, right there is no where for them.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when a father approaches Jesus with a crisis (Mark 9:14. The man’s son is overcome by an evil spirit that is destroying the boy’s life. This dad asked Jesus if he would have mercy on the boy and heal him. But as the dad closes his request, he injects what feels like a challenge, "if you can," he says to Jesus. The man is not sure of Jesus’ ability. He questions Jesus’ capacity for the miraculous and perhaps even his compassion. Jesus replies, "Anything is possible if a person believes." Then the father responds with great honesty, "I do believe, but help the part of me that doesn’t."

In this U2 song, Bono envisions someone sitting in a waiting room at the hospital, in the days when people could smoke in such places. Hospitals are often the place where faith is put to the test. A place where we hope for a miracle, but doubt the possibilities. "I’m in the waiting-room, I can’t see for the smoke, I think of you and your holy book, while the rest of us choke. Tell me, tell me, what do you see? Tell me, tell me, what’s wrong with me?"


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