U2’s “California (There is no End to Love)” and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on loss

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“California (There is no End to Love)” contains the following lyric:

There’s no end to grief
That’s how I know

That’s how I know
And why I need to know that there is no end to love
All I know and all I need to know is there is no end to love

U2

On Christmas Eve, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter from Tegel prison to Renate and Eberhard Bethge. In the letter he wrote some things that seem to provide a good “theological” basis for what U2 sang in “California (There is no End to Love).” Bonhoeffer wrote:

“…there is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so; one must simply persevere and endure it. At first this sounds very hard, but at the same time it is a great comfort, for one remains connected to the other person through the emptiness to the extent that it remains unfilled. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness; God in no way fills it but rather keeps it empty and thus helps us persevere – even in pain – our authentic communion. Further, the more beautiful and full the memories, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into peaceful joy. One bears what was beautiful in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within. One must guard against wallowing in these memories, giving oneself entirely over to them, just as one does not gaze endlessly at a precious gift but only at particular times, and otherwise possesses it only as a hidden treasure of which one is certain.” (Letters and Papers from Prison, p. 238)

1 Corinthians 13:7 English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV)

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2014

Comments or questions are always welcomed!

“Genesis” by Jorma Kaukonen – A song born from the cataclysmic

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The opening song on Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s first solo album from 1974, now 40 years old, has always been a favorite of mine. It details his plea toward a new beginning that was needed in his relationship with his wife, due to some typical thoughtless indulgence that frequents the lives of traveling musicians. In the liner notes of the re-release we read the following:

Although a wistful romantic ode on its surface. what many apparently don’t realize is that the song is a confessional. Says Jorma, “It’s about a guy who cheated on his wife and got caught. I was living the rock and roll life and one thing led to another and I was forced to fess up. The good news is I got a good news is I got a good song out of it. The bad news is I don’t even remember who it was that caused the song to be written.

“At the time,” he continues, “my wife Margareta and I realized we were really miserable and we were trying to be happier together. I was writing a lot of true love songs-true love almost always gone wrong but saved at the last moment. Some people have suggested that wouldn’t it be nice if you could write songs like ‘Genesis’ all the time, and I always say, “Yeah, it would be, but it would be great not to have to be in the place I was when I wrote it.’ Many of the best songs get written in a state of abject misery. I prefer to write fewer songs and have less cataclysmic events in my life.”

Thus, “Genesis” is one of those songs that is ultimately both sad and beautiful.

The “flying angel” cover art used for the album called “Quah” was created by his wife. Jorma dedicated the re-issue of the album to the memory of Margareta.

Time has come for us to pause
And think of living as it was
Into the future we must cross, must cross
I’d like to go with you
And I’d like to go with you
You say I’m harder than a wall
A marble shaft about to fall
I love you dearer than them all, them all
So let me stay with you
So let me stay with you

And as we walked into the day
Skies of blue had turned to grey
I might have not been clear to say, to say
I never looked away
I never looked away
And though I’m feeling you inside
My life is rolling with the tide
I’d like to see it be an open ride
Along with you
Going along with you

The time we borrowed from ourselves
Can’t stay within a vaulted well
And living turns into a lender’s will
So let me come with you
And let me come with you
And when we came out into view
And there I found myself with you
When breathing felt like something new, new
Along with you
Going along with you

jorma

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BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2014

“Blue December” – A Poem

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Yesterday I noted that a local church was holding a “Blue December Service.” I also know people that struggle with December annually. So I wrote this little poem with those in mind for whom the holiday season tends more toward being a “Blue December” than a “White Christmas.” Continue reading

“Vision” by Peter Hammill – “and they shall become one flesh”

I find this song line to be an interesting expression of the reality of “one flesh” found in the Bible, although I have no way of knowing if the writer consciously intended it as such an expression, nor whether he did actually intend the song to be about more than what Soren Kierkegaard called erotic or “poetic love,” namely the biblical forms of covenant love in marriage and/or the love between God and his people which was also described by the “one flesh” metaphor. I know that the song is at the least about “poetic love” and it is a beautiful song. (This is my third post about the song so you can see that I like it!)

“I don’t know where you end, and where it is that I begin…”

from “Vision” by Peter Hammill

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 from the English Standard Version (ESV)

Comments, questions, etc. are always welcomed!

Thank you.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity

Soren Kierkegaard on “equality in loving” which is the love that can change the world – “Works of Love” 9 (preferential love, part 2)

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In this post we will consider Kierkegaard’s positive view of the duty of loving our neighbor. Continue reading

“Now & Then” by Frederick Buechner – On the vulnerability of love

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Yesterday I posted an excerpt from “Godric” which is a semi-fictional work based on a Medieval Saint. “Now and Then” is one of several auto-biographical works by Buechner, and the following excerpt is closely related to yesterday’s excerpt from Godric.

“He who loves has fifty woes…who loves none has no woe,” said the Buddha, and it is true. To love another, as you a child, is to become vulnerable in a whole new way. It is no longer only through what happens to yourself that the world can hurt you but through what happens to the one you love also and greatly more hurtingly…

…What man and woman, if they gave serious thought to what having children inevitably involves, would ever have them? Yet what man and woman, once having had them and loved them, would ever want it otherwise? Because side by side with the Buddha’s truth is the Gospel truth that “he who does not love remains in death.” If by some magic you could eliminate the pain you are caused by the pain of someone you love, I for one cannot imagine working such magic because the pain is so much a part of the love that the love would be vastly diminished, unrecognizable, without it.”

Just prior to this excerpt Buechner had also written the following:

“Buddha sits enthroned beneath the Bo-tree in the lotus position. His lips are faintly parted in the smile of one who has passed beyond every power in earth or heaven to touch him…His eyes are closed

Christ, on the other hand, stands in the garden of Gethsemane, angular, beleagured. His face is lost in shadows so that you can’t even see his lips, and before all the powers in earth or heaven he is powerless. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” he has said. His eyes are also closed.

The difference seems to me this, The suffering that Buddha’s eyes close out is the suffering of the world that Christ’s eyes close in and hallow.” (Now and Then, 53-56)

Comments are always welcomed! Thank you.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013