To search and (not) to find : I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – U2

Last week I went to a convention of the Protestant Church in Germany called „Churchday“. It was actually a really big happening of 5 days with prayers and services, concerts of all kinds, workshops and discussions including some prominent political leaders like the Chancellor Angela Merkel. The age of the attendants varied from baby to seniors, everyone was in a good mood and the sun lit up the wonderfully rebuilt city of Dresden in Germany’s east. People of all denominations and beliefs talked to each other and discussed questions such as: who are we, where do we come from, where do we go and what should we do with our lives?

It was actually more about the questions than about the answers, because they are indeed hard to find. But the search is what matters, talking to each other and trying to understand the other’s points of view.

The song “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” from the album “The Joshua Tree” (1988) by the Irish rock band U2 (you may read the lyrics here and watch a video here ) is also about searching and (not yet) finding:

I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields… I have run, I have crawled,I have scaled these city walls”.

It is not quite clear what they have been looking for. „Only to be with you” – sounds like a love song, doesn’t it? The further course of the lyrics reinforces this idea: „I have kissed honey lips, felt the healing in her finger tips, it burned like fire this burning desire”. Being with the one you love is the aim of any love song, but also the disappointment which often comes with this experience – here, too: „But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for“. It looks like the love for another person wasn’t able to fill the void.

Trying out the good and the evil – “I have spoken with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil” – hasn’t done the job either: „It was warm in the night, I was cold as a stone“. It doesn’t feel right, something is missing and again: „But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

What follows is a creed of Christian essentials –„ I believe in the Kingdom come… You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains, carried the cross of all my shame”. The band U2 is known for their Christian orientation which also leads to their social and political commitment. In the end all the questions and possible answered that now divide humanity will come together : „Then all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one” – what a beautiful picture.

And yet: although they state “you know I believe it” there are still doubts. The song ends with the words „I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

I like that. Even being a Christian you can have your doubts. The dialogue is more important to me than insisting on your own opinion. To me this is more convincing than the conviction of those who always have the right answers and no doubts. How would they know?





Vice vs. Virtue: Judas – Lady GaGa
Lady Gaga — Judas – MyVideo

Lady GaGa visit Sweden at Sommarkrysset, Gröna...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s the recipe for success: take a bit of love and sex, mix with religion and sin, add a little bit of a “message”, stir well and promote with a dashing and dicey video – there you go – here comes Lady GaGa’s new hit “Judas” from her new album “Born This Way” (you can read the lyrics here)– she can be sure to have the world’s attention!

The song has provoked some harsh criticism by church groups in the US, but Lady GaGa presents herself as a philosopher: The song “Judas” is …“ about constantly walking towards the light in my life, but always clutching onto the light while peering towards the devil in the back.“

So I think it’s well worth having a look. In this song Lady Gaga sings about Mary Magdalene’s love for Judas and Jesus: „I’m in love with Juda-as, Juda-as… When he comes to me, I am ready, I wash his feet with my hair if he needs.

The bible tells us the story of a woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. In this song, it’s Mary Magdalene who offers this act of love to Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus in the end. She knows what type of person Judas is, he certainly belongs to the side of evil and treason. Nevertheless, she feels hopelessly attracted to him: „Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain – even after three times he betrays me.“

She is torn between Jesus, whom she also loves, and Judas, promising to take revenge: “I’ll bring him down, bring him down, downa king with no crown, king with no crown.”

She knows that love can not only rescue but also destroy a person’s life: “I’ve learned love is like a brick, you can build a house or sink a dead body. “

However, there is something that is more powerful than sin and damnation – forgiveness: „Even prophets forgave his crooked way“ – so there might be salvation for her, the „fame hooker, prostitute, wench“, too.

She is really torn between the two men: „I wanna love you, but somethin’s pulling me away from you. Jesus is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to.”

But it’s not only about Mary’s story – this is everyone’s story, as Lady GaGa emphasizes:  “So the song is about washing the feet of both good and evil and understanding and forgiving the demons from your past in order to move into the greatness of your future… I keep going back and forth between the darkness and the light in order to understand who I am.”

I like this way of picturing human nature much more than the certainty with which some people seem to know what is good and what is evil.

As Lady GaGa points out: “If you have no shadows then you’re not standing in the light.” She is so right!

The official video has certainly bothered some sensitive religious people. Jesus and his disciples a band of bikers,  Mary’s bath in a beer-whirlpool with Jesus and Judas, well, that is  provocative and very GaGa-like, isn’t it?  ;-)… “and it’s really fun to dance to.” (GaGa).

At the end Mary Magdalene, all dressed in innocent white, is lying on the floor, stoned to death. Is Lady GaGa anticipating the reactions to this video?  Or has she decided to walk the road of virtue and does this always lead to death? GaGa as a martyr? Hmmm…

Still, there is the constant task in everyone’s life to balance the Fool and the Holy within us – thanks, Lady GaGa, for reminding us of this! 😉

(all quotes according to

Let’s talk about God: One of Us – Joan Osborne
Joan Osbourne – One Of Us – MyVideo

Just imagine: you are on your way home from work, sitting on the bus. There is this guy sitting next to you. Well, you don’t know whether to pity him or feel contempt. How can you let yourself go like this? I mean, you don’t have to be dressed up to the nines – but a bit more tidiness would be nice. He doesn’t have a briefcase with him. You suspect he is unemployed and living on welfare and whatever else you imagine in your head. We are quick with our assessment and evaluation of other people, aren’t we? Some people on the bus are busy making phone calls or chatting with their neighbor. This guy next to you is just staring out of the window. He seems to be lonely.

Joan Osborne’s song “One of Us” (click here for lyrics) is about such a guy. Many thanks to my fellow blogger colleague djbaroque and his inspiring blog “My 2011 Musical Diary”  for reminding me of this wonderful song from 1995. In this song Osborne suggests: “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home”. Can you imagine God as such a slob, sitting next to you in the bus – someone who is lonely, whose contact list on the phone is rather short even if there might be some incoming calls from the Pope – well, that’s something, isn’t it? 😉 : “He’s trying to make his way home, back up to heaven all alone, nobody calling on the phone ‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome.”

This is clearly not in accordance to the traditions of the big world religions, whereas “God is great” would certainly get the approval of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all together. This creed is repeated throughout the song very often as if to fight the doubts. Many people nowadays have their problems with the image of an almighty, omnipresent God.

So – what if God wasn’t like that? What if he was “a slob like one of us”? Could we put up with a God who is not able to intervene, to end our sufferings, to turn the world around? Do we really want God the Almighty if this meant “that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the Saints and all the prophets.

On the other hand – to have him sit next to us would give us the chance to ask those questions we always wanted to ask him.

What if…we would confine ourselves to seeing God in our fellow human beings? That would give everyone the dignity they deserve, regardless of age, gender, race, looks. The video coming with the song illustrates this idea perfectly well. The whole scenery is somehow surreal – kind of a funfair or kermess, a photo gag with people replacing God’s face: God’s many (human) faces.

I guess if religions would concentrate on seeing God in every human rather than finding “the truth” and fighting each other there would be more peace on earth, more tolerance and respect.

By the way, at the center of Christianity there is a guy who is, well, not a slob, but who was good for a scandal every now and then and who ended up on the cross sentenced as a criminal. Not everybody liked him. God – one of us. Have we really understood what this means? Are we capable of seeing God in the guy on the bus, in our neighbor, in our enemy?

Have you ever considered what YOU would ask God if you had the chance to talk to him?