Parousia & POP

Hannu Natri ([email protected])
Wed, 5 Aug 1998 23:48:23 +0300 (EDT)

One of U2's main themes from 'OCTOBER' to 'JOSHUA TREE' is apocalyptical,
including many biblical and at the same time eschatological imageries.
This same theme plays only a minor role in 'ACHTUNG BABY' and in 'ZOOROPA'.
But it again has a major role in their works after about ten years in
'POP'. About half of its twelve songs are partly and/or entirely
apocalyptical. Indeed there are many other topics on it too. Here are
again some comparisons between certain Bible passages and certain U2

°U2 lyrics°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°The Bible text

"the cartoon network
°turns into the news
"HEy IF GOD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS°°°°"And that time
°AND IF GOD WILL SEND A SIGN''''°°°°°the SIGN of the SON of man WILL
°'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°appear in the sky....°They will
°'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°see the SON of man COMING on the
°'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°clouds of the sky....
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°from the four winds, from one end of
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°heavens to the other"
                                                      (Mt 24:30-31 (NIV)).

'SUN' appears frequently on 'POP'. It has both concrete and symbolic
meanings on it. 'Party Girl' and 'Last Night on Earth' are related
thematically (cf. James Hunter, SPIN 4 1997, p.153):

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°"She's not waiting on a SAVIOUR to COME,
°she's at a bus-stop with the NEWS OF THIS WORLD.
°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°'''''''''AND THE SUN, SUN here it COMES,
°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°she's not waiting for anyone".

'SAVIOUR' and 'SUN' are parallel with each other here adverting to a
certain PERSON:

"She's not waiting on a SAVIOUR to COME...she's not waiting for anyone";

this person comes surprising her (cf. Mt 24:27; Rev 16:15). "The FATHER
¤sent the SON to be the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD" (1 Jh 4:14 (KJV)). I claim
there's a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 'Last Night on
Earth' too (cf. Tomorrow). 'SUN' refers symbolically to Jesus also in the

"But unto you that fear my name shall the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS arise with
healing in HIS wings" (Malachi 4:2 (KJV)). He is told by using the
expression 'the SON of man (Mt 24:30) and He is described:: "His face was
like the SUN shining in all its brilliance" (Rev 1:16 (NIV)).

The words 'SON' and 'SUN' have the same pronunciation [san] in (American)
English. It enables a play on words and perhaps U2 is using it on 'POP'.
As mentioned earlier, 'SUN COMES' is in its context parallel to 'SAVIOUR
COMES' in 'Last Night On Earth' (see above). When listening to it, the
line 'the SUN COMES' also implies 'the SON COMES'. 'The SON' as a proper
name refers to Jesus in the Bible (Jh 3:35; 6:40). 'The SON' and
'SAVIOUR' and 'the SUN' (as an image) and 'SAVIOUR', as stated above, are
parallel with each other in the Bible.

There is an apocalyptical theme in 'Last Night On Earth' (Kevin Courtney,
Irish Times, Feb 21, 1997), one of U2's main themes in the eighties:

"slipping away...the world turns... there's something going she might be
missing...the it spinning for you the way it's spinning for

If God will send His angels (it will be) the Last night on earth (because
then I'm) Gone.

°U2 lyrics°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°The Bible text

"I'LL BE UP WITH THE SUN...¤"...the LORD God is a SUN and shield (Ps 84:11).
°FELT that way all along
°closer to you every day...
°we'll be up WITH the sun °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°'the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS'?
°are you still holding on"

Playboy Mansion
This song discusses people's mass hysteria for consumption and superficial
lifestyle, as well as the ways to pass one's life with honour in the
secularized culture (Ann Powers, SPIN 3 1997, p.50). It serves as a critical
note to those who believe that the world is controlled merely by chance.

"chance is kind of religion, where you're damned for plain hard luck" (cf.
the slogan "EVOLUTION IS OVER" in ZOO TV).

°U2 lyrics°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°The Bible text

°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°"And God will wipe away every tears
"then''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°from their eyes; and there
will there be no time of sorrow°°°°will be no more death, nor sorrow,
then'''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°nor crying. There
will there be no time for pain°°°°°will there be no more pain,
will there be no time of sorrow°°°°the
then'''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°former things
will there be no time for shame"°°°have passed away" (Rev 21:4 (NKJV)).

"Then will there be no time for shame," he sings, a psalmist dreaming of
rapture in a consumer's paradise" (Ann Powers, SPIN 3 1997, p. 50).

"and though I can't say why I know I've got to believe"

Bono (and I hope the Edge and Larry too) still do believe in some superior
being, who for sure is someone other than Bill Clinton: "I believe in God
very strongly, and I don't believe that we just kind of exploded out of
thin air, I can't believe that" (Bono 1982 (Dave Thompson: in his own
words 1989, p. 89)). "...everywhere I look I see the evidence of a
Creator" (Bono 1982 (Thompson 1989, p. 90)). "I believe that there is a
logic and a reason for everything. If I didn't believe that and thought
that everything was simply down to chance, then I'd really be afraid"
(Bono 1983 (Thompson 1989, p. 90)). "I'm still really excited by the
thought that there might be a force of love or logic in the universe. And
that it might be interested in us" (Bono 1997 (Mark Mordue, Australian
Style 21 1997)).

Bono STILL believes that God has created the world and confesses it in
'Wake Up Dead Man'.

If You Wear that Velvet Dress
This is a song about a romantic love relationship between two people,
including the bedroom activities. But, does also this song follow the
principle: "The challenge for us is to factor our spirituality into the
mix along with our sexuality" (Edge (Powers 1997, p. 50))?

°U2 lyrics°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°The Bible text

°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°°°"There will be SIGNs in the sun,
"tonight the moon is a mirrowball°°°°°°°°moon and stars (Lk 21:25a (NIV)).
°light flickers from across the hall°°°°"And the third angel sounded,
°who'll catch the star when it falls...°"and there fell a great star
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°°from heaven"....
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°"And the fifth angel sounded,
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°°and I saw a star fall from
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°°heaven unto the earth"
°''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''°°°°°°°°°°°°(Rev 8:10a; 9:1a (KJV)).

Wake Up Dead Man
"In other tracks - If God Will Send His Angels, Wake Up Dead Man, Gone-you
seem to be reassessing your faith" (Q 3 1997, p. 95). Bono is
speaking to Jesus in this song (at least in verses 1, 2 and 4).

WAKE UP DEAD MAN can be understood either as an appeal to Jesus to

wake up (spiritually of physically) dead man (or human being)

or as an invitation by the vocalist:

'Wake up dead man!'

I don't think it is the author's intention to make someone understand this
invitation as a command to Jesus, because he is asking Jesus for help (you
probably don' find it worthwhile to ask this from a dead man). In this
song there are several cases where the wording implies that the author
still believes in the resurrection of Jesus. (cf. Sunday Bloody Sunday):

"Jesus, Jesus help me...
°tell me, tell me the story
°the one about eternity
°and the way it's all gonna be...

°Jesus, I'm waiting here boss
°I know you're looking out for us
°but maybe your hands aren't free
°Your Father, He made the world in seven
°He's in charge of Heaven
°will you put a word in for me"

Bono is waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

"Jesus, were you just around the corner?
°did You think to try and warn her?
°or are you working on something new?"

"In "Wake Up Dead Man', Bono calls for Jesus's return" (Powers 1997, p.
50). When He returns, He will WAKE UP DEAD MEN (1 Cor 15:12-23;
1 Tess 4:13-17).

"The faith thing in Wake Up Dead Man, is hard," explains Bono. "It's the
end of the century and it's the century where God is supposed to be dead.
Seeing the world in two dimensions doesn't have to appeal that it had for
a lot of people...I'm a believer" (Q 3 1997, p. 96-97; Time 10.3.1997, p.
54). "Actually I saw this thing written on a toilet somewhere, 'God Is
Dead - Nietzsche.' And written underneath it in somebody else's
handwriting, 'Nietzsche Is Dead - God.'...I thought that's it. That is it"
(Bono 1997 (Mordue 1997)).

"Big Guy Upstairs is at the top of Pop's list of influences, just ahead of
desire, confusion and the Village People...Rare among white rock artists
now, U2 have a grounding in the Bible" (Paul Du Noyer, Q 4 1997, p. 132-133).

The Bible passages above have been taken from the following translations:
King James Version, New King James Version and New International Version;
as an exception, in the passage Rev 21:4, all occurrences of 'shall' have
been replaced with 'will'.

List of abbreviations:
KJV=King James Version
NKJV=New King James Version
NIV=New International Version


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