Thursday, May 25, 2006

Springsteen and Pannenberg (now that's an unusual combo!)

"The Easter event and the resurrection on which Christian hope is set are no less limitless than creation. Only the Creator can awaken the dead, and resurrection from the dead shows what it means to be Creator." --- Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (417)

Jesus kissed his mother's hands
Whispered, "Mother, still your tears,
For remember the Soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared."
--- Springsteen, "Jesus Was an Only Son"

It's amazing how musicians can sometimes articulate theological concepts better than theologians. Of course, Springsteen is no ordinary musician. His work has always possessed a strong spiritual component (the ever-present "Mary" in his early songs certainly attests to his Catholic upbringing). However, it seems to me that Bruce has become more explicitly Christian of late. This became very clear in The Rising album, where Christian themes and imagery are everywhere. And on his most recent album, The Seeger Sessions, he includes the African American spiritual "Mary Don't You Weep", which continues the leitmotiv of "Jesus was an Only Son":

Mary wore three links of chain
On every link was Jesus' name
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn
O Mary don't you weep, don't mourn
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

What's fascinating about this song is the interweaving of Old and New Testament events (the song also combines references to Noah and the eschaton in the same stanza). Of course, Springsteen didn't write this song, but his inclusion of several spirituals on the Seeger album is indicative of a religious mindset. Who knows? Perhaps he's working on his systematic theology right now (and maybe Pannenberg is picking up a guitar...).

2 comments:

Andy said...

Springsteen's an interesting guy. I've always loved the Nebraska album, though it's a bit dark at times.

Your post made me think of "My Father's House" which seems to me to embrace the ubiquitous modern disenchantment with religion (or maybe it's just about a son's problems with his father).

My father’s house shines hard and bright
It stands like a beacon, calling me in the night
Calling and calling, so cold and alone
Shining ’cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned


Check out this link:

http://www.up.edu/portlandmag/2006_spring/boss/boss1.html

Andy said...

Let me try that again...

This link

It's a story in the current issue of Portland Magazine calling Springsteen "the greatest Catholic poet of our time."