All That You Can’t Leave Behind

After the difficulties that U2 had due to their documentary “Rattle And Hum,” they spent the entire 1990’s subverting their serious attitude to music, before returning once again to their earnest approach to music-making with 2001’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind, which was a popular album with numerous hit singles and was hailed as a return to classic form.  In looking at the album, it is clear what exactly the band averred that they could not leave behind, including attempts to motivate others to move on from bad aspects to their past as well as earnest and sympathetic takes to the suffering of others.  The album and its earnest and generally sympathetic approach also benefited from the change in national mood that followed the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a change in national mood that aided the careers of not only U2 and their earnest perspective but also similarly reflective acts like Ryan Adams and Five For Fighting as well as some of the more bumptious nationalists who created songs like “The Angry American.”  It turned out that for America as well as for acts like U2 that there was something that could not be left behind when many had adopted a deeply cynical and ironic view of life in the 1990’s.

Recently I have read quite a few books on Appalachia, and my thoughts on these books as a whole have been rather mixed.  It does appear that among those who write books relating to various aspects of Appalachia, including its cooking, that there is a large amount of interest that people have in attempting to portray themselves as authentic Appalachians despite their rejection of traditional food ways (and other ways) and their assimilation to Progressive ideals, even as they gatekeep against those who view Appalachian culture and its complex heritage differently than they do.  Those who have studied the traditional culture of the Appalachian region have noted the high levels of violence, a characteristic honor-bound culture, as well as an emphasis placed on egalitarian attitudes.  My father’s family is a reasonably decent representative Appalachian one, for better and for worse, and I have found that although I have lived most of my life away from Appalachia (however it is defined), I have never been able to leave behind the aspects of Appalachia’s fiercely egalitarian culture that are inside of me and that inform my own approach to a hostile outside world.

A few days ago one of my online acquaintances [1] posted a paper on the doctrinal importance of the 19th century to the Church of God, and has noted that the Church of God and its doctrinal understanding has never existed in a vacuum but that various thinkers and writers have always sifted through what has been written by others in order to help our own understanding.  Although there are a great deal of disagreements that we might have with aspects of the understanding of various commentators and scholars, at the same time it is worth sifting through writings in order to help us better explain and even more importantly justify to other people our own characteristic understanding of the Bible as well as our efforts to restore original apostolic Christianity.  Even in, for example, the body of literature of the rapidly apostasizing proto-Orthodox church of the second century AD, the so-called Apostolic Fathers, there are at least some gems of worthwhile understanding in the face of a great deal of authoritarian antinomianism and a marked hostility to the Hebraic inheritance of Christianity that has always troubled those who wanted to make Christianity acceptable to Hellenistic intellectual and political elites.  In faith as well as in culture that is a great deal that cannot be left behind but remains to trouble those who want to leave it behind to increase their own elite status.

A great many people dislike the way that survivors of abuse tend to be stuck in a moment that they can’t get out of and are unable to walk on and move on the way that others would prefer.  As human beings, though, we tend to generalize the way that the world and its inhabitants will be based on the way that we have experienced that world, and so those who have faced a great deal of abuse in their lives will tend to assume that the world is essentially a hostile and unfriendly place where one may occasionally find safe refuge but which is essentially unwelcoming and unresponsive to one’s wants and needs.  Yet it is worth remembering that it is not only the survivors of abuse that are stuck in negative patterns of thinking that they are unable to escape from, but also the perpetrators of that abuse.  After all, even if many abusers are assumed to be sociopaths who feel no remorse for the harm and suffering that they inflict on others, their own patterns of behavior imprison them and prevent them from building up trust and intimacy with others.  They are prisoners of the horrors that they have created, lonely because they cannot deal with others in a proper way, and thus unable to escape their own isolation with their own sick and twisted and demented minds and dark hearts.  Wherever we go, physically or relationally, we take ourselves with us and cannot escape who and what we are.  That is, obviously, not always a good thing.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to All That You Can’t Leave Behind

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    I am learning that forgiveness not only involves the person who committed the transgression, but the actual event as well. God put our sins in the “never happened” file which means that we must do the same thing. He created within us a selective memory that makes this possible–with His help. Even though we take ourselves with us and cannot escape who or what we are, we must not stop looking upward and ahead. Paul was guilty of murdering Christians, but he didn’t “out-Christian” God by carrying his guilt around when God had already forgiven him. If he had done so, God could never have used him in the capacity that he was called to do. We have to let things go; what was done to us, who did it, and what we’ve done to others. We must do what we can to make things right, if possible, but always with the mindset of forging ahead with the will of God as our calling dictates. I write this applying it to myself–first and foremost.

  2. Catharine Martin says:

    Unfortunately, remaining chained causes us TO wander… away from God’s grace. Part of that grace is accepting that, upon repentance, Christ sacrifice atoned for our sins.

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