The Wisdom of “The Boss”
Yes, as in Bruce Springsteen. Recently I “rediscovered” him on a long flight from Atlanta to Seoul, enraptured by his latest album “Working on a Dream.” I was struck by his prophetic depth reading a 2009 BBC interview. The theological connections are mine:
Transcending the identity of your wounds …
“You can find your identity in the damage that’s been done to you. Very, very dangerous. You find your identity in your wounds, in your scars, in the places where you’ve been beat up and you turn them into a medal. We all wear the things we’ve survived with some honor, but the real honor is in also transcending them”
The ministry of the prophetic …
“The artist’s job is to make people care about your obsessions and see them and experience them as their own”
The communion of saints …
“I carry a lot of people with me that aren’t here anymore. And so love transcends time”
What a community is …
“The thing I’ve been proudest about for a long time was that unlike many other bands, our band members, they lived. They lived and that was something that was a group effort; it was something that we did together. The surviving part. People did watch the other person. And it was a testament to the life force that I think was at the core of our music – that nobody gave up on you. And that lasted a long time. People got pulled out of a lot of holes. And I would include myself, in different ways over many, many different years.”
On living by the vision of a future “not seen” without being consumed by the “seen” — in gratitude and joy …
“The artists people are interested in have something eating at them. Those are the guys they’re interested in. Elvis. What was eating at that guy? Why did he have to sing like that and move like that? Jerry Lee Lewis, what was eating at him, what was eating at Hank Williams?
“So the idea is: how do you manage that thing that’s eating at you, without letting it eat you? ‘Cause that’s what it wants to do. The thing that’s eating at you, wants to eat you. And so your life is… how do you keep that from happening? That’s a pretty interesting story too, and that’s what a lot of my records are about, maybe all of them. So now, you know – my records and the music and everything are me attempting to keep from being eaten.” He laughs. “As best as I can.”
P.S. A life-giving moment last spring: being at a Roseanne Cash concert at Duke and “the Boss” suddenly coming on the stage out of nowhere, in khakis and sneakers, to sing a duet from Cash’s new album.
About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.
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