From what I’ve read about The Joshua Tree album, the over arching theme is America. I believe this to be true and In God’s Country certainly has many ideas about our country. From the desert theme, which occurs throughout the album, to every other lyrical reference, Bono describes his version of America.
As I listened to the song again, two things crossed my mind. God and our Country we live in today. Do we really live in God’s Country?
As a young boy, one of the many question I asked my Mother, a deeply religious person, who gave a small fortune to that tiny 50 member C of C church on the three times a week we would attend, “If God is loving, and cares for all mankind, why does he allow wars, earthquakes, anything that would allow suffering, killing, dying?” Her response, slow, deliberate and certainly with conviction, was that God allows us, wants us, to make choices, and as we live our lives, He wants us to choose Him, and good, not evil. Those that choose wrong, or are influenced by The Devil, are not good, they are evil; and more importantly, will never get to Heaven, but live out eternity in Hell.
Strong, powerful words for a young, impressionable boy. I was certainly struck by the fact I needed to be good and avoid Hell, but there was always a part of my Mother’s explanation that was incomplete, still didn’t tell the whole story. I really don’t think I believed her then, and I certainly have a harder time today.
A previous wife’s folks belonged to a more progressive church. Their God let you choose good over evil, but if you chose evil, His wrath would be swift and deadly. There was a devastating earthquake in Turkey, years ago, and their Preacher proclaimed that all of those dead Turkish people got what they deserved and were going to Hell, because they had not accepted Jesus Christ into their lives. God’s will be done.
That kind of talk is scary to me.
So what’s my point, you ask. I try to listen to songs through the eyes of the artist, and U2, as we all know, are a spiritual bunch of fellows. I find it uplifting that Bono chose to describe our country as God’s country and, if you listen to the lyrics closely, I think you might see his impression of how great we are, but there’s still a mighty struggle going on.
So my point. I re-listened to In God’s Country, and reflected on how incredibly lucky and privileged we are to live in the country we do. There’s a lot of bad shit out there across both oceans from America. An Irish dude saw his America, and wrote a song about it. He even decided that God really loves this place.
I guess, what I’m trying to say is I don’t think God kills anyone, nor does he allow bad to happen. God, wherever he (or she) may be, has made a path for four Irish guys to travel to God’s Country and play their music.
I can’t wait for July 1.
Folks, it’s that simple. In God’s Country.
(On a lighter note – somebody dropped off another bootleg tape at my door of some early U2 stuff…)