Unitarian pastor Jeff Symynkywicz has written a very readable book about Springsteen’s vision and value system.It is The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption. In it he says the following:
Springsteen has spoken about the incredible internal landscape that his Catholic faith bequeathed to him and how Catholic education gave him “a powerful world of potent imagery that became alive and vibrant and vital.”
The internal world was often frightening but it “held out promises of ecstasy and paradise.”
The brother is on to something. and it connects to a sentence I read today in Souled Out, American Catholic columnist E.J.Dionne’s look at the use and abuse of religion in politics today.
Dionne quotes the late pope JP ll s as saying he believed in angels. The question is was this what he was really saying or was he making a claim for transcendence as a key part of our lives? I believe the latter. Angels of course do not exist (angelos is the Greek word for messenger–the mediator between heaven and earth) and the ancients knew this but it was their colourful way of saying what poets (and you have to love poetry to appreciate much of scripture) have always struggled to infer. Mystery is at the heart of existence. Elizabeth Barrettt Browning put it beautifully in her poem Aurora Leigh when she said that “earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush is afire with God.”
Springsteen was grateful that the wild landscape of scripture lit up his interior world and he it led him as he matured to figure out the power of myth to speak truth.
This is the Catholic sacramental imagination. The divine is apprehended in the everyday, the eternal in the present. God is afoot in our world.
Maybe the Transcendentalist Emerson had it right:
“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”