Explaining New York

While driving around on some errands today, the boys and I were listening to U2. Liam listens to the All That You Can’t Leave Behind album on the iPod often and knows most of the words to those songs. During the song “New York,” Liam asked about the lines:

In New York I lost it all to you and your vices
Still I’m staying on to figure out my mid life crisis
I hit an iceberg in my life
You know I’m still afloat
You lose your balance, lose your wife
In the queue for the lifeboat
Gotta put the women and children first
But you’ve got an unquenchable thirst for New York

He understood that the iceberg bit was a metaphor of some sort but wasn’t sure what it meant. I explained that the entire song was a metaphor for the things that lure us away from what’s important in life (see 1 John 2.15-17). Any kind of addiction–money, work, drugs, video games, relationships, etc.–will draw us away from the life God intends for us. In the song, New York represents those things.

It’s interesting to set U2’s “New York” alongside Frank Sinatra’s well-known “New York, New York.” To Sinatra, the City represents limitless opportunity and possibilities for fame and success. It is modern and hopeful. By contrast, U2’s New York is dark, sinister, seductive, and dangerous–a place to be feared, where one’s soul is at risk. While Sinatra’s New York offers the naive outsider a chance to make it big, U2’s New York will entice you then take your life.

I was grateful for the chance to talk this over with Liam today. I’m reminded that nine-year-old boys pay attention to significant things.

Here are the lyrics to the U2 song and a video to a live performance of it. The song is one of my favorites on that album, musically and lyrically. The arrangement consistently points to the disorienting and seductive nature of the City revealed in the lyrics–really well done.


Eva has recently learned the word “eat.” When she’s not eating but would like to, she will point to her highchair and say, “Eat!” Aidan has had, since the day we met him, a bottomless stomach: the boy does not know when to stop eating. As a result, I’ve taken to calling them our Eat-iopians.

Happy Birthday Jesus

We’re celebrating Christmas at home with the kids today, before we begin traveling to and fro throughout the Midwest to see family and friends. This will be our first Christmas in the US with our new, larger family. Last year, we celebrated Christmas in Illinois with Erin, Liam, and Maura followed by Christmas in Ethiopia with Erin, Aidan, and Eva. Today we celebrate with everyone together.

Every year we do Advent readings, although we always get started late. We missed the first two weeks of readings this year but have been mostly consistent this week. We had some friends and their kids over last night (between our two families, I think we had 47 people here; or 13–what’s the difference, really?) for the Advent reading and lighting the Advent candles. Suz had made a Happy Birthday Jesus cake and the kids made a reindeer candy cane craft together.

Once again, we have a red dragon in one of our nativity scenes as well, a not-so-gentle reminder that there is a great price to be paid for peace on earth and good will toward those on whom God’s favor rests.

After our Advent party, we watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Hulu. Ironically, this classic program about the search for the meaning of Christmas was punctuated by commercials from Best Buy featuring a dad running through the house on Christmas morning, past the kids, to find a huge flat-screen TV in the living room and exclaiming, “How’d it get down the chimney?!” Pathetic, Best Buy.

Not sure how much we’ll post in the upcoming days–we posted a grand total of 14 times this past year. Maybe that’s a new year’s resolution for 2012. Either way, blessings to all of you in this season and the year ahead. Peace on earth and goodwill to those on whom God’s favor rests.