For a few brief years in the mid-80s, Howard Jones was one of THE poster boys for synth-pop. You might remember he scored big hits with upbeat, positive tunes like "Life In One Day" and “Like To Get To Know You Well,” and if you cut on the radio at all, then you know the Phil Collins remix of “No One Is To Blame” was pretty much inescapable.
But if all you heard of Howard Jones is his radio hits, then you probably missed some of the more interesting cuts tucked away in the corners of his albums. Jones is a committed follower of the teachings of the 13th century Japanese Buddhist monk, Nichiren Daishonin, and his spiritual beliefs often find their way into the lyrics of his songs.
“Hunger For The Flesh” addresses one of the four noble truths of Buddhism, mainly that all human suffering results from an inordinate attachment to desires. On his website, Jones writes, “Fame, wealth, social standing can not be carried through to our next existence and so Buddhism is teaching me to develop a life state that is truly happy whatever my circumstances may be.” Hmm, where have I heard something like that before?.
“But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, ‘In [the] last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.’ These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit.” But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 1:17-21, NABRE)
You see, the Catholic Church considers all goodness and truth found in other religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life." So the Church has no problem with the idea that separating oneself from inordinate desires is a big part of personal holiness, and consequently contentment and true happiness.
Of course, as Pope John Paul II was quick to point out in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” not all of Buddhism is compatible with Christianity. Reincarnation, which Jones hints at in this sing, is a no-go. Still, we Christians have our own ideas of a “new birth,” so that lyric really isn’t a problem either.
The dancer in the video, though, that’s another story. That guy and his skin puppets is pure nightmare fuel. Am I the only one who was getting a Texas Chainsaw/Silence of the Lambs vibe off of that? I gotta lay off the horror movies.