I believe in God Do you U2

The minute you throw U2 into a conversation that includes faith and God folks come up with all types of reasons to either agree or hate the idea.  This holiday season we have a series that surely create conversation. Sarah Hinlicky wrote an article sometime ago “I believe in God Do you U2” The article will be the back drop for the series and we will share some excerpts from that article.   

So, what does make Christian music? Does it have to be written specifically for church, for liturgical or devotional purposes, to fall into that category? Should it refer to Scripture, quoting directly or alluding by imagery? Should it explicit purpose be to evangelized? Where do you think U2 should fits into all of this ? This series will give you some insights to a different view. Your comments and views are welcome within this page or on our facebook site. Of course you can always jump on our forum page.

Taken U2 to Church

A minister will be swapping traditional hymns for tracks by rock band U2 at a communion service with a difference this weekend.

The Rev Nick Cook will perform as Bono for Leicestershire’s first U2charist, at St Hugh’s Church, Market Harborough, on Saturday.

The band – with Dick Callan as guitarist The Edge, Trevor Roach as bass player Adam Clayton and Alex Ulyett as drummer Larry Mullen Jr – will be performing seven of U2’s biggest hits, including One, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride (In The Name Of Love) and Where The Streets Have No Name.

Nick, who is minister of Harborough Baptist Church, said it was a first for the county.

“Well, I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.

“It will be a fairly normal communion service, but whereas we’d normally have hymns, this will be interspersed with some classic U2 songs.

“I’ll be doing my Bono impression, although I’m not like him as a singer. He can sing slightly higher, so we’ve had to take a couple of songs down a notch.

“We haven’t talked about how we’re going to dress yet.

“I think we’ll be fairly casual but I’m not going to go out and buy the big shades.”

The first U2charist service took place in the United States, where a minister inspired by the spiritual content of some of U2’s hits got permission from the band to use their songs for worship without copyright charges.

The idea is to make the traditional service more appealing to a wider audience, particularly younger people.

The service in Market Harborough is expected to attract more than 100 people. Money raised will go to Christian Aid.

The event also aims to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals – eight objectives set by world leaders at the start of the millennium with the aim of halving the number of people living in poverty across the world by 2015.

The service has been organised by Nick and the Rev Andrew Quigley, from Harborough Anglican team, along with Christian Aid.

Andrew said: “There’s a lot of spiritual content in U2’s music and Bono is known for speaking out on issues such as poverty and raising funds.

“We thought bringing in the live music would make it appealing to younger people and maybe, for people who already support the service, it will perhaps help them see it in a fresh way.

“We want people to come because they like the music, we want people to come because they care about the issues, we want people to hear the church speak about values in different and perhaps challenging words.”

Christian Aid spokeswoman Sue Richardson said: “The service is at the end of our annual Christian Aid Week, when we ask volunteers to collect door to door in their communities to fund our work with the poor overseas.”

The U2charist takes place at St Hugh’s Church, in Northampton Road, Market Harborough, at 8pm on Saturday.

God is in the House

Where the Streets Have No Name.Beautiful Day.I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.Yahweh. For fans of the Irish band U2, these are familiar rock songs. But to a growing number of Christians, they’re becoming tunes for worship, and for the Eucharist.

Services using U2’s music, commonly called U2charist, were begun by Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. The services combine the music of the rock band with traditional communion. They focus on a message of global reconciliation, justice, and care for neighbors as advocated by Bono, the lead singer of U2. Bono, a dedicated Christian, is also a global ambassador for Millennium Development Goals, a movement by the United Nations to eradicate poverty and disease by the year 2015.

U2charist first took hold in the U.S. at St. George’s Episcopal Church in York Harbor, Maine, drawing 130 people. Many of those in attendance were in a younger demographic and did not usually attend the church. Since then, dozens of the services have been held worldwide in churches of many denominations.

In a U2charist service, the liturgy remains the same, although the music is markedly different. U2 songs are repurposed as the opening hymn, song of praise, sermon response, and offertory. Most of the songs are seen as metaphors, with lyrics that are layered with meaning.

“In church, you hear [the music] in a different way. It’s like new,” said Natalie Williams, a 17-year-old who attended a U2charist at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor, New York.

Eric Johnson, who attended the service at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Florida, had no doubt about the effectiveness of the music.

“The crowd, the enthusiasm, the energy—I felt like the Holy Spirit was in the room. The message was getting through, and we were worshiping together,” he said.

The offerings that are collected at U2charists go to charities fighting extreme poverty and AIDS, as worked out in an agreement with the band’s publishing company. Paige Blair, rector of St. George’s, estimates that more than $36,000 has been raised from the U2charist services for the cause.

“People are learning there is something they can do to change the world,” she said. “And they leave feeling that they really can.”

At St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Encinitas, California, the U2charist service was well-received by young and old alike. Teens connected to the “hip factor,” while adults found deeper meaning in the music.

At St. Andrew’s, the service drew a crowd that compares to normal Christmas or Easter attendance. St. George’s is beginning a U2charist team to help others implement the service. And this year, a U2charist service will be broadcast in Great Britain on Easter Sunday.

“It spread like wildfire,” Blair said. “We’re giving people a way to engage their faith in a meaningful way.”

And letting them rock out at the same time.

This week we will start a three part or four part series on U2, God and Faith.

No Rapture, Just Faith

Tim Heufeld wrote an article earlier this week that we did not have a chance to share our thoughts on. “God is in the house” in deed HE is.  For the last three decades U2 has written songs of faith, hope and love going thru phases as most Christians do. Tim pointed out that on two albums “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” and “No Line on the Horizon” could be considered as U2’s grounded works.

Denver’s show had a couple of interesting dynamics going on; of course it was the first show back in the USA after a long winter break. Fans with bend up emotions seemed a bit flat or were it the idea that the Rapture was to happen during the show period; secretly I have over heard some fans longing for it to be true. The ultimate U2, with faith and an MP3 player on her side, she waits the coming of the LORD (hum new lyric)

Bono and the Boys never claimed to have lock on faith, love and God, only that one should find peace and why not in God, true that Christians look at U2 and wonder how they can be Christian with drinking, and partying and well frankly enjoying life.  Clearly how can they be? Simply put God is in everyone and how you choose to live your life is really a choice you make, it’s not mine or yours to say this person is more God like we are all in God’s image.  U2 only provides the tools for you to make your own choice. We looked over Tim’s U2 Rapture Playlist and believe its worth a listen. Try it -

Just one last thought the Denver show take a look at this video, is Bono suggesting that this is the end of time, or was it just part of the song. Ether way it was very interesting to see for the first time on this stage Bono reaching his hand across the bridge to The Edge. The trusses never touch and Bono drops a flower, what symbolism; what poetic faith.   

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love.


10. “Tomorrow,” October (1981)

Won’t you come back tomorrow / Won’t you be back tomorrow
Will you be back tomorrow / Can I sleep tonight

Open up, open up to the love of God / To the love of He who made the blind to see
He’s coming back / He’s coming back
I believe Him / Jesus is coming / I’m gonna be there

9. “Stateless,” The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)

I’ve got no home in this world / Just gravity, luck, and time
I’ve got no home in this world / Just you and you are not mine

Stateless / Weightless / Stateless

8. “A Sort of Homecoming,” The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

And you know it’s time to go / Through the sleet and driving snow
Across the fields of mourning / To a light that’s in the distance

And you hunger for the time / Time to heal, desire, time
And your earth moves beneath / Your own dream landscape

7. “Last Night on Earth,” POP (1997)

She feels the ground is giving way / But she thinks we’re better off that way
The more you take the less you feel / The less you know the more you believe
The more you have, the more it takes today

You got to give it away / You got to give it away
Well, she don’t care what it’s worth
She’s living like it’s the last night on earth

6. “Gone,” POP (1997)

You get to feel so guilty got so much for so little
Then you find that feeling just won’t go away
You’re holding on to every little thing so tightly
Till there’s nothing left for you anyay

Goodbye, you can keep this suit of lights
I’m be up with the sun / I’m not coming down

5. “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” No Line on the Horizon (2009) (Live U2360 Remix of course!)

It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain / As you start out the climb
Listen for me, I’ll be shouting / We’re gonna make it all the way to the light
But you now I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight

4. “Where the Streets Have No Name,” Joshua Tree (1987)

Where the streets have no name / Where the streets have no name
We’re still building, then burning down love / Burning down love
And when I go there I go there with you / It’s all I can do

3. “Walk On,” All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen

Leave it behind

2. “Until the End of the World,” Achtung Baby (1991)

Waves of regret and waves of joy / I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you’d wait / ‘Til the end of the world

1. “Elevation,” All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)

You elevate my soul / I’ve lost all self-control
Been living like a mole / Now, going down, excavation
I and I into the sky / You make me feel like I can fly so high

Play list credit: Tim Heufeld

Mothers,U2 and Spirituality

The spiritual journey starts at home, home is where these boys had started their musical journey that has taken them around the world and moved many to look beyond their square space. Today we honor those mothers that have given us Paul, Larry, Dave and Adam ( yes we used their christian names) The world is a much better place with their music and voice.  Reglion always sparks some interesting conversations.

Given the opportunity to explore U2 from Theological, Spiritual view we have watched many books, sites and interesting side notes appear. However the classic general introduction to U2 from a spiritual perspective comes from Steve Stockman’s well organized Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2; “Stocki” an Irishman who has been writing on the band since the early 80s and knows their milieu intimately. Also consider the works of Vagacs and Scharen as well as Garrett to complete your collection,  However, most of the best theologically informed writers on U2 are working in journals, magazines, and online. U2-and-God pieces are those by Steven Harmon and Mark Meynell

Since U2 lyrics reflect a thorough immersion in Biblical thought and language, it’s often useful to turn to Drawing Their Fish in the Sand, an online archive of scripture allusions in the band’s work.

Moving from reflection on U2 to material directly by the band, one option that will spark thought is Bono’s National Prayer Breakfast sermon in 2006, which can be viewed here (a 22-minute clip via CNN and YouTube) or purchased as the book On The Move (including photos from his service in Ethiopia with World Vision as a young man).  An often-reprinted excerpt from Bono in Conversation, displays the singer at ease in the role of apologist for faith.

And then there’s listening!  Novices should certainly explore a best-of album, or a classic like The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby; however, U2 are above all a live band whose vision cannot be fully grasped from their studio material, which is in essence a preliminary sketch for what they eventually achieve in performance.

Their slogan: “Live is where we live.”

We would recommend a trip to YouTube. Either look up performances of your own favorite songs, or observe a few characteristic U2-plus-their-audience moments: Where The Streets Have No Name (2001),  Sunday Bloody Sunday (1988), Mothers of The Disappeared (1998—in Santiago with the real mothers brought onstage), the love song to the Holy Spirit Mysterious Ways (2009) and the ZooTV iteration of The Fly (1993) with Bono in character and disorientation on the agenda.

It’s a cliché to point out that the band’s name is a pun: You, too, can be part of this. With that outlook, it’s no surprise that I need to tell you that this guide just skims the surface of ways spiritually-minded listeners can interact with U2’s material. Come on in and mix it up; there’s room for everyone

There are big questions about some of the things they do and say. There are the financial decisions that U2 Inc. have made, there are other concerns of lifestyle and rock star egos, there are concerns about their theology and ethics. For example Christians some have cited their Coexist campaign (which calls on all the ‘Sons of Abraham - Jews, Christians and Muslims - to live together in peace) as evidence of universalism. Well, it may well be! Yet it is hard to deny the moral goodness of the objective.

If one needs labels (and how one wishes one didn’t), perhaps we should see U2 as ‘post-evangelical’ (in the sense of what Dave Tomlinson was getting at in his 1995 book of that name) more than anything else. That will leave many things to be desired for the regular evangelical, of course.

But it is interesting how often themes of historic Christian orthodoxy permeate and inform their creativity. It is of course easy for Christian observers to judge and condemn them - yet who of us can honestly claim to understand the choices, dilemmas and conflicts that arise from having such wealth and influence?

Nevertheless, they offer a profound challenge to Christians with their passionate and committed engagement with the world around us at the social, political and personal levels. U2 is one model of Christian artistic engagement at the highest and most exposed level.

You might not agree with everything they do; you may totally detest their music! But it is foolish to ignore their attempts – for in recent times, no another performers have brought a Christian worldview and set of values into the public square more wholeheartedly and globally than U2. U2: The Stadium Psalmists & Prophets Mark Meynell

Closing Thoughts. Most of us listen to music as background, something to fill the void. I challenge you to listen to music, really listen. Listen not only to U2 songs, but all songs. You find that references to God and man are vast and written deep within songs that you never thought would have any reference at all.

2011 has been another defining year for the boys, and we of course will continued be along for the ride “Will You?”

Suggested Reading

  1. Achtung Baby (33 1/3 album guide) Catanzarite, Stephen Continuum New York 2007
  2. Bono on Bono: Conversations Assayas, Michka Hodder London 2005
  3. Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog Whiteley & Maynard (eds) Cowley Cambridge 2003
  4. Into The Heart: The Stories Behind Every U2 Song Stokes, Niall Carlton London 2005
  5. One Step Closer – Why U2 matters to those seeking God Scharen, Christian Brazos Gr. Rapids 2006
  6. Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective Vagacs, Robert Cascade Eugene, OR 2005
  7. The U2 Reader: a Quarter Century of Commentary Bordowitz, Hank (ed) Hal Leonard New York 2003
  8. U2 by U2 McCormick, Neil (ed) HarperCollins London 2006
  9. U2: An Irish Phenomenon Cogan, Visnja Collins Press London 2006
  10. U2: Into the Heart (the stories behind every song) Stokes, Niall Thunder’s Mouth London 2005
  11. U2: The Complete Guide to their Music Graham / Oosten de Boer Omnibus London 2004
  12. Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 Stockman, Steve Relevant Orlando, FL 2005