This last Sunday my wife Nicky and I went to the U2 concert here in St Louis at Busch Stadium, part of the 360 tour, along with another 52,000 St Louisians. This is the tour where it takes an entire week to build the whole stage and put in the stadium flooring, it was an incredible show. For whatever one thinks of U2, their celebrity status and their occasional outbursts, the fact is they have said and done a lot that reflects well upon the gospel of redemption.
Just knowing there a bevy of books and blogs out there describing U2 and faith speaks for itself. They have been able to reach audiences with a unifying message for the past three decades. Bono is the most outspoken of the group: “Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff … It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity” (Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, 203-204).
Here is a video Nicky edited:
In “We get to carry each other: The Gospel according to U2″ the author, Greg Garrett, claims there are three principles that characterize the band: belief, community and social justice. These three themes are certainly expressed in the lyrics of some of their most popular songs and through their campaigning for human rights alongside Amnesty International.
I remember being at Soul Survivor, as a teenager, when Matt Redman changed the chorus and sang, “I’ve finally found what I’m looking for.” The words of the third verse remained the same:
You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it
The lyrics from Sunday bloody Sunday still replay in my head from the concert:
The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On Sunday Bloody Sunday
In ’99 Bono wrote an introduction to a selection of the Psalms, here is an excerpt.
” ‘Psalm 40′ is interesting in that it suggests a time in which grace will replace karma, and love replace the very strict laws of Moses (i.e. fulfill them). I love that thought. David, who committed some of the most selfish as well as selfless acts, was depending on it. That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me; now it is a source of great comfort.
’40′ became the closing song at U2 shows and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape t-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from ‘Psalm 6′: “‘How long’ (to sing this song)”. I had thought of it as a nagging question – pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long … hunger? How long … hatred? How long until creation grows up at the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalizing of such questions could bring such comfort; to me too” (Introduction to Selections from the Book of Psalms: Authorized King James Version (Pocket Canons) 1999).
I think we should take encouragement from the fact that, in the garden that the Lord in His providence has given to them, they are flourishing and prospering, all within a pop-culture overgrown with the weeds of pluralism and relativism.