The Worship of U2, Part One
I am not sure anyone really knows yet what exactly post-modern spirituality is, for the whole phenomenon strikes me as being like someone who takes a photograph of a raging river -- as soon as the picture is snapped, the subject has already changed. But one characteristic that experts in the field point to is that post-modern spirituality involves a rejection of institutionalized religion in favor of a more open, less constrained spirituality.
In this sense, I suppose U2 represents a form of post-modern spirituality. Their lead singer, Bono, once commented that religion is what's left over after the Spirit has left the church. Of course, much of this sentiment derives from the highly charged political context in which the members of U2 experienced religion growing up in Ireland. Regardless of the cause, the result has been that Bono turned to his music as his form of worship to God. Their concert tours over the past half decade have increasingly taken on a worship feel to them, prompting Bono during at least one concert to comment, "This is church." It is hard to argue his point when Bono's quotations from Scripture merge with U2's songs to the point where sometimes the two are indistinguishable.
But there is a danger here as well. It can be a moving experience to watch Bono live, vocally praising God to a chorus of 15,000 cheering people. Yet that is also the point: at what moment does the worshipper become the worshipped? Bono no doubt sees himself as a worshipper when he sings his songs to God, but that's a distinction that can be hard to maintain when 15,000 fans are screaming his name.
I lay this foundation here because, in my next post, I want to address the double-edged sword of Christian appropriation of U2 in worship.