by Peter J. Leithart 10.2.14
A decade ago, a critic at Christianity Today worried about U2’s “thin ecclesiology.” Though openly Christian, Bono and his crew have not associated with any church.
Writing at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman argues that the last several decades have bolstered the band’s theology. He connects their chariness about organized religion with their Dublin origins and their penchant for searching, doubt, and not finding what you’re looking for. Genuine as it was their doubt was highly theatrical: “Bono regularly dressed up as the devil, singing songs of romantic-religious anguish in costume. . . . there was something unseemly about his flaunting of faith and doubt. It was a peep show in which, instead of showing a little leg, Bono teased us with his spiritual uncertainty.” But this was the secret of the haunting power of their music: “the songs depended for their power on the dramatization of Bono’s ambivalence about God.”
Rothman argues that the band has now settled: “There used to be something improvisational and risky about their spirituality—it seemed as though it might go off the rails, veering into anger or despair. Now, for the most part, they focus on a positive message, expressed directly and without ambiguity. The band’s live shows have a liturgical feel: Bono, who regularly interpolates hymns and bits of Scripture into his live performances, leads the congregation with confidence.”In the process, they’ve reconciled with organized religion . . .
Read more at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2014/10/us-thickening-ecclesiology