‘We get to carry each other’: U2 as theologians

Everyone covering popular culture seems to want a piece of the “gospel according to ___” business on any available topic where people are willing to use the name of God. And of course, anytime you cast a net that wide, you find varying levels of success.

The sheer star wattage of U2 alone has made them fodder for lots of theological investigation, and of course the music’s good, too. They bring with them Christian credentials, so occasional books (e.g., Walk On, Get Up Off Your Knees) and the bemusing liturgical oddment known as the U2charist come and go.

Baylor University English professor and seminary writer-in-residence Greg Garrett (who blogs at The Other Jesus) has found the zeitgeist taproot with We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2. Since U2 are set to play in Arlington, TX, tomorrow, Dallas-area religion bloggers have flipped through Garrett’s book and chimed in.

Michael Landauer at the Dallas Morning News writes:

[M]aybe U2 is a church. To members of North Texas’ evangelical megachurches – institutions that dominate lives from Sunday worship to Friday bowling leagues – that may be hard to swallow. And to those who accuse Bono of having a messiah complex, it may seem arrogant. But what is the mission of a church, anyway? It’s roughly the same as what U2 sets out to do at a revival, um, I mean concert: “It’s to give you the tools, the energy and the inspiration to go out and change the world,” Garrett says.


Churches comfort the injured and the sick. They feed the hungry. They push us to act on our faith out in the world. And they give us strength when our faith is weak. In his book, Garrett shows examples of U2 doing all these things.

As a Catholic, I’m not going to stop attending Mass, but the U2’s music has gotten me through some of my darkest times. When nothing else would help, the band lifted me.

And, at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Christopher Quinn notes,

Garrett left his faith behind for many years but was always a U2 fan. A person can listen to the band’s music and its messages of hope and longing, failure and redemption without caring about the spiritual context from which it came, he said by phone.

“You can say, ‘They are a perfectly good rock band and work for peace and justice, and I can get on board with that, but don’t talk to me about Christianity,’ ” he said.

“But to leave those things out is to ignore where their passion for peace and justice come from.”

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