Tuesday, January 30, 2007
U2 as Worship Music?
I can't believe it took me four months to hear about this...
There is a book of sermons incoporating U2 lyrics as the main teaching points. I assume many have to do with social justice, which is certainly something the church should discuss more.
But there's more. I'm as big a fan of U2 as anyone, but I'm not sure what I think about this. The Episcopal church has been using U2 songs as part of a special Communion service. Apparently, over 150 churches in seven countries have done the service. It's not that I challenge the religious conviction of U2, but rather wonder about the validity of using songs not expressly written for worship. It raises the question of aesthetic use and interpretation. Is it legitimate to re-interpret U2 songs in a much more sacred context? Can a song about a sugar-daddy ("Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car") be re-directed toward God? Or what about "Beautiful Day?"
During concerts, including two that I attended, Bono has said "let's take it to church," setting a tone of worhip or at least meditation for the show. Several songs, including "40" and "Wake Up Dead Man," are meant to be taken as prayers, although "Wake Up" is almost a prayer without hope. Other songs have a distinctly religious component, but more as an exploration of spirituality rather than a decided, worshipful attitude.
Should worship be an expression of certainty, or can it express doubt? How much does authorial intent matter in worship? More than in general, or just the same? Certainly not less.
I am all for trying to make the church more culturally relevant, and it's hard for me to reject U2, because I think they are the best music group today that profoundly addresses Christian themes. But I still have a hard time with this. Maybe I have some liturgical reservations.