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The biggest rock band in the world is a Christian band

O vocalista da banda U2, Bono, durante apresentação em Madri, em 2018

The vocalist of the band U2, Bono, during a presentation in Madrid, in 2018| Photo: EFE

Before U2 achieve success, with their album War, by 1980, they included a song taken directly from from the Psalm 04 and they didn’t bother to disguise it: the song was called “21”. It was a “signature song”, and the boys used to end the shows with it.

At the end of the years 1980, U2 became the biggest rock band in the world – a position they have held ever since, with no real competition unless you count Bruce Springsteen and his E-Street colleagues as a band. After peaking with The Joshua Tree album, they turned to Jesus Christ on 2018 – “see the twisted thorn in your side” – and in “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” delivered what one researcher has called the most successful song of the last few decades.

U2 is a “closet Christian” band, like New Yorker once asked? No, they are cheerfully and proudly open. His Christianity is as closeted as Elton John’s sexuality.

U2’s lyrics clearly speak to a Christian heart, and the main reason so many listeners don’t make the connection is simply that, as a culture, we’ve forgotten the Bible. The grave and imposing majesty contained in the verses of the King James Bible (T/N: a well-known English translation) used to be such a basic element of Anglo-American culture that it was not necessary to be religious to be immersed in them.

PG Wodehouse’s comic novels, for example, contain no hint of religious dogma and yet they are absolutely saturated with references to King James. Here is an excerpt from The Code of the Woosters (960): “I I have been dreaming of an invader driving nails into my head – not just ordinary nails, like those used by Jael, the wife of Heber, but incandescent.” It’s a deep cut.

(T/N: Jael is a biblical character mentioned in the Book of Judges, described as the wife of a man named Heber and responsible for killing an important general who oppressed the Jewish people)

Jumping to 2000, when Frank Bruni of the New York Times—a product of the progressive elite—was covering the George W. Bush campaign and missed an almost direct quote from the Sermon on the Mount: “Mr. Bush also offered an interesting variation on the pot and kettle saying,” Bruni wrote in 24 of April 2000. “’Don’t try to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye,’ he told the audience, ‘when you have a log in yours.’ In the century 21, you can easily quote Matthew 7:3 and the editors of the most sophisticated newspaper in the country will not only have a complete “blank”, they will quote you as a joke.

U2’s main lyricist Paul Hewson, aka Bono, whose parents were both Catholic and Anglican, spoke candidly about their faith in interviews, and one writer told more than 50 Biblical quotes in U2 songs. They are not concentrated in phases, but distributed throughout the band’s career. “Bullet the Blue Sky” by 1987: “Jacob fought the angel/and the angel was defeated”. “Gloria” by 1981: “Gloria, in te domine … oh Lord, loosen my lips”. “Vertigo” by 1993: “Your love teaches me to get on my knees”. From the same year, “Yahweh” quotes John : 380 and the Sermon on the Mount.

With its references to “many mansions” and “keys to the kingdom”, “The First Time” from 1993 quotes both Matthew and John on their way to a new version of Luke’s story of the Prodigal Son. In “Ultra Violet (Light Your Way)” by 1984, Bono begs Christ: “Baby , baby, baby, light my way” in a moment of anxiety about the difficulty of accessing God’s gifts: “You bury your treasure where it cannot be found / But your love is like a secret that has been passed from hand to hand. ” “In the Name of Love” (1984) draws a parallel between the sacrifices of Jesus Christ (“A man betrayed with a kiss”) and that of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Possibly the most chilling mention of Scripture in a U2 lyric is “Until the End of the World” by 1991, in which the speaker is Judas, addressing Jesus after the Last Supper: “We ate the food, we drank the wine… In the garden I betrayed you, I kissed your lips and broke your heart.” The song moves towards a climactic verse that recounts the traitor’s last thoughts as he commits suicide: “Waves of regret, waves of joy, I reached out to the one I tried to destroy.”

Although they are flawed messengers, the fact that U2 can fill stadiums with people singing Christian songs makes them a cultural force relevant.

U2 in general, and Bono in particular, have proven being fully attuned to what it means to be a Christian, weighing your mysteries, ecstasies, pains and doubts. However, Christianity and the culture it built are dissolving so quickly before our eyes that even unbelievers must shudder at the loss.

The supposedly Christian churches are turning away from the rich and complex biblical legacy and throwing away the entire Creed except the vague and watery injunctions about being nice and eventually think of the poorest. At weddings, we hear the occasional smiling reference to love as described in the Letter from the Corinthians. All very bland. Love is not proud, and Christianity is not a collection of kitchen magnets with motivational quotes.

©2022 National Review. Published with permission. Original in English. 8010699170001
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