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Old 03-20-2004, 09:00 AM   #1
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U2: Modern Day Prophets?

The Word according to U2: Irish band subject of clergy's sermons
By Erin Hemme Froslie
The Forum - 03/13/2004

Raised outside the church, the Rev. Shawnthea Monroe-Mueller remembers the moment Christianity began to look cool.

She counts watching U2's video "Gloria" as one of her first spiritual experiences.

Now the pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Moorhead, she is one of two local pastors whose work is included in a collection of sermons inspired by the lyrics of the rock music phenomenon.

"Get Up Off Your Knees" was compiled by Cowley Publications in Cambridge, Mass. It includes the sermons of 23 preachers from England, Ireland, Canada and United States, who express perspectives from a wide range of denominations.

Monroe-Mueller references the song "One" and 1 Corinthians 13 in a Valentine's Day sermon on the nature of love.

The Rev. Jamie Parsley, assistant clergy at Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral in Fargo, includes lyrics from "If God Will Send His Angels" in his sermon on prosperity.

Faith frequently finds expression in popular music. Whether it's Joan Osborne's "One of Us" or Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," theological thought can appear in the most unlikely places.

But as fans of U2 know, the band has consistently expressed faith through complex lyrics that can be interpreted in a number of different ways.

"Like Scripture, what they (U2) sing about bears repeated listening and reveals more, the more you listen," Monroe-Mueller says.

She points to "Elevation," a hit song off the band's 2000 album "All That You Can't Leave Behind."

The first time she heard it, Monroe-Mueller thought it was a song about a woman. The second time, a song about Jesus. Now she thinks it's a song about God speaking to humanity.

"I'm not saying U2 means it to be that way, but it's interesting enough to keep digging," she says.

Dipping into pop culture for everyday references is one way preachers can keep the Gospel message fresh for contemporary worshippers, both Parsley and Monroe-Mueller say.

What makes U2 such a powerful reference is its ability to witness without alienating listeners, they say.

Unlike Christian rock bands, this rock band is Christian, a not-so-subtle difference that has allowed its message to be enjoyed by both faithful and secular audiences.

"Their message is strong and powerful, but it's not so in-your-face that people push away from it," Parsley says.

In particular, singer Bono has used his prominence as a celebrity to challenge the Western world to express faith through social activism, whether it's fighting AIDS in Africa or addressing Third World debt.

"They (the band members) live faith out in a way that I want to live out my Christianity," Monroe-Mueller says. "It's not the first thing you notice, but it's key to who I am."

The collection of sermons in "Get Up Off Your Knees" isn't the only proof U2 is a lens through which some contemporary Christians view their faith. In January, a compilation of U2 songs covered by contemporary Christian artists was released.

Eugene Peterson, professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, goes as far as to call U2 a prophet of the times. Like the prophets of old, the band makes the faithful look at God in a new light.

"Prophets confront us with the sovereign presence of God in our lives. If we won't face up, they grab us by the scruff of our necks and shake us into attention," he wrote in the foreword of the "Get Up Off Your Knees."

"Amos crafted poems, Jeremiah wept sermons, Isaiah alternately rebuked and comforted, Ezekiel did street theater," he wrote. "U2 writes songs and goes on tour, singing them."


About the book:

"Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog." Edited by Raewynne J. Whiteley and Beth Maynard. Published by Cowley Publications, Cambridge, Mass. $14.95 paperback. Available at Zandbroz Variety in Fargo.
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"The truth is when that singer is saying something that comes from right down within him, and it affects you right down within you. That's when you start talking about great music, as distinct from nice music." -- Bono
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Old 03-23-2004, 10:33 AM   #2
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A modern day prophet is one who "speaks forth" God's Word.

I'd call U2 modern day Psalmists.
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Old 03-31-2004, 02:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
A modern day prophet is one who "speaks forth" God's Word.

I'd call U2 modern day Psalmists.
I think "speaking forth God's word" is a rather broad statement, how do you know when it is God's word?

I would call U2 modern day prophets in the tradition of Amos and Jesus; calling for social justice.
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Old 04-01-2004, 11:46 AM   #4
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I think "speaking forth God's word" is a rather broad statement, how do you know when it is God's word?
When it comes from Scripture. "Speaking forth" is boldly declaring God's Word.
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Old 04-01-2004, 12:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


When it comes from Scripture. "Speaking forth" is boldly declaring God's Word.
I would say that a lot of U2's material can be related to scripture.

If not U2, who would be a modern day prohet for you?
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Old 04-01-2004, 01:16 PM   #6
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I'd say there are some good biblical teachers who boldly teach Scripture and who can teach the personal application as well. I'd say a prophet moves one to action or personal change.

TO me, U2 weaves Scripture into their lyrics, giving us something to relate to on a more spiritual/emotional level.
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Old 04-01-2004, 03:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I'd say there are some good biblical teachers who boldly teach Scripture and who can teach the personal application as well. I'd say a prophet moves one to action or personal change.

TO me, U2 weaves Scripture into their lyrics, giving us something to relate to on a more spiritual/emotional level.
By that definition, U2 are indeed prophetic to me then.
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Old 06-27-2004, 01:57 AM   #8
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I sent a link of Bono's interview on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2004 to family & friends. My Pastor's response was:

"Wow... He really is a prophet."



http://www.worldpressfreedomday.org/

Oh, and I LOVE this book!
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Old 07-25-2004, 01:13 PM   #9
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My humble opinion.

"- Fuck the revolution! They don't talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What's the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where's the glory in that? -"

I think you've heard that in its entirety.. I believe that's something God would like to say to us. And that is just one example out of many.
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Old 07-27-2004, 12:33 PM   #10
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I'm with nbc here (what should I call you?). A prophet is the medium between God and humanity. I doubt U2 would consider themselves "prophets" as they don't receive the Word directly from God; they receive the Word as it has already been received and written down in Scripture. I consider Bono a spiritual leader - someone who encourages a stronger relationship with God and between humans, but he's no prophet. After Christ, we've had no need for prophets since Christ fulfilled all of the prophecies. Everything we need to know has already been revealed through Him.
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Old 07-27-2004, 01:20 PM   #11
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I always have considered Bono and U2 as men who happen to speak from a very loud microphone. Therefore, the things they say are heard much more than what you or I would have to say. So, I dont consider them prophetic at all. Rather I consider Bono to be an ordinary man making the most of the audience he has gathered.
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Old 08-29-2004, 10:27 PM   #12
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I believe U2 are modern day prophets. In this day and age we aren't going to have a traditional "old school" prophets out on the village green. I mean in this day and age, rock stars would have the perfect set up to be modern day prophets...world tours with thier insights...it's perfection. I definetly think they are because there are so many coming out of thier concerts feeling "something" spiritual whethere or not they recognize what that "something" is that is of little regards...and also I have seen Bono get entire crowds misty eyed and chanting to '40' or just merely hallelujah, which literally means 'praise God'. Without a doubt in mind they are.
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