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Old 02-23-2005, 07:24 AM   #1
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(02-23-2005) Calvin College on U2 - ChristianityToday*

Calvin College on U2

College Class on U2 Explores Religious Influence of a Rock Band

By Charles Honey, Religion News Service


Dwarfed by a giant bank of TV monitors, the rock star Bono gyrates across the arena stage—a dancing shaman channeling the ecstasy of thousands of U2 fans.

"In waves of regret, in waves of joy, I reached for the one I tried to destroy," he sings passionately. "You said you'd wait till the end of the world."

Hands reach out to him as he walks among the faithful. Video clips show tidal waves crashing, lightning flashing and a woman wailing.

The soundtrack to apocalypse? No, it's a splice of a TV special about a U2 tour of the early 1990s.

It's also a sign of increased interest in the spiritual significance of this immensely popular Irish rock group.

The images are taken in by a class of Calvin College students, who are probing what Bono and his band have to say as Christians to the world of pop culture.

"You hear U2 everywhere," said Bemis, one of 14 students gathered in a Calvin video theater on a recent morning. "They have so much more influence as Christians than most other people who claim to be Christian."

Tim Gruppen calls them "brutally honest."

"They say a lot of things many Christians would be ashamed to 'fess up to, some of the struggles they have," Gruppen argues.

But why a class on U2, one of the world's most adored rock bands, at a conservative Christian college?

"Religion and rock 'n' roll can meld together," insists Katie Arbogast. "U2 does the best job of it."

Many scholars and clergy agree. They say U2 is an important spiritual influence on a youth culture more enamored of popular media than of the church.

"What they have to offer is a vision," said Mark Mulder, who is teaching the U2 course during Calvin's three-week interim semester. "They're saying there's something wrong with the world. But at the same time, they offer a hope. The gospel message is embedded within."

Mulder, who teaches sociology, sees the band bringing a Christian worldview to a "very elaborate cultural critique." In that critique, they share common ground with other rock bands such as Radiohead and movies such as The Matrix trilogy, he said.

"If you listen hard enough, there are a lot of things going on in pop culture which really question the ordering of the world today, and offer a vision of what things could and should be like," said Mulder.

The Rev. Beth Maynard also sees a spiritual surge in pop culture, from the rock groups Switchfoot and Evanescence to the TV show "Joan of Arcadia."

"We're in a phase as a society right now where a great deal of theological reflection is happening in pop culture," said Maynard, an Episcopal priest from Fairhaven, Mass. "U2 were in the vanguard of that."


To read entire article, please visit the ChristianityToday website.

Used with permission.
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:21 AM   #2
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Re: (02-23-2005) Calvin College on U2 - ChristianityToday*

Quote:
Originally posted by HelloAngel

Mulder, who teaches sociology, sees the band bringing a Christian worldview to a "very elaborate cultural critique." In that critique, they share common ground with other rock bands such as Radiohead and movies such as The Matrix trilogy, he said.

"If you listen hard enough, there are a lot of things going on in pop culture which really question the ordering of the world today, and offer a vision of what things could and should be like," said Mulder.
This is certainly true, but the reverse is equally true: U2 are likewise enriching the Christian worldview by introducing it to that 'very elaborate cultural critique' drawn from their favorite aspects of secular pop culture. Rock musicians have been loudly and insistently 'questioning the ordering of the world today' since the 1960s--nothing new about that. Rock was never simply about hedonism and blind rebellion, anymore than Christianity was simply about punishment and shame.
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:21 AM   #3
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I think Calvin College is here in Michigan... wonder if I could audit the class
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Old 02-23-2005, 10:28 AM   #4
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at the risk of sounding lame I must say his name alone "Mulder" makes me want to take the class. I bet I would get kicked out as soon as they started talking about POP.
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Old 02-23-2005, 11:16 AM   #5
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AMEN, Baby!
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Old 02-23-2005, 05:37 PM   #6
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I'm actually a Calvin College student, but I wasn't able to take the class. I was busy with my required Optical Mineralogy and Igneous Petrology class instead - sounds like fun, huh? There are some other Interferencers from Calvin as well, but they were off-campus in Africa. So I don't think any of us got to take it. I hear though that by the end of the class, a lot of the people got a bit burned out on U2. I guess that's what happens, though, when you have a three-hour-a-day-for-three-weeks about nothing but U2.

It's a good day for our school though, as even ESPN.com has a mention about us: (http://proxy.espn.go.com/chat/sports...?event_id=1194). Seems like the results might be skewed just a tad, huh?
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Old 02-23-2005, 07:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by fmattyh
I hear though that by the end of the class, a lot of the people got a bit burned out on U2. I guess that's what happens, though, when you have a three-hour-a-day-for-three-weeks about nothing but U2.
Not so sure about getting burned out in that short period of time considering how much time I spend on here and other places. I would find it totally facinating. But then Iwould..
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:43 PM   #8
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Not so sure about getting burned out in that short period of time considering how much time I spend on here and other places. I would find it totally facinating. But then Iwould..
Ah, but have you ever had U2 homework? That could be enough to burn anyone out on anything.
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:12 AM   #9
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I'd do U2 homework
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Old 02-24-2005, 08:14 AM   #10
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The content of this article aside, I don't like when Christian's necessarily take "credit" for U2.

I grew up in a evangelical Christian home, and have since rejected all but the faith of Christianity. I feel my beliefs, coincidentally, are very much in line with some members of U2. Believer, but don't have a church (and am not looking for one) to believe in.

The annoying part, however, is when I was growing up and even now when I talk to my parents or some of their friends they say "you know, U2 are Christians!!!" That may be true, but I doubt very much that Bono would be happy with that moniker. I just hate when Evangelical's claim them, as if U2 is out spreading their worldview. It is an erroneous over-simplification I think. Yes, they may have religious overtones and themes, may be believers...but U2 is not a Christian Band.

If that were, in fact true, my U2 fan days would be over.

Also, I can't help but love when Bono uses the F word just to mess with them.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I thought it was relevant to the thread.
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Old 02-24-2005, 09:45 AM   #11
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"rock and roll by definition -- and popular music -- is about sexuality" - Gene Simmons of KISS

“Rock has always been the devil’s music, you can’t convince me that it isn’t. I honestly believe everything I’ve said—I believe rock and roll is dangerous. … I feel that we’re only heralding something even darker than ourselves” (DAVID BOWIE, Rolling Stone, February 12, 1976, p. 83).

“I felt like a hollow temple filled with many spirits, each one passing through me, each inhabiting me for a little time and then leaving to be replaced by another” (John Lennon, People, Aug. 22, 1988, p. 70).

Rock'n'Roll and Christianity are antethetical. I realize that's not going to be too popular around here.
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Old 02-24-2005, 08:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Acrobat8
The content of this article aside, I don't like when Christian's necessarily take "credit" for U2.

I grew up in a evangelical Christian home, and have since rejected all but the faith of Christianity. I feel my beliefs, coincidentally, are very much in line with some members of U2. Believer, but don't have a church (and am not looking for one) to believe in.

The annoying part, however, is when I was growing up and even now when I talk to my parents or some of their friends they say "you know, U2 are Christians!!!" That may be true, but I doubt very much that Bono would be happy with that moniker. I just hate when Evangelical's claim them, as if U2 is out spreading their worldview. It is an erroneous over-simplification I think. Yes, they may have religious overtones and themes, may be believers...but U2 is not a Christian Band.

If that were, in fact true, my U2 fan days would be over.

Also, I can't help but love when Bono uses the F word just to mess with them.

Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but I thought it was relevant to the thread.
this is exactly how i feel! i didnt grow up in an evangelical home but my brother is a christian. i love when his friends tell me things like "u2 used to be a christian band" so maybe people shouldnt annalyze their beliefs when they are laying it all out there in clear english how they feel about their faith and how they feel about religion. i am very uncomfortable with some of these christians thinking they have u2 all figured out. thanks for sharing your thoughts, i totally agree with you.
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