My friend Mike Rutter introduced me to this one on Saturday: the U2Charist, or Eucharist set to the music of U2. It is, apparently, all the rage among American Episcopalians; it is all over YouTube (though some videos have been removed for copyright reasons, and I suspect others will follow); and it is coming to the UK soon…
I love U2, especially the Achtung Baby and Zooropa albums. I find much of their music emotionally engaging and their lyrics thought-provoking, at what I would describe as a spiritual level. I believe that Bono speaks with a prophetic voice on issues of justice for the oppressed and alienated; speaks to the powerful on behalf of those who are powerless and have no voice of their own. I have no problem with the idea of a worship service at which we ask God to speak to us through the music (or other cultural artefacts) of our culture (such as God’s iPod); and I’m not precious about setting the Eucharist to music that was not originally written for that purpose, either.
But, I’ve always been uncomfortable with what I perceive as attempts by Christians to forcibly co-opt U2 as representatives for their particular doctrinal position; or as evidence that Christians aren’t necessarily social freaks (sorry – I saw the clothes and dancing on YouTube, and some of you really are!); or to ensnare the prophetic bird within the cage of an institutional form of Christian religion. Bono sang:
And I’d join the movement
If there was one I could believe in
Yeah I’d break bread and wine
If there was a church I could receive in
’Cos I need it now
(Acrobat, Achtung Baby)
I’m just not sure whether, in the U2Charist, he has found what he is looking for…
What do you think?