It's. Only. A. Rock. Band.

Ok, so I liked their latest album as much as anybody else — but what is it that causes U2’s fans to indulge in such theological embellishment? — Consider America magazine’s Tom Beaudoin:

After a break, the band was interviewed by a Good Morning America personality. She asked Bono about the lively sense of hope in their music, and he, perhaps intuitively edging away from seeming to endorse (what Bonhoeffer would have called) “cheap grace,” gently reframed the question about the music’s spiritual power, talking not first of hope but of the imperative “to be real,” …

Is it the immersive and unctuous witness allowed by “it’s been all over you” that made so many yell the phrase with such force? It certainly can let through the immanent revel that characterizes not only college life well-lived, but also (per Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age) our secular culture, and even a secular Christianity. “You’ve been all over, and it’s been all over you” could indeed stand as mystical anointing of bodied postmodern cultural life, which is (must I add?) not a simplistic “blessing” of everything, but rather a releasement to worldly fragility, contingency, beauty, unpredictability, and the gorgeous strangenesses that we make, and that we are.

The yearning that U2’s music exemplifies and elicits need not be assumed to stand in for the whole of a theological life in order to be the pleasure that it is as both harbinger and holder of hope-in-the-wanting. Whatever salvation is, through such finite formations is it allowed.

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