Is Bono Right?

u2 concert pic1I have seen U2 on a number of occasions over the years. But this week U2 was the best I have ever seen. Making things even better; my best-man, Allen, and his wife, Kendra, flew in from Kentucky just so we could all go together. I am a blessed man to have a best-man in Allen Stephens.

Bono said a couple of things I am still thinking about today.

He shouted out to the crowd, “Take me to church.” Implying that when the crowd would start singing along with Amazing Grace that we would all be “in church” or “be church.”

He also said, “We are into intimacy on a grand scale. Intimacy is the new punk rock.”

What do you think? Certainly there is no traditional definition of Church (or church) where Bono is correct. But, I am curious, especially if you have seen U2 live, was that concert in any way connected to church? (You can comment on “intimacy is the new punk rock” for bonus points.)

u2 concert pic3

Here is the set list from the concert.

Get on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stuck In A Moment
No Line on the Horizon
In A Little While
Unknown Caller
Until The End of the World
Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
I’ll Go Crazy – Remix
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name

Ultraviolet, With or Without You,  Moment of Surrender



Filed under A Good Life

15 responses to “Is Bono Right?

  1. Hadel

    Bono is half right; a Church is a gathering place for prayers and worship of God. However, it does not have to be a building or a structure.

    The gathering at the U2 Concert is not a Church although Bono was encouraging it and that is good. People were there to listen to good U2 music and not pray / worship God. So singing amazing grace does not make it a Church. My opinion.


  2. Natalie

    Matthew 18:20
    For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    Who is to say that the gathering has to begin its purpose to worship Jesus? (or whichever higher power, but as this is quoting Jesus’s words, I will refer to Jesus) If two or more people gather under different circumstances but then begin to pray together, would that passage still not apply?

    For many young people the corruption of Man’s Church has turned them away from the ways of God. And for many of them, music – particularly U2’s music – is their only passage back into the teachings of the Bible. They become open to the way of peace, good will, tolerance, and respect through the music.

  3. Chris M. Purdef

    There were times when I felt spiritually “uplifted” -if I even know what that means? Definitely not Orthodoxy, but also not without “food.”

    And U2 definitely uses a lot of the gospel element in their music. I like to think that Pride (In the Name of Love) is more a song about Christ than MLK.

  4. mkd

    I agree with Hadel:) the church is the one established by Jesus Christ
    There is nothing wrong with going to concerts except that it is not a church but an imitation of it

  5. mkd

    ps I like u2 music
    and it’s important not to be alone

  6. s-p

    “Take me to church” and “intimacy is the new punk rock” I think are related in the postmodern view of “church”. The U2 concert is what a lot of evangelical “worship” shoots for: an experience, but what makes the experience “church” is God overlaid onto it. Intimacy on a grand scale is everyone having the same “experience” all at once. Punk rock was visceral, experiential, mindless (or non-rational) and emotional: and if we define intimacy as a connection on an emotional, non-rational, visceral level then the goal of “church” is to provide that experience but making it “church” by adding God to it (or defining God AS it.) Amazing Grace is the perfect stadium experience vehicle because it is a Christian Tradition that almost everyone knows even if they aren’t Christians. Anyone, even atheists, can “go to the church of experience” by means of it at a U2 concert, but if you tried that with a bad band, a group of 10 drunks at a sleazy bar: no “churchgoing” is happening. The question for Bono (and the audience) is really, “What is the real difference between that song in the set and the rest of the experience of the concert for the audience if intimacy is the new punk rock, and by extention the definition of spiritual experience which is the new definition of “church”?” The issue is they almost have intimacy right: it is non-rational (noetic), it is experiential, and even materiality can and does provide a vehicle for intimacy with God and humans, and “church”, but in the end U2 has the caboose pulling the train: it is not generated by external props (and I’m sure they had some of the best), experience does not define Church, Church (intimacy with God on God’s terms) defines our experience.

  7. paul franklin haworth ii

    my first reaction is highly critical.
    my second reaction is simply to quote the christophers (who are probably quoting some chinese proverb): “better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
    i say bono is genuinely trying to bring light and he is old enough to understand the value of relationship (hence the intimacy/ punk rock equation). i am thrilled that there is even one flickering candle for Christ within the dark empire of rock and roll.
    as far as a rock concert being church, i have always disagreed with this notion, whether forward or reverse engineered.
    still, glory to God for the light of Christ wherever it shines.

  8. Rachel Sheriff

    I grew up in a secular home. U2 was my first “introduction” to God as hope. Their first concert that I went to years ago was very spiritually uplifting. Music can be good. Concerts can be very inspiring. I wouldn’t read too much into a few phrases Bono says. He is still confused when it comes to “Church”.

  9. Megan Click

    I think that Bono is right in the sense of a church being a place to praise and come into contact with God and Christ, but I do think that a one off event like a concert lacks the sense of place and commitment that belonging in a local church has. The thing about a u2 concert is that it feels like it addresses everything. All of my life: my concerns about the world, my sorrow for my sins, my love for Christ, and my love for my husband are addressed in U2 songs. I often close my eyes when I’m at a u2 concert and sometimes I feel like it is easier to sing their songs to God than the songs in my church hymnal. It is true that not everyone is there for the same reason, but I think that God can move even when there are nonbelievers around. I certainly believe that a u2 concert can be as much of a “church” as most church sanctioned bands and singers.
    However, I am not sure that it can be called a church in a local community kind of way. Sure, I can(and have) meet other u2 fans and connect with them after the show, but it usually isn’t a lasting, weekly commitment.

  10. vargh3se

    How can there be Church when there is no Eucharist?

    Sadly, many Christians (including Orthodox) just have lost that awareness and belief of the real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. When this is lost, then Church does diminish into entertainment or self-satisfaction.

    Fr Alexander Schmemann has written books on this “Eucharistic crisis”, and to borrow from his book “The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom”:

    “… the very word ‘church’ means a ‘gathering’ or an ‘assembly’, and to assemble as Church meant, in the minds of the early Christians, to constitute a gathering whose purpose is to reveal, to realize, the Church. This gathering is eucharistic – its end and fulfillment lies in being the setting wherein the ‘Lord’s supper’ is accomplished, wherein Eucharistic ‘breaking of bread’ takes place”

    This is clear in Scripture as well (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:17-22). The purpose of Church is clearly much more than just 2 or 3 gathering together … God is everywhere, but worship of God is not spontaneous, whimsical or dependent on a popular leader or entertainer. He is the Almighty, Lord of all Creation … as a generation, we seem to continue to slip further and further away.

  11. Ron Lucarelli

    “Ecclesia”. the common word church is translated from was originally a select civil body, summoned for a particular purpose. So, the writers of the New Testament turned the meaning of ecclesia to describe a Christian body of people called for a particular purpose, i.e., a body of Christians called by God to come out of the Roman and Judean system to come together into a separate civil community devoted to Christ. It meant a politically autonomous body of Christians under no king but Jesus; under no other jurisdiction but that of Jesus. No man ruled them! Only Christ. (And that was the reason these same Christians ran into trouble with civil authorities).
    Bono invoked the word “church” to represent that gathering at that point, one that was called out for a specific purpose–in this case, Bono’s purpose of honoring the king, Jesus.
    Bono was being inclusive, utilizing his gift of evangelism to draw all there to a new intimacy with Jesus. Where do evangelists work? Well, traditionally in what we now call churches, but historically evangelists went to the public square, where in the best case scenario, people then and there became intimate with their Savior. And in Acts, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit caused such a noisy stir, is where the church was first expanded: “14Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: …
    41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
    42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
    The crowd of unbelievers that were drawn by the sound and listened to and acted on Peter’s words essentially were the first church!
    Today, it seems God is encouraging this same paradigm: a church without walls. As imperfect as Bono’s evangelistic (good news) message may have seemed to some, the Lord was able to bring some into His church that night and hopefully continue “devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ”
    If that ain’t the church birthed by the grace of God, I don’t know what is!

    • Fr. James Coles

      Thank you Ron, and everyone, for all the comments on this post. I thought I might include here my teacher’s writing about the Church. Hope it is helpful to our conversation.
      in Christ,
      Fr. James
      Church as a word means those called as a particular people to perform a particular task. The Christian Church is the assembly of God’s chosen people called to keep his word and to do his will and his work in the world and in the heavenly kingdom.

      In the Scriptures the Church is called the Body of Christ (Rom 12; 1 Cor 10, 12; Col 1) and the Bride of Christ (Eph 5; Rev 21). It is likened as well to God’s living Temple (Eph 2; 1 Pet 2) and is called “the pillar and bulwark of Truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

      One Church

      The Church is one because God is one, and because Christ and the Holy Spirit are one. There can only be one Church and not many. And this one Church, because its unity depends on God, Christ, and the Spirit, may never be broken. Thus, according to Orthodox doctrine, the Church is indivisible; men may be in it or out of it, but they may not divide it.

      According to Orthodox teaching, the unity of the Church is man’s free unity in the truth and love of God. Such unity is not brought about or established by any human authority or juridical power, but by God alone. To the extent that men are in the truth and love of God, they are members of His Church.

      Orthodox Christians believe that in the historical Orthodox Church there exists the full possibility of participating totally in the Church of God, and that only sins and false human choices (heresies) put men outside of this unity. In non-Orthodox Christian groups the Orthodox claim that there are certain formal obstacles, varying in different groups, which, if accepted and followed by men, will prevent their perfect unity with God and will thus destroy the genuine unity of the Church (e.g., the papacy in the Roman Church).

      Within the unity of the Church man is what he is created to be and can grow for eternity in divine life in communion with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The unity of the Church is not broken by time or space and is not limited merely to those alive upon the earth. The unity of the Church is the unity of the Blessed Trinity and of all of those who live with God: the holy angels, the righteous dead, and those who live upon the earth according to the commandments of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Holy Church

      The Church is holy because God is holy, and because Christ and the Holy Spirit are holy. The holiness of the Church comes from God. The members of the Church are holy to the extent that they live in communion with God.

      Within the earthly Church, people participate in God’s holiness. Sin and error separate them from this divine holiness as it does from the divine unity. Thus, the earthly members and institutions of the Church cannot be identified as such with the Church as holy.

      The faith and life of the Church on earth is expressed in its doctrines, sacraments, scriptures, services, and saints which maintain the Church’s essential unity, and which can certainly be affirmed as “holy” because of God’s presence and action in them.

      Catholic Church

      The Church is also catholic because of its relation to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The word catholic means full, complete, whole, with nothing lacking. God alone is full and total reality; in God alone is there nothing lacking.

      Sometimes the catholicity of the Church is understood in terms of the Church’s universality throughout time and space. While it is true that the Church is universal — for all men at all times and in all places — this universality is not the real meaning of the term “catholic” when it is used to define the Church. The term “catholic” as originally used to define the Church (as early as the first decades of the second century) was a definition of quality rather than quantity. Calling the Church catholic means to define how it is, namely, full and complete, all-embracing, and with nothing lacking.

      Even before the Church was spread over the world, it was defined as catholic. The original Jerusalem Church of the apostles, or the early city-churches of Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, or Rome, were catholic. These churches were catholic — as is each and every Orthodox church today — because nothing essential was lacking for them to be the genuine Church of Christ. God Himself is fully revealed and present in each church through Christ and the Holy Spirit, acting in the local community of believers with its apostolic doctrine, ministry (hierarchy), and sacraments, thus requiring nothing to be added to it in order for it to participate fully in the Kingdom of God.

      To believe in the Church as catholic, therefore, is to express the conviction that the fullness of God is present in the Church and that nothing of the “abundant life” that Christ gives to the world in the Spirit is lacking to it (Jn 10:10). It is to confess exactly that the Church is indeed “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:23; also Col 2:10).

      Apostolic Church

      The word apostolic describes that which has a mission, that which has “been sent” to accomplish a task.

      Christ and the Holy Spirit are both “apostolic” because both have been sent by the Father to the World. It is not only repeated in the Scripture on numerous occasions how Christ has been sent by the Father, and the Spirit sent through Christ from the Father, but it also has been recorded explicitly that Christ is “the apostle … of our confession” (Heb 3:1).

      As Christ was sent from God, so Christ Himself chose and sent His apostles. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you … receive ye the Holy Spirit,” the risen Christ says to His disciples. Thus, the apostles go out to the world, becoming the first foundation of the Christian Church.

      In this sense, then, the Church is called apostolic: first, as it is built upon Christ and the Holy Spirit sent from God and upon those apostles who were sent by Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit; and secondly, as the Church in its earthly members is itself sent by God to bear witness to His Kingdom, to keep His word and to do His will and His works in this world.

      Orthodox Christians believe in the Church as they believe in God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. Faith in the Church is part of the creedal statement of Christian believers. The Church is herself an object of faith as the divine reality of the Kingdom of God given to men by Christ and the Holy Spirit; the divine community founded by Christ against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18).

      The Church, and faith in the Church, is an essential element of Christian doctrine and life. Without the Church as a divine, mystical, sacramental, and spiritual reality, in the midst of the fallen and sinful world there can be no full and perfect communion with God. The Church is God’s gift to the world. It is the gift of salvation, of knowledge and enlightenment, of the forgiveness of sins, of the victory over darkness and death. It is the gift of communion with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit. This gift is given totally, once and for all, with no reservations on God’s part. It remains forever, until the close of the ages: invincible and indestructible. Men may sin and fight against the Church, believers may fall away and be separated from the Church, but the Church itself, the “pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) remains forever.
      … [God] has put all things under His [Christ’s] feet and has made Him the head over all things for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

      … for through Him we … have access in one Spirit, to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

      … Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that he might sanctify her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish … This is a Great Mystery … Christ and the Church … (Eph 1:21-23; 2:19-22; 5:25-32).

  12. If you walk into any contemporary christian church these days – you will see the emphasis placed on pa and visual equipment, ipods and having a fresh cup of coffee available. more emphasis is placed on changing god to fit what secular life is today, than realize god has been around 15 billion years and really has no reason to change.

    he also doesn’t need racks of amplifiers and led walls to get his message. perhaps few realize the world is too noisy to actually hear gods small voice, even in his modern church?

    the ticket prices might be in line with tithing 10% of your income for a show.

  13. I have been going to church my whole life, yet, when Bono emphatically said “Let’s go to church!” it was the most spiritual I have felt. I think the Church should learn a thing or two from U2. Maybe then their attendance rates wouldn’t be plummeting.

  14. Chachie

    my comment is mostly directed at Fr. Cole who reminds me of a joke my father used to tell where a farmer was the only one who showed up to a sermon. At the end of many long hours the preacher stepped down and asked the farmer for his impressions. The farmer replied that every morning he goes out and feeds his cows but that if one morning only one or two cows show up he certainly wouldn’t feed them all the hay!
    Bono is in the entertainment business first and foremost. He will have to pass through a needles eye someday. As a fervent fan my prayers are ever with him. I think the writer of the blog as well as the readers would do better to focus on the concert on the hill that Christ gave. All you need is love folks. Christ is love and love is all you need. Rock n roll!

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