Part 2: Saints

Our look at U2’s spiritual journey continues. In the first installment, I looked at the pain Bono suffered as a young man desperate for his father’s approval. This need for acceptance, along with the death of his mother, made Bono a spiritual seeker from an early age. In 1976, Bono–along with Edge and Larry Mullen–became a born-again Christian.

These three members of U2 became part of a Christian community called Shalom. It was a serious group. That’s why I call these guys “saints” during this phase. Shalom had weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings, and the like. They were working hard at being saints. But the boys in U2 began to feel something was amiss.

Check out how Larry Mullen, the drummer, recalls those times:

“I felt that the meetings were starting to get scary, people were becoming really radical. Myself and my father had come to blows over the whole thing… Shalom continued to get more and more intense, there were frequent prayer meetings and considerable pressure to attend every one. It was as if you were awarded stripes for being there, and if you didn’t show up, somebody was asking why. It was starting to feel all wrong.”

“The idea was to create a Christian community, where people would live and work under strict Christian standards… But there was something terribly wrong with the concept. It was like the bigger commitment you made, the closer you were to heaven. It was a really screwed-up view of the world and nothing to do with what I now understand a Christian faith to be.”

In other words, Bono and company had found grace, but it quickly turned to law. Bono remembers: “[Edge] was feeling at this point that he couldn’t serve both God and man. I decided I couldn’t either, so we both quit.”

In that version of Christianity, apparently, you could not play music in a rock band. It was the same kind of thinking that has driven countless Christian converts to burn their Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd CDs. It’s the same kind of thinking that leads people to divide Christians into “good” and “bad”–like Jeff discussed in his post on Carrie Prejean. And it’s the kind of thinking that is very far from the heart of “the friend of sinners.”

To read part 3, click here.