Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective

Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective Description Weaving The Threads Of U S Lyrics, Scripture, And Theology Into One Cord, This Book Tracks The Irish Rock Band S Theological Insights And Perspectives Through Their Poetry Along This Lyrical Path We Encounter The Characters Of The Drowning Man, The Wanderer, And The Sojourner Though Seemingly Different, They Are One And The Same, And They Represent Each Of Us If You Re A U Fan, A Theologian, Or Both, Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics U In Theological Perspective Will Offer A Different Angle Of Popular Culture And Theology Endorsements Vagacs Isn T Imposing A Theological Agenda On A Secular Band Rather, He Is Taking Up The Theological Invitation, Indeed The Theological Challenge, Inherent In The Artistic Vision Of U This Book Isn T So Much A Theological Exposition Of The Meaning Of U Lyrics As It Is An Entering Into A Conversation With The Band Because There Are Important Matters That Need To Be Discussed, Places Of Darkness That Need Some Light This Book Opens Our Eyes To Light That Is Shining In The Midst Of The Darkness Of A Postmodern World U Is Not The Light Of The World Jesus Is Rob Vagacs Joins U In Following That Light, Helps That Light To Shine Brighter Through His Theological Engagement With Their Music, And Invites Us To Walk In That Light Brian Walsh, From The Introduction Too Much Christian Writing About U Is Hampered By Not Really Being About U At All Its Grasp Of The Band S Vision Stops At Citing A Few Obvious Lines From The Big Hits Vagacs Goes Deeper, Inviting Us To An Imaginative Roundtable Where Albums, B Sides, And Live Performances Join Biblical And Contemporary Authors In Conversation On The Great U Themes Of Exile, Eschatology, Justice, And Redemption And A Stimulating Conversation It Is Alert To Intertextual Echoes, Always Ready With An Apt Citation, And As Interested In Analyzing The Wanderer S Postmodern Disorientation As In Extolling The Joys To Be Tasted In That Other Place Even Those Who Ve Read Every Word Ever Written About U Will Find Some New Ideas Here, And, I Hope, Follow Them Home Beth Maynard Co Editor Of Get Up Off Your Knees Preaching The U Catalog Vagacs Manages The Near Impossible He Makes Fun To Ponder Observations No One Else Has Made Before About U And Their Death And Resurrection Show He Does It By Allowing The Songs To Comment On Each Other And By Letting Bright Lights Like Walter Brueggemann, Richard Bauckham And Trevor Hart In On The Conversation Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics Is A Lovely Book Angela Pancella Staff Writer, Atu About The Contributor S Robert Vagacs Received His Theological Training At Wycliffe College, University Of Toronto He And His Wife Reside In Waterloo, Ontario

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  • Paperback
  • 116 pages
  • Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective
  • Robert Vagacs
  • English
  • 11 April 2019
  • 9781597523363

10 thoughts on “Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective

  1. says:

    I have the same feelings about this book that I have for the movie Million Dollar Hotel that Bono wrote and Wim Wenders directed Great idea Great setup Not so hot with the execution Robert Vagacs is a theological student at the University of Toronto, and a huge U2 fan This is true of his mentor, Brian Walsh as well In the foreword, Walsh narrates his own experience of encountering God at a U2 concert Walsh almost didn t go to the show, as the daughter of close friends lay in a hospital bed on the brink of death But at the suggestion of one of his students, Walsh and friends decided to go to the concert anyway, feeling a little guilty at the prospect of enjoying such a spectacle of entertainment while their friends suffered just down the road at the hospital What Walsh found at the concert, however, was not mere entertainment, but a worship experience As U2 sang about life and love and death and pain, Walsh was intermittently transported to a place of lament and then prayer and ultimately to a place of joy and hope This was no mere concert It was a worship experience Unfortunately, Vagacs writing cannot match that of Walsh, and thus the book goes down hill from there Vagacs does an admirable job, however, of applying Walter Brueggeman s hermenuetical framework to the U2 catalog Brueggeman in Psalms and the Life of Faith argues that one can see the Psalms through the lens of orientation disorientation reorientation Psalms of orientation would include wisdom psalms where everything in creation is in order God is sovereign, the righteous are blessed, and the wicked are dealt with according to their crimes e.g., Psalms 104, 127, 128, 131, 133, 145 Psalms of disorientation include psalms of lament Psalms 88, 42, 44 among others These psalms cry out in pain for the present circumstances and long for another time and place And lastly there are psalms of reorientation These picture not just a return to the good old days, but picture a new, hopeful, and imaginative reality What once was impossible is now possible Grace makes beauty out of ugly things This idea is not just a way to classify the psalms, but also a way to understand spiritual journey For example, one can read the great Pilgrim s Progress through the lens of orientation disorientation reorientation And, so argues Vagacs, you can understand U2 s poetry through this lens as well Vagacs makes mention of U2 s early work, but he really begins with The Joshua Tree This is an album of orientation This is protest poetry, giving the listener a clear picture of the world as U2 sees it the good, the bad, and the ugly Songs like Bullet the Blue Sky, In God s Country, and Mothers of the Disappeared are both descriptive and offer critiques of Western culture and particularly the United States But there is also a longing for something in the record, an eschatological quality Bono sings about a longing for the kingdom of God to come in its fullness This is something they have yet to see I Still Haven t Found What I m Looking For but expect to come Where the Streets Have No Name The 1990 s were U2 s period of disorientation The trilogy of albums Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop are much darker than U2 s earlier work The songs are filled with doom, gloom, irony and satire Vagacs argues that in these albums U2 is describing the Babylonian state of Zooropa Zooropa is the anti matter of Where the Streets Have No Name It offers no fulfillment, no certainty, no hope, no compass, no map, no religion Zooropa is hell on earth Love is Blindness is a funeral procession, depicting the hopelessness of a loveless world The Wanderer might serve as the archetypal song for all three albums Bono sings of a city without a soul, under an atomic sky, where the ground won t turn, and the rain it burnsLove is clockworks and cold steel Vagacs explains, This city robs its citizens of any semblance of community Identity is comprised of slogans This city is the opposite of Where the Streets Have No Name Instead of hope, there is consumerism Instead of shalom, there is conformity Instead of life, there is only numbness Welcome to the new and improved BabylonWelcome to the wasteland called Zooropa Zooropa leaves The Wanderer feeling less than human, as in Numb and Lemon And since there is little purpose or destination to his travels, self indulgence seems to be the way to go in Playboy Mansion and Mofo But this ultimately leads to dissatisfaction and despair, questioning if God exists or, if He does, whether He cares in Wake Up Dead Man Vagacs misses a great chance here to elaborate on this period of disorientation by analyzing the Zoo TV and Discoteque tours He mentions them briefly, but a chapter talking about the gluttony of Zoo TV and the long hangover of Discoteque would have been appropriate After all, the irony and humor of Bono singing Desire to himself in a mirror while wearing a gold suit, and dressing as MacPhisto and throwing copies of The Screwtape Letters into the crowd, and playing the part of Judas while singing Until the End of the World would really have bolstered Vagacs argument Lastly, Vagacs places U2 s next two albums, All That You Can t Leave Behind and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in the category of reorientation The book came out before U2 s most recent release, No Line on the Horizon Vagacs cites Salmon Rushdie recalling a meal in Bono s home in Killiney, south Dublin, when German film director Wim Wenders announced that artists must no longer use irony Plain speaking, he argued, was necesary now Communication should be direct, and anything that might create confusion should be eschewed This is exactly what U2 did with their next two albums Bono himself has said that the theme of All That You Can t Leave Behind is joy And on the Elevation tour he shouts It s all about soul What a contrast to move from Wake Up Dead Man to Beautiful Day The lyrics also intimate a move from the wanderer to the sojourner Now there is a destination The cover art suggests this as the band stands at an airport in front of gate J33 3, a reference to Jeremiah 33 3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know Bono has referred to this verse as God s telephone number Walk On speaks of the journey to a better place and In a Little While seems to answer the timing questions to songs like I Still Haven t Found What I m Looking For and 40 Vertigo consciously juxtaposes the trials of Christ in the wilderness with the disorientation of life in this time, but both records ultimately are hopeful in God s providence and the coming of His kingdom All Because of You and Yahweh are most obvious in making this point It s hard for me to admit that I didn t really like this book Especially because I agree with Vagacs premise, and I LOVE U2 But the book didn t do much for me I found the book wanting because, after the first chapter, Vagacs mainly strings together U2 lyrics that seem to support his point I was hoping for than that More reflection, biographical sketches and anecdotes about the band, engagement with their performances as well as their lyrics In some ways, this book suffers from the same deficiency as Mark Pinsky s The Gospel According to the Simpsons The premise is good, but it is workman like from thereon out A book about The Simpsons ought to be than descriptive It ought to be funny And Pinsky s book wasn t And a book about U2 s poetry ought to be than insightful It ought to be beautiful And this book wasn t.

  2. says:

    Brief but useful theological look at one way of seeing the U2 catalog Wish he could have gotten his permissions in line so he could have quoted extensively from the lyrics Thanks to my son James for gifting me with this fine work.

  3. says:

    Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics provides an exploration of U2 through the theological lens of Walter Brueggeman s idea of how the process of disorientation, orientation, and reorientation proceeds throughout the Bible and the story of God It is an interesting idea for an examination of the work of U2, although it has become fairly common for the band s work to be analyzed with a theological bent, which does detract slightly from the appeal of this particular book which is not the author s fault, of course, but it still does affect the way in which it is received.Author Robert Vagacs seems to have adapted this for publication from a Master s Thesis, so at times it feels a little overly academically oriented The book could have used a little work in terms of introduction of certain works and framing of the progression of the band in order to guide a non U2 fan through the conversation, as Vagacs himself indicates is a possibility for readership in the book s conclusion Those minor issues, however, do not significantly detract from the book, as long as it is not treated as a text intended to introduce the reader either to U2 or to the theological concepts contained therein Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics is a serviceable addition to the bookshelf of fans of U2 or theologians who have already started to ask questions about the theological implications of their work It s not quite an introductory level text on the subject that would be Steve Stockman s Walk On The Spiritual Journey of U2 but it does add to the scholarship on the band and theology.

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