Many readers of this blog probably are aware that Uncut (NME) has released their third special "Legends" issue and it's devoted to U2. There are historical sections, articles, panel discussions, profiles, and so on. It's priced too high, but I bought it anyway, and two things topically related to this blog amused me enough that I'm going to comment on them here.
On page 36, you'll discover the first installment of a "top ten list" type feature based around one main question. As you read the question for the first time, it presents itself to you, with its answer, as follows: "What Makes U2 Tick? No. 1-- RELIGION." [Cue the sound of all 3 Christian members of U2 banging heads against walls. Sorry those 24 years of incessant disclaimers didn't work out, boys.]
Seriously, how many U2 quotes are there about "I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting" and and "I don't see Jesus as connected with religion" and "I am a believer but I find it hard to be around religion." And then that last one, festooned with a greyish-greenish celtic cross, ends up in a sidebar right under the proclamation "No. 1-- RELIGION." You just gotta laugh.
Oh, by the way:
"Religion is when God leaves the room and people make up rules to fill the space." --Bono
"Religion is the attempted replacement of the divine work by a human manufacture." --Karl Barth
I also had to laugh at the beginning of the article. We enter the scene, in present tense, at an imaginary Shalom gathering on the beach in 1981. A great Flannery O'Connor-sounding opening line leads into some impressionistic writerly guesses about what's going on. Most of the images are standard fare: "they read their Bibles, they sing." Round up the usual suspects. But then, one imagines, the "No. 1-- RELIGION" article author thinks to himself: It was supposed to be a charismatic group, wasn't it? I need to make that clear. But what does it *mean*, exactly? Hmm. Got to say *something*... So he informs us that they, and I quote verbatim, "discuss the cleansing fires of the Pentecost."