Bono Begins the Epilogue to The Devil’s Music

Writing about Bono is how Randall J. Stephens began the epilogue to his new book The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock ‘N’ Roll (Harvard University Press, 2018).

After five chapters tracing the history from the 1950s forward of the dynamic, complicated relationship between American conservative Christians and rock ‘n’ roll, Stephens wrote in his epilogue that Bono “was a kind of patron saint” for many evangelicals, generation Xers, emergent churchers, and millennials who were looking for a rock ‘n’ roller that aligned with their religious convictions and also “promoted social justice causes and a new, culturally and politically informed version of the faith” (p. 247).

Stephens discussed other musical artists — such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay and DC Talk — who appealed to a new generation of faith-centered fans, but noted:

U2 has long brought together the worlds of megastardom and industry success with Christianity and the quest for meaning. … U2’s songs were rich with Christian imagery, biblical references, and probing questions about life. Bono sang of temptation, prayer and supplication, discipleship, the kingdom of God, and Calvary. … The cultural power and the appeal of U2, along with other major artists who ventured into mainstream success and won secular accolades, illustrated how complicated and varied the mix of religion and rock music had become. (pp. 236-237, 240)

Stephens talked about his book in a two-part interview here and here.

I had the opportunity to follow on Stephens’ comments with my two-part discussion of “U2 and the Limits of Fundamentalism”: Part One and Part Two.


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