I was reading this somewhat interesting piece on “emergent” Christians in Austin, TX and found myself pondering a deep mystery: why are all these post-evangelical, post-conservative, post-modern, post-whatever Christians so into U2?
“For the emerging churches, (church is) not a place, it’s a people,” Gibbs said. “It’s not a weekly gathering; it’s a seven-day-a-week community. And you don’t go to church; you are the church.”
That doesn’t mean emerging Christians have turned their back on observing the sabbath, but their services are a far cry from what many grew up with. They might use literature and poetry in the liturgy or play U2 and Van Morrison songs before and after the service.
Charles Whitmire, pastor of Crestview Baptist Church, began noticing that the young professionals moving into the church’s North Austin neighborhood would rather go for a bike ride on Sunday morning than sing “The Old Rugged Cross” with a congregation where the median age is 70.
So with his members’ support, he established Phoenix Church of Austin earlier this year. Whitmire leads the evening services in the sanctuary, and his first service included references to Bono and David Letterman and featured a driving rock band. Whitmire, an avid cyclist and screenwriter who fits the demographic he’s trying to reach, had bumper stickers made up that said “Make Church Weird.”
I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on the value of the whole emergent/emerging church thing. A lot of it seems to me to be a kind of intra-evangelical dispute with younger people breaking away from the bland megachurches and Republican politics of their elders. So, I take it that part of what it’s trying to do is to appeal to “da yoots.”
Hence my question: what’s the deal with all the U2? U2 is old people’s music! (By which I mean music enjoyed by people my age.)
I mean, I like U2 as much as the next guy (well, some of their stuff, anyway), but are they really that big among people, say, under the age of 25? (This is not a purely rhetorical question; maybe they are.)
Part of the whole U2 obsession (extending even into the stolid mainline with “U2charists” and the like) no doubt has to do with Bono’s status as vaguely Christian global do-gooder. And, yes, you can find all kinds of religious themes and references in U2’s music. But I can’t help but wonder whether gen-x goateed “emergent” pastors aren’t doing the same thing that Baby Boomer evangelicals did: projecting their ideas of what’s cool onto the young people they’re ministering to. All the facial hair, tatoos, grunge-y rock, candles, and angst – it’s sooo 1990s, people!
On the other hand, if someone wants to put on a Killswitch Engage eucharist, I might be interested…