I'm finally getting around to posting this. Back in October of 2009 I attended and presented a paper at the first-ever academic conference on U2, The Hype And The Feedback. The paper was published last year in Pacific Journal, a publication of Fresno Pacific University. Jessica Mast, a former student of mine at FPU, helped write the piece by giving the perspective of a sharp 20-something woman who's learned to love the work of U2. I'm grateful that she gave input and was also able to attend the conference with me.
"Teaching U2: The Classroom as Theological Learning Space" highlights some of the outcomes from a very unique class I teach at FPU, "Theology, Culture and U2." To my knowledge, it's the only semester-long course of it's kind.
In the paper I suggest that students' perceptions of theology can be radically shifted by investigating U2's approach to scripture, global activism and artistry. The band's biblical background certainly influences their engagement with the world.
Hear for yourself what students discovered by studying U2:
"Before taking this class my idea of theology would have been the systematic study of the Bible and all of its principles. I would have described theology as taking each passage of scripture in the Bible and defining the clear, distinct truth or command God is expressing to his followers. If you were to ask me how one can better understand theology I would have told you to start a Bible study, listen to a sermon, or talk with a Bible scholar. U2 has changed all of that. Through studying the music of U2 I have been faced with a new reality: theology isn’t knowledge, its practice!" -Kyle
"Before taking this class, I thought theology was simply the study of God. I can understand now that theology is yes, based on orthodoxy, but also orthopraxy. The music of U2 has freed my soul in a way. Ha, I’m now more annoying to others—telling them what Jesus is doing in the world and throwing a few U2 facts and lyrics in as well. But more than just learning to “act out” my faith more, or even speak up more… things and life and faith become more primal. More sensory-oriented. Let’s taste our faith, feel our faith, smell it, hear it, let’s touch it. But together, please." -Karen
You can find the whole paper here. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.