U2Charist

Episcopalians have started a new eucharist service, to raise money and resources to end global poverty.

It is called the U2Charist. While listening to the music of Bono and U2, the congregation sings, claps, stands, dances, takes Eucharist, thinks about Jesus,  listens to a sermon about “God’s call to rally around the Millennium Development Goals” and then donates money.

I support any group who recognizes there is poverty in the world and that we’re obligated as people and as Christians to do something about this. But I hate this.  Why?

Because U2 is OVERplayed. Every time a U2 song comes on the radio, I get angry because I’ve heard the song what? a thousand times before? Enough already. I liked them in the 80s and early 90s. They did a lot for new wave music. Bono has done worlds of good raising awareness and money for AIDS, inequality, poverty to which I am very grateful. But I’m tired of your music Bono. 20 years tired.

I have a list of songs I would be happy if I never heard again. U2 pops up all over that list.

Also, though many Episcopal priests claim Bono’s lyrics to be about Christ and Christianity, they’re wrong. Where the Streets have no name is not about Galilee.
Also it’s not very creative. I mean the name U2charist is pretty funny. Props for that. But if all you can think of to inspire love, obligation and donation to the poor of the world in the heart of a Christian, is playing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” then go back to God and get some more inspiration. What about Oprahcharist? Or Brangelinacharist? Or hello? Jesuscharist?

Seriously, I’m jealous of every congregation I see that’s involved in this sort of thing. I know individual Mormons that take Jesus’ and King Benjamin’s commands to take care of the poor very seriously but not wards. Not stakes. And not our church as a whole, at least not that I’m aware of.  And that makes me envious of my Protestant/Catholic (okay and some Buddhists too) friends who go to church, talk about these issues and raise money or resources to do something about it.

But don’t use U2. Use Jesus or Paul or Moses. Mormons love Jesus, let’s end global poverty. Can someone write a hymn for that? You can even use that line in the chorus. It can even be the sacrament hymn. Just don’t let it be Bono. Or Janice Kapp Perry.

Comments

  1. how about REM? or did that whole “losing my religion” thing knock them out of contention? Maybe Bruce Springsteen would be better?

    isn’t that the danger of liberal protestantism sometimes, that you become too current, too accessible? as much as i wish that the body of Mormonism were more progressive, some part of me worries about being too topical, too relevant to today, which is unlikely to last for very long on a geologic, or eternal or even frankly historical scale.
    I do not believe that the status quo is healthy or right, but I think moves from the status quo should be made very deliberately to avoid problems like the U2charist.

  2. You seem to forget, Amri, that love is a temple. Love a higher law. Love is a temple. Love, a higher law.

    And you know, I can’t keep holding on to what you’ve got, when all you’ve got is hurt.

  3. Julie M. Smith says:

    “or did that whole “losing my religion” thing knock them out of contention?”

    True story: I’m a new convert and the first time I walk into a church dance they are playing . . .

  4. Amri, we are still a very small church, but we do a lot (though of course we can do more). I think one of the big transitions of the last 100 years is from looking after the Saints to helping the Gentile and we seem to be negotiating that arguably well.

  5. That’s funny, Julie.

    This summer I was at the stake center when a youth dance was being held. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I recognized AC/DC’s Highway to Hell coming from the gym.

    Amri,

    I think you might be surprised. The Presiding Bishop’s office and church humanitarian services really do a lot of good work. For a small church, I think we consistently punch above our weight.

  6. And if we’re looking for musical accompaniment as we do our good deeds, I hear that there may be a few options out there . . .

  7. One of the advantages of being my age is that I cannot tell you if I have ever heard a U2 song. I suppose that I have, but I didn’t know U2 had done it.

    U2 was the name of a high-flying spy plane, and Francis Gary Powers had the misfortune of being the pilot of one shot down over the Soviet Union. And Bono was Sonny’s last name. After he died, his kid Pro took over.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Note the sideblog item on the debate between U2 and REM. Like smb, I’m an REM man myself. (I even like their more recent albums, which most people think are lame.)

    My wife and I ran into Michael Stipe once, in the Village in NY. I was there for a securities law conference, and we were walking in the Village. We’re standing on the corner waiting to cross, and we turn around and there not five feet from us is Michael with a woman, coming out of a store. We were cool and didn’t harass him or anything. But that was definitely a highlight of that trip.

  9. I know individual Mormons that take Jesus’ and King Benjamin’s commands to take care of the poor very seriously but not wards. Not stakes. And not our church as a whole, at least not that I’m aware of.

    Every first Sunday in every ward throughout the world Mormons are expected to go without meals and donate money for the benefit of the poor. How’d you miss that one?

  10. Steve Evans says:

    Amri, is part of what you’re looking for more of a local, grassroots-style effort towards directed fundraising? Seems to me that if instead of paying tithing to a centralized bucket you directed it immediately to a ward fundraiser for tsunami relief, that would be more your speed. Correct?

  11. Isn’t the money supposed to flow from the gentiles to the Church instead of the other direction? (link)

  12. Seriously, I’m jealous of every congregation I see that’s involved in this sort of thing. I know individual Mormons that take Jesus’ and King Benjamin’s commands to take care of the poor very seriously but not wards. Not stakes. And not our church as a whole, at least not that I’m aware of.

    Are you serious? Where do you live?

    This past weekend, our youth had a mini-youth-conference that included a service project. My daughter was responsible for the service projects, many of which involved the local homeless shelter, Salvation Army, etc.

    On Thursday night, my youngest daughter and I will cook dinner for a local cancer treatment residence. People come from all over the region for treatment at our local teaching hospital, and this place gives them someplace low-cost to stay. Our ward brings a potluck dinner kinda thing every other month, and they love the home cooking. We’ve done this for at least 10 years.

    On Friday, a bunch of folks from our ward are heading over to Mississipi/Lousiana. The church has decided that everyone displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be in permanent housing by Christmas, and so everyone is pitching in. They’ll work through late Saturday, hold a testimony meeting on Sunday, and drive home, missing Sunday meetings but doing the Lord’s work. I don’t know about this particular assignment, but all the previous hurricane relief has been offered to whoever needs it, irregardless of religious affiliation. Indeed, my husband got referrals through his work, of folks in his agency who lived in Mississipi in the area our stake was assigned–all non-members, who were very appreciative, and raved that they couldn’t have gotten that kind of help at any price.

    Plus, earlier this year we had the opportunity to travel to Salt Lake City and visit the Church Humanitarian Center, and learn about the phenomenal work done through those service. I was particularly impressed that in the packets of books that they send to schools and libraries, they don’t allow books that push a religion or philosophy….I’m not sure the United States government is as careful.

  13. Amri,
    Maybe you’re talking about the ease in which we write a check and are done with it. Maybe you’re talking about the lack of time that LDS spend among the poor helping them on a community level. If so, I feel ya. In any case, I’m grateful that on top of working long hours during the week and being there for my family and a church calling and hometeaching(that I hardly find time to do), I can still help the poor in a genuine and simple way. I don’t think its giving “convenient” charity, just more efficient charity. If I’m way off – disregard.

  14. hardlyperfect says:

    I think this is a marvelous move forward for a stale old church Like the Episcopalians to try and attract the younger generation and make church “cool” again. I motion that we follow suit. All in favor so manifest it. Any opposed by the same sign. The dilemma would be, who among the mainstream pop icons of our day to represent the true and living church. Someone who emits a sense of immortality, an air of perfection and truth, and impervious resistance to tabloid defamy. The obvious choice is Kevin Federline, although I prefer a little harder edged character, maybe a converted version of Ozzy Osborne….No longer the Prince of Darkness….Now the ward membership clerk…the new LDS Iron Man…We could run Ozzfest concurrently with the Cumorah Pageant…Scores of missionaries handing out pamphlets while balding overweight Elder’s quorum presidents mosh in the pits in their faded BYU football t-shirts. Ozzy and Gladys Knight could sing a duet at the Christmas devotional. The possibilities are endless.

  15. Naismith,
    Now I feel like a slacker!

  16. The problem is that they only play a few U2 songs over and over. There are plenty of U2 songs that are fantastic that rarely get played.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Two words: Led Zeppelin.

  18. Well I haven’t attended the same wards as Amri, but I would like to invite her to move into my ward–frankly we could really use another pair of hands that are apparently itching to help out. The ward I am in, I think, does a tremendous amount to help those who are less fortunate and it is a community effort. Bi-weekly food deliveries to member, part-member and member-in-name-only households? Check. (Since the storehouse is some distance away, this means that a team of people must take half days off of work to gather the food. It is also worth noting that the RS meets with families or individuals to put the order together, a rotating group of teams goes out to get the food and the HT’s deliver the food which means that half the people in the ward are involved in the process at one point or another.) Thousands of dollars a month towards utilities, rent, medicine and other needs? Check. Helping people upgrade their skills? Check. Helping people find a job? Check. (In fact, just found out today that an unemployed sister was offered a job, the lead for which came through the ward.) Teaching budgeting and money management skills? Check. Monthly fasts with the proceeds donated to helping the needy? Check. Announcements in the local paper or over the pulpit letting people know what is being done? Not so much.

    I have traditionally been a great lover of humanity but didn’t care much for individuals–i.e. concerned about the poor in the abstract but loathe to tear myself away from selfish pursuits to assist them personally. I don’t know Amri, so I can’t say if that is her situation–just relating a personal data point. The church asked me to fulfill a calling where that is not an option. Otherwise I would be blissfully unaware of the large amounts of time and money that are put towards that very effort in my own ward.

  19. U2 was my first musical love. And as a young teenager my family went inactive from the Lutheran church I’d been raised in. U2 was the only spiritual food I had during those years. Bono’s always been more preacher than rock star to me.

  20. How about “Gladys Knight Into Day Night (or Day)”?
    For one sacrament meeting, we get to sing the hymns Gladys style–including the clapping. I would donate to a good cause for that.

  21. Julie,

    “Losing My Religion” is a southern expression which means to lose your temper or otherwise behave in a way that’s out of character.

    Living in Atlanta, I’d hear football players say something like, “Man, when that ref through that flag, I about lost my religion!’

  22. Jon in Austin says:

    Re: 14,

    You’re way off with having a converted Ozzy as the lead for the Church. We’d be MUCH better served by converting all the guys in AC/DC.

    First, the band would be renamed AC/D&C, drummer gets named The Iron Rod, lead guitar and bass guitar are Urim and Thummim. I still don’t have a good lead vocal name lined up but I’m sure we could always ressurrect that guy from New York Doll and we’d be set!

  23. This is so funny.

    I was in Cork, Ireland, on business a little over a year ago. Whilst checking out the Blarney Woolen Mills store (near the castle), they were playing a CD of traditional Irish music. Song after song were delightful Irish songs. Then it flipped to a U2 song. Then it continued with the Irish songs.

    Huh? Not even the Irish people like U2. They consider themselves sellouts who moved their operations to the Netherlands to avoid taxes.

    The sooner Bono fades into ignominy, the better.

  24. [Sorry, in #23, I meant that the Irish consider U2 sellouts...

    Then again, maybe that was a Corcaigh thing. Go you rebels!]

  25. This sounds almost as bad as the Hip Hop Mass, developed at Trinity Episcopal Church of Morrisania, in the South Bronx (where I sometimes played the organ under the previous, more traditional regime).

    They’ve gone so far as to develop a hip hop prayer book.

  26. D. Fletcher says:

    I think the ceremonies in the temple could use some music. How about a little U2?

  27. Bono is a hypocrite, he gets the government of Ireland to forgive debts to African nations, and then he moves his business to the netherlands so he can pay less taxes. He is all for helping other people as long as hes not the one paying for it.

  28. At a recent concert, Bono stops the music and starts clapping his hands and says “every time I clap my hands another African dies.” Then someone from the audience yells “stop clapping your hands.”

  29. By the way, lest we think that the Church is too staid, just think —

    There’s no way they would have sung “Scripture Power!” (complete with the clenched fists punching the air) in Sacrament Meeting Primary Programs back when President Kimball was alive.

  30. Y’all are funny. I wasn’t intending a full frontal attack on the church’s giving I was just making fun of the U2Charist but I always have something to say, so:

    We may be small in numbers but I think we’re at least medium sized in money.

    I am pleased to hear that local wards are involved in local projects. I think that is fantastic and those wards are pointed in the right Jesus direction. Anecdotally, that is not true for the wards I have been in. Also, with globalization I think neighbor includes more than we thought.

    I have done a fair amount of reading on the Humantarian Effort in the Church and the amount we give compared to what we have is a small percentage compared to groups like Catholic Charities and other church funded charities. Also, from what I have read on the Church website and elsewhere is the Church refraining from giving in ways that seem too politicized: take for example they would never get behind something like the Millenial Development Goals. I understand why they do that but I feel a little hurt that my Church hasn’t found ways to help on a larger scale despite some politics (since I think poverty is so wrapped up in the politics of the US/the world.) I am surprised at the political involvement we choose when global poverty, the AIDS epidemic etc are political things we choose to shy away from.

    I actually don’t hate Bono and U2. I’ve just been inundated, overwhelmed. I think the Episcopalians actually use this to their advantage because everyone, in a 30 year age range knows the music and lyrics. It’s easier to feel connected to a purpose, the Spirit, etc when you know what’s going on. Still, being as oppositional as I am, I could not be happy at a U2charist.

    I’ve been in Single Wards too long and unfortunately have no idea what Scripture Power is. Another reason I hate singles’ wards: I miss the clenched fists of little Mormons.

  31. Here are the lyrics to scripture power (and a link to music, too):

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Friend/1987.htm/friend%20october%201987.htm/scripture%20power%20.htm?fn=document-frame.htm$f=templates$3.0

    Supposedly it dates to 1987, but I never heard it until the last year or so. Maybe because it was suggested in the 2006 Sharing Time program:

    http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,2045-1-3309-1,00.html

    The song is a jazzy little number, if you’ve got a pianist with a pulse.

    Our stake had a children’s choir sing it at stake conference, and it was a bit of a shock to the system of the eldest generation.

  32. Jon in Austin says:

    You’ve never heard of it until last year!? Back in the early 90’s Scripture Power was all the rage in Primary! Maybe it fell out of favor due to ‘reverence’ concerns but its good to see that its making a comeback with such vivid, fist-clenching vigor.

  33. Actually, Amri, the church does have a significant AIDS effort in those areas where we have congregations. It is abstinence based, but they do a lot of education (even in places like Sunday School). Here is the World AIDS Day interview with Elder Oaks that discusses some of the efforts.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    We had our Primary Program a couple of weeks ago, and they sang Scripture Power as part of it. I loved it. First, it was fun to watch the sister directing the music and modeling for the kids what to do pump her fists in the air. She was very demonstrative and authoritative in her fist pumps. And the kids followed suit.

    Somewhere at home I have a pick with a handle in the shape of a black power salute, and this song reminded me of that.

  35. We just sang Scripture Power in our primary program but I don’t remember any fist pumping. But all the adults were chuckling because of the one 6 year old boy belting out the chorus at the top of his lungs.

  36. For another long discussion of “Scripture Power”, check here.

  37. Bi-weekly food deliveries to member, part-member and member-in-name-only households? Check. (Since the storehouse is some distance away, this means that a team of people must take half days off of work to gather the food. It is also worth noting that the RS meets with families or individuals to put the order together, a rotating group of teams goes out to get the food and the HT’s deliver the food which means that half the people in the ward are involved in the process at one point or another.)

    Half the ward? Um, where I live, this would be considered very bad form. The reason is that who receives church assistance is to be kept confidential. Home teachers are not an inherent part of that process. Your bishop may choose to delegate that to home teachers, and it may work for y’all, but I’m not sure how common such arrangements are, and I am not sure how wise it is, if it causes people to be too embarassed to accept help, which surely would happen in my ward.

  38. I have done a fair amount of reading on the Humantarian Effort in the Church and the amount we give compared to what we have is a small percentage compared to groups like Catholic Charities and other church funded charities.

    But keep in mind that one of the largest contributors to Catholic Relief Services is, in fact, our LDS humanitarian services. So some of the dollars for which the catholics get credit really started from an LDS contibution slip.

    See for example this press release about a shipment of nutritional supplement to Africa.

    It would also be interesting to know how you are making the comparison. When you consider dollars per member, I am not so sure we fall behind, considering how many fewer LDS than Catholics there are.

  39. Naismith,

    Given the size of the job, it would be impossible for one or two people to take it on. On the other hand, care is taken to ensure that only the person taking the order and the person making the ultimate delivery know the identity of the person receiving assistance.

    Generally speaking, it isn’t useful to question the wisdom of the decisions behind the assistance based on your ward. Local factors such as the amount of need, wealth of the congregation, availability of transportation, density of membership, etc. are the relevant factors. Another ward’s approach is likely entirely irrelevant.

  40. If U2 gets people to attend church, then I have no problems with churches playing their music. As far as charity goes, I’ve seen more charitable acts by Catholics and other Christians, my grandma’s Catholic church recently had a food drive for needy families, regardless of any religious affiliation. Sure, there are food banks for LDS families in need, that’s mostly for active LDS members only. If a needy family went to another church, they’d receive food and other help, even if they weren’t members of that Christian sect.

  41. Adrienne, speaking as one who has experience in these matters, you are mistaken. The church helps plenty outside the faith and the non-member who comes for help will find it. Just ask any welfare bishop.

  42. Though J., Adrienne’s right to the extent that the LDS church doesn’t have open food banks and soup kitchens like rescue missions do. It’s all on a one-on-one basis, not an open public resource. That gives the perception that we don’t do as much for the poor.

  43. Agreed. We also don’t have a full time paid staff to administer that. I do know that we give heavily to other local denominations that have such facilities, though.

  44. Sure — but anyone who takes a look in their community is going to see a lot more high-visibility public effort to help the poor from other churches. I think that’s part of what she’s saying, and maybe there’s something to it that Mormons ought to consider.

  45. No, she is saying that Mormons actually don’t help, which is plain false. Perhaps we aught to consider more public outreach to the poor and afflicted. I’m all for more service missions and Mormon hospitals.

  46. wrong, wrong, wrong, Stapley!!!

  47. Steve,

    The church has limited resources and feeding the poor is only one of its missions. At the ward level, where resources, I assume, are perhaps most constrained, it makes perfect sense to expend those resources on those who contribute to the community. If there are then resources in excess then it may make sense to give to free riders.

  48. I agree with the notion that the church does not do enough as a whole to allieviate poverty in the world. Isn’t it ironic that billions of dollars are being spent to build a big beautiful mall in Vatican City all in an effort to “push back” if you will the riff raff of society. This same money would feed masses of people in the world. What is the business of the church? Would Christ really care that Nordstrom and Macy’s are the anchor tenants in the malls that surround temple square? I hardly think so.

    Now back to Bono. It sounds to me that it’s not you that has outgrown Bono and his band, but the band has outgrown you. If you are interested in regenerating your admiration for this truly exceptional group, attend one of their concerts. What a spiritual experience you will have (even if you don’t like the music). Last summer my wife and I attended their concert in Dublin, Ireland. For us it was like traveling to Mecca. It was a life changing event. Our faith in the goodness of humankind and hope for a more unified world was renewed.

  49. I get my Ensign from Britain, and the local church news insert is stuffed with local wards and stakes doing good works, donating money to worthy causes, etc.

    The argument that ‘they could do more’ is a bad one: who couldn’t? Everytime we take a holiday, I think that we could be spending the money in a more charitable way. I have quite a few dealings with African aid organizations, and they all know the church and what FO money is doing. The truth is, the church has changed the landscape of NGOs in Africa.

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