The Lord works in ‘Mysterious Ways’ (or the church that nearly destroyed U2)
02:50 pm



If a small, non-denominational, charismatic Christian church in Dublin had their way 31 years ago, U2 would now be a forgotten, long-defunct band.

During the very early years of U2 Bono (Paul Hewson), The Edge (David Evans), and Larry Mullen Jr. were members of the Shalom Fellowship. Adam Clayton remained a steadfast agnostic. One story goes that they met a member of Shalom in a Dublin McDonald’s where he was reading the Bible and being yelled at by a Hare Krishna devotee. The three musicians attended Bible study, fellowship meetings and revivals at the church, while working on their music.

There were many similar nondenominational groups in Ireland in the early ‘80s, and they were an attractive alternative to the Catholic-Protestant sectarian tension present in many communities and families (like Bono’s own). They strongly resembled the shepherding-discipleship groups like Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) that have evangelized on American college campuses for decades.

At some point during the recording of the band’s second album October a member of the Shalom Fellowship claimed to have had a prophetic vision from God about the band. God wanted the boys to give up the band as a sacrifice to Him and leave rock music altogether.

About half of the congregation, including, not surprisingly, pastor Chris Row, believed the vision and began pressuring the boys to submit to God’s supposed will. The other half didn’t believe that the vision was real and urged them to keep playing.

Although Bono, Mullen, and the Edge weren’t convinced about the prophecy, it still rattled them enough to make them doubt themselves. Bono and The Edge took a two week break from the band between tours to consider the matter.

The Edge later told journalist Bill Flanagan (quoted in One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen):

We were getting a lot of people in our ear saying: “This is impossible, you guys are Christians. You can’t be in a band. It’s a contradiction and you have to go one way or the other.’ Okay, it’s a contradiction for some, but it’s a contradiction I’m able to live with.

Bono was the first to return to the band. The Edge took more persuasion from the other band members and manager Paul McGuiness before he accepted that he could live a committed Christian life and still be in a band. Bono, the Edge and Mullen left the church in 1982, turned their backs on organized religion and carried on with U2. Despite hounding the three young men out of his congregation and accusing them of choosing rock and roll over the Bible, Reverent Row was nonetheless flown to Los Angeles to officiate at the wedding ceremony of Bono and his long-time girlfriend Alison Stewart in 1982

Bono told Beliefnet:

I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It’s almost like religion is what happens when the spirit has left the building.

Even today Christian leaders can’t figure out what to think of the band. They are torn between denouncing them as dangerous, liberal, fraudulent non-Christians (despite frankly spiritual lyrics and oh, thirty years of good deeds) or embracing Bono as a worship leader whose lyrics youth pastors should quote.

Christian blogger Cameron Hill said in his “Lauryn Hill Sings the Gospel” essay:

Imagine how much more impact [U2] would have had their church chosen to embrace them instead of reject them… They were forced to choose between the wishes of their sincere, yet misguided, congregation, and the passion that God put in their hearts to make music that would change the world. They chose the latter, and their church shunned them.

A young U2 playing “October” in West Berlin in 1981, below:


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
‘Jesus, the original hipster’: The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn attempts… something
06:47 am

Pop Culture


Hipster Jesus
Dammit Catholics, you were having a such a good year! You got rid of that ex-Nazi Pope, and the new one is apparently even good at Twitter! Not a clean slate, mind you, but you had an opportunity to go a different direction. And what do you do? You do this!

Stick to your strengths! What about liberation theology, the Catholic Workers, or some more of that awesome stained glass, huh? You cannot make religion look cool. You just can’t and you should stop trying.

This ad just embarrasses everyone and drags your numero son o’ god deity through the dirt. Leave well enough alone! Take Satan, for example. He used to be pretty cool, right, then a bunch of metalheads had to take it one step too far and make a ‘church.’ Now all you associate with Satan is a bunch of sad guys who know a lot about Mercyful Fate, but still long to touch a boob for the very first time. This is the same thing on the opposite end of the deity spectrum. No really, it is.

A cartoon skateboarding rabbit told me to stay off drugs when I was in gradeschool. The abstinence-only education of my high school wrapped in some sort of peripheral hip-hop signifiers! This campaign makes those campaigns look look like the subliminal messaging in They Live.

Via Animal

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Trolling is his business: the world according to Dave Mustaine

So I was gonna sit here and write a long, rambling post about Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and the amount of bullshit that’s been spewing out his tiny little mouth of late. You know, something about a guy with a shoulder length frizzy perm being anti-gay, something about a 100% no-homo-heterosexual dude feeling threatened by the sex lives of African women and other consenting adults. Maybe throw in a little reference to still smarting about Metallica here, or “small man syndrome” there, perhaps go off on a diatribe about the über-pseudo-macho world of heavy metal being just as “authentic” as that of drag queens, about how the biggest shit-talkers always reveal themselves to be the most immature, petulant little nerds desperate to live up to a false sense of masculine superiority in the end.

But I’m not going to waste my effort.

I mean, why should I bother? Mustaine is doing all that hard graft for me! Seriously. Here are a selection of quotes from recent interviews displaying the wisdom of Dave Mustaine:

Dave Mustaine on Bible prophecy:

Mustaine explained a biblical prophecy to LA Weekly. “Even if you don’t believe in God and you don’t believe in faith, you’ve got to understand, when Israel became a country again, that was a prophecy in the Bible that came true, and the Bible was written so many hundreds of years ago,” says Mustaine. Also, any of the stuff that it says in there about the end times — that stuff’s really happening right now. Look what’s happening over in the Middle East. It’s crazy.”

Dave Mustaine on Rick Santorum:

Earlier in the election, I was completely oblivious as to who Rick Santorum was, but when the dude went home to be with his daughter when she was sick, that was very commendable. Also, just watching how he hasn’t gotten into doing these horrible, horrible attack ads like Mitt Romney’s done against Newt Gingrich, and then the volume at which Newt has gone back at Romney… You know, I think Santorum has some presidential qualities, and I’m hoping that if it does come down to it, we’ll see a Republican in the White House… and that it’s Rick Santorum.

Dave Mustaine on Afircan women:

There’s so many houses without a dad that it’s just terrible. I mean, you know how they used to say there should be a license to have a baby? Well, as far-fetched as that sounds, I really think that, if the parents aren’t going to stick together, they shouldn’t make that kind of commitment to life. I watch some of these shows from over in Africa, and you’ve got starving women with six kids. Well, how about, you know, put a plug in it? It’s like, you shouldn’t be having children if you can’t feed them.

Dave Mustaine on gay marriage:

Do you support gay marriage, or is that something you oppose?

Well, since I’m not gay, the answer to that would be no.

OK. What about for people who are gay?

Since I’m not gay, the answer to that would be no.

Would you support legislation to make marriage between a man and another man legal?

I’m Christian. The answer to that would be no.

All this is a real shame, because Megadeth were a fucking great band. It’s just too bad that if Dave Mustaine’s reputation ever recovers from being a “very conservative” über-douche who lets the TV make up his mind for him, he’s going down in the annals of history as the guy who wept for Metallica:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Tim Minchin’s ‘Woody Allen Jesus’ - the song banned by British TV

Tim Minchin portrait by gtgauvin

Australian comedian, piano whizz and enthusiastic exponent of guyliner Tim Minchin has had a satirical song of his called “Woody Allen Jesus” cut from the broadcast of one of the UK biggest chat shows, The Jonathan Ross Show. Minchin had been asked specifically by Ross and his producers to write and perform a Christmas ditty for the show, but when an advanced tape was passed to the station’s director of television, Peter Fincham, it was decided that the song needed to be dropped.

Minchin is miffed, and rightly so. Are well living in the 21st century or not? Does freedom of speech and thought (and music) exist in this country or is the Christian religion in such a dire state that it needs to ban anything that questions its relevance? Actually, that might be the case. Despite David Cameron’s particularly idiotic and toadying claims that the UK is a “Christian country”, the figures simply do not back this up, as this report in the ultra-conservative Daily Mail shows: “Number of Christians is down 10% in just five years.”

Minchin writes on his blog:

Being Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do a song about Jesus, but being TV, I knew it would have to be gentle. The idea was to compare him to Woody Allen (short, Jewish, philosophical, a bit hesitant), and expand into redefining his other alleged attributes using modern, popular-culture terminology.

It’s not a particularly original idea, I admit, but it’s quite cute. It’s certainly not very contentious, but even so, compliance people and producers and lawyers all checked my lyrics long before the cameras rolled. As always with these bespoke writing jobs, I was really stressed for about 3 days, and almost chucked it in the bin 5 times, and freaked out that it wasn’t funny and all that boring shit that people like me go through when we’re lucky enough to have with a big audience with high expectations. And if I’m honest, it ain’t a world-changing bit of comedy. Regardless…

And then someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham.

And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show.

He did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way.

Yesterday I wrote a big rant about comedy and risk and conservatism; about the fact that my joke has no victim; about sacredness (oh God, not again!) and about the importance of laughing at dumb but pervasive ideas. But I trashed it because it’s boring and takes it all too seriously. It’s hardly the end of the world.

But I have to admit I’m really fucking disappointed.

It’s 2011. The appropriate reaction to people who think Jesus is a supernatural being is mild embarrassment, sighing tolerance and patient education.

And anger when they’re being bigots.

Oh, and satire. There’s always satire.

Jonathan Ross is no stranger to controversy within the British media - in 2008 he and Russell Brand found themselves in deep shit after a phone call to Andrew Sachs was deemed to have gone “too far” by the tabloid press. Those ever-original and forward thinking people at the tabloids christened the incident “Sachsgate” and the outrage that was drummed up was enough to have both comedians ousted by their employer at the time, the BBC (one was suspended and the other quit.) This background hum of potential “outrage” may have been enough for Fincham to pull Minchin’s segment on the Ross show, but now it looks like a whole new controversy based on freedom of speech and expression is blowing up in ITV’s face. Oh dear.

Here is Tim Minchin performing “Woody Allen Jesus” on The Jonathan Ross Show:


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Photographer trolls Christian publisher

Boy I hope this is true! Someone in the reddit thread found the book on Amazon.

(via reddit and 9GAG)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Draw a circle around the one God loves the most’
05:06 pm

Stupid or Evil?


According to PZ Myers over at Science Blogs this image is from an old Irish Catholic schoolbook. Cute, huh?

(via Laughing Squid)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bill Maher’s Christmas message on the religion of greed

He’s a smug bastard, but he’s our smug bastard.

It’s nice to know that America’s funniest atheist activist is also part of a growing group of celebrities unafraid of the Oprah cult-mafia.

Thanks for the heads-up, Aybee Deepblak!

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Baby worship: Little girl really feels the Holy Spirit
07:41 am


Baby Preacher

Do I smell a new Baby Preacher in the making?

(via Arbroath)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Pat Condell: God or Nothing
10:19 am


Pat Condell

No comment. You can decide.

(via Cynical-C)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Happy Silence Day!

Meher Baba at Paramount Film Studio, London, April 1932
Funny thing about silence. Humorist Josh Billings called it “one of the hardest arguments to refute” and the Slits called it a rhythm, while Francis Bacon called it “the virtue of fools” and six gay activists in New York in 1987 equated it with death. John Cage wrote a famous composition about it to show how much noise can be made at a concert with nobody playing their instruments.

Followers of Meher Baba have made a holiday out of it. On this day 85 years ago, the Indian-born mystic Baba went voluntarily silent at the age of 31. He would stay that way for 42 years, until he died in 1969. Funnily enough, no-one saw it coming. Born in the cosmopolitan Indian city of Pune to part-Zoroastrian-part-Sufi Persian parents, Baba seemed to have had it going on before his transformation to mysticism, according to Wiki:

His schoolmates nicknamed him “Electricity”. As a boy he formed The Cosmopolitan Club dedicated to remaining informed in world affairs and giving money to charity — money often raised by the boys betting at the horse races. He had an excellent singing voice and was a multi-instrumentalist and poet. Fluent in several languages, he was especially fond of Hafez’s Persian poetry, but also of Shakespeare and Shelley.

Baba’s persona, work and metaphysics enrapture lots of folks in the West, many of whom celebrities ranging from Gary Cooper to Pete Townshend. As you can see below, though a silent man for most of his life, Baba was a chatty bastard.


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment