While most celebrities keep their religious beliefs private, the music of the Irish rock group U2, with lyrics written by lead singer Bono, contains many religious references and ideas. A closer analysis of the song lyrics shows an evolution of the religious ideas contained within. The changing and development of these ideas corresponds to many psychological and sociological theories of faith evolution, including those of Alfred Adler and James Fowler. Adlerian theory posits that "Our ideas about God are important indicators of how we view the world. According to Adler these ideas have changed over time, as our vision of the world—and our place in it—has changed" (Nielson). There are two kinds of changes that may occur: those that advance the faith, and those that incite doubt or stagnation, as reported by Paul Fritz. Fritz, a minister, incorporated the ideas of sociologist Jean Merton into his theory of faith evolution. Fowler, in Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning, states that faith evolves as individuals move through life, changing at each stage the way they make sense of existence. Commenting on Fowler's theory, John Testerman writes, "The stages of faith can be thought of as the different lenses through which we view the world as we journey through life." A careful study of Bono's lyrics can show what kind of "spiritual glasses" he wears at that stage of his life, and how his outlook on the world shapes the portrayal of his beliefs.
While the evolution of faith and spiritual beliefs may be divided into stages, a person may be in between stages at any time, exhibiting the characteristics of more than one stage. In Fritz's model, a b...
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Cambridge Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Fowler, James W. Stages of Faith: the Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. Harper: San Francisco, 1995.
Fritz, Paul. Home page. 10 Mar, 2002. "8 Stages of Faith."
Nielsen, Michael. Home page. 3 Nov. 2003. Psychology of Religion Pages.
"The Stages of Faith." The Journal of Religion and Society. Home page. 1 Nov. 2002.
Testerman, John. Home page. Mar. 1995. The Stages of Faith.
U2. Achtung, Baby. Island, 1991.
U2. All That You Can't Leave Behind. Island, 2000.
U2. The Joshua Tree. Island, 1987.
U2. October. Island, 1982.
U2. POP. Island, 1997.
U2. War. Island, 1980.
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