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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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In today’s religion section, there is a story about a church preaching sermons based on the songs of U2. As a reporter, I’m not supposed to have opinions about the things I report on, but I have to admit to a little bit of a bias: I’ve been a U2 fan since I was a child. The Joshua Tree was the first album I really listened to. It was the first time I knew music could do more than entertain; it could also reach inside your soul and touch you. I quickly discovered their earlier works and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was my favorite U2 song for a long time.

After a while, I guess I got used to music. It didn’t have the same effect. I don’t know if it was because I was growing up or just being busy with life. But then How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out. My husband bought it right away. A few weeks later, I had a road trip ahead of me and I grabbed the CD. I didn’t know what to expect. I prefer the earlier works of U2.

And then “Miracle Drug” came through my speakers. From the first line (I want to trip inside your head/spend the day there), I started crying. When Bono got to the scripture reference at the end, I was sobbing. It had been a long time since a song had hit me so powerfully. Actually,  no song has ever affected me as much as this one. I listened to it eight times before I could hear it without crying. And then “U2 by U2″ came out and I read the story behind the song and cried some more. Bono wrote “Miracle Drug” after meeting a mother of a child who couldn’t speak. I never in a million years would have related the scripture in Matthew about feeding the hungry to motherhood. But after listening to that song, I have a new idea about raising kids. And faith. And it didn’t come from a hymn.

So now that I’ve shared that, I want to hear from you. What role does secular music have in your faith? Does it have any at all? Do you have to be careful about what you listen to? Is it possible for non-religious music to provide religious experiences? Should it be used in church?

Email me at or call 540/735-1973. Or you can comment below.