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Religion Around Bono


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Table of Contents

ContentsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Evangelicalism Around2. Around Bono3. Neoliberalism Around4. Around Africa5. Love and DebtNotesBibliographyIndex

About the Author

Chad E. Seales is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town.


"A tough but needed critique of how U2 and Bono's themes of human unity, racial reconciliation, and love are deployed in the service of larger market-driven projects."

-Paul Harvey, author of Christianity and Race in the American South: A History

"From the parking lot of a Baptist church in the Florida Panhandle to Dublin, New York, Johannesburg, and the G-8 Summit at Gleneagles, Seales takes his readers on a tour of the evangelical grammar of humanitarian neoliberalism with Bono as his guide. Seales convincingly argues that when Bono speaks for Africa, he speaks for religious, cultural, and economic systems far more complex-and far less empowering-than his identity as a rock-and-roll saint may imply."

-Jill DeTemple, author of Cement, Earthworms, and Cheese Factories: Religion and Community Development in Rural Ecuador

"When I said that I never wanted to read one more word about the aid celebrity Bono again, I had not imagined the possibility of Religion Around Bono! This book is a concise, eloquent tour de force using Bono as a keyhole through which we can peer into the intimate workings of the religion of racialized, neoliberal, millennial capitalism. The intersectional critique of class, race, and gender draws on anthropology, ethnomusicology, politics, and religious studies to explain how religious sincerity and love obfuscate relations of exploitation."

-Lisa Ann Richey, editor of Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power

"Chad Seales boldly claims that as Jesus is to Jewish law or Luther to Roman Catholicism, so Bono is to evangelical Protestantism: the prophet of a new religion, repurposed from the materials of the old. The gospel of Bono is the neoliberal promise that free markets bring salvation to the world's poor. In his lyrics, his politics, and above all his consumer brand, Bono preaches the good news of millennial capitalism to evangelicalism's rebellious kids: buy, believe, save, and be saved. A richly satisfying deep dive into the logics of consumer capitalism and evangelical self-fashioning, Religion Around Bono urges us to listen, question, and learn more."

-Tracy Fessenden, author of Religion Around Billie Holiday

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