My Christian conversion roughly coincided with my discovery of Bruce Springsteen. My sinner's prayer ran something along the lines of "If you can do anything with this mess, Lord, go for it." A few days later I found myself in a packed auditorium, dazzled for the first but far from the last time by a rocker who played for three and a half hours without a break, basking in the glory of the songs from Born to Run a few months before the album was released. And I've been along for the ride ever since, a Christian who is convinced that Bruce Springsteen has more to say to me than any other songwriter.
This is curious because, as far as I know, Springsteen does not claim to be a Christian. He grew up in the Catholic Church, left it in his teens, and never looked back. But Springsteen understands mess; the kind of mess that I was in, the relational conundrums that can trace their roots to unresolved dreams, the power of choices that set us off down a path from which it is often difficult to retreat, the gap between the people we would like to be and the people we often are. In spite of this, his songs offer an unbroken testimony to those who face adversity and strive to overcome it. And, increasingly, his work is characterized by a buoyant hope that can only be seen as rooted in the person of Jesus Christ. If you doubt that claim, you need to listen to his latest album Wrecking Ball, an album in which Jesus and his teachings inform virtually every song.
It needs to be reiterated that Springsteen, the multimillionaire rock star, writes character studies, and that the world his characters inhabit is one where the American Dream has been transformed into the American Nightmare. In this vision of the new America, the country is peopled ...1