Divine Moves: Pneumatology as Passionate Participation in U2’s “Mysterious Ways"

Steve Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


U2's song "Mysterious Ways" is an essential case study in any discussion of the religious impulse in the U2 catalog. Released as the second single on their 1991 Achtung Baby (AB) album, it garnered critical acclaim and commercial success. The song has become a staple of their live performance, played over 580 times. Yet over time, the live performance of the song has gone through radical alterations. When first performed, the song included "bizarre projections of a woman's head spinning" (Parra 1994, 141). Quickly the performance evolved to include a live belly dancer. The images, of the dancer moving teasingly always out of Bono's reach, became central to the iconography of the Zoo TV tour (Scrimgeour 2004,84, 94-97). During the Elevation and Vertigo tour, the song included selecting an audience member, generally female, from the crowd to dance with Bono. During the 360° tour, the song was performed shorn of any female participation. The changing performances of "Mysterious Ways" invite a set of questions both musical and theological.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationU2 and the Religious Impulse: Take Me Higher
EditorsScott Calhoun
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781350032552 , 9781350032569
ISBN (Print)9781501332395
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • pneumatology
  • U2
  • female participation
  • song critique
  • musical culture


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