Introducing the Bruce Springsteen Theology Course
Rutgers University to offer the class
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2013 12:08 AM CST
Musician Bruce Springsteen performs at the Stand Up for Heroes event at Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in New York.   (John Minchillo/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Here's a college class that actually exists: a theology course studying ... the songs of Bruce Springsteen. Rutgers University will offer the class, the Guardian reports. It seems the Boss' lyrics often include religious references, mostly from the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament to Christians), though he was raised Catholic. Redemption is a common theme and "Mary" a common name for women who appear in his songs. "On a literary level, Springsteen often recasts biblical figures and stories into the American landscape," the professor of the course tells Rutgers Today. He offers some examples:

  • "The narrator of 'Adam Raised a Cain' describes his strained relationship with his father through the prism of the biblical story of the first father and son."
  • "Apocalyptic storms accompany a boy's tortured transition into manhood in 'The Promised Land.'"
  • "The first responders of 9/11 rise up to 'someplace higher' in the flames, much as Elijah the prophet ascended in a chariot of fire ("Into the Fire")."
  • There are also "Jesus Was an Only Son" and "In the Belly of the Whale," a reference to the Jonah story.
Princeton also once offered a Springsteen-focused sociology course, Time reports.

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Nov 13, 2013 10:08 PM CST
Grew up listening and cruising to all of his music. He was the best back then, but more recently he lost me when he started preaching his liberal rant! Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but he went up and beyond the norm by lecturing at his concerts and making himself a face of the Democratic party. Neither myself nor any of my childhood friends can stand him anymore. Totally dissapointing!
Nov 13, 2013 2:42 PM CST
I've always used music to relay a message. Sometimes a song can better convey a message than spoken words. I love the Boss. I even prayed with "Dancing in the Dark". I just tweaked the lyrics and Bam! Jammin with Jesus. ♫ I get up in the evening and I ain't got nothing to say ... I come home in the morning ... I go to bed feeling the same way ... I ain't nothing but tired ... Lord, I'm just tired and bore with myself... here that Jesus? ... I could use just a little help ... I can't start a fire ... I can't start a fire without a spark ... Lord, this gun's for hire, even if its just dancing in the dark ... your message keeps getting clearer ... radio's on and I moving around the place ... I check my look in the mirror ... I wanna change my clothes ... my hair ... my face ... Lord, I ain't getting nowhere ... I'm just living in a dump like this ... Jesus, there's something happening somewhere ... Jesus, I just know that there is ... you can't start a fire ... you can't start a fire without a spark ... Lord, this gun's for hire ... even if its just dancing in the dark ♫ Afterwards, my Bible was open to the scripture that read, " All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe whatsoever I taught you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of time " . Coincidence?
Nov 13, 2013 1:37 PM CST
Though he is a Buddhist, Leonard Cohen also uses a lot of biblical metaphors, as does Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. We as a culture are steeped in biblical language, and that ancient game of good vs evil makes great fodder for a singer/songwriter.