Remember when the Beatles--at least in an off-handed remark by John Lennon--had become "more important than Jesus?" Now the Rev. Andrew M. Greeley, noted sociologist and bestselling novelist, contends: "Bruce Springsteen's album 'Tunnel of Love' may be a more important Catholic event in this country than the visit of Pope John (Paul) II."
Greeley (author of passion-filled novels like "Patience of a Saint" and "Angels of September") made his views known in a lengthy exegesis, "The Catholic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen," in the weekly Jesuit magazine America.
"I intend no disrespect for the Pope or to the importance of his trip," Greeley went on. "I merely assert the obvious: Troubadours always have more impact than theologians or bishops, storytellers more influence than homilists."
And: "The failure of the church to understand Springsteen's importance and to embrace him (even indeed to provide him with the religious support to which he has a right) shows how profound is the alienation of the church from the fine and lively arts, most of which it created and nurtured for a thousand years. There was a time when we really appreciated a Catholic Meistersinger."
Greeley hinted that the next performer on his canonization list will be . . . Madonna.