The Theology of Bruce Springsteen

Rutgers University recently announced that it will offer a new course exploring the career and theology of The Boss. And Rutgers is not even the first. Other colleges have successfully siphoned parents’ money while preparing their children to return home to their old room with courses on the rocker.

Hey Matt, you might say, Springsteen was raised a Catholic so you might think I’d find it hopeful that a state institution would study the theology of a rock and roll superstar. Uhm. No. Not really. You see, there’s no way to disconnect the writer from his words. Now, Bruce may be the only rock star who’s never checked himself into drug rehab so that’s good. But that’s setting the bar kind of low isn’t it? That’s like saying, you like Khloe Kardashian because she seems like the least publicity hungry one of the family. While he’s less messed up than Axl Rose, saying hey let’s study his theology seems like a bit of a jump to me.

To me, studying the theology of an agnostic rock and roll star seems like a dumb idea. It’s not like Vietnam bad. But it’s just, “I’m not going to be laughing about taking this course in twenty years when I’m living out of my step dad’s basement” kind of bad idea. I can list of a few reasons off the top of my head that studying the theology of Bruce is a bad idea. I know what you’re thinking. I’m overreacting, right? Come on Matt, Bruce is the poet of the working class, the millionaire for the blue collar types. He’s the one percenter Occupy Wall Street protestor. Come on Matt, it’s not like Bruce advocates for the legalized killing of children or anything.

1) Bruce advocates for the legalized killing of children. Campaigning for President Obama, Bruce said specifically, “I’m here today because I’m concerned about women’s rights. I don’t have to tell you the dangers to Roe v. Wade under our opponent’s policies.”

2) Bruce Springsteen supports gay marriage in his home state. You don’t think that’ll come up? Get ready for a two week in depth study of “The Streets of Philadelphia” which he actually wrote about a buddy who died of cancer, not AIDS. OK. OK. So he’s pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage. But so is like 99.9 percent of those in rock and roll not named Johnny Ramone. But it’s not like Bruce ever out and out attacked the Church or blamed it for anything and everything including his own sexual shortcomings.

3) Bruce attacked the Church and blamed it for his own sexual shortcomings. “Much of my music is a result of] being completely brainwashed by Catholicism in my formative years,” said Bruce in an interview. “It’s given me a very active spiritual life – and made it very difficult for me sexually!”

4) Bruce has written many songs about sex (Dancing in the dark), hiring prostitutes (Reno), and drinking (well, a lot of songs.) Let’s face it, if there’s things that college kids don’t need to hear reinforced it’s probably drinking and sex. Notice how they’re not teaching a course on the originality of Bruce's themes.

5) Bruce has also shown a disturbing fascination with suicide. There’s two mentions of suicide alone in Bruce’s rock anthem "Born to Run." His song “For You” seems to be a love letter to a girl who just attempted suicide. And the fact that Bruce recently talked about how he considered suicide after making the album “Nebraska” which is so depressing an album that it has tragically been the catalyst for countless suicide attempts.

It’s like a gateway drug to REM. In fact, Bruce credits much of his success to self-hatred. “You cannot underestimate the fine power of self-loathing in all of this,” he once said. Perfect. Just what we want – self loathing drunken college students.

6) Also, there’s this. And this may be the most important reason of all. Bruce filmed this original video for “Dancing in the Dark” looking like the product of a liaison between 80’s John Travolta and the cast of Electric Boogaloo. There’s no way to prepare yourself for this video. I don’t know what’s worse, the headband, the suspenders, or the electro-shock therapy repetitive dance moves with the stalkery gaze right into the camera but this video is so bad, if played enough could probably bring the 80’s back all by itself.

This isn’t a Bruce video, it’s an audition tape for The Village People. To be fair, Bruce had the smarts to intuit that this look probably wasn’t the best idea. Unfortunately, the replacement video launched the career of Courtney Cox which is almost equally terrible. But for entirely different reasons.


The course on the theology according to Bruce should just be called “How Rutgers wants to Legally Steal Your Money and Make Your Child Unemployable 101.”

Next semester, the study of David Bowie’s Masculinity.