so, i'm started on the book about U2 i threatened to write. i finished the introduction on the train home from new york city yesterday. yes, i know, i missed U2 playing on the streets for free on monday. oh, well.
so my working title is:
icon of the cross:
why U2 matters to those seeking god in the midst of life's suffering and joy.
and here is a piece of the introduction.
Introduction: Finding Jesus, Finding U2
Putting U2 in their place
I hope that you’ve found this book because you, too, find yourself drawn into the ways Bono and U2 talk of spiritual things. I’ve been a fan since I first heard them in 1987. And I’ve always felt a spiritual kinship with them, as though they seem to know my soul, and put words to thoughts I’ve had. They’ve been spiritual companions for me. This is true during times when I’ve felt at home in a traditional church, but even more so during times when I’ve felt frustrated with the church. When my life is in spiritual upheaval, U2 has been and is a trustworthy companion. For a long while, I just appreciated this, as one appreciates a cool uncle or a favorite aunt. Only recently when a group of college students asked me to lead a retreat for them did I begin to think about revisiting U2 in an effort to ‘put them in their place.’
I don’t mean to ‘put them in their place’ as so many Christians have done when they’ve questioned if U2’s members and music are sufficiently ‘Christian.’ That kind of question is actually pretty humorous if your think about all the ways U2’s members and music have turned the question back on the church, asking whether the church is sufficiently Christian! Rather, what I mean to do here is to think about how U2 fits within a longer tradition of Christian voices that point us to the cross, to Jesus, and to the power of God’s ways in the world. By putting them in their place, I’m trying to make some sense of how they fit into a certain tradition of speaking and living their faith. It is worth doing because while most preachers only preach to the choir, U2 is preaching to millions who don’t even know the basic songs of faith and have grown up, many of them, without any connection to the church.
Usually when I think of preachers who reach millions, I think of Billy Graham and others like him who fills stadiums with calls of conversion to Christ. U2 preaches, sort of, but it is so strikingly different than the stereotypical preacher on television. I want to say to all the fans of U2 who don’t go to church, who don’t know that the Christian tradition is a wide and generous place with room for many voices, listen! U2 is not alone, but speaks in a voice that is deeply rooted in authentic Christianity. I want to invite you into that generous and wide tradition and introduce you to some of those saints and friends of God who have also spoken as U2 does about hope in the face of despair, about love and peace and justice in the face of suffering, about faith in the midst of doubt.
So this book, you will find, is not about the meaning of U2 songs nor is it a chronicling of their spiritual journey from War to Dismantling an Atomic Bomb. It is not an investigation of the life of Bono or any one member of the band. Neither is it even intended for those within the church, seeking to either defend U2’s faith or explain their usefulness for preaching to the spiritually hungry but religiously disaffected young people. It is a book that tries to help those who don’t know the Christian tradition has, metaphorically speaking, many “keys.” It is a book that helps introduce you to a minor key—what I call the theology of the cross—which U2 plays. This book, therefore, will help you make sense of U2’s style of talking about God, Jesus, the Spirit, and the Christian life in a holistic way rooted deeply in the history of faith we who follow Jesus share. As I shall say in the last chapters, it is a way of seeking the truth, but even more a living of the truth. Now I’ll briefly tell some of my spiritual journey, and how I found U2 along the way.
well, that's enough of the introduction for now.
on to chapter one.
anon, and +peace