By John Cody
It’s been a couple of years since U2 released How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb – finally finishing that album’s tour last month – but in the last year they’ve managed to release a handful of DVDs, a career-spanning anthology, and a group autobiography.
Besides their own efforts, a number of books examining the group from a decidedly spiritual angle have been published over the same period.
U218 Singles (Interscope Records) s a single-disc collection of eighteen of the band’s biggest hits. For the most part concentrating on stadium-friendly songs, the selections stretch from present day back to 1983’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘New Year’s Day.’
What really comes across throughout is the band’s singular vision, which remains unbroken over the 23 years the disc spans.
Curiously, they’ve ignored their first two albums as well as two from the nineties.
They’ve already released a pair of double disc anthologies; however, this set includes five tracks not available on either of those – including a take on the Skid’s ‘The Saints Are Coming,’ with Green Day.
Rhythms Del Mundo (Hip-O) features members of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club performing alongside contemporary British and American acts, including U2, Arctic Monkeys, Jack Johnson and Radiohead.
It’s a fascinating concept, and an inspired mix of cultures. Unlike most duet and tribute albums, the Cuban musicians are playing together with the original studio vocal tracks, making for something that’s not quite mash-up, and far more organic than it might sound on paper. For the most part it really works.
Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ opens the disc, and works perfectly in the new setting.
U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ is recast as an upbeat salsa number, with Coco Freeman dueting alongside Bono’s original track.
Vocalists Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo are featured throughout. Ferrer died soon after these sessions, and the disc ends with the two dueting on the standard ‘As Time Goes By.’
Released in conjunction with U218 Videos (Interscope), offers just that – plus a couple of short documentaries and seven alternate versions of songs already included.
Zoo TV Live From Sydney (Island) offers an Australian show from their Zooropa tour in 1993. This was the decade of reinvention, when they explored and exploded stereotypes and myths.
Onstage, popular culture was being embraced and ripped apart at the same time – especially television, or the ‘Glass Teat,’ as Harlan Ellison called it. The band pulled off one of the most remarkable feats in rock history, revamping and reinventing just when they were in danger of parodying themselves. Instead, by going over the top, they brought new life in the most unexpected ways.
As such, the show is an assault on the senses. Ironies abound, although it’s debatable just how much translates to the audience. A cacophony of events designed to confuse and baffle, before the band even appears on stage, the opening sequence on video screens reference the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Beethoven, Lenin, and much more.
When Bono first takes the stage, it’s with a reference to Peter Sellers’ title character in Dr. Strangelove. Throughout the show he dons a variety of guises, including the Fly, Mirror Ball Man, and Mister MacPhisto
– the latter inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
A second disc offers three documentaries, plus songs from 1992 shows in New York and Manchester.
To their credit, when they returned to their roots and dropped the trappings of excess the performances were just as intense.
This is borne out on the Live From Milan DVD that comes packaged with the limited-edition deluxe version of U218 Singles.
Firing on all cylinders, it’s an hour-long excerpt from two nights in Italy in July 2005.
They’ve already released Vertigo 2005/Live From Chicago which comes from the same tour; but half the songs here are not included on the former– or on Zoo TV, for that matter.
‘Miss Sarajevo’ is a highlight. Dedicated to the victims of the London subway blast that had occurred the week previous, Bono asks that they turn the song into a prayer “that we don’t become a monster in order to defeat a monster.”
The majority of the song is performed with just piano and voice, and is evidence of the transcendent power of U2 at its best – bringing thousands of audience members together.
Bono sings a very impressive rendition of the operatic part covered on the original studio duet with Luciano Pavarotti. The song ends with The Universal Declaration of Human Rights scrolled behind the band.
As the title implies, U2 by U2 (Harper Collins) is the group’s autobiography. Similar to the Beatles’ Anthology, it’s a revealing look at the inner workings of the band. Offering their own unique take on things – from the beginning to present day – it explains much that was simply speculation until now.
Bono recounts the time he and Edge left the band due to pressure from their home church. He compares the incident to the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, in that God asked them to give up what they valued most, and once they had, they were allowed to return. The band was far more powerful because of the experience.
Including over 1,500 photographs, the package is substantial and essential reading for fans.
Christian Scharen’s One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters To Those Seeking God(Brazos Press) examines the theological underpinnings of the band. As Scharen – Associate Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture – rightly points out, the majority of their themes are borrowed from scripture, and he simply explores those same themes. A full-length interview with Scharen is included below.
Robert Vagacs’ Religious Nuts, Political Fanatics: U2 in Theological Perspective (Cascade Books) is a shorter read, covering much of the same ground as Scharen. The book’s introduction is a touching account of the Toronto Vertigo tour date written by Brian Walsh, and illustrates how God is present – and for some, inescapable – at U2 shows.
Steve Stockham’s revised version of Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 (Relevant Books) – the original was first published in 2001 – came out last year, and now incorporates How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Stockham – a Presbyterian Chaplain based in Dublin – grew up in the same area as the band, and as a home town boy offers a unique perspective.
Stockham explores their career from a decidedly spiritual stance; their beginnings in Dublin’s Shalom Christian Fellowship, how their faith has played out over the years, and how easily things can get misinterpreted, including the seeming dichotomies of smoking, drinking, and following scripture with equal fervor.
Initially, the band was shunned by the American church, but the last few years have seen a change to the point where some churches have begun using U2’s music for the Eucharist celebration. I spoke to Stockham, and he’s not surprised; “If you look at ‘Gloria,’ U2 were stealing from the Eucharist before the Eucharist stole from U2!”
Interview with Christian Scharen
John Cody: I’m covering the latest U2-related releases.
Christian Scharen: There’s always more (laughs).
JC: It’s been a few years since their last studio album, but what an industry…
CS: Which they’re contributing to (laughs).
JC: First off, are you familiar with a book called The God Factor by Cathleen Falsani?
CS: I am.
JC: Your story, which is similar to hers, in that when she heard U2 for the first time- it was October for her – she realized one could be a Christian and listen to good music at the same time. That inspired her to become a writer. You mention in your book how you were hit hard the first time you heard the band.
CS: Right. And it was October for me, too, with ‘Gloria,’ and some of the other songs on that album. The experience for me up until then was like church was this confined space that didn’t connect to the rest of my life. And that was sort of the first awakening to the realization that these worlds could be connected in some ways that were pretty powerful.
JC: Some of the acts you listened to before – like Pete Townsend – dealt with spiritual matters. Townsend addressed issues, not from a Christian perspective, (he was a follower of Meher Baba at the time), but he dealt in an honest way, in his songwriting at least – the way Bono might. There’s a huge difference obviously, at the core of what they believe, but rock has dealt with spiritual issues.
How are U2 different?
CS: I would say it’s different now than it was then. Early on, I didn’t really have the ears to hear those kinds of things in rock music. We would listen to a whole range of stuff. I can remember listening to stuff that Paul Simon was putting out and thinking about his exploration of African music, and listening to classic rock and liking the music, but not really… Being a little – frankly – nervous about some of the dark edges of rock music and being warned in youth group about what happens if you play a song backwards, and all that. There’s some traditional ideas that circulate in youth ministry about the dangers of rock music.
JC: And you brought into that to a certain extent.
CS: Well, it certainly was on my mind. Like most kids I saw my youth directors as being really cool. And I believed them, and listened to them and admired them. So U2 was in a sense a kind of relief for me, because I felt maybe I shouldn’t be listening to rock ‘n roll music. And then I hear this band that sounds like other bands I like, but there’s this – at least at that point – a pretty explicit sense that they were talking about something that connected with what I thought was right to say and believe.
JC: When you were in youth groups were you aware of the CCM world?
CS: Back in late 70s and early 80s there really wasn’t so much. There were a few – Petra – there were a few really Christian rock bands, but not nearly the scene that there is today.
JC: And it’s gotten better.
CS: Absolutely. The quality of the music for sure, and the engagement with, the range of sophisticated themes, and so forth. Much broader today, and I think – frankly – partly influenced by U2.
JC: After initially being afraid of U2.
CS: Right. There’s a really fun song from Switchfoot where they end up at the end of the song saying ‘Hey Bono, things are okay.’ Just a little commentary directly speaking to him, saying ‘thanks, and we appreciate the inspiration.’
JC: Would we even be having this conversation, and would you have written this book if U2 had signed with a Christian record label, way back when?
CS: I don’t think so. They would never have gotten this big, for starters. Not to say I wouldn’t have written a book about a Christian rock band. My whole intention of writing this book was how big they are, and the fact that there are a lot of people who like the band but don’t necessarily get it. I was in New York City last night talking to a bunch of seminary students, and even among pretty Christian folk they said “you know, I’d liked U2 for a long time but after I read your book, I went back and I was like ‘wow, this whole sort of deep conversation with God that was going on during the 90s that I totally ignored, I thought they’d gone off the rails and weren’t Christian anymore. Now I realize all the complexity of what was going on then in their Christian journey.’ So a real disconnect between what U2 has been up to and people’s perception of that, and understanding of that. And in some cases I’ve heard directly that that’s a gift for people’s faith to be able to go deeper, and be nourished by that.
JC: I’ve seen so many examples of that, where people had no idea and to me, they’re bolder than any Christian rock band in the ‘Christian’ industry with what they say – they’re so real. When All That You Can’t Leave Behind came out, a local critic called them hypocrites for never talking about their faith, and yet the music is informed by their faith.
CS: Somebody asked me last night – he was quoting Franklin Graham, but he used that [same] critique…
JC: Quoting Franklin Graham?
CS: Yes. Just saying, if their commitment to poverty and their orientation as a band is so Christian, why don’t they directly proclaim Christ? And we were listening – we were talking about U2’s use of the genre of lament. Most explicitly drawing on lament Psalms and scripture and also sort of writing songs that fit that mode even if they’re not directly referencing Scripture, and one of the ones we listened to was ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and that song ends with “the victory Jesus won.” I mean, it’s just an absolute clear declaration of the victory of Christ in relationship to the troubles of this world. And that’s not the only place; there are clear places in their catalog, where they’ve just said,
‘you know, this is it – this is where we’re coming from.’ Early on, and recently. And people, I think, just don’t have years to hear it. If you listen to the song ‘Playboy Mansion,’ it’s a parable of grace: 100% right out of John’s Gospel. But people don’t have the sensibility of art, and the sort of creative presentation that they use. It’s not in a sense absolutely direct.
JC: You mentioned the wisdom books, and how they don’t mention God all that much, yet they’re biblical.
CS: The Book of Esther never references God, yet it is Holy Scripture, and in a sense proclaims the power of God without directly mentioning it. There’s certainly aspects of that in wisdom literature, too.
JC: Is it just that in a lot of cases the general public, and especially the church- doesn’t get irony?
CS: Certain segments of the Christian Church (laughs).
JC: What would they do to CS Lewis if he wrote Screwtape Letters today, would it be burned?
CS: I don’t know.
I think there’s a kind of internal Christian critique in U2’s work. I tried to articulate it in terms of this theology of the Cross versus theology of glory, but Bono talks about it in terms of Karma versus grace and I think frankly, there’s a whole segment of the Christian church that operates out of Karma. It’s like; ‘you get what you deserve: if you praise God then God will bless you. If you get your life together and go off in this holy club, then you’ll be all right with God, but don’t you go associating with sinners.’ Like Jesus did. It’s this kind of incredible disconnect going on that somehow our behavior, our way of being church, our way of praising, is going to somehow woo God to love us more. And I think Bono is absolutely biblical in saying ‘no, it’s not; God already made the decision to reach out to us and love us and forgive us before we ever had the thought that we could clean ourselves up and try and pretend.’ I think that’s a challenging message for a lot of Christians, that they have to give up their pretensions that they can somehow make themselves acceptable.
JC: And would you say that’s most challenging to the American church?
CS: Yeah, I think so. Well, I don’t know that much about world Christianity, but I certainly think it’s challenging to the dominant voices in the American church.
JC: Why U2? How come it’s not A Flock of Seagulls we’re all going to see, or Simple Minds, or any of their contemporaries – the bands we were seeing in 1980?
CS: In that respect, I totally believe that God is in this. I totally think that this is God’s work. There is this sense that they gave themselves over to God and his Word from the beginning and have done something remarkable in rock ‘n’ roll, which is put the work that they’ve committed to together and the importance of the work that they’ve committed to together over their own egos, over their own success, over their own wealth. And so, it’s never become this sort of thing that implodes the band, or explodes the band. They’ve overcome a ton of things – including not being that great at their musicianship. But from early on, there’s this sense of ‘this is meant to be for something bigger than us.’ And that’s unusual. There’s a combination of things obviously, that have to do with their particular personalities, and coming out of Ireland and the kind of commitments that they had and the kind of music they play – all of that is a complex set of circumstances that contributed to their success. But I think their longevity, and the reason that they’ve been able to maintain their sort of height of success is partly the sense that they’re not just out there for themselves trying to make another buck or make another album for the sake of making another album. There is a sense that they have a bigger mission and because of that I think it’s really unfolded in ways that they really felt it would, whereas I think some bands are like; they can’t believe it and they get caught up in the surprise and the excitement of it and they sort of lose control. U2 has had Jack Heaslip as their chaplain since they were in high school. There’s this kind of sense that ‘we’re called to this and we need an internal community that’s going to help us cope and know how to be stewards of what’s going to happen, and we believe that this is going to happen, and it’s gonna happen not for us but for this bigger cause.’ And I think that really helped ground them through all the changes.
JC: There was a commitment from the very start. Do you think that guaranteed the church- that some in the church would turn against them – if they followed God, there will be problems?
CS: I think what guaranteed that some in the church would turn against them was when they decided that they were going to claim that being a rock ‘n roll band was their blessing from God. That – in fact – Christ could be present in their music regardless of whether they explicitly said “We accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.” That’s a really controversial claim. And yet, as recently as after the National Prayer Breakfast some of the religion reporters Bono met with afterward said, “why don’t you proclaim Christ more directly” and he said “all of our music proclaims Christ.” And that’s a controversial claim. I think when they made the decision that they were going to be the best rock ‘n roll band in the world, and to do it as Christians, instead of being the best Christian rock band, they guaranteed themselves criticism. And it meant particular things for how they did what they did. In the sense that they were going to have to forge their own spiritual journey, that they couldn’t just do a cookie-cutter from somewhere else, and so I think they’ve had a pretty intense spiritual journey as a band and I think that the maturity of their faith is really evident; really powerful. They couldn’t have done this current album, which goes from
‘Vertigo’ to ‘Yahweh’ without a kind of maturity of faith. Their last two tours have been profoundly worshipful. And I don’t think they could have been there, unless they had the kind of fiery spiritual journey that they’ve had.
JC: What they did in the 90s was brilliant. Without that they wouldn’t have the critical favor they have today, had they just kept on doing the big rock stuff as opposed to making fun of it.
CS: In the U2 by U2 book it’s been interesting to see the way in which they reflect on the 90s. They each reflect on it differently. I think that the Edge’s response is the most telling, which is basically; ‘we wanted to experiment, go in another direction, and we took it about as far as we could without just getting bored. It’s like, it wasn’t really us. Just the sense of total experimentation.’ He basically made this case that they have a sweet spot, musically and artistically, and they played with it. They bent it and turned it inside out and pushed it and he said, ‘we sort of took it as far as we could without feeling like we just didn’t want to do it anymore.’ And Larry is less poetic about it. He’s just like;
‘it was crazy.’ He’s like; ‘let’s do a real pop album.’ [As opposed to just calling it Pop]. And I think they each have their own musical tastes, their own artistic sensibilities. So each reflect on the 90s differently, but I think all of them sort of feel like in a sense, All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a relief, because it wasn’t exactly going back to who they were in the 80s, but it was also this sort of return to where they felt most free to be themselves, musically. If you think about the 90s in terms of wisdom literature, with ‘The Wanderer,’ and all this kind of, sort of searching and uncertainty language which was present in their songwriting during those years, there was a kind of endpoint to that. It can’t go on forever; if it goes on forever, then you get lost. And that wasn’t ever their goal, I don’t think. Their vision wasn’t that it would end up getting lost. It was more like this exploration, and it was an exploration of not only the absence of God in the midst of worldliness, but also this kind of prayer in the midst of that; what does it mean to pray in the gutter? What does it mean to pray when you can’t see God, when you don’t know God? What does it mean to sing about losing your faith, instead of finding it? And all these things are in Scripture. And I think they had been, in a sense opposite of that prior to this. So that all contributes to this journey of spiritual maturity, which you can see flowering now.
And I don’t know where that’s going to develop. I think his new song that they chose to do with Green Day is a really surprising thing. They’ve reached back to their punk roots. And it’s a pretty straight-up, driving rock song. But at the same time, it’s totally in their sweet spot; it’s like a lament Psalm: How long now? I call to my daddy on the telephone, how long now?’ I mean, if that’s not a Psalm, I don’t know what is. In the mist of the suffering after Katrina.
JC: And to pull Green Day into that too.
CS: They have this habit of sort of witnessing to other rock bands.
JC: Like Oasis complaining that they don’t party enough, that they take what they do seriously; they practice, etc.
CS: After shows they review things, ‘how did it go?’ No self-respecting rock band would do that.
JC: Bono appeared on Oprah Winfrey recently, and it was amazing how he could be a part of her world, but not of that world. He was selling the idea of wearing red…
CS: I think there’s a kind of centeredness in his life right now that allows him to do that sort of commercial thing with Oprah, and do this sort of political thing with George Bush. But he’s not doing it to be sort of ‘buddy buddy.’ It’s for one purpose, and the purpose just drives through everything he does, and if there isn’t a payoff for the poorest of the poor, then he’s not showing up. That to me – this whole thing about the red campaign – is brilliant, because it’s like he’s thinking; the consumer market is a multibillion dollar market every year. Why aren’t some of those dollars going to help the poorest of the poor? Well, because we don’t have a way to siphon off. So let’s figure out a way to siphon it off, make it sexy, and all of a sudden we’re saving thousands of lives. And he did it. Fantastic.
JC: What did you think of the U2 iPod?
CS: I have one. It’s a way to raise the question of how they’ve been business savvy. They haven’t ever shied away from the goal of being popular, and being into marketing and try to figure a way as to keep on the front page of the paper. I think they’re really business savvy, and the relationship they have with Apple is totally self-serving in a sense.
JC: And brilliant.
CS: Yeah, absolutely. They have great business sense and they partly maintained their integrity by not taking money for it. But it’s clearly beneficial
JC: What about Paul McGuinness, their manager? They’ve had the same manager all along. Is he a believer?
CS: I don’t know. All I know about him is he’s been utterly faithful to them and he’s really happy to be wealthy. I have this image; they describe him as liking fancy clothes and fancy wine. Early on, when they did the whole Shalom community and the angst about whether they should break up or stay with Shalom and such, he was like ‘whatever you have to do.’ But he wasn’t into it. So my sense is that he sort of admires them, and thinks it’s amazing that they’ve had this kind of grounded conviction in their faith and that it’s worked instead of totally backfiring on them, but that he doesn’t share it. That’s my sense. And early on there was this sense that he and Adam were the agnostics and Larry and The Edge and Bono were the faithful. And Adam has since converted and become quite deeply spiritual.
JC: I’ve heard that quote from Bono many times before, but has Adam talked about his faith much at all?
CS: I haven’t heard him talk about it. I’ve almost never even seen him do interviews. He and Larry are not talkative, comparatively speaking. The Edge does a few interviews, Bono does tons. [But] Adam and Larry, not so much.
JC: You state in your book that it’s not so much about the band, as it is how they point the listener to a deeper experience with God. Many people don’t have an idea of how serious this band is regarding their faith.
CS: I like to think that I wrote the book not mainly because I like U2, but because I like Jesus.
And I wanted to portray the depth of their faith and the way that they speak about their faith, because I think that lots of people are sort of drawn to the band because of their way of connecting spirituality and sensuality and political commitment. But it’s a nebulous thing; [like] ‘I sensed that they’re real,’ or that ‘they’re committed to things that I care about,’ or that ‘they raise interesting questions,’ ‘they make space for doubt,’ whatever. And I wanted to say, okay, well, my gift is as a theologian to try and portray more systematically, with more accessibility, the coherence of what they’re saying about the faith. One of my favorite reviews of my book was this guy who runs a website for credit card offers. It canvases all credit card offers available at any one time in the world.
Not a Christian, just sort of curious about spirituality, but really loves U2. And he read my book, and he was like ‘I thought Christianity was sort of offensive, but I like U2 and when I read this book it made me think, there’s a way of thinking of the Christian faith that draws me, and I’m going to think more about that. I’m going to see where that goes.’ So to me it’s a total justification for the time and effort writing the book, that it opens up the possibility that people might reconsider a connection to God in a profound way.
JC: Entertainment Weekly gave the book a very positive review.
CS: That was hilarious. I just had no idea what connections would happen in that way, because of the faith focus.
JC: So the publisher is getting the book out everywhere?
CS: They’re doing a great job. Brazos has really been great.
JC: I wasn’t aware of the publisher before your book.
CS: They’re new – relatively speaking. They’re part of Baker. Baker is an old press, but Brazos has a semi-independent label within Baker, and is doing some innovative stuff. Crossing at least the breadth of the ecumenical Church, so it’s been great, because they get connections from Orthodox and Catholic all the way to the local Evangelical book store on the corner.
JC: Are there any other bands doing anything like this?
CS: People ask me that, and I’ve thought about it a lot. And what I thought is this; there are some bands that are doing similar things. But there’s so much difference in prominence. If you think about who’s prominent like U2, there’s really only a couple of bands, and you know – the Rolling Stones? Give me a break. They’re not singing the same kind of thing. It’s just a different deal. So I think, like I said earlier, when I gave an example of Switchfoot, there are some younger bands, maybe 10 or 15 years younger in age, who’ve really been inspired by U2 and are trying to do something similar, straddle the line between the rock ‘n roll world proper and Christian faith, and are doing some powerful stuff in terms of social witness and so forth, but they’re just so much smaller in their reach. I mean, they play 5-7000 seat halls. So when you think about the band U2 being as big as they are, then they don’t really have any peers.
JC: No peers, but as far as attempting the same thing, you’re figuring its mostly young bands still on their way up?
CS: Yeah. Like you were saying, there’s lots of bands that have had spiritual resonances of a variety of sorts, Christian and otherwise. Steve Turner has written some great stuff on that. He has a new book out about the gospel according to the Beatles. He’s great at pointing that kind of stuff out. And U2 has said they’ve been inspired by Marvin Gaye, and by Bob Marley, and by the Beatles and by all these people who tried to deal with spirituality in their songs. Sure, they’ve been inspired by that, but they’ve done it their own way. They’ve been much more orthodox and confessional in their orientation to a faith confession. Not sort of those new age-y, spiritual-versus-religion. U2 have their critique of organized religion, but they’re also involved in organized religion, and they also have been shaped by the tradition of the Church and their faith is orthodox in the way that the Church has confessed it’s faith, and so it’s an internal fight with the church instead of an external fight. Sometimes Christianity Today will portray U2 as fighting the church from the outside, and I think that’s wrong. They’re fighting the church from the inside just like anybody would who cares about their tradition.
JC: Christianity Today, the magazine?
CS: Yeah. They’ve written a series of articles over the year that I think portray U2 as standing outside the faith and critiquing it. And I don’t think that’s right. I think they’re standing inside the tradition and say, you know, as people who would like to be considered as Christians, who would like to be representatives of this tradition somehow, we have some comments we’d like to make about the life of the Church, which seems pretty hypocritical to us. That feels different to me that someone who’s not really a part of the tradition saying the traditions stink.
JC: Who is your intended audience?
CS: My most narrow audience were 15 to 25-year-old kids who don’t really have much depth in the Christian faith, but maybe like U2 or maybe like pop music and have spiritual questions. Ultimate questions about what matters in life. I think that that generation – like Christian Smith, a really prominent sociologist of religion at North Carolina, and he just published a book on basically the faith of teenagers [Portraits of Protestant Teens: A Report on Teenagers in Major U.S. Denominations]
CS: It’s the biggest study ever on religious convictions of teenagers. He described them – based on all of his research – he described their faith as so generic and shallow. Like this image that God is sort of a moralist deity who rewards you if you do the right thing.
JC: And everything is relative…
CS: Yeah. And I was thinking about that audience and saying okay, that is so not what U2 is about in their songs and I want to help those young people who maybe are into U2 or maybe not, but maybe have heard of U2. Maybe their parents will give them this book, maybe their youth minister will give them this book and it will help them sort of go one step deeper in their understanding of the Christian faith in a way that will help them live a life that’s more faithful in terms of discipleship. So I’ve had a couple of reviews that said it’s a great book, but it’s limitation and it’s blessing is that it’s written for people who are a little bit on the margins of the church. And so when the Sunday school class is reading it, they know some of it. And I was willing to do that. That’s fine with me
JC: I think any nonbeliever would get an awful lot from it. If they’re big enough fans and want to find out more about where the band is coming from…
CS: Right. I think that’s what I hoped, and I think that’s happening.
JC: Just like U2, your biblical quotes came from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. When U2 came to Vancouver they wanted to see Peterson, and he wasn’t available.
CS: I love that he’s so uninterested [laughs]. The only person in the world that U2 wants to talk to, and it’s like, ‘well, you know. ‘They invited him to come to a concert in Chicago, and he was like; ‘well, I can’t make it.’
JC: Is the band aware of your book?
CS: I haven’t heard anything directly that would confirm that they know about it. I know that they have it, because one of my good friends has a family member, who is one of six people on DATA’s board. They meet every other month, and he took my book to give to Bono. So I know that he’s got it, but I haven’t heard anything, so I don’t know if they hate it or love it or they don’t really care.
© John Cody 2007