Posts Tagged ‘U2’

If you are going to write a book on the Apostles’ Creed these days, you need to come up with some novel aspect to the book because there are many books out there by the likes of Witsius, Packer, McGrath, Horton and others. I’m not talking about novel theology, for that would be problematic.

Ray Cannata and Joshua Reitano, in their book Rooted, have come up with a specific and significant addition that makes their book very much worth reading, and studying. They added a missional element to the book so we can think through how our catholic (universal) theology leads us to mission (this article is essentially an excerpt).

“You can believe that God is mighty to guide you as you go out and recklessly pursue his mission to love and serve your neighbors, even when the mission seems impossible. You can believe that God is mighty enough for you to put aside your obsession with being “safe” and move toward the pain of those in need.”

Ray and Joshua currently serve in very different places. Ray used to pastor a church in NJ (near NYC), and is known in the PCA as “the Pastor Who Ate New Orleans.” Joshua is the pastor of a church in Cincinnati. These are 3 very different contexts so their idea of mission is not limited by particular contexts.

“The Kingdom expands when you lay down your life, when you sacrifice your desires and your comfort for the good of others.”

The book is comprised of 13 chapters, or studies, that work through the Apostles’ Creed. Each chapter begins with a Scripture text and ends with the focus on mission and some questions for group discussion. It is intended to be used over the course of a quarterly study. The chapters are short enough to be read in 20-30 minute time frames. Any book that brings up the Three Stooges and Ted Williams has to be interesting in my estimation. There are the obligatory references to The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia and U2 (my potentially published book has some of those) but they fit and aren’t the standard references you might expect. They also draw on a number of personal and historical events to illustrate their points. As a result the book is accessible (not over people’s heads) and interesting as well as meaningful.

“Belief in the resurrection of the dead enables you to live a big life. It allows you to take up your cross and move toward pain and suffering.”

I might use this with our men’s group or community group next year. It is sound, convicting and (as I said above) interesting. Like many churches we struggle with that idea of mission- being part of God’s great, big story in order to invite others into that story. There have been recent books that come to mind that offer a similar call to a radical life. This is far more gracious, warm and balanced. I found the others lacking a gospel foundation and motivation. They seek their motivation in great theological truth, not guilt. Pastorally, this is very important. I want holy affections, as Edwards called them, to arise as a response to biblical truth. This book seeks to do that very thing.

[I received a free copy from my friend who works with the publisher Doulos, not necessarily for the purposes of review.]

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It wasn’t quite the best time to head to Mexico for a mission trip.  For one, I just got home from a lengthy vacation.  For another, we are at an important point in the adoption process.  And it is the hottest time of the year in that border city, often above 100 degrees.  It’s hotter than Tucson there.  But we are not in control of our times, and the time had come to head south of the border.

This is not the best time to head down south.  Cartel violence has made many a headline.   But there are a few things to consider.  For one, God is in control.  For another, not all of Mexico is dangerous.  A church member works with homeland security, and did some research on the area.  It is not a contested area, so it is pretty peaceful.  As we would learn, you bump into a police car every few hundred feet.

It was time to kiss the family goodbye and meet the rest of the team at the church facility.  As we were loading up we decided not to bring the ladder.  This meant that we could fit everything, and everybody, in the van and one car.  The other guy who bought insurance to drive his car in Mexico was willing to not drive.  It might have been because he hadn’t slept, since he was cleaning his car well into the night.  He also put new tires on it recently.  But I like to drive, and my car is not a valuable as his. I got a decent night’s sleep.   So…. we took mine.  He became CavNav(igator) for the trip.  So off we went, next stop Gila Bend.

The first part of the trip was uneventful.  Lots of jokes, nearly missing the exit to I-8 due to construction and that’s pretty much it.  At Gila Bend, we grabbed a quick snack and made use of the facilities.  After about 2 hours in the car, our legs needed to be stretched.  Since I was tired, I decided to put some music in.  I chose the 77’s Sticks and Stones.  A great album, but it may have not been the best choice because Don’t This Way was running thru my brain much of the week, including those times I lay awake in the middle of the night.  The other song that ran thru my mind was You Walked in the Room– “lousy jokes, and out and out lying…”.

This explains a few things.

While the 77’s were playing I began to notice a vibration.  I thought it might be the increasingly rough road.  CavNav chose the next CD- All That You Can’t Leave Behind.  Sort of appropriate when you think of it.  The vibration grew worse.  Problem was, we were heading up a mountain.  I didn’t want the van we were traveling with to have to start back up with that grade incline.  So, when we started our descent, I found a place with room on the side of the road with good visibility.  The driver’s side front tire was good.  The passenger’s side, not so much.  I could see that the tire was not flat, anymore.  the surface was warped.  And then there was the tread separation.  No small problem that.

I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of changing a tire on such a steep downgrade.  We slowly made our way to the next exit.  As it turns out, we should have gone the extra 2 miles thump-a-thump-thumping to the next exit.

We pulled off the highway and found a parking lot.  I missed the sign that would have provided some good shade for the tire change.  The ladies decided to shop while the men got busy.  It really was a group effort.  Being on a mission trip has some advantages when changing a tire in 100+ degree heat in Yuma, AZ.  Okay, except for the fact that we had to empty the trunk to get to the spare.  We had work gloves so we didn’t burn our hands as we worked.  And when the spare was empty, we had a compressor to fill it.  Sweet!


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This morning at the gym I was listening to Yes’ 90125 album.  I enjoyed much of the older stuff by Yes, and I was very excited to hear that a reformulated Yes was releasing an album.  This was during my Senior year in high school.  This was the year that I started going to rock concerts.  It all started with Rainbow (Aldo Nova was the opening act) on what would be their final world tour (Blackmore’s reformulated Rainbow in the late 90’s is blocked out from my memory).  John Graves, a.k.a. Jolly since he was English, called to see if I wanted to go.  I begged my father to go.  That year I would see Van Halen (with Autograph), the Scorpions (with Bon Jovi) and Yes.  The summer after graduation I would see the Moody Blues, the Pretenders (with the Simple Minds), the Cars (the night before my physical exam for college- being on the 4th row, I couldn’t hear anything the next day) and Yes again.  Listening to It Can Happen reminded the long, strange story of how I got to go to that concert (sorry about the really bad fashion, it was the 80’s).


He had the same haircut for 30 years.

Before I get to that, today I learned one of my other best friends in High School passed away unexpectedly this week.  Brian Borromeo was in most of my classes, and I somehow managed to be a few people ahead of him in the upper quarter.  We spent a lot of time together while at school.  He was the first of my Philippino friends.   I didn’t see him much after college.  One weekend I was home from school and I had a small party.  He came over.  It was good to head to pick up pizza and talk about life and the “new” U2 EP that had come out.  The last time we got together was just after he’d transferred to Northeastern University in Boston.  He apparently decided dentistry was not for him.  He was angry that I was no longer Roman Catholic.  I never saw him again.  I kept trying to find him on Facebook, but never did.  Now I never will.


Yes’ 90125 came out and we were blown away.  Trever Rabin’s guitar (he’s gone on to work on a number of movie soundtracks) was a welcome addition for me.  His style was very different than Steve Howe’s, so the album had a different feel to it than their great albums from the past.  So we were all ready to go see the band when they came to town.


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While I was in college “I Still Believe (Grand Design)” was often on the radio.  It was a great song, but I didn’t follow up on the band at all.  Then things changed.

First, I became a Christian.  After discovering that there were a few interesting Christian bands out there, I subscribed to a magazine called Harvest Rock Syndicate, later called The Syndicate.  They focused on Christians who were making rock and alternative music.  I found a reviewer in Brian Quincy Newcomb whose tastes closely mirrored mine.  When he reviewed Into the Woods I knew I had to check it out.  Soon thereafter I purchased my first CD player.  I bought 4 or 5 new CDs to celebrate.  Among them was Into the Woods and Reconciled.  I was hooked.

They were a progressive band- part new wave (especially the earliest albums) and part rock.  They had some great lyrics that wrestled with life.  They didn’t settle for the simplistic, but still had a soul anchor.  Tom Ferrier’s lefty guitar work was great.  They had a great sound to accompany those lyrics.

After U2 broke the world wide open with Joshua Tree, it seemed the Call was poised to take advantage.  They were called the future of American music, and people like Peter Gabriel hailed them.  I was excited.  Let the Day Begin, another fantastic album was released.  The song was popular on rock radio, but the explosion never happened.  As what often happens, the ‘next big thing’ didn’t become anything.  I wasn’t crushed when Dexy’s Midnight Runners fizzled (just an example), but I was disappointed for the Call that they didn’t take off.  It didn’t seem fair… they were more talented and thoughtful than 98% of the drivel being sold/purchased at the time.  Fantasy was in; real life honesty not so much.  U2 must have exhausted the market.

I caught a live show at Gordon College.  The acoustics were horrible, but the band was great.  They put on a good show.  Not fancy- it was all about the music.

Then they shifted styles.  Red Moon was more subtle musically.  It was a very good album, but I don’t recall hearing anything from it on the radio.  By this time I was in seminary down in FL.  My discretionary spending was nil.  Somehow a live album, Live Under the Red Moon, slipped out without my knowledge in 2000.  You can find it, but it is a bit expensive.  I may still have to bit the bullet since I love live albums.

For a short time Michael Been took a break to explore some different territory solo.  Sort of solo anyway.  His friends from The Call showed up on On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.  Though different from his work with the Call, it was still a great album forged during a dissolving relationship.  He also wrote the soundtrack for a little seen movie called Light Sleeper (I’ve only seen parts of it).  It starred Willem Defoe, whom he met on the set of The Last Temptation of Christ.  I never saw that, but I think Been played the Apostle John.

The Call would release one more album, To Heaven and Back, but the magic was gone.  It was better than most albums, but not up to the standards set by earlier albums.   Around this time they played Cornerstone.  In 1997 they did a 3-piece acoustic tour.

In recent years Michael has focused on his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  He was working the sound board for their European tour when he suffered a heart attack.  If he still believed, to die is gain and he beholds all he’d longed for.

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The Cavman is on vacation. One of the many benefits of vacation is the ability to catch up on the reading I’ve been meaning to do. Since we flew across the country, I had plenty of time (except when CavSon was rambunctious) to dig into Sinclair Ferguson’s By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. If you haven’t read Sinclair Ferguson before, I ask you “Why?”. I always find food for my soul in Ferguson’s books.  This book was no exception.

This book, a companion to his recent book In Christ Alone, is different. Ferguson utilizes a hymn by African pastor Emmanuel Sibomana to explore the amazing nature of God’s grace. Each of the 7 chapters uses the corresponding stanza as a spring board into good pastoral theology. By that I mean the application of theology to pastoral/personal matters.

“Being amazed by God’s grace is a sign of spiritual vitality. It is a litmus test of how firm and real is our grasp of the Christian gospel and how close is our walk with Jesus Christ. The growing Christian finds that the grace of God astonishes and amazes. … Sadly, we might more truthfully sing of ‘accustomed grace.'”

My Chains Fell Off– the gospel begins with liberation. Ferguson begins with the bondage we experience before being liberated. Christians look back and see their prior bondage. Non-Christians often don’t even notice the chains they are so accustomed to them. There were a few twists I did not expect. He quotes part of the Kinks’ song Dedicated Follower of Fashion.  Later he quotes the Rolling Stones’ (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction [one of the few Stones song I like]. I thought of a few more songs that illustrated depravity while reading along.

“Every time she walks on by, wild thoughts escape” U2God Part 2

“‘We’ll walk on thru heaven’s door and proudly raise our heads.’  I said, ‘Man, you must be crazy, our hands are covered blood red.'”  The CallBlood Red

We are in a bondage from which we cannot free ourselves. But when we forget the depths of our bondage grace becomes boring. Part of the bondage is that when it is pointed out, people feel insulted. “How dare you call me a sinner!” Until we grasp the severity of the bondage we won’t grasp the wonder of the freedom. Even from respectable bondage, like those which enslaved the Pharisees.


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I picked up Switchfoot’s latest disc, Hello Hurricane, with a gift card I received for my birthday.  Of the numerous discs I received with it, this is the best one in my book.  I even liked it more than U2’s No Line on the Horizon.

This may mean I’m a sucker for arena rock, but I don’t care.

In some ways this is typical Switchfoot, or perhaps I should say what I like most about Switchfoot.  They are more consistent in their portrayal of their faith than Bono is, but like Bono they avoid the “beat you over the head with Jesus” trap (contrast that with worship music which should be all about Jesus).

This album is more aggressive musically than No Line on the Horizon.  I want driving guitars and pounding bass to accompany songs about the state of the world and my heart.  Switchfoot has more of that going for it (“Mess of Me”, “The Sound” etc.).  They are younger, and have not yet mellowed out.  U2 appeals more to people my age, and has mellowed some in recent years.

Don't let the vest fool you.

Another big difference between them is the focus on the problems we experience.  Switchfoot is far more willing to own up to our part in the conspiracy.  Jon Foreman knows that the world won’t change unless I change (and a whole lot of others too).  So, he’s a tad more personal and existential than Bono at times.  He also screams a bit more (which CavWife doesn’t like) on songs like “Bullet”.

Hello Hurricane picks up that idea that hurricanes change life irrevocably.  In 2004 we saw our community changed by 3 hurricanes.  They also had a personal effect on us.  We weren’t quite the same.  Switchfoot’s idea is that this change is a welcome thing because I’ve made a “Mess of Me.”  This song is followed by the more thoughtful “Your Love is a Song”.  I can choose to hear the roar of the hurricane (or modern life) or the love of my Creator and Redeemer.  It is this love that enables me to stand in the storm as my life is deconstructed and reconstructed.  It is this love that fuels our love which cannot be silenced even though everything may be taken away sort of connecting Job and Colossians 2-3 (“Hello Hurricane”).

They start off with the obligatory “boy meets girl” in a messed up world song.  But “Needle and Haystack Life” is a satisfying song.  It brings back shades of The Beautiful Letdown.

There are some ambiguities, like on “Enough to Let Me Go”.  Is it a human romance, or something like the story of the Prodigal?  There are plenty of allusions to faith here: “I’m walking the line that will lead me home”,  “a seed must die before it grows”).  This song is a bit more pop-oriented, with a bit of haunting keyboards hanging in the background.

But “Free” is clearer.  He longs for redemption from the prison cell within his shell of a man.  He’s living in Romans 7, doing what he hates, hurting those he loves.  (“come set me free, down on my knees, i still believe you can save me from me”  “i had a dream my chains were broken, free…”).  This all to some great bass and guitars.

He revels in surrender and second chances in “Always”.  It has a bit more anthemic feel to it with the guitar work reminding me a bit of The Verve.  “Sing it Out” is another cry for Someone to work in him, to change him.  It is a longing for God, and is a bit haunting before it moves into more of an anthem-like song.  But the haunting elements return for a slow fade with guitar feedback and strings.

I’ve missed Switchfoot.  I’m glad they are back.  Let’s hope it is not nearly 3 years before the next release.

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Considering Delirious?

I need a break from The Naked Gospel, something a bit more positive.  CT has an interview with Martin Smith of Delirious?, one of my favorite bands.  They have just wrapped up their farewell tour, and this makes me a bit sad.  I’ve never seen them in concert.  But bands have a knack for reuniting, so you never know.

I first learned about Delirious? while in Mexico for a mission trip.  Paco, our British guide, received King of Fools as a gift which was delivered (I think) by our team.  We listened to it a few times, and they sounded like what I imagine U2 would have sounded like had they been more evangelical.  I’ve purchased nearly every album since then.  They started as a worship band, and all of their albums had a number of worshipful songs on them, though most probably couldn’t be done in a church.

They did record their final show, so we have that to look forward to.

In the interview, Martin cites U2 and Radiohead as primary influences musically.

One of the more interesting comments was about the Church of England.  He thinks there are some incredible things happening in the Church, which will change things in the next year.  Sadly there were no specifics.

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