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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I was a little surprised when CavWife said she wanted to see Taken.  I had heard of the brutal torture scene (yes, though extracting information it was torture and tainted by revenge), and thought she wouldn’t be interested.  Ironically, while watching a preview she commented “that’s just about revenge.”  Nevertheless, while at Redbox, I picked up Taken and a Val Kilmer movie I’d never heard of, Columbus Day.

Liam Neeson plays a former CIA “preventer” named Brian Mills.  His casting in this role seems less likely than even Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.  Perhaps I should be cast as Mitch Rapp.  But, I’ve never seen Liam in person so I have little context for this assessment.  Perhaps he’s stronger and quicker than I imagine, but I think it is largely the result of quick shots and editing.

Anyway, his teenage daughter Kim travels overseas.  She tells her father she’s going to Paris to see the museums, but he discovers she’s really going to follow U2 around on a European Tour.  Shortly after arriving in Paris, she and her friend are taken by human traffickers.  Brian uses his skills to track the traffickers and retrieve his daughter.

There is not much of a plot besides this, and it moves at a rather quick pace.  He’s working against the clock, and he’s been trained to compartmentalize so he’s not agonizing over any of this.  But he kills and maims his way around Paris to find his daughter (granted, more noble than Bourne’s escapades in Europe).

As I lay on my bed it came to me- this was a picture of grace (granted, a stunted one).  I realized this when I reflected on the fact she didn’t deserve it.  To be rescued (yes … I’d rescue my daughter, perhaps even creating similar carnage).  She lied to her father and manipulated him.  She was also lied too by her friend who put her in such a dangerous position.  But she was essentially a spoiled, ungrateful child who disobeyed and betrayed her father and placed herself, by her selfishness, into the arms of human flotsam.

That is me.  I didn’t deserve to be rescued from the mortal danger I’d placed myself in.  Romans 5 says that Jesus died to save us while we were ungodly, sinners and enemies of God.  We do not deserve this, nor can we earn it (as Capt. Miller told Private Ryan to do).

Perhaps that is why she exclaims “you came for me!”  Maybe, while being to be sold as a sexual slave she realized how selfish she had been.  Some days I need to recapture the amazement that “He came for me!”

Unlike Brian Mills, He didn’t rescue by taking out the even more evil ones.  Oh, that will happen later.  But Jesus came to rescue by offering His life in our place.  This is why I say the redemptive theme in Taken is stunted.  Brian Mills only risked his life, and offered to pay a ransom.  He wasn’t the ransom.  Jesus was.

But, as I lay on my bed after a sin-filled, selfish day, I was reminded how undeserving I am, what grave danger I was in, and that He came for me.  Yes, a picture of grace.

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Yeah, still haven’t gotten the new U2 album.  One day, when we arrive in our new, as of now unknown, destination.  The new single is Magnificent.  I haven’t listened to it very much.  It is different from Get On Your Boots.  The lyrics are more overtly spiritual, however. It is a song of devotion, the mark that “love” leaves.  Bono seems nearly a Calvinist.

I found it an odd choice for a second single- but I’ve never been a multi-million album seller, or their manager.  I lack ‘pop’ sensibilities, so I  would prefer a more straight-forward hard rock song.  It has a less edgy sound.

And here is a live version from London.

Jars of Clay has also released a new record, which is on my “wish list” as well, The Long Fall Back to Earth.  It follows Good Monsters which is one of their best (with Jars of Clay and If I Left the Zoo), which I enjoyed on the way home from a preaching engagement.  Here they are talking about the new album:

Sadly, I missed their show at the House of Blues this weekend.  I very much wanted to be there.  Maybe next time.

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Window in the Skies is becoming one of my favorite U2 songs.  I don’t own the CD single.  But it pops up periodically on my Slacker Radio stations.  While working on other matters, the words seep into my soul.  That’s is what is getting to me.  Other songs of theirs are much better musically.  But the lyrics remind me of the hope I have.

The shackles are undone
The bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when it’s done
The rule has been disproved
The stone, it has been moved
The grave is now a grove
All debts are removed

Bono rehearses the Gospel- Christ’s work for us.  Because of the empty tomb, our debts have been removed if we trust in Him.  We have freedom, the shackles of guilt, fear, shame and condemnation are done.

But Bono does not remain stuck in the vertical.  He brings this grace into our horizontal relationship.

Love makes strange enemies
Makes love where love may please
The soul and its striptease
Hate brought to its knees
The sky over our head
We can reach it from our bed
If you let me in your heart
And out of my head

The redemption purchased by Christ means the end of hate in those hearts captured by love.  Bono takes the voice of a man wanting to see reconciliation, admitting his failings.

Oh, can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

Oh, can’t you see what love has done
I know I hurt you and I made you cry
Oh, can’t you see what love has done
Did everything but murder you and I
Oh, can’t you see what love has done
But love left a window in the skies

This love (not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice- 1 John) is changing the man in the song.  He wants his lover see what love in doing in him.  He hurt her, nearly killing their relationship.  He wants to experience with her what he has experienced with God. 

I particularly like that line: love left a window in the skies.  God left a testimony of His love.  Faith opens the window that grace may blow like a breeze into this world and remove that funk that comes from a sealed home.  The time has come to air things out- repair & refresh the relationship with grace.

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U2 Album in the Can

@U2 reports that producer Daniel Lanois told Le Journal de Montreal that U2 has finished recording their newest album.

“It’s going to be different in several ways, but I think it’s similar from one point of view, namely that it’s going to push the known limits in the sound arena, the way Achtung Baby did in the past.”

This is what U2 does to keep it fresh, reinventing themselves.  It sounds like the Edge has been playing with some new toys.  Great guitar is always a plus for me.  I will probably be plunking down my cash shortly after this one is released.

If you haven’t been over there, here are some of the songs mentioned, though the ones near the end of the list are less likely to appear on this album.

  • The Cedars of Lebanon – Daniel Lanois revealed this track in an interview with the Montreal magazine, Voir. He said the song was inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
  • Moment of Surrender – Brian Eno reportedly told fans about this song outside Hanover Quay studios in early June, 2008. Eno called it “the best thing” he’s recorded with U2.
  • For Your Love – a song title seen on the band’s white board, as described in this article from the Fez recording sessions
  • One Bird – a song title seen on the band’s white board, as described in this article from the Fez recording sessions
  • No Line On The Horizon – Bono and Edge played this song for a USA Today writer during an in-the-car interview at the Sundance Film Festival. On hearing it, writer Anthony Breznican says “heavy distortion fills the car,” and later adds: “The song is rough, weaving between brutal guitar blasts underscoring the mellow title refrain.” Edge explains that the song “It came out of a new distortion box that my guitar tech got.”
  • Unknown Title – in the same interview with Anthony Breznican, Bono and Edge played a second song whose opening lyric is, “It’s six o’clock…”. Bono tells Breznican that numbers are significant in each of the new songs.
  • If I Could Live My Life Again – Bono says this song is “inspired by the great Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges.” Bono said he had just begun the song while speaking with author Michka Assayas in December, 2005. Their interview appears as the extra material in the paperback version of Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas.
  • Love Is All We Have Left – a song Bono named during his May, 2006, trip to Africa as one that he had recently written. “It’s like an old Broadway tune. I thought it was a Frank Sinatra song,” Bono said.
  • North Star,” a song from the How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sessions which included a guest organ appearance from Michael W. Smith. In this CCM article, Smith describes the song as a tribute to Johnny Cash.
  • Mercy“, one of the last songs to get cut from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, described in Blender magazine as “a six-and-a-half-minute outpouring of U2 at its most uninhibitedly U2-ish”
  • Lead Me In The Way I Should Go” — a contender for Atomic Bomb first mentioned in this February, 2003, interview with Bono in Grammy Magazine
  • You Can’t Give Away Your Heart” – a contender for Atomic Bomb first mentioned in SPIN magazine

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I have not played much guitar since the adoption.  Foolishly, I have kept it at home since I sometimes play at our Family Small Group.  But there just doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to play.  Can’t play when the kids are awake, and if they are asleep….

Well, last night I needed to play.  I needed some truth in my head, and that is a great time for me to ponder lyrics and try to draw near to God.  It’s been a long week, and I needed some of that time.  So I played after the kids went to bed, but before they usually drift off to sleep.  And I played this morning after they all went to Bible Study Fellowship.  Ah, if only my callouses weren’t so thin.  Then I would have played longer.  Here’s part of my “song list”:

Blessed Be Your Name, I Need Thee Every Hour (Jars of Clay version), O Worship the King (Passion verison), Here is Love, Beautiful, Scandalous Night, Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) [still learning this one], A Shield About Me, Guide Me, O Great Jehovah, Be Thou My Vision, From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee.

Good for the soul.

In the quiet home this morning I read some more of In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson.  Actually, I read some last night too.  I try to read 2 chapters a day and am moderately successful.  I finally finished Part V- A Life of Wisdom.  Great stuff in there about discernment and character.  The material I read this morning intersected with my sermon.  We focus on circumstances, but God focuses on character.  My choices flow out of my character so my choices have to be focused on how God transform my character (truth and trial).  The chapter in question was on contentment.  Character traits like this must be learned through experience, as we bring truth to bear on them.

“Christians must discover contentment the old-fashioned way: we must learn it. … It is commanded of us, but, paradoxically, it is created in us, not done by us.  It is not the product of a series of actions, but of a renewed and transformed character. … This seems a difficult principle  for Christians today to grasp.  Clear directives for Christian living are essential for us.  But, sadly, much of the heavily programmatic teaching in evangelicalism places such a premium on external doing and acheiving that character development is set at a discount.  We live in the most pragmatic society on earth (if anyone can ‘do it,’ we can).  It is painful to pride to discover that the Christian life is not rooted in what we can do, but in what we need done to us.” 


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Unforgettable Fire: The Past, Present and Future- the Definitive Biography of U2 has been sitting on my shelf for at least a decade.  I bought it on a discount shelf while I lived in Orlando.  I’ve been meaning to read it, and decided to finally invest the time to read Eamon Dunphy’s book.

Eamon spends plenty of time covering the childhood of the band members, and what Dublin was like in those days.  I’m someone who appreciates these things.  I like knowing the events that shape the soul of people.

The book essentially covers up to the release of The Joshua Tree when they finally hit the last measure of success in the music world- #1 singles.  You definitely get the sense of how difficult it was for them to make it out of Dublin.  They came an hour away from absolute failure.  They were on the last show of the “let’s get a contract tour” without a contract.  They were broke, and Paul McGuinness’ strategy seemed ready to fail.  It was at that concert that they won over Island records.  There were lots of people who were impressed by their presence, integrity and commitment.  These people were instrumental in helping them go from unknown band to being able to develop a reputation in the U.S.

One of the other big obstacles was their relationship with Shalom, a charismatic group in Dublin.  This Christian fellowship was instrumental in many ways.  It helped cultivate the desire for them to build community as how they did business.  But Shalom, in focusing on surrendering the ego, lost sight of vocation.  They wanted U2 to quit, fearing the role of ego in the music business.  They failed to consider what these young men were called to do with their lives.  They failed to learn from biblical characters like Daniel who lived out their faith in the midst of a corrupt community.  So their influence on the members of U2 was mixed.

The faith of Bono, Edge and Larry was also a problem on their early tours.  It built a barrier in their relationship with Adam and Paul.  At the time, Adam didn’t share their faith.  As they huddled in the back of the bus to read the Bible, pray, sing and talk, Adam was left out.  He feared being kicked out of the band for a few years.  And the band was all he had.  As the 3 men matured in their faith, they realized they had an obligation to Adam (Paul helped them see how many people they were responsible for), to love him and accept him.  When it would have made sense of Bono to ask Edge or Larry to be his best man, he asked Adam in an attempt to bridge the gap he had helped build.

As the book moves on, and new people are brought into the U2 family, he also gives their brief biography as well.  And this is one of the things that sets U2 apart from the vast majority of rock bands.  They built a community of people invested in their vision and values.  I guess I summarized their values as: Respect the Fans, Respect the Crew, and Respect One Another.

The only “flaw” in the book would be the prevelant use of the F-word.  In their culture, Eamon is also from Dublin, this is common (as it was where I grew up).  As the book crosses cultures, it may not be as accepted particularly as fodder for teens.  If this is the worst you can get on U2, that is great.  There are no groupie stories or drunken/drug binges.  They sought to integrate their faith with their music, not by singing hymns but by how they treated people.  Eamon is certainly a fan, but doesn’t cover all their blemishes.  You see some of their immaturity, their weaknesses of character as well as their strengths.  He just doesn’t dwell on them, which is a good thing.

All in all, this makes good reading for someone wanting to learn more about the band members’ childhood, and their early years together.


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