I've seen a couple places in the fandom recently links to the listing for U2 on a site I don't want to promote. Its aim is to dig up dirt on artists in the Christian music industry, as well as spiritually thoughtful mainstream bands, in order to prove that all of them are evil, twisted corrupters of pure young minds. I've also noticed, in my referrer logs, some evidence of people searching for ugly "facts" about the people in U2 and their families.

All that would bother me a lot anyway. But it does especially when I'm wrapped up in a book project which takes a diametrically opposed perspective. We have been so careful throughout work on Get Up Off Your Knees -- from the very first call for submissions through the editing process and onward -- to be clear with everyone that our professional interest as theologians and homileticians was not in the band as people, and most of all not in their personal lives or convictions or lack of same. All that stuff is just out of bounds for this project, and should be. These sermons are about, as someone who got a preview put it to me recently, "the Big Ideas," and how particular works of art -- U2 lyrics, in this case, but it could be any artist -- illuminate or question those ideas.

I wonder if the people behind sites like that would argue the same way for other artistic genres? Say, that a conscientious person of faith shouldn't, for example, find spiritual benefit in the "Hymn to St. Cecelia" by Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden, or play off it to make a point in a sermon? Or is the hatred and fear really all just about rock 'n' roll?

It sort of inspires despair when I see this blood-lust for "dirt" ....and even more when I get afraid that some people might think a book of U2 sermons would have anything in common with it.

Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.

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