New Hope Church "U2 review"

First time I've had anything like this to share. Here, from New Hope Church in Calgary, is a full audio sermon on U2. Dating back to 2001 but archived in the church's "Classics" audio section, it's about 40 minutes long. {Edit: I dropped the pastor a line about linking it, and he wanted to make sure you all knew he also has one on Metallica. Um, OK. Find that link, plus a few other pop culture related sermons, here if you like.}

Somehow I never found the U2 one, even after all my hours of Googling to try and locate preachers who might submit work to Get Up Off Your Knees. (However, this sermon actually wouldn't have been eligible anyway, since much of it is about U2 as a band and as people; it speculates on their beliefs and motives at times, rather than simply interacting with their art.) The preacher takes quotes from or information about U2 and links them with Scriptures or theological truths they evoke; the sermon is interspersed with live solo acoustic performances of U2 songs. (The tech problems with the first effort to perform a song clear up, by the way.)

Pastor John Van Sloten (scroll down) says he basically missed the whole U2 thing for the past 20 years, but slaved over his research for the service. Such is the preacher's lot, isn't it? I spent some of last week learning about Lance Armstrong to use with Hebrews 12. But John did a better job than I; honestly, he could have fooled me. He mentions having read every U2 lyric available on the web ("And I was going: well, this is like a Psalm, this is like a Psalm, this is like a Psalm...."); he clearly also watched Rattle and Hum and perused a whole lot of interviews, along with Faith, Hope & U2: The Spirit of Love in U2's Music, by our contributor Henry VanderSpek, and advance material from our contributor Steve Stockman's book Walk On, which wasn't yet available at that time.

An especially charming moment in the sermon is when he is giving some early band history and puts on a character who says, all hangdog, "Yeah, I was part of the leadership team of the church that told U2 that they shouldn't be doing music..." That gets a good laugh from the congregation.

Regular readers of a specialist blog like this one will likely not learn anything new from this audio file, but it would work well as an introduction for others. And it's always interesting to see which of the band's various themes a particular theologically-trained individual will highlight.

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