"A welcome portrait of what's possible when you have three chords and the truth"

I mentioned earlier that Books & Culture would be running a major piece by Scott Calhoun on Get Up Off Your Knees. It's up today: "The Legend of Bono Vox - Lessons Learned in the Church of U2". Great article. Excerpt:
There are some Christians, of course, who say that the band left behind what was essential to the evangelical life (a squeaky clean lifestyle footnoted with chapter and verse) on their way up. Get Up Off Your Knees clearly refutes such a charge, establishing beyond argument that the band's vision is rooted in Scripture.... Each sermon succeeds in showing that the songs are laced with biblical texts - U2 draws their inspiration most often from the Prophets, the Psalmists, the Gospels, and the Epistles - and themes. The mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. But Get Up Off Your Knees is more than a book of evidence. It isn't a fawning over the band's considerable musical accomplishments or icon status. Nor is it intended as an introductory survey.... The best approach to this book, I think, is to read some of the apparatus first and then drift to whichever sermon catches your eye. Read it as a commonplace book of virtues: a few exhortations at a time should be plenty to work on.
(I agree completely with that advice. In fact, we wanted to put the apparatus first for just that reason and were turned down by our publisher.)

Scott has our number on how hard it was to classify the sermons, but he figures out the schema we ended up being forced to choose quite nicely. (Here too: the original vision was not to have sections, just a flow interrupted by visually-different prose-poems at apt moments; again, the publisher told us no and wanted something more conventional. I think this really did Dylan's poems, which in our original plan were not at all intended as "introductions" to "sections," a major disservice.)

I was fascinated to learn that "the most frequently referenced passages chosen by the contributors are from Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew and John." I'd not thought of tabulating that before.

Of course, I have a few quibbles: pity there was no notice given to the deliberate theological diversity and its rationale (in fact, one odd comment seems both to fault the book for including examples of theological liberalism and to miss how many evangelicals or post-liberals contributed). And sadly Scott's editors don't know that Episcopalian is a noun and Episcopal its adjective... but who does these days, really?

Those are tiny arguments, though. Some great writing about the U2 legend in the middle, and about U2's vision and future near the end. Another bit on the book which, despite the awkward notion of our wanting to "corral" people, I can't resist citing:
I'm glad to see Get Up Off Your Knees make it to print. It's a step toward corralling those in the U2 subculture who feel as though they have been steeped in the same waters of fervent Christian conviction that have energized the band. What promises to set this community apart from many fan groups is that they bring some intellectual heft to the table, and they understand that in the Church of U2, no one should stay a spectator. The title of the book, from the song "Please" on the album Pop, underscores the contributors' desire to see more of us heed the band's call to not just pray for the kingdom to come, but to live like we belong to it now.

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