Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed.

So, you thought you were just going to check in on the @U2 news page? No, you were actually about to get dropped into a mathematical proof worthy of the most arcane numerological sections of Daniel. (Update: The @U2 item, dated Jan 29, is no longer on top, but here is what it says: someone actually did the math to calculate that U2 went exactly 1,337 days between the releases of Zooropa and Pop, and exactly 1,337 days between the releases of Pop and All That You Can't Leave Behind, and was wondering if the count would be the same for the new album. Now there's fandom life for you!)

The most outlandish thing is that the number 1337 actually rang a bell to me, which is why I got Daniel out. It's slightly off, but to those awaiting the new U2 release I offer this beatitude.


ReAL Magazine review

There's a brief review of Get Up Off Your Knees up on ReAL Magazine's site.

Lenten study discount

For anyone who's thinking of buying Get Up Off Your Knees in bulk, Cowley is running a Lenten study discount where they'll take 20% off if you buy 5 or more of any one Cowley title from their website.


World Vision Giveaway

Donate to World Vision, and get a free copy of the CCM U2 cover CD In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa. You can read about World Vision here. WV are not "a U2 charity," but their long, but quiet, connection dates (as far as I know) to when WV arranged Bono and Ali's trip to Ethiopia in the mid-80s. More recently, they were part of the DATA Heart of America tour and a press conference about AIDS funding in Washington DC which I blogged about here.

Beyond Prosperity

Another book excerpt, this one a sermon using "If God Will Send His Angels" by Jamie Parsley, is posted on Faith and Values.Com. They also have the editors' bios, though unfortunately not Jamie's, up.

Faith and Values.Com, which also does Faith and Values TV, is a large ecumenical site which has the U2-ey distinction of once having posted an article claiming that Bono was "considered by many to be one of the most influential theologians alive today." What makes me laugh about that claim -- other than its being just maybe a teeny tiny overstatement [;-)] -- is that there exists a whole cadre of professional theology writers who major on battling for the notion that, because of the radical spiritual egalitarianism and locally incarnational nature of Christianity, the true shapers of faith are non-professional; all Christians, they'd argue, must be taken seriously as theologians. But if most of these very writers were to read the statement about Bono I cited above, I believe they would respond as follows:




Just marked our 10,000th visitor.

Geekiness alert: Atom feed

For those of you reading this blog via RSS, the only RSS feed that has been available is a Blogmatrix scrape, which just has a few words from each post and a link to the site. Blogger has now introduced support for Atom, so I've added an Atom feed you can subscribe to, which will give you the title plus about a paragraph of each post. I've tested it and it works in my RSS aggregator; apparently not all aggregators support Atom, though, so YMMV.

(Please note: I have now completely exhausted my knowledge of this topic and cannot tell you anything more about it. This includes basic questions such as, say, "what is Atom?")


Wake up Dead Man: A Discussion of the Music of U2

Turns out the Christian Reformed Campus Ministry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia used our book for a 4-Sunday study in January.

Mary Hess on Get Up Off Your Knees

Mary Hess, a Roman Catholic scholar who is Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul MN, is one of the biggest academic authorities on spirituality and popular culture out there. She has some opinions about the book.

...I'm beyond thrilled.


The Hallelujah Remix

Yesterday's Thunderstruck and today's CT Weblog (scroll waaay down to "Pop Culture") both picked up @U2's Get Up Off Your Knees article. {Update: as did Rock Rebel.} Incidentally, I probably should have linked yesterday to the table of contents (PDF,) too.


Prayer, Prophecy, and Pop Culture - The Hallelujah Mix

Greetings to everyone who has just joined us from @U2, the top link in my U2 favorites folder, after reading Angela Pancella's feature on interviewing several people involved in the Get Up Off Your Knees book. You can find all the basic information about the anthology here, you can read what some other people have written about it here, one of the sermons is here, and several purchase links are over there on the right. Enjoy looking around!


more from the King Center's Salute to Greatness Awards dinner

Here's a little quiz for all of you preachers out there.

Let's say it's MLK weekend, and you want to quote Dr. King. Let's say you want to tie in your MLK theme with the AIDS in Africa crisis, specifically with the issue of poor availability of antiretroviral drugs. Clearly you need something more fresh and creative than just saying "If King were alive today he would have been concerned about this." (zzzz) What Bible text do you use to illuminate the connection between the two?

{tick, tock...}

Got one?

Was it this good?:
"Dr. King used to like to tell the story of the prophet Jeremiah," Bono began. "Jeremiah, he said, looked out and saw evil people often profiting, and the good and righteous people often suffering. Jeremiah wondered at the injustices in life and asked, 'Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?' And Dr. King went on 'Our slave forefathers came along. They too knew about the injustices in life. But they did an amazing thing. They took Jeremiah�s question mark and straightened it into an exclamation point and in one of their spirituals they could sing, There IS a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole. There IS a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.' "

�Sometimes he says it, sometimes he sings it. It�s an important tune,� Bono continued. �Today, four decades on, at an AIDS clinic in Zambia or Uganda or Ethiopia, there is a dying woman who is asking her God the same question. �Is there a balm in Gilead?� she asks. Well, God hears her, but do we? Because we too know the answer. The answer is NO. There is no balm in Gilead. There is no balm in Gilead. The balm is here. We�ve got to get it to Gilead. We�ve got the medicine and the money and the same love for justice that guided Dr. King. If we apply these things�all of them�and we begin to be worthy of his example, and take another step in our long journey of equality, we�re going to get there.�

More from Bono's speech at U2log.

They don't mean to bug you

And by the way, US readers, DATA thinks a really good thing to do at your Super Bowl party would be to hand out fact sheets about AIDS in Africa.


I don't just sit around checking this all day, but...

The Amazon.ca Sales Rank of Get Up Off Your Knees right now is 250. I am pleased.
{Update, later: and right now, it's 166.}


U2log.com: By Any Other Name

U2log.com, who have reason to know, continue to claim that one of the songs on U2's next album has the working title "Jahweh." Now that takes... something. Guts? Foolhardiness? You make the call. Soon Bono will be talking about punk rock made on Sinai.

U2 Sunday Sequence still available

If you didn't make it to the Radio Ulster site last week for Radio Ulster's U2 and spirituality segment on the BBC program Sunday Sequence, "The Gospel According to Bono," it's now archived here.


They could not take your pride

In the US, this is the MLK holiday weekend, on what would have been King's 75th birthday, and the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta is honoring Bono tonight for his humanitarian activities. The Atlanta paper wrote an article on Bono's pilgrimage to the Ebenezer Baptist Church ("As a student of nonviolence, this place is a Mecca,") commenting that Bono had read many of King's sermons.

One of the seminaries I attended was the BU School of Theology, at which MLK did his doctorate, and we always had a kind of proprietary sense about him. We even had an icon of him in the small chapel upstairs. He was part of what got BUSTH nicknamed "the School of the Prophets," and every day walking in to seminary classes we had to pass the King sculpture, which is right on a major Boston thoroughfare. (In fact, if you continue several blocks down this thoroughfare, you will come to the Paradise Rock Club.) The plaza with the King sculpture is a sort of central point for the entire university, enough that there is even a webcam of it (Marsh Chapel with sculpture in front, seminary to the left, Charles River and Cambridge behind the chapel.)

The day after the Gulf War started in 1991, I got off the Green Line and walked across the street to see the entire King statue area on Marsh Plaza covered in hundreds of melted candles of every possible color and size from the spontaneous vigil the night before. It's my favorite MLK-related BU memory.


Get Up Off Your Knees

Our U2 book is now starting to show up in the cosmic book availability computer. Though Amazon and BN haven't noticed this yet, you can get the book many places online now. Thanks for your patience.

We are all made of stars.

Just a quick welcome to anyone visiting from Moby's forums.

In The Name Of Love: Artists United For Africa

The U2 CCM tribute CD, In The Name Of Love: Artists United For Africa, in which Christian musicians such as Sixpence None The Richer, Audio Adrenaline, Delirious?, Nichole Nordeman, and Pillar cover U2 songs with some proceeds going to AIDS in Africa, now has its own dedicated website. You can even listen to excerpts of several of the tracks. (And incidentally, if you're going to visit that site, Grassroots Music, they have a large selection of free MP3s of indie artists.)

It's hard not to be just a tad wistful about the huge financial and savvy personnel resources backing projects like this compared to the very modest ones behind ours. But I'm totally behind this CD -- it's a great idea, a very positive step, and deserves lots of support as part of a Christian call to respond to the African AIDS crisis. You can preorder it at 38% off.

Most of their money (50 cents per CD) is going to the Mwakankomba Village in Zambia, Africa, through World Vision. That village has 75 households and a population of 729 - 246 of whom are children, 55 of them orphans. The annual income ranges from $20 to $120 per household. Since they have a track on the album (All I Want is You), some of the money will also go through Jars of Clay's foundation "Blood:Water Mission" which assists The Living Hope Center, an AIDS medical center, in Cape Town, South Africa.

It sounds like Sparrow Records and several retailers (Parable, Borders, Circuit City, Family Christian Stores, etc.) have already given over $50,000. Incredible.


Sorry about the Tennessee Titans. Go Patriots!

Thanks to Jay at Only Wonder Understands in Nashville for blogrolling us. I sang in the Mozart Requiem at Jay's wife's church over 20 years ago (it was one of those things where they opened it up to community members), and amazingly the head of their music ministry is still the same person.

Thanks also to Andrew Careaga at Bloggedy Blog for adding us, and to Rock Rebel for picking up the story on Steve Garber's contribution to Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog.


I move the antenna, I switch the channels...

It's radio week at U2 sermons, apparently. BBC Radio Ulster did 8 minutes with Derek Walmsley on Sunday, talking not just about the book, but about three specific songs and a theological take on them, as well as about Bono and the Pope, the Enniskillen issue in Rattle and Hum, and whether U2 have an overall message. You can hear the show until, I assume, next Sunday on the BBC site. The segment is titled, "The Gospel According to Bono."


This is how the interpretative community works, and I love it.

So U2 write a song called "Beautiful Day." Someone hears it, connects it with a passage in the Bible, and preaches on it. Their sermon appears in a book.

And then someone considers "Beautiful Day" wearing the lenses from having read that sermon, and uses it in constructing another, totally different sermon.

And then someone who heard that sermon will themselves go back to the song wearing those lenses.... and the cycle continues.

This is so much better than the futile quest for the mythical "real meaning" of a U2 lyric.

Steve Stockman on RT�'s Radio 1

Marian Finucane was, it turns out, doing an interview with Steve Stockman which was clearly prompted by Get Up Off Your Knees, but is mostly about why Christians use contemporary songs in sermons, and how U2 have been significant to him personally. A brief book title mention is dropped in at the end. (Listen to Steve Stockman on U2 spiritual issues.)


Marian's Book Club

According to the webpage of Marian Finucane's morning show on RT�'s Radio 1 in Ireland, it looks as if her audio "book club" dealt in some way with Get Up Off Your Knees recently. Or perhaps they will be covering it in an upcoming episode, since I don't believe Columba (the European source for the book) has their copies yet? Anyway, it's on a list of books mentioned on the program.

Rumor Mill

Someone got here recently searching for "attend U2 concert 2005." Hey, I'd like to do that too, though I would prefer 2004.


U2: Prophets of a New Century?

A reflection piece/review on Get Up Off Your Knees has just been published on Interference, a U2 fan site. They made the very creative decision to assign an article on an unapologetically Christian book to a Muslim writer, who provides a sincere, kindhearted, and unique viewpoint on what she got from the book and how she relates it to her own faith commitment.

Independent testimony

So what do you think it says, that the two most recently published books on religion I have bought (online, unseen) both turned out to begin with quotations from U2 lyrics?

The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church - "Stuck in a Moment"
Red Moon Rising, on the 24/7 prayer movement - "Electrical Storm"


Trying to buy the book

I'm getting really tired of saying this, but no, I don't know what the problem with Amazon.com is. Get Up Off Your Knees is an ordinary, normal book, as available as any other in-print book, and our publisher says there's no good reason for all these bizarre Amazon status changes. The book is out and has been for a month.

{update: oh, look, now someone is using our Amazon reviews to complain about Amazon. ...What a strange world we live in.}

{another update some days later} OK, we now have a somewhat straighter answer on this, and I take most of the above back. It actually isn't Amazon's problem at all. The problem is that while Cowley had the books in mid-December and was able to fill orders made directly with them by individuals or booksellers then, they had to wait until January to ship stock to the national distributor who will handle most sales to everyone else. That distributor (Ingram) is, of course, massive, and getting into their computers takes a few weeks. So it's probably fairer to say that the principal source of confusion was that the officially announced "publication date" didn't take into account when people shopping through ordinary channels would actually be able to get the book.}

What do Barbara Ehrenreich, U2, Chris Seay, & Nick Hornsby have in common?

Thanks to Kevin from Monkey Outta Nowhere for adding Get Up Off Your Knees to his "books lying around I'm meaning to read" list. I'm kind of honored to imagine us in a pile with G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and would suggest tackling that first.

Thanks also to Matt at Where have all the cool people gone? for the link.


Byron Borger on the sermons book

In a January column for the Coalition for Christian Outreach, Byron Borger of Hearts and Minds bookstore in Dallastown, Pennsylvania writes a long, deeply thoughtful, historically and culturally literate column on books treating 'the church in emerging culture' (with special emphasis on the current book by that exact title). After reflections so helpful you're tempted to send them to all the pastors you know, he concludes with a section which I can't resist reprinting most of right here:

Such resources are worth working through so that we might truly understand our times, and thus become more equipped to discern the contours of faithful living in them.

Or, yet another way, you can just study rock and roll, the current language of much of the world's population. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that we have just received our copies of the much anticipated
Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching The U2 Catalog... Since it just arrived, I have not had time to read anything but Eugene Peterson's brilliant preface on metaphor. I had previously seen four of the chapters, two by my good friend Brian Walsh and two by my good friend Steve Garber.

I am so absolutely thrilled and honored to know these two guys � stunning writers in their own way, each faithful to Bible and Bono � and am not at all exaggerating to say it is worth every single penny to buy this book if only for these five chapters. I am confident that many of the numerous other chapters will be good and the group guide in the back looks quite useful. I applaud Cowley � most known for tender books of spiritual formation and the wonderful Barbara Brown Taylor collections � for leaping into this new world for them.

Perhaps there is a parable here. Take the risk to try a new thing. Listen to Bono. Preach the Word. How's that for a strategy for postmodern faithfulness?


Sara Groves

Many thanks to Christian musician Sara Groves, who was at the DATA Summit, for linking to the U2 sermons FAQ on her website (scroll down to "DATA Update" under "Culture.")

Epiphany grid blog theme postcript

It occurs to me that if you were thinking of preaching on the Magi, there are a lot of stars in U2. Most of them are falling from the sky, and have apparently been doing so pretty much continuously since 1981, but a few aren't. Stars have also been known to shine like nails in the night (quite a cosmic atonement image, that one), to fill the city with broad daylight, and even to provide temporary housing (cf "In A Little While.") Don't get me started on suns.


[grid blog :: Epiphany]
This is a sort of ad hoc end to the Advent grid blog, which Bob Carlton proposed only yesterday as a way of marking the end of the Christmas season. He writes, "In many traditions, [Jan 6] is the feast of Epiphany, which originated in the Eastern Church, centering upon three mysteries: (1) the incarnation, God's coming to us as Christ (2) the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river and (3) Jesus' first miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Together these portray the way God manifested to the world in Christ." By the way, one of my very favorite hymns is designed around these "manifestation" mysteries plus another, the Transfiguration.

So, the theme is Epiphany, and instead of a song, I have a question. If you were trying to preach these themes using a U2 song, and began to look through texts in search of good Epiphany references, you'd probably notice that most seeming "manifestation" moments are often immediately turned inside out and their meaning revealed as idolatrous. U2 spiritual lyrics, when you read them, are much more likely to lament or denounce a situation that manifests God's absence than they are to celebrate God's presence. And yet, everyone associates U2 with transcendence and joy.

So how is it that a band who provide so many epiphany-experiences to people manage to do so while only very rarely writing, head-on, about unalloyed epiphanies? Talk amongst yourselves.


Excuse me for just a moment

Greetings to those who are visiting from Nashville today. I grew up in Nashville out past Green Hills. Hello.

Greetings to those who are visiting from the U.S. Senate today. This blog supports $5.4 billion for AIDS in Africa in 2005. This blog votes.

do you call in consultants to tell you where the christ might be found?

We didn't read Matthew 2:1-12 in church yesterday (it was the "second alternate" Gospel) but my little home Magi have made it to the windowsill just beneath the creche. In homage to them, I share this Magi piece from Small Ritual:

...how far would you go to see god?

Another music, culture, and faith blog

Through Andrew Careaga, I recently found the new blog Musicspectrum, run by Ben Squires, a Lutheran pastor. "Reflections on music according to my Spectrum of styles and sounds, a way of organizing my CDs according to influences and similarities, rather than alphabetically. These reflections often include discussion of connections between music and the Christian faith." He has already posted some interesting reflections on the Smiths, Switchfoot, Tragically Hip, and some compilations.

{Update: And thanks to Ben for the link!}


Our Daily Blog

Andrew Jones, who runs TallSkinnyKiwi, has just started a new blog whose purpose is to read The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis together. The reason I mention it is that if you subscribe via RSS, the daily reading will just pop up in your aggregator, rather than your having to remember to visit the site. There are very few daily devotions available by RSS that I've been able to find, so this may be a sort of landmark.


U.S. Open and Mary Lopuszynski

My spouse, who is reading the new John Feinstein golf book, Open, informed me at supper that it has U2 content (though not U2 spiritual content). The culprit is Mary Lopuszynski, Director of U.S. Open Merchandising. Excerpt:

Mary was thirty-eight, 5 feet 6, with dirty-blond hair, a friendly smile, and one deep, dark secret that she tried to keep strangers from learning: she was (is) an absolute, completely out of her mind U2 groupie. She would travel anywhere, anytime to see the group perform, and according to informed sources, would scream, yell, dance, and act like a complete fool at any U2 concert she could get to.... What made the whole U2 thing so amusing to those who knew her was that it was so completely out of character. If you were to suggest that she grew fangs at night and slept in a coffin it would have been slightly more believable than the notion of her screaming her lungs out at a rock concert.

...[Sigh.] They're saying this about me, aren't they?

Walmart? Really?

The Get Up Off Your Knees book is beginning to show up for sale at all sorts of odd places on the Web. Buy.com has it, Walmart promises they will later, and then there are sites like Powell's and Blackwell's (I can't figure out how to link directly to their listing). My guess is that all of this is almost totally fictive, especially since some of the listings mirror early misinformation that appeared at a major online seller. Although if it interests you, you can keep up with additions at FetchBook.
Cowley, on the other hand, knows where actual books are and can send them to you immediately.

I'm sure this will all get straightened out, but it's an interesting glimpse of bookselling today.