Soulfest writeup

I'm back from Soulfest, and I have to say I had a wonderful time. I got to spend two days wandering from venue to venue, looking at beautiful mountains, hearing good presentations and music -- all this, and they gave me free food and a parking pass!

Soulfest has something like 50 workshops running in the afternoons (bands are also onstage bewteen about noon and midnight in 5 locations.) The ad the Soulfest management graciously put in the program for my U2 workshop drew a good crowd: we had about 90 in a room that was set up for about 70, with people on the floor and trailing out into the hall. Plus (the room was on an outside glassed-in corner) a full table of people listening at one set of windows from outside, and a group of perhaps 15 who had been unable to get in the main entrance and, undeterred, stole folding chairs from some other room and set up a satellite area directly behind me on the outdoor walkway. I had invited a DATA volunteer to come by at the end and collect signatures for the ONE Campaign, and she gamely climbed in the window!

We basically spent the session getting the song "When I Look at the World" talking to a selection of Bible verses, and I said a few words about the book. If there were any hardcore U2 fans there, they did nothing to make themselves known. However, several people were clearly gratified to see U2's work getting approbation and comment at a Christian music festival, and afterwards some came up with "It's about time" remarks. I met one college student who asked me to come with him to the bookstore tent to sign a copy of Get Up Off Your Knees, and along the way he told me he was on leave from the military. He is currently stationed in Iraq and plans to use the Bible study in the back with the small group he leads there.

The DATA roundtable on Saturday morning was also great. Hosted by Chris who was responsible for the DATA presence at Soulfest, it included Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay, a guy from World Vision whose name I didn't get (he has been working on African issues since the 80s and was Bono's host when he was there after Live Aid), and Dan Russell who is the founder of Soulfest.


Pause for some blogosphere shilling

Andrew Careaga, a friend of this blog (how could someone writing a book on Jesus and punk rock not be a friend of this blog?), announces
Behold, the old website has passed away. Behold, all things e-vangelism.com have become new.
Hey look, the quote function works. Visit Andrew at the all new 
e-vangelism.com blog.


Dick Staub: DS Interview - Mark Joseph

Dick Staub talks to Mark Joseph, author of the book Faith, God & Rock 'n' Roll, about spiritual themes in pop music and about changes in CCM's self-understanding.  Along the way he has comments on mainstream figures including Destiny's Child, Zwan, Alice Cooper, Carson Daly, POD, and of course Bono.  Among Joseph's comments about what's ahead for popular media that addresses spiritual questions: 
I think what we�re going to see in the next five to ten years is going to make people that are uncomfortable with religious expressions in popular culture very uncomfortable.  It�s going to be a miserable five to ten years for people who don�t like this, because it�s only accelerating.  It�s like,  I look at it like 40 to 50 years of pent-up energy that is starting to explode.  And you saw with The Passion, and you�re going to see with a number of other artists coming. �Any time you either suppress [a group's ideas], or the group themselves allows their ideas to be suppressed, when the doors finally open, the floods are going to come.
Kind of cool to see on the Amazon site for Joseph's book that Get Up Off Your Knees shows up both in the "recommended in addition to" and the "people who bought this book also bought" lists!


Maybe they could call the new album "Hub of the Universe"

Since this blog is from the Boston area, this blog feels that it can comment on the reported announcement at the DNC Convention week's Boston Pops Teddy Kennedy extravaganza last night that U2's next tour will start in Boston in March 2005.  (No word on whether the tour is called Vertigo, or How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, or the Stolen U2 CD Tour.)  This blog's reaction is, in the long run, the same as U2log's, though I will say it in Bostonian: "No suh!"


Soulfest info

For anyone who is looking to connect with me this coming weekend at Soulfest, I am speaking at 1:30 on Saturday in the Soul University Hall 3.  There's a big ad for it in the festival program, with a pic of U2 sitting on a step, for which I want to say WOW and THANK YOU DAN RUSSELL. I will also almost certainly be at the DATA roundtable at 9:30 Saturday morning in the Art Gallery (upstairs from Mercy Street Cafe).  Other than that, I'll probably attend the opening service on Thursday night, I may see the OC Supertones on Friday afternoon, and in general a good place to look for me will be the Deeper Well. If you really want to do more than just say hi, though, the best way is probably to email me (before Thursday morning) at the address over there on the right.


Uncut Legends comments

Many readers of this blog probably are aware that Uncut (NME) has released their third special "Legends" issue and it's devoted to U2.  There are historical sections, articles, panel discussions, profiles, and so on.  It's priced too high, but I bought it anyway, and two things topically related to this blog amused me enough that I'm going to comment on them here.
On page 36, you'll discover the first installment of a "top ten list" type feature based around one main question.  As you read the question for the first time, it presents itself to you, with its answer, as follows: "What Makes U2 Tick? No. 1-- RELIGION." [Cue the sound of all 3 Christian members of U2 banging heads against walls. Sorry those 24 years of incessant disclaimers didn't work out, boys.] 
Seriously, how many U2 quotes are there about "I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting" and and "I don't see Jesus as connected with religion" and "I am a believer but I find it hard to be around religion."  And then that last one, festooned with a greyish-greenish celtic cross, ends up in a sidebar right under the proclamation "No. 1-- RELIGION."  You just gotta laugh.

Oh, by the way:
"Religion is when God leaves the room and people make up rules to fill the space."  --Bono
"Religion is the attempted replacement of the divine work by a human manufacture." --Karl Barth
I also had to laugh at the beginning of the article.  We enter the scene, in present tense, at an imaginary Shalom gathering on the beach in 1981.  A great Flannery O'Connor-sounding opening line leads into some impressionistic writerly guesses about what's going on.  Most of the images are standard fare: "they read their Bibles, they sing."  Round up the usual suspects.  But then, one imagines, the "No. 1-- RELIGION" article author thinks to himself: It was supposed to be a charismatic group, wasn't it? I need to make that clear. But what does it *mean*, exactly? Hmm. Got to say *something*...  So he informs us that they, and I quote verbatim, "discuss the cleansing fires of the Pentecost."


"Pastor inspired by U2's music"

...And here's a short press story on Raewynne's book signing.


For anyone in the South Jersey/Wilmington DE/Philly area...

Raewynne is doing a book signing at Amazing Grace Christian bookstore in Mullica Hill NJ on Saturday the 24th from 1-2pm. 

"How about both and a little bit more?"

A nice recent post evoking U2, Esther & Mordecai, Bill Hybels (uncredited), and Cathleen Falsani's column on Get Up Off Your Knees... from a blog with the unusual name TinyElephants are very Temporary, very very temporary...

By the way, Cathleen Falsani herself now has a blog in which she reposts her Friday columns.


Anybody live in Portland?

From U2 log: The World Affairs Council of Oregon has announced that Bono will be the opening speaker of its International Speaker Series on October 20.  "He will speak about Africa and the need for concerted high-level action on third world debt, HIV/AIDS, and trade policies."  Guess the schedule fit in well with that of the National Civil Rights Museum, who are giving him their international Freedom Award at a ceremony in Memphis (actually, on the site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination) on October 18th.

In book news, the Washington Times is working on an article.  Also, for New England readers, I will be speaking at Soulfest next weekend.  Tickets still available!


Neither a U2 post, nor a homiletics post, nor a "stolen CD in Nice" post.

If you've been reading this blog for several months (kind of hard to believe it has been in existence for several months!) you may remember my being totally floored by my discovery of Over The Rhine -- or rather, by actually listening to some of their music, since I'd been hearing about them for a long time. "Shall I buy their new live album?" I've been saying to myself. "After all, I've already bought 3 OTR CDs in less than a year."

Jeffrey Overstreet has now definitively answered that question for me.

Youthfront Conversations

Youthfront Conversations ("a ministry organization committed to the spiritual formation of youth") picks up @U2's review of Get Up Off Your Knees.


How to dismantle a pandemic?

And if the previous post was too cutesy for you, maybe you'd prefer to listen to an interview with Kofi Annan and Bono about yesterday's commitment from Gordon Brown to increase Africa and AIDS funding. (If you're one of the "Forget God and politics, I wish they'd just shut up and sing" people, I realize that's small consolation.)

They're doing the atomic bomb/ they want you to sing along

@U2 continue to track the new album rumors, and today's comments include this anecdote:

Adding further intrigue is word from an @U2 reader that Christian singer Michael W. Smith told a concert crowd last month about a recent conversation he had with Bono, during which Bono shared a possible album title: "How to Dismantle the Atomic Bomb." As Smith tells the story, Bono asked if he (Smith) knew how to dismantle an atomic bomb. Smith said "no," and Bono answered his own question: "Love. With love."

Sometimes I think it's 1988 again.



A correspondent informs me that the lead quote in this week's email newsletter from Sojourners is taken from Bono's Penn Commencement speech.


When Love Comes to Town

So what do you think, should I blog it every time The Alternative Hymnal adds a new U2 song? There is a sermon on this particular one, from Rattle and Hum, in our book, by the way. The post has a nice excerpt from Bono's Psalms introduction (people often get here searching for Bono Psalms or U2 Psalms, which shows a certain intelligence among the searching public.)

Purple Reign, the Rt. Rev. Prince Rogers Nelson (Diocese of Minnesota)

Whether or not you enjoy GetReligion's political outlook, this satire of a recent news story, which asks "What if some musicians had pursued the episcopacy?" is pretty funny.


From Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare to Spider-Man 2, with a little U2 along the way

Now here is a great idea from e~mergent kiwi: a sermon bibliography. What books, songs, articles, websites need to be acknowledged as having contributed to your sermon this week?


Raewynne in Australia coverage

Here is a writeup of Raewynne's visit to Sydney from her Uniting Church hosts.

I love this quote from her, when asked if there were good ways and bad ways to incorporate elements of popular culture in preaching: "The biggest thing is, if you have to go hunting for it, don't include it. If you can't help but think about an aspect of popular culture whenever you read the text, then that's what you need to include."

And also this: "It's easy to use pop culture in a kind of cheap way, just to create an impression that we are engaging with people, when really we're just using it to get their attention before we switch to our own agenda. But it seems to me that that's not the way God has interacted with culture. God didn't just sit outside the world and kind of give it an occasional prod. God entered our world and lived among us."

They include a writeup of her sermon at a worship event at United Theological College, North Parramatta as well.


Wim Wenders at Reel Spirituality conference

Anyone who follows U2's various intellectual connections has run into the name Wim Wenders, a great maker of art film who directed the "Stay" video, the Million Dollar Hotel film, and whose artistic themes have interfaced with U2 in other ways as well. He will be speaking at a conference on Music, Film, and Theology in Dialogue at Fuller's Brehm Center (yes, the same place whose site epigram I posted recently.) This "creative encounter between the church and Hollywood... will continue its exploration of the intersection between film and theology at its 2004 conference by focusing on the role that music plays in both the creation and experience of film." Other speakers are here. The conference is open and will take place in October.