In a comment on the "Get On Your Boots" post a few posts down, theologian Steve Harmon, author of U2: Unexpected Prophets, makes some points about the cover of No Line that I think deserve to be pulled out for everyone to see. I was completely delighted, for exactly the reasoning Harmon articulates so well here, that the Sugimoto image with no line (the photo rumored to be the album cover) turned out to be passed over for an image with a line:

The equals sign, with one bar in the "heaven" portion and one bar in the "earth" portion, suggests something like "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." But in this particular Sugimoto image, there IS still a line on the horizon. Earth is not yet heaven, yet we pray and work for the day when things will fully be on earth as they are in heaven -- when heaven and earth will be indistinguishable, and there will be no line on the horizon. Once again, an "already"/"not yet" eschatology, with the emphasis on the "not yet."

I understood the attraction of the image of the sea blurring into the sky, because I know so much of U2's work is about the longing for and celebration of foretastes of that experience of transcendence. (One of the earliest articles I read about U2 in the 80s, which I have never been able to trace, characterized them with the phrase "blood lust for the infinite," which has always stuck with me.) But it struck me as lacking complete honesty for a U2 image to represent the blending of already/not yet as accomplished. Upon seeing the real cover, I immediately found the image we've ended up with far preferable, and more faithful to the band's consistently eschatologically-shaped vision of reality, and I'm grateful for Steve's putting the reasons why into words here.

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