Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2

Article excerpt

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2. By Steve Stockman. Lake Mary, Fla.: Relevant Books, 2001. ii + 197 pp. $13.99 (paper).

Most readers of the Anglican Theological Review are probably more conversant with postmodern philosophy or post-liberal theology than they are with post-punk music. And that's probably for the best. Nevertheless, the pulse of our society is better found in the latter (along with other expressions of popular culture such as film and television), and it behooves us occasionally to check our society's pulse.

For those oblivious to such ephemera, U2 is a rock band from Dublin, Ireland that released its first album in 1980 and whose four members are now in their early forties. Twenty-two years after their debut, U2 is an anomaly almost without precedent in rock music: a commercially successful, perennially popular, socially active, creatively vibrant, spiritually attuned, critically acclaimed rock band that has maintained its original membership while arguably compromising neither its artistic vision nor its moral integrity. They have recently generated intense media interest due to both their musical and political activities: in February 2002 alone, they played the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVI, won four Grammys (including record of the year), and their singer appeared on the cover of Time magazine for his advocacy of African debt relief and economic development.

What makes U2 more than just a cultural phenomenon, however, is that three of the four members are professed Christians. While still adolescents, singer Bono (Paul Hewson), guitarist The Edge (David Evans), and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. all experienced conversion and discipleship within the common life of a charismatic Dublin fellowship called "Shalom." The inner story of U2 from that point onward has largely been one of trying to reconcile faith and art, faith and success, faith and doubt, faith and the world-and the transformations that happen to faith in the process. Steve Stockman's book, Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2, attempts to chart and analyze that inner story.

Stockman (a Presbyterian pastor and a chaplain at Queen's University in Belfast) is not a scholar, and Walk On is not a scholarly book. …

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