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One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God
Author: Christian Scharen
Publisher: BrazosPress 
Pages: 208
 
Christianity, metaphorically, has many "keys." Many prominent voices play major keys, promising blessings and offering comfortable settings. Christian Scharen, the author of One Step Closer, introduces a minor keyóthe theology of the crossóthat fits U2ís voice.
 
"The theology of the cross fits U2 because it avoids the all too common proclamation of faith, hope, and love that ignores the present realities of doubt, despair, suffering and injustice. It is a tradition that looks at the world and speaks the truth about what it sees: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the words of the church reformer Martin Luther, the theology of the cross Ďcalls a thing what it really is.í"
 
This book helps "make sense of U2ís style of talking about God, Jesus, the Spirit and the Christian life in a holistic way." Itís an excellent resource for those wanting to understand the spirituality found in the bandís lyrics. 
 
It also serves as a mini-lesson in theology, especially as it pertains to the cross and the different forms of communication found in the Bible. The author provides keen insight into the psalms, the wisdom literature, the parables, prophecy, and apocalyptic writing in the first section of the book. In each chapter a different pattern of speech is examined with examples of how U2 mirrors the style and content of that particular form.
 
The second section focuses on the theology of the cross. With U2, itís a way of singing "truthfully and unflinchingly about God and the world God loves. It is a way of speaking that highlights faith over certainty, hope over despair, selfless love over the self-indulgent pursuits that tempt the church and its leaders to grab power and money for themselves." Once again the author provides specific examples from the bandís music.
 
The last section introduces the idea of living the truth as a way to live the cross. It provides an account of how U2 lives out their faith. For U2, following God means doing the truth.
 
One can easily come away with a greater understanding and admiration for what U2 is all about. The band deserves credit for not succumbing to the popular self-fulfillment trends in the Church.
 
Whatís especially valuable is the authorís ability to introduce readers to the Christian tradition by illustrating from U2. His thoughts on cross-centered theology are rewarding and worth more than one read. 
 
This is a scholarly but easy to read work. The author displays a mastery of theology and U2. He more than adequately supports his contentions through Scripture (almost exclusively from _The Message Bible_) and an analysis of the bandís lyrics and interviews. This book is a valuable edition to the growing volume of literature on U2.
 
It would have been helpful if the author would have elaborated more on some of the controversial elements of U2. Though it may be a minor thing, their seeming indifference about drinking, smoking and swearing is hard to understand. Their critical attitude toward the Church and some Christians is understandable but a little troubling. 
 
Some Christians feel that U2 is not Christian enough. Ironically, you can see from reading this book that U2 follow in the tradition of the cross by speaking honestly and pointing toward sacrifice and service toward others. In so doing, they have turned it around and indirectly challenged the Church and individual Christians to be more Christian. 
 
Michael Dalton
June 16, 2006


  
 
 

 

 
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