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By Scott Calhoun


The Legend of Bono Vox

Lessons learned in the church of U2.

The faithful never grow tired of hearing the legend of Bono Vox. It reminds them that extraordinary things can, and typically do, come from humble beginnings. As a parable, its lesson is that you, too, should dream big and then work hard to realize those dreams.

Reminding, comforting, and challenging are recurring themes in Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog. Editors Raewynne J. Whiteley and Beth Maynard, both Episcopalian ministers, have produced the first book of sermons inspired by what just might be the world's most influential rock 'n' roll band. Gathering 26 contributors from across the landscape of U2 fandom to offer a collection of homilies, meditations, and essays, they offer a welcome portrait of what's possible when you have three chords and the truth.

Is it any wonder this book exists? For more than two decades, U2 has been preaching basic biblical principles to its chosen congregation of America. Three of the four band members once nearly left the band before it really got going when the Christian community of Shalom, in which they were deeply involved, advised them they could not serve both God and the rock guitar. The three disagreed. Now, nearly a dozen albums and more than a thousand live performances later, millions of fans would likely disagree too, many of whom say they owe a debt to U2 for their own spiritual formation.

Whiteley holds a Ph.D. in homiletics and is the vicar of an Episcopalian church in Swedesboro, New Jersey. Maynard is an Episcopalian rector in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. They share an interest in GenXer evangelism and in using pop culture for starting conversations about God. Both use U2 songs in their teaching. They asked for sermons inspired by a U2 song, and Eugene Peterson (who counts himself a fan) agreed to write a foreword to the volume.

You won't find any deep exegesis of either the biblical text or the U2 song in these sermons. Nor will you get much engagement with a particular strain of theology or critical theory. ...

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