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One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God Paperback – April 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587431696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587431692
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps the most popular and influential rock group to espouse Christian ideals without getting sidelined as "Christian rock" is the Irish band U2. Scharen (a Lutheran pastor and instructor of practical theology at Yale) points to the many biblical, theological and spiritual themes found in U2's lyrics to explain why this band "matters to those seeking God." And he does so elegantly, offering the heartfelt and intelligent musings of a fan while also acknowledging the band's wild and worldly bent. He admits U2's lyrics are multivalent, helping the band to attract both religious and nonreligious fans. Scharen is most impressed with U2's emphasis on "the theology of the cross," a theology that accepts both doubts and faith while emphasizing the victory of God's love over the reality of earthly powers. "Despite worldly trappings of wealth and power, in U2 love does get a chance to speak," says Scharen, who calls on Christians to ask themselves what is keeping U2's "God-hungry" fans outside the church's edges. This book will no doubt appeal to the Christian who is a U2 fan, but its higher purpose is to bring the church and U2 fans from a variety of backgrounds closer together. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Christian Scharen (Ph.D., Emory University) teaches worship and contemporary culture at Luther Seminary and leads the research project on Learning Pastoral Imagination at Luther's Center for Faith and Life. He has authored a number of books, including Public Worship and Public Work. An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Scharen has served congregations in California, Georgia, and Connecticut.

More About the Author

Christian Scharen teaches worship and practical theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN, having previously taught at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven. Originally trained in theological ethics, ethnography, and social theory, Scharen's work brings a lively Christian imagination to critical engagement with culture. His writings have appeared in The Cresset, Books & Culture, The Christian Century, Dialog, Generate and others. He is married to Sonja, a nurse-midwife and has two children, Isaiah and Grace. He loves old churches, A Prairie Home Companion (a must from Lutherans in diaspora), and dark beer. On that last one, he'd especially like to recommend the fantastic Minneapolis/St. Paul local, Surly Furious.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Michael Dalton VINE VOICE on June 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
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 key--the theology of the cross--that fits U2's 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 `calls a thing what it really is.'"

This book helps "make sense of U2's style of talking about God, Jesus, the Spirit and the Christian life in a holistic way." It's an excellent resource for those wanting to understand the spirituality found in the band's 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, it's 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 band's music.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Brooks on August 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll start with the book's most insignificant offense and work my way up.
First, a lot of lyric quotes have very minor differences from the lyrics printed in liner notes of U2 releases. A small issue, but in turn very distracting when the author is trying to sound authoritative on his subject, especially when correct lyrics are so readily available. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
BUT...there's also a claim that Adam Clayton converted to Christianity which I couldn't find substantiated anywhere else, including the book he claims as its source (the interview with Bono book, a much better read btw).
Scripture is sometimes paraphrased in a way that makes it hard to find what he's talking about (as for the "opening of Isaiah" he quotes, I still haven't found what I'm looking for (commenters are welcome to help me out).
My most ill-at-ease feeling about this book comes from the way the theological stuff is presented. It seems that the author just wants to get it out of the way so he can get back to talking about how awesome U2 are. Especially considering the book is aimed at those "seeking God," this is a little perplexing. I, myself, am not seeking U2. I know how awesome they are. I would suspect that anyone who cares enough about them to read books about them does as well.
Speaking of reading books about U2, unless this is your first encounter with anything that's been in print in the last, I don't know, twenty years, you won't read much here you didn't already know. The book is bogged down with U2 facts that even casual fans probably know (Rattle and Hum wasn't well received by critics, Adam had a problem with booze, Bono was involved in the Jubilee campaign, blah blah blah).
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Wright on June 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I thought the book was fun to read. A friend of mine used it as a guide for a church group study on the Theology of U2. It was a hit. We ended up discussing really important issues like Justice, and Money, etc. We would read a few chapters and watch the videos and then discuss. The way the book is structured is what positively differintiates it from other U2 books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bluestars on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Christian did a fantastic job on this book. I MUST SAY FOR THOSE SEEKING GOD or curious about god, religion, spirituality it is easy to understand. Nothing complicated such as the olde world bible and at times frusting for many deciphering words writen in the Holy Bibles. It is directed for those in their early years as christian later states in the books ending....... As well as a refresher course for those of us who have walked this path and know GOD... A pleasurable at your leisure type of reading at your journeys pace to be comfortable without any pressure of religion being pushed on you or feeling like you have to run to church because someone says the bible says you have to. you can develop your own personal closeness to GOD in the comfort of your own being and will. And one doesn't even have to be a U2 fan to understand.. With understanding the words coinciding with their songs of personal experiences and overcoming tradgedy as well celebrating triumphs successfully ; humbly they touch base with being human and given the grace to express themselves through a healthy release as well as messages of hope to every generation ..... AND TO REMEMBER BE PATIENT WITH OTHERS AS GOD HAS BEEN WITH YOU.
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