Monday, March 08, 2004

This is a book review I did for Next-wave.

Get Up Off Your Knees, Review by Chris Marshall

"Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'" (Mark 9:24) Have you ever felt that way? Its not that you don't have faith, its just that you don't yet have the faith that you were looking for. Its seems a dangerous place to have belief and longing in the same heart. It can only be at the point of desperation that mystery can have a seat at the table. This is the space where U2 has lingered in for years drawing people to their passionate story and a longing for a different Kingdom here on earth. It is only natural that many would resource this voice to find a prophetic word for the world we live in now. Get Up Off Your Knees is a compilation of sermons from a diverse background of faith utilizing U2 lyrics as their primary text. The issues that are raised are as varied as the voices that speak them. They speak of peace but see violence, immediacy of death and the reality of hope, lamenting but yet crying for deliverance, looking up but living in the now. It is a dangerous place to have faith and yet long for more. God cannot be domesticated and so our hearts yearn for his reality. The voice of a new prophet lives on in the preaching of the U2 catalog.

There is a six week group study in the final sections of the book that I used as a resource for my weekly house church meetings. You will need quite a few resources beforehand in the form of live DVD's and varied U2 CD's, but it makes for very interesting discussion. Each lesson has a Scripture passage or two to meditate on in conjunction with some of their most provocative songs. I often used the Psalms as a point of reference for most of our discussions with U2 songs and lyrics. I found it helpful to print out the lyrics for everyone making the discussion more specific and concrete. Our conversations ranged from social justice, war, forgiveness, passion, daily faith, distractions, seducing influences, sexuality, mystery, death, trust and a Kingdom come. We ended our study with an authentic Irish U2 dinner party and watched a live DVD in its totality. I found this study to be fruitful and a nice change of pace interacting with song lyrics of faith alongside Scripture.

This book is not for the novice U2 fan. It assumes that you are already pretty familiar with the early U2 years through their 1990's experimental stages. The sermons come from varied faith backgrounds and do well to keep their voices broad and diverse. I recommend this book for the U2 fan who is not familiar with the spiritual journey of the band and for the one who is obsessed with all things U2. Bono often quotes Psalm 40 in live concert crying out, "How long, will we sing this song?" That same longing for a kingdom come can be found in Get Up Off Your Knees.

No comments: