Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 


123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.


Filtering by Tag: U2

Rattle and Quiet: A Meditation

Brent van Staalduinen

technology-music-sound-thingsOh, oh, deep water— black and cold like the night. I stand with arms wide open, I’ve run a twisted line. I’m a stranger in the eyes of the maker.    — Daniel Lanois 

I’m nine and already weary of hard church pews. My mother’s voice is a tight mezzo soprano, rising above the congregation. I hiss at her to stop swaying along to the hymns she loves so much. Open your eyes, I say, embarrassed that she’s the only one moving. The rest stand still, eyes downcast towards navy blue hymnals, rigid platters full of sombre songs. The organ constant and low and alien. The hymns feeling like eternity.


At fourteen, I enjoy music, but I can’t say I love it. It’s in the mall, on the radio, in church. Distanced. Then one day the sublime opening riff of “Solsbury Hill” holds my ear, eases me into the lyrics. I am forced to listen.

Son, he said, grab your things I’ve come to take you home.

Wait. That eagle—is it God?


A fifteenth birthday present to myself. Black-sleeved cassette, cellophane unwrapped before I enter the room, slipped into the player before I kick my shoes into the corner. U2’s Rattle and Hum opens with “Helter Skelter" (The Beatles nowhere in sight). But then “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” rises, gospel-lifted by The New Voices of Freedom. I feel music for the first time—in my center, where belief, pain, and joy begin.


At college, “Creep” by Radiohead becomes a new favourite, spurred on by a hammered guitar riff and Thom Yorke’s hatred of his own smash hit. “Fuck off,” he says to a Montreal fan requesting the song, “we’re tired of it.” Again and again I go back to the second time through the chorus, how he leans his weight into the despair. I think the swearing is beautiful.

I want you to notice when I’m not around. You’re so fucking special— I wish I was special.


Church words begin to matter. The music, secondary. I begin to chafe at the jarring distraction of bridge-formulaic praise music, the isolation of mere noise. The emptiness of repetition without reflection—a preference for silence instead of ineffective song. The occasional kernel among the chaff.

…that he should give his only son to make a wretch his treasure.


…but you don’t really care for music, do ya?


The new millennium brings mobile phones and full-time internet access. Media consumed in strobe-lit flashes. At 33, I’m forced to my knees by a migraine, my first, that swells in the quiet of summer vacation, much needed after a stressful first year of international teaching.

Say something, say something, anything— Your silence is deafening.

All I can do is rest in a darkened room, eyes closed, and fight the urge to vomit.


Alahu akbar! Allahu akbar! Ash-hadu anla ilaha illah Allah.

From our Maidan Hawally apartment, I can see at least twenty mosque minarets piercing the Kuwait skyline. Through bad microphones and tinny PA systems, muezzins call out the adhan five times a day without fail, the words settling in every crevice like the fine dust blown in from Saudi Arabia. I am writing regularly now, accompanied mostly by silence. That call, though. Always there, like an itching, grimy skin of faith. I’ll be sweating it from my pores long after I leave.


The plan, abandoned. A careful playlist for the labour and delivery room never used, forgotten against 36 hours of agonizing back labour. My wife, in control and superhero strong, breathing and moaning through every contraction, while me, her co-pilot, fetches water and ice. The navigation all her own. The fetal heart rate monitor becomes our steady, rhythmic soundtrack. When it falters, the tune and the plan changes. Again.

A quiet surgical team. Low voices and indifferent machines.

And I have to speculate that God himself did make us into corresponding shapes like puzzle pieces from the clay.

Then, those first, raging cries. Girl. Ten fingers, ten toes. Pink and hungry. Eyes wide open.


Mornings, before sunrise, before our house begins to move, are my writing time. I create in silence, the only sounds the hush of a family at rest and the occasional crackle of the baby monitor. Our five-month-old is a watcher and smiler, crying only as a last resort. From upstairs, her big sister, now three, wakes up singing.

On for Christian soldiers, marching as to ore. With the cross of Jesus going on a four…

I detest the song, a simplistic anthem that feels like it’s forgotten Christ. But I listen to my daughter belting it out at full voice, the sublime, misguided noise of it. Her version. Not worrying about the words so much.

The Art of Rock and Roll Memoir

Howard Schaap

16 Schaap August “U2 is what church should be”; so read a line in Time Magazine when I was 13, a line that confirmed my fledgling belief in U2. I certainly felt elated and worshipful listening to The Joshua Tree, though I wasn’t entirely sure it was right to feel that way. This was just after The Joshua Tree had broken U2 worldwide enough to reach rural Minnesota, and just as the album and film Rattle and Hum, according to most critics, showed they had feet of clay.

Personally, I loved the black and white concert footage of Rattle and Hum.  I loved the impassioned diatribe in “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” so much I used it to pump myself up before junior varsity basketball games.

I first got to see U2 live during the Zoo TV tour, a very different animal.  Bono licked the camera; Bono pulled the camera up to his leather-clad crotch; Bono came out dressed up as Mephistopheles.  It wasn’t very churchy.  Critics loved it.  I was 16 and in the tenth row and unsure about these rock and roll antics.

I missed the Pop Mart tour, noted for its spectacle, and the props I saw on later tours—a laser-laced jacket, a swinging microphone, a stage like a spaceship—were perhaps not as grand or silly as the giant lemon.

This time around the U2 tour is called Innocence to Experience and, via home movie and songs new and old, concert-goers are invited on a trip down U2’s own memory lane while live tweets and fan-cams attempt to keep us in the present.

I was also struck by the emotions that I went through at this U2 concert.  There was still the old elation, this time consciously tied up with surrender: at one point Bono went to his knees and said that very word (“Surrender to what?” I can hear my catechism teacher say).  It sounds contrived, but to be fair, as Joshua Rothman points out, surrender is where U2 lyrics have been pointing all along.

And there was conviction, as usual.  “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” is still like an open wound that brings me into the present moment and forces me to give a shit.  Then, too, I’m not sure what American can listen to “Bullet the Blue Sky” and not consider it a call to repentance.

Perhaps more than in the past, though, this concert invited introspection, because if anything “Innocence to Experience” is memoir.  Some have called that self-important, but it’s also just plain risky.  You don’t go to a rock concert to introspect.  It’s also rare.  Rock concert memoir is simply not very common, the half-life on rockers being less than the average pair of jeans.

As good memoir does, I to E also provided leaping off points to consider where our own stories might intersect with the one being told on stage.  For me, that moment was when confetti in the form of book quotes fell from the ceiling.  I found myself gathering them madly, like veritable manna from heaven, to see what works they might be from:  Alice in Wonderland, The Divine Comedy, the Psalms.

Over the years, U2 concerts have put me in the moment, moved me to care, frightened me with tongues and crotches, confused me with Mephistopheles, asked me to surrender, connected me to Alice in Wonderland.  Is U2 what church should be?  I don’t think so.  U2 concerts are their own space, the artistic space of a rock and roll concert.

“The Unforgettable Fire:” Human Destruction, God’s Judgment, and Our Refuge

Mary McCampbell

u2 Seeing U2’s "Gloria" video for the first time changed my life; I was amazed that these four seductively scrappy Irish lads were singing so overtly about Jesus, and that the music was not formulaic, cheesy, or sentimental. It had an honest, raw, edge—and this seemed to match its message. When watching and listening, I let out a junior high sigh of relief without even understanding why. Perhaps I first understood my desire to see the jagged edges of our reality reflected in art by those who endeavor to have a relationship with the author of a Reality beyond those jagged edges.

The title of U2’s fourth studio album, 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, is grounded in the painful history of our collective ability to destroy ourselves and others; the album title was taken from a 1982 exhibit at the Chicago Peace Museum of artwork painted and drawn by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bomb dropped in 1945 was an unforgettable ball of fire to those that were physically and emotionally damaged by its power of fragmenting destruction.

The U2 album that takes its name from the exhibit refers both directly and indirectly to the human capacity for inward and outward violence, including such harrowing topics as heroin addiction (“Bad”), racism and murder (“Pride”), and the sad decline of a cultural idol (“Elvis Presley and America”). But the title track itself, a deeply evocative song full of longing, sadness, and hope, does not initially seem to specifically allude to the exhibit or tragic event that gave it its name.

But on revisiting both the song and video through a lens of Psalm 46 (a line is quoted in the song itself), I would have to disagree with the many music critics and fans that share this view. Although the lyrics are admittedly cryptic in many parts, they make sense on an emotional level—and this emotional richness is intensified by the video’s images. Both the song and the video open with a vivid image of “these city lights”that “shine as silver and gold.”The song also speaks of the seductive lights of a carnival where the “wheels fly and the colors spin”. Yet as the music builds dramatically, we see video images of a fairground ride transforming into an exploding atom bomb and a cityscape that is struck by lightening before experiencing a violent rainstorm.

Yet directly after these images of violence and destruction, Bono alludes to Psalm 46: 2 as he sings “And if the mountains should crumble or disappear into the sea, not a tear, no not I.”But how does any of this of this relate to the bombing of Hiroshima? Psalm 46 speaks about the “trouble”that we must endure on this blood stained, war loving earth—but that God Himself will bring “desolation”to the earth as “He breaks the bow and shatters the spear.”In a sense, the Psalm speaks of God’s judgment and his ushering in of justice and peace, putting an end to human cruelty and injustice.

At the very beginning of “The Unforgettable Fire”video, just as we see Bono’s grief-stricken face against a dazzling cityscape, we also see the rising of a blood-red moon. In one of the accounts from the exhibit titled The Unforgettable Fire, a survivor drew and described a moment when “the sun appeared blood-red in the dark sky.”We also read in Acts 2:20 and Joel 2:31 that “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood”before the “Day of the Lord”comes. In these allusions, the video opens by alluding to both human destruction and God’s judgment.

The same city that we see throughout the video is emblematic of modernity’s narrative promise of an efficient, comfortable, and exciting heaven on earth. Later, the members of U2 descend into the bowels of the city itself as they walk into a large blue-tinted factory space; here we see the promise of technology. Soon after, we see the carnival ride explode in a mushroom cloud and realize that the same seemingly messianic technology that produces our amusements, also enables us to annihilate other human beings as we appoint ourselves false gods of this earthly “paradise,”the city. As the lightning strikes and the rain waters come down, the video alludes to even more biblical narratives of God’s judgment against those who have taken this heretical role.

The video’s images are not, however, only of the doomed city; as Bono sings that one should “walk on by, walk on through,”we see a transition to a shot of The Edge walking a lonely, snowy path in an open space. We see the same beautiful scene as Bono sings“I am only asking but I think he knows. Come on take me away, take me home again….”. Although the mysterious lyrics do not name God, there is no other reference point that would possibly explain the mention of a knowing “he.”

Towards the end of the video, there is a striking image of Bono’s face, illuminated by a flame, superimposed over another image of the band warming their hands over a fire in a snowy field. As Larry Mullen, Jr. smiles, we see the familiarity and connectedness between the band members, the only moment of warmth and joy in the video. As the video and song both end, Bono tells us to “save your love,” and we see the same serene face dimly light by a constant fire. Perhaps the title “The Unforgettable Fire”has a two-fold meaning: it alludes to both the horror of the A-bomb, its image forever burned into the psyche of its survivors—but it also alludes to the eternal fire, giver of life, warmth, and illumination. Just as Psalm 46 tells us that God is a refuge and fortress, a constant source of strength that we will know profoundly if we can “be still,”“The Unforgettable Fire”video reminds us that justice will be done, that even if “the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”there is a constant source of strength and calm.