Monday, October 17, 2005

Book Review: Walk On

I picked up Steve Stockman's book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 with a bit of reluctance. Being a hardcore U2 fan for so long I really questioned whether Stockman could really tell me anything I wasn't already aware of about my favourite band. The answer? Yes and no.

I can’t say I made any great discoveries about the band or the influence of the gospel in their music. That being said, if you are a casual fan of U2 or have wondered about where these guys stand in terms of their faith in Christ, this is the book for you. I’ve heard so many comments like, “supposedly these guys used to be Christians” and other such remarks. Believe me, if you’ve really read their lyrics, even during the Achtung/Zooropa/Pop years, you would find a deep faith that is seeking to take the Kingdom to the darkest corners of the world while not being afraid to deal with all of the doubts and hypocrisies that those of us who are called Christ followers often try to ignore. If anything, the book falls into the trap of becoming an apologetic for Bono, painting him as a bit of a saint when in fact, he has many shortcomings just like the rest of us.

There are also some interesting details here that I wasn't aware of about the early influences on the band and the environment in which they grew up. But perhaps the most interesting thing I learned was about Bono’s best friends – Gavin Friday and Guggi of the Virgin Prunes. I’m a big fan of Gavin Friday’s solo work so it came as a bit of a surprise that he was, for a short time, part of the Shalom Christian fellowship that Bono, Edge, and Larry were also a part of. It was also fascinating to find out that Adam, for so many years known as the non-believer in the group, the partier who enjoyed all of the excesses of being a rock star, has now come to a point of faith as well.

Stockman goes through each album in the U2 discography to identify the Christian themes that are woven throughout the lyrics from I Will Follow on their first album through to Yahweh on their latest. The only point to be aware of is that Stockman does not draw on any personal interviews with the band. His body of research consists of quotes from previously published articles, books, and interviews. Not the end of the world, but don’t be looking for new material here either. While not on the same level as John Waters’ brilliant book Race of Angels, it is still a worthwhile read for the casual and the hardcore fan alike. YYYY

Friday, October 14, 2005

Chuck Colson Article

Just a quick reference today to an excellent article posted at by Chuck Colson. Chuck's visit to his autistic grandson's school raised some deep questions for him about the logical, but frightening conclusion of Utilitarian philosophy espoused by John Stuart Mill and taken up more recently by Peter Singer at Princeton. Click here for the article.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

So Long, Tom

Tom Cheek died today at his home in Oldsmar, Florida at the age of 66. For those of you who grew up in Toronto or Southern Ontario in the 70's, 80's and 90's, Tom Cheek was the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays radio broadcasts from 1977, the year the Jays entered the league, until 2004 - an amazing 4,306 consecutive games.

But Tom's voice was more than simply that of a baseball announcer; it was synonymous with the promise of summer, even while the snow still lay on the ground at the start of the baseball season in April. Just as the previous generation came to love the voice of Foster Hewitt with his Saturday night greeting, "Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States...", those of us born in the late 60's into the 70's will always remember Tom's affirmation that it was indeed, "a great day for baseball..."

He introduced me, and thousands of others, to this game that was so popular with our neighbours to the south, but was a whole new experience for those of us in the land of sticks and pucks. From Bill Singer’s first pitch in 1977 to Joe Carter’s World Series winning home run in 1993, Tom was our constant companion and a kid’s best friend in the long, hot days of summer.

Just this year I started listening to baseball on the radio again. There’s a certain tranquility that comes from listening to the play-by-play and the familiar, old-fashioned lingo unique to the baseball diamond. But this time, it was different. With Tom unable to call the games anymore, I had a very real sense that the world had changed. The voice that had so often reminded me of lazy summer afternoons in Toronto had been silenced and along with it, was my ability to go back to a more innocent time when all that mattered was the ballgame and what time I had to be home for dinner.

Baseball is an old game; a game of traditions that should be respected and not easily exchanged for the unfamiliar. While the new broadcast team does a fine job, Tom Cheek was the voice. He will be greatly missed.