I just finished reading One Step Closer. I have followed the story of this book on Christian Scharen’s blog over the past year and it was good to finally read the book. Curiously, I got it at the Children’s Spirituality Conference and this isn’t a book about children at all but it was there and it was half-price at the Baker table so I got it even though I’ve read plenty of U2 books – not as many as Beatle books but certainly more than I need to.
And that’s my primary issue with One Step Closer – for those of us who have read a lot about U2 there isn’t a whole lot that is new in this book. The theological insights are fine and the U2 connections are pretty much right on target but I didn’t read much that I hadn’t either read before or thought before. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For people who are just starting to get interested in U2, especially the connection between them and Christianity, this is a fine introduction. I have already suggested it to my two youngest daughters. The obvious comparison point is Steve Stockman’s Walk On but the books really come at the topic differently – Stockman starts with U2 and Scharen starts with Christian doctrine and then makes the U2 connection. (Raewynne Whiteley and Beth Maynard’s Get Up Off Your Knees, another excellent book, is less systematic but also covers some of the same ground.)
The book is written in an easy-to-read conversational manner, goes quickly and does a nice job, both theologically and musically. I really liked Scharen’s introduction to hope and his take on the difference between hope and optimism. Nicely done.
The important thing here is that Scharen isn’t trying to layer something on top of the music that isn’t already there. He picks out things that were put in carefully by the band and he illuminates them with theology. I enjoyed it. So if you’re a Christian and a U2 fan you will probably want to read this book because this is about the stuff you like to think about. If you’re just getting into U2 One Step Closer is a good place to start because it will help you see what this band is really all about.