When was the last time you read a book on rock ‘n’ roll that had a bibliography with St. Augustine ( City of God and the Confessions ), J. Budziszewski, Peter Kreeft, Thomas Merton, Fulton Sheen (3 books), Richard John Neuhaus, and George Weigel?
The book in question arrived in our office some weeks ago, and is called Achtung Baby: Meditations on Love in the Shadow of the Fall . The author is Stephen Catanzarite, Managing Director of Pittsburgh’s Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, and a Catholic. His little book is part of a series examining the ideas behind rock’s greatest albums, this installment being dedicated to Achtung Baby by U2. The album is pregnant with Christian imagery (a whole song is sung from the perspective of Judas Iscariot) and heavy thoughts on love, sexuality, and the modern age. Catanzarite walks us through these themes, creating a story along the way to carry his exploration. The story is not that enlightening, but his unraveling of the album’s intricacies will interest fans of U2 and those who care about Christianity in popular culture. Here’s a sample:
Each song on Achtung Baby provides a variation on [the devil’s discordant tune]. Taken collectively they offer an insightful meditation on the Fall and the consequences of our “fallen-ness.” It is all there: our infinite potential for dreaming, discovering, and building, and the trouble we cause by confusing our liberty with license; . . . our reveling in the fact that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and the sad acceptance of our brokenness; the excellence of fidelity, and the appeal of seduction; the glamour of evil, and the disaster of sin; the paradox of being rooted in time but destined for eternity; the God-shaped hole at the center of our being, and our vain attempts to fill it with something, everything, anything but God.
If you don’t already know about the Christianity present in U2, or have never heard Achtung Baby , find a copy and listen to it. And if you are interested in a thoughtful engagement by a Catholic with the best of modern rock, you might like Achtung Baby: Meditations on Love in the Shadow of the Fall .