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Walk on: The Spiritual Journey of U2

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  903 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This revised and expanded version of Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 tackles the issues and questions everyone desires to know about the world's most popular rock band. Throughout Walk On, Steve Stockman follows the band from their early days in Dublin's Shalom Christian Fellowship all the way to their most recent album and world tour. Fortunately, Bono has never been ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published June 28th 2005 by Relevant Books (first published 2001)
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Nov 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
Steve Stockman, a Presbyterian minister in Belfast, is a man clearly enamored with U2. He's thought a lot about the lyrical content of the band's output and has a few interesting things to say but hagiography is what he ends up with. He does the same thing that U2 does in their own book, U2 by U2, and that is to try and position themselves in a middle ground politically. The problem with this, of course, is that there is no neutrality when staking positions and it is a ploy to be free to critici ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, greater-1
I don't think I've ever been more frustrated by a book. It starts as a four star (maybe five) and ends as a two star (maybe one). A book about what a pastor hears and sees in lyrics is a good treatise. A book about a guy claiming things that Bono might not know he is (or want to be) is a different book entirely. I've been a "Presbyterian" (like the author) and an "Evangelical" (those the author HATES) and I'm annoyed by the broad strokes and harmful generalizations he makes of evangelicals. One ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Walk On was an absolutely fascinating read! In fact, it was so good I think I might just read it again (it's been a few years now). I have been a distant fan of U2 since my early teens (I'm 40+ now). By "distant" I just mean that I haven't followed their life and music as closely as some fans have (at least not too far beyond their earlier albums). I did purchase a copy of "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and it quickly became one of my favorites (along with October, The Unforgettable Fire and ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have personally found that bringing up Bono in a conversation with other Christians is a pretty good litmus test for whether you're talking to a fan or a follower of the Gospel. I know that's a pretty inflammatory statement--but bear with me, because I think this encompasses a fundamental question of deeds over words in faith. I find that most of the folks who get riled over Bono either don't know that much about him, or represent that personality that can quickly switch from rapturously descr ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I am not one to read books about rock bands, even ones as influential as U2. But after seeing them in concert, and reading some things about them on the Christianity Today website, I was intrigued.

This book really gave me some good insights into the band, their beliefs, and the real meaning of their music. I have a new appreciation for songs I've always liked. I want to go and read more and learn more about the band, and I want to go back and listen to CDs I've long since forgotten about, all a
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I was truly blown away by this book. I've been a casual U2 fan for years but never really knew much about them. I find myself fascinated and challenged about my faith and how changing the world is more than just idealistic. It's possible. And in fact, it's already happening. U2 is far more than a mere rock band. They are a group of men who struggle to make sense of this world and their lives and bring us along for the ride. Their discoveries/insights on not only "big" issues like terrorism, war,

Brian Eshleman
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like the "behind the music" or "behind the art" viewpoint, finding out what is going on in artist's life and how that impacts his or her message. Although I am more into literature than music and have not followed this group closely, I appreciated their Christ-centered motivation and actually went back and listened to some of their music much more carefully. An actual fan of the group who has life experiences associated with their music would definitely give this book 5 stars.
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
I had a few problems with this book, but I am only going to address one. I believe Steve Stockman wrote this book with a foundational misunderstanding of the Gospel and also Christianity. There were some convicting points he made, but I think by and large he missed it. I was thoroughly disappointed with this read.
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: peacecorps, christian
I had no idea U2 had such Christian undertones to their music. Reading this book opened my eyes - Now I can't listen to U2 without hearing all the references to God and faith.
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have been a U2 fan since 2001 and just got around to reading this book. Growing up in an American evangelical Christian environment, I have gone back and forth over the years from being sure that U2 really are Christians and thinking that they are just a bunch of liberals who like the idea of Christianity but don’t want to actually be Christians. This book reminded me that Christianity existed long before American conservatism and that just because someone doesn’t fit my idea of a Christian do ...more
Dan Glover
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book is not bad, but if I could I'd rate it 1 1/2 stars, between "I didn't care for it" and "it was passable". Now before I go any further, let me admit, as does the author, that I am a U2 fan. However, we are not the same kind of fan and that became clearer with every page. The author is a largely uncritical fan of the band's music and of front man, Bono, in particular, and his causes. In fact, in many places of several pages at a stretch, the reader could be forgiven for forgetting this i ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I didnt like this book and it pains me because I absolutely enjoy U2's music. I actually never finished it and tried much longer to find my groove with it than I would normally. I read three quarters of the book and with hundreds of books on my shelves, I finally threw in the towel. For me it read like a compilation of magazine articles; like one guy had written an article about each album and decided to throw them together. There were portions of the book, discussing the theology and spirituali ...more
Deborah LaRoche
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
The author loves U2. Like, LOVES U2. Beyond his fawning over all things Bono, he does bring to light the way the band engages in social justice issues far more than your average white church (particularly in America), which is wonderful, depressing, compelling and makes one heck of a concert.
Erich Jordan
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading this has added to my already great love for the band and Bono as a believer. I cannot help identifying with his journey and the conclusions he has reached. I highly recommend this book to any U2 fan.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Great premise, although I feel like the author was at pains to find a spiritual dimension to the iconic U2 songs.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really like it. Interesting info, good theology. Would be interesting to see an update, in light of all the stuff happening recently. A definite recommend.
May 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
It was fine. It felt like a very early-2000's Christian book, if that makes sense to you.
Neil R. Coulter

I've been reading a lot about U2 lately, in preparation to write my own chapter about an aspect of the band. What I'm finding is that it doesn't take too much reading before you start reading in circles--the same stories, the same bits of interviews, the same song lyrics being explained in basically the same way. Certainly there is something to say about U2--and I hope what I'm planning to write will be a useful, new contribution--but it doesn't seem that there's a lot to write about U2. Once yo

Carolyn Appleton
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I learned about the existence of this book on Facebook, and I thought lightly, "how interesting, I think I will read it."

I have always felt close to the music of U2. I have enjoyed listening to U2 since the band began some 35 years ago. I have never attended a U2 concert in person, but I have listened to U2 endlessly on the radio in my car, on television, online, on iTunes ... singing along loudly to my favorites (when no one else can hear, lucky for them, smiles). U2 has been interwoven into t
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: devotional, paige
I love U2. That goes without saying (except that I just said it). So, I was predisposed to love this book... but I ended up getting a little annoyed with the way it was written. I am from the American South, the Bible Belt, where Conservative Evangelical Christianity is strong. I know both its strengths and weaknesses, and I have been known to be critical of it myself--but I found myself getting angry with Stockman's heavy-handed portrayal of all Evangelical Americans as ignorant, hypocritical a ...more
Matt Hamilton
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was really excited about this book, and all in all it was a great read. It went right through the discography of the band and talked about almost every song in detail and it touched on all four of them personally, as well as political and historical aspects of their career as a unit. Lots of detail and obviously a great deal of faith in what U2 is doing.

The only problem I had was with some of the analyses. While the information was well written, the sections where Stockman examined individual
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"This is essential reading for anyone who ever wondered exactly how many U2 lyrics are nicked from the Bible— lots, it turns out." —Irish Times

Stockman, a Presbyterian Chaplain in Belfast, analyses the lyrics and history of U2 from both an Irish and Biblical perspective. Although a bit sermon-like at times, there is enough solid reference material here to give a concrete perspective on the inner and outer workings of the band and it's unique mark on the Christian landscape and in the world of ro
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it
very detailed, but interesting... lots of 'background info' on Bono & U2 that I didn't know. The author is a Presbyterian minister (and clearly a HUGE U2 fan) & has some interesting takes on faith, religion, spirituality, & the arts. I especially liked learning about how Bono's "leather & shades" persona is just that -- a sort of character he invented... and his struggles sometimes to remember that & stay true to who he really is. Seems his wife Ali helps a lot with that -- she sounds awesome! I ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, religion, arts
I've been working on this book for months. It's the kind of book that I want to read fast: very fan-based. On the other hand, it's got a lot of meat to it, and it would be best read by having all of U2's CDs at hand (or tracks downloaded) to listen to as Stockman discusses each album and what was going on in the lives of the band members at the time the songs were written.

Pretty well-written and -researched if one allows some latitude for fannishness. No one who doesn't like U2 will really care
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am a self avowed U2 fan so the rating could be a bit biased. I also enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, which affects the rating. As I continue to question the role of organized religion in my own personal spirituality I tend to read Christian literature with a bit of skepticism. I am always pleasantly surprised when I read that I'm not the only one questioning how to navigate contradictions I find with the confluence of public and private spirituality. I enjoyed reading about ...more
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
A worthwhile read. Written by an Irish Theologian who has a very unique view and respect for the band. He stands by U2 when others in the Christian community challenge their faith as genuine based on drinking habits and use of certain four letter words. A great explanation of U2 in context of their native culture. One of the best points he makes is describing the music business in Ireland at the time the band was first being noticed. He says this, "There are no Christian venues for budding Chris ...more
G. Salter
Stockman's a very opinionated writer, and at times his praise of U2 is a bit gushing. This is also very much a book about U2's music, so you have to like books that analyze metaphors and symbolism in music to get through it.
That being said, Stockman has some spot-on insights about how legalistic evangelical Christians are sometimes, and how creating an entertainment subculture has done just as much as harm as good. He also puts forward some excellent defenses of why it's okay to be a Christian
Emily S (EmilyS2)
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love that the members of U2 believe that loving God means loving others and responding to the suffering in our world. They embrace grace like no other and claim their insufficiency. Is this not what it is to be a Christian? This book describes the circumstances and meaning behind each song on all of their albums. While it can get tedious at times - the overall theme and passion of what they do drives the story on. Its a documentary in paperback.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off very well in my opinion; it lots of interesting facts about the band's early years, made me think about the church and how I feel about it, and Stockman's writing style made the chapters flow into eachother well. I was really excited to read more.

Towards the end though, the book was mostly about Bono and his struggles with keeping his faith in a world where it doesn't seem to apply. This I don't mind, but it wasn't as engaging as the beginning of the book.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the author makes some interesting points about how the evangelical church has been quick at times to attack, his serious lack of quoted research makes this book not worth the read. He makes claims like crazy that he does not often back up either with legit sources or Scripture. It was a decent reflection on all the music U2 has put forward and on what the majority of the songs seem to mean, but that in and of itself does not redeem the lack of proper sourcing.
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