U2

How U2 and C. S. Lewis Both Capture a Deep Longing for God – Part 1: Stabs of Joy and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’

The following is part 1 of an article series that examines excerpts from a new book about U2 and C. S. Lewis (how their music and writings intersect and capture spiritual hunger in powerful ways) called Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey Into Joy and Healing. The series is being published to celebrate the upcoming release of U2’s new album “Songs of Experience.” (#U2SongsOfExperience)

Possibly the most wonderful, intensely blissful emotional sensation that can happen to us in this world–maybe even more wonderful than falling in love–is something that C. S. Lewis called “stabs of joy” in his autobiography “Surprised by Joy.”

This “stab of joy” is a longing so intense and sweet and melancholy all at once that it’s overwhelming and ecstatic, and it can strike at any moment, as I wrote:

[This stab of joy] is close to the intense sensations of homesickness—the pangs that come when we see a place from our childhood or hear an old song that’s tied to our past. Yet it’s not quite nostalgia. It goes beyond that. When this strange Longing stabs us, we feel homesick for a home we’ve never had. 

For each person this moment is different–maybe you felt it once while watching a sunset or stargazing or when you saw your newborn child for the first time or when you read a certain book or smelled a certain fragrance of flower on a rainy day in the garden. The pinprick that causes the longing is different for everyone and it changes as we get older, but it is common to the human experience. (And this bittersweet yearning for something we don’t know and can’t describe can often be the catalyst or precursor to what philosophers call existential angst.)

One of my earliest memories of a stab of joy happened while backpacking as a kid. My family had just reached the summit of a mountain at the same moment when a fighter jet flew over it, so close that the pilot saw me and gave me a thumbs up. The next moment I turned and reached a vista overlooking the California Sierra mountain ranges and the Nevada deserts.

That’s when the stab struck, as I....Click here to read the full article.

New Book about U2 and C. S. Lewis: Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey into Joy and Healing

The writing of C. S. Lewis. The music of U2. Longing. Grief. Hope. And, finally, a Joy in Christ that cannot be defeated. Author Kevin Ott invites you on a life-changing journey.

The Bible tells Christians not to grieve as the world grieves and to rejoice in their sufferings. But when author Kevin Ott lost his mother unexpectedly in 2010, he sank into a wintry depression.

And then something surprising happened, just when life seemed the darkest.

While exploring 18 C. S. Lewis books and 13 U2 albums, he experienced tremendous "stabs of joy"--the unusual heaven-birthed joy that Lewis wrote about--in the midst of grief. This revelation not only pulled Kevin out of depression, it forever changed the way he experienced the love and joy of Christ.

Shadowlands and Songs of Light takes the reader on a quest--with beloved literature and epic music as companions--in search of joy and healing in the midst of the great sorrows and disappointments of life. As the reader explores 18 beloved classics by C. S. Lewis, from Narnia and "Mere Christianity" to the Space Trilogy and "The Four Loves," and 13 studio albums by the legendary band U2--uncovering the secret recipes of music theory that make their music so powerful--the destination of the quest becomes clear: true joy means having a deep, all-consuming longing for God.

In "Shadowlands and Songs of Light," you will:

  • Learn fascinating details about C. S. Lewis, discover his unique definition of joy, understand how to apply his revelations about joy to suffering, and learn to recognize and cooperate with God's strategic use of joy.
  • Enjoy a grand tour of U2's discography, with a special emphasis on their exploration of joy and suffering.
  • Clearly understand, from the perspective of music theory explained in common terms, why the music of U2 is so emotionally powerful and how it serves as a perfect analogy for Lewis's concepts of joy and the Christian ability to rejoice in suffering.
  • Find inspiration from the personal stories of U2, especially the tragedies that engulfed their youth in Dublin, and see how they worked through that grief and discovered a joy that has kept the band together for over thirty-five years.
  • When the out-of-control nature of the world and your weaknesses throw you off-balance, you can experience God's grandeur and joy-- discovering heaven's perspective until it becomes your instinctive, default vantage point every day.

Text LIGHT to 54900 to get a preview of Shadowlands and Songs of Light

Find "Shadowlands and Songs of Light" online at AmazonChristianBook.com, Barnes & Noble's Nook or in-store at Family Christian or Barnes and Noble.

About the Author

Kevin Ott is the co-owner and editor of Christian entertainment site Rocking God's House and a lifelong fan of C. S. Lewis and U2. He has a degree in music composition from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his articles about music have been recognized by world-class institutions such as Yale University, leading voices in the U2 scholarly community, and AtU2.com, the most prominent U2 fan site in the world. In addition, Kevin's writings about the works of C. S. Lewis have caught the attention of some of the finest Christian minds today, and he has guest lectured about the life and writings of Lewis.

Raised by a Bible scholar and a music therapist, Kevin developed his love for theology, writing, C. S. Lewis, and music early in life, and he has been a worship leader since the early 2000s. He lives in Santa Barbara County with his wife and daughter where he serves as a worship leader and pastoral assistant at his church.

Connect with Kevin:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stabsofjoy/

Twitter: @KevinOttAuthor

Instagram: kevinott777

Endorsements for Shadowlands and Songs of Light:

“‘Grace makes beauty out of ugly things,’ Bono sings, and Kevin Ott writes with openness, passion, and hard-won insight about the grace he found in U2 and C. S. Lewis when walking through one of life’s most troubling episodes. Readers will receive the gifts of Ott’s honesty, wisdom, and enthusiasm for life from this book, as I did, and will find that at the intersection of U2, Lewis, and scripture, he has built a richly layered playlist.”

—Scott Calhoun, Professor of English, Cedarville University, director of the U2 Conference and editor of Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll? Essays on the Music, Work, and Influence of U2

“U2 and C. S. Lewis! What an amazing combination that guides the soul soaked in sorrow into a place of illuminated peace. Kevin Ott brilliantly takes a deep emotional dive that surfaces in the presence of Jesus. I am so pleased to recommend this book to everyone who has known depression, suffering, and sadness. Kevin artfully combines his skill as a worship leader and inspirational speaker to help us understand the liminal space between brokenness and healing.”

—Randy Phillips, of the musical group Phillips, Craig & Dean

“Kevin writes about music in a way I’ve never seen before. It brings all the deeper things of our existence—joy, philosophy, theology, imagination, and hope—to life. It transforms you.”

—Moses Sumney, acclaimed recording artist and songwriter, and a frequent collaborator with the Grammy-winning artist Beck and other major artists.

“Ott’s insightful analysis and personal testimonial result in a persuasive and powerful presentation of the ability of artistic expression and spiritual exploration to aid in healing and growth. The author’s own training and experience as a musician, composer, songwriter, worship leader, author, blogger, and film critic give him a unique perspective on creativity and the Creator. Readers will discover how it is possible to tap into unexpected depths of joy even while wrestling with profound loss.”

—Rev. Jon Eymann, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychotherapist, and Manager of Crisis Services, Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness

“Kevin’s intense hunger for God comes through on every page. This book does more than just bring joy into times of sorrow. It will change your life and awaken a deeper hunger to pursue God with all of your heart.”

—Dr. Kodjoe Sumney, Founder of Mission Africa Incorporated, an award-winning humanitarian group in Africa, and the presiding pastor over the Annual Parliamentary Conference, a national prayer conference held in the parliament of Ghana, Africa

When U2 Wrote "One" They Unintentionally Preached a Sermon With Just Two Chords

When U2 Wrote "One" They Unintentionally Preached a Sermon With Just Two Chords

When we hear a song on the radio, we often listen to the lyrics and feel encouraged by the truths stated plainly or perhaps poetically through the English language.

But how often do we listen to the musical language itself -- the notes, the chords, etc. -- and seek meaning there?

Did you know that the music theory -- the chords, notes, and structure of the sounds -- have profound influence over both our cognitive and emotional patterns? They convey meaning to us, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not.

U2's New Album "Songs of Innocence" -- My Music Theory Analysis

I'm a long-time, diehard U2 fan, and a composer with a degree in music who has just written sort of a music theory analysis of the new U2 album -- though written in a way that anyone can understand and enjoy the principles that make the new U2 album so amazing:

http://rockingodshouse.com/u2-songs-of-innocence-christian-album-review/#.VBHo7UjucXw

U2 Song About Santa Barbara -- My New Article On RGH (with Video)

I just wrote a detailed analysis and explanation of U2's new song "California (There Is No End To Love)" and why/how it is about the town where I live, Santa Barbara, CA! I even shot a video of the bells of the Santa Barbara Mission ringing to show how they match the bells at the beginning of the song. Also includes some personal photographs of Santa Barbara that are connected to certain lines of lyrics. Check it out here:

http://rockingodshouse.com/u2-song-about-santa-barbara-a-look-at-california-there-is-no-end-to-love/#.VBHilEjucXw