Taylor’s Integration of Faith and Culture Hosts Steve StockmanBy Julia Berger Published: Apr 09, 2012
Integration of Faith and Culture (IFC) hosted a lecture on U2 and Ireland’s peace reconciliation led by Ireland native, Steve Stockman. Stockman is a minister at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast, Ireland. Stockman also spoke on reconciliation at the Restoration of the Other conference hosted by the Taylor University Honors Guild.
Stockman’s knowledge of the band comes in part from his book “Walk On: The Spiritual Transformation of U2.” In his lecture, Stockman discussed the peace reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland, a country long involved with violent political unrest until 18 years ago.
“For 40 years, we were on the news all across the world for blowing each other up and shooting each other,” Stockman said. “And in the last 18 years, we’ve had a cease-fire, which has changed that.”
U2’s Live Performance Promoted Voting for Cease-Fire
The peace reconciliation process took time and Stockman analyzed the role the band U2 had in those efforts. He said U2 was able to become famous because they were from Ireland. The band grew up in the Republic of Ireland, with five of their parents being Protestant and three being Catholic, a stark contrast to the 94% Catholic population. He also went into detail about the band’s first few albums as it related to their spiritual journey.
As Stockman analyzed some of U2’s career, he tied in Ireland’s political climate. One such example came from a performance a few days before the vote that would eventually call a cease-fire on the political unrest. U2’s live performance that night brought together a larger number of young people on the basis of voting and Stockman said some believe the event helped push the number of votes past the 66.67% requirement. Ireland has maintained the political cease-fire ever since.
“I would say we are at peace politically at the moment, but societal healing is a long way off,” Stockman said. “Because we have political peace, there’s a tendency to not be so urgent [for healing]. And if we’re not clever enough to push societal healing, then the grind will be there for a possible return [of violence].” One of Stockman’s responsibilities in Ireland, out of personal desire, includes forming connections and friendship between the Catholics and Protestants.
“Music is Not Just Music”
Stockman’s lecture emphasized the ability musicians and bands have to impact the political, social and spiritual climates around them. He delved into explaining the significance of songs such as ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ and ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday,’ both of which have Irish meaning. He said the Irish can typically tell whether someone is Catholic or Protestant by their name, street and school. So, to have a street with no name meant to have a unified body.
“I thought it was really neat how he could string U2’s history alongside Ireland’s culture and how he explained how U2 affected the culture of Ireland…as well as how Ireland has affected them,” said Josiah Hatfield, IFC graduate student.
“I thought it was a dynamic combination,” said Steve Austin, Associate Dean and Director of Student Programs. “You have to really know what you’re talking about to bring the two [topics] together.” Austin also said he hoped it reminded people that music is not just music; it can have an impact beyond personal enjoyment.
Those who attended the event took away a challenge of reconciliation, along with a deeper knowledge of U2 and the work they have done for the country and the world.
Stockman reflected on the topic of reconciliation that night, “We should come with our differences and make sure our differences are not seen as something to be offended by, but that we should enjoy [our differences] and see the richness of them.”
Written by Julia Berger