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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 16:54 GMT
Vicar preaches U2 to the masses
Bono has always played down his religion
A West Yorkshire vicar has turned his love of rock group U2 into a way of preaching the Gospel.

Reverend Derek Walmsley, 46, of the St Mark's Parish in Utley, near Keighley, has written a sermon based on the band's song Playboy Mansion.

It follows an advertisement he found when trawling U2 fan sites on the internet looking for contributors to a book of sermons reflecting their work.

Sensing a chance to combine his love of the Irish rockers with his beliefs, Mr Walmsley sent his contribution and was excited to discover it was exactly what the publishers were looking for.

He told BBC News Online: "I was quite surprised because I thought there would be a few people interested but there is only myself that is included from England.

"The aim of the book is to reflect how preachers are using contemporary culture more and more.

"U2 don't like to be called a Christian band but three members are and there is a lot of spirituality their in music and lyrics."

I'm not sure about Madonna - though she does talk about praying a lot
Reverend Derek Walmsley
The book, called Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalogue, contains the thoughts of 22 other U2-loving clergymen and women from around the world.

The book contains references to some of the band's best-known work including Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride, and I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

The publishers say themes close to the band's heart such as life, love, mortality, forgiveness and social justice are prevalent throughout.

Mr Walmsley, a dedicated fan of U2 since 1981, believes they represent the best example of where to find spirituality in contemporary pop culture.

Reverend Derek Walmsley
Mr Walmsley first saw U2 at a festival in 1981
"Bono is reluctant to be labelled a Christian, but nevertheless, U2's lyrics are soaked in spiritual imagery and Bono often quotes from the Psalms in live concerts.

"I suppose you could use quite a lot of other profound bands. I'm not sure about Madonna - though she does talk about praying a lot."

Sunday worshippers at St Mark's Church in Utley are yet to hear the Playboy Mansion sermon because Mr Walmsley is not sure if many people would know who U2 are.

But he revealed it may be incorporated into one of the church's Friday night meetings aimed at a younger audience in which he often explores spirituality in popular culture.

Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalogue is published by Cowley Publications in the New Year with all royalties going to TASO, an African AIDS charity.

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