Vintage Bono

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Bono was recently interviewed (11 August 2006) by Bill Hybels at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (mp3 here). Lots of amazing moments from Bono at his best! This is why I love the guy, this is why my website is named after a song of his:

I’ve never had any problems with Christ, but Christians were always a big problem for me.

And if I could, I found them always to be completely disinterested culturally, politically. I found it very hard to relax with them. They seem strange to me. I’m sure I’m strange to them.

And yet through all of us this, in school I met some people who knew the Scriptures. It was quite a moment there when people got very interested in the early church and the possibilities of imitating the early church.

But Christians can be very judgemental and in particularly the way people look, the way they carry on. They tend to judge people by surface problems – sexual immorality. These things are preoccupations historically of the church, whereas corporate greed or things like that would be never mentioned.

I’m pretty sure that the Universe operates by the laws of Karma essentially or physically laws too. And what you put out comes back against you. Then enters the story of grace, which really is the story of Christ, which turns this view of the Universe upside down. And it’s completely counter-intuitive. It’s very, very hard for human beings to grasp grace. We can actually grasp atonement, revenge, fairness…all of this we can grasp. But we don’t grasp grace very well. I’m much more interested in grace because I’m really depending on it.

I grew up very suspicious of Christians but determined to know more about the life of Christ.

I’ve always thought smack in the middle of a contradiction is a good place to be. Duality is the mark of a lot of great art and it’s one of things missing from a lot of Christian art. If there’s no tension…you have this great tradition of worship and music which is awe-inspiring in the Christian Churches, but music that expresses a personal journey and an attempt to wrestle truth to the ground, we don’t see much of that going on in Christianity. There is a fear of duality.

So one half you have this part which is going, “Yah I want this music to do something positive in this very negative world.” On the other hand, you want to own up to your earthly desires and your confusions that everybody has. The key that great art has in common with Christianity is “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” I’ve held on to that very tightly. That’s how I start my day as a writer. If I start a lie, and a lie can be being the person that you’d like to be, rather than the person you are.

A lot of gospel music to me is lies because there are people pretending that everything is great. And it doesn’t ring true to other people. Now I understand it’s a step of faith. But I don’t relate to that. I relate more to the blues. The blues is more like the sounds of David. You know, “Where are you when I needed You?”

…And I asked the question I’m sure so many people asked, which is “How could this be in a world of plenty, people could be led starved to death.” And of course as you grow old you think, “Well, look, you know that’s just the way of the world.” Well, yes it is. That is the way of the world. But it is not the way the world has to be. And if that is the way of the world, we have to overthrow the way of the world.

What else are you going to do with this thing called celebrity? I mean it’s ridiculous. It positively upends God’s order of things. Why is a film star or rock star or sports star…why would they be more important than a nurse or a fireman or a mother. I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous. But hey, it’s currency. And I’ve decided I’m going to spend mine.

People often say to me very kind things like “You have a heart for the world’s poor” or these kinds of things like I’m Mother Teresa. I am not Mother Teresa. I am a rock and roll star living the life. But I have a head for the world’s poor. I’m strategic…God has made me an opportunist.

…The Church has historically always been behind the curve. It’s amazing to me. In Civil Rights and you know, fighting against the racism in the 60s and the 50s and the South in the United States and Aparthaid in Africa. I mean you think, “Why is the Church like this?” And I think it’s because the Church is afraid of politics. And I understand why because a lot of very dangerous people have tried to use the Church for political ends. And I understand why the Church would be a little, “Just hold on a second.” We’re not talking about politics in any partisan way here. We’re working with the left and the right. That’s what the ONE campaign is about. The second part of it is less political perhaps. Which is, the Church has been very judgemental about the AIDS virus in particular. You know, there is a sense that , “Well, these people have been living sexually irresponsible lives and it’s very expensive to come to their assistance.” And of course that is not acceptable. It’s certainly not acceptable by God

…It’s annoying. It’s rather like someone in a car crash and the driver has fallen out of the vehicle….And you think, “Oh my God, that’s a drunk driver.” Do you drive on? What do you do? Well, maybe there are other points of view that think, “Well actually you had it coming. I’m off home for my supper.” But the Scriptures won’t let you do that. Christ won’t let you do that. Christ won’t let the Church walk away from the AIDS emergency because it’s difficult, expensive and a moral hazard. That’s not acceptable. And I just had to communicate that. That this was the essence of Scriptures. It was the leprosy of our age. And Christ had been so eloquent about leprosy.

I think it was only 6% of Evangelicals felt it incumbant upon them to respond to the AIDS virus… I was very angry. I was very angry. I was angry with the Church. I never liked the Church particularly. I never felt comfortable in churches. And now I knew why. And then something dreadful happened. The Church started to wake up, started to get organized, started to get really powerful in this area and they ruined it for me.

…It’s really a definition of who is your neighbor. Love thy neighbor is not advice. It’s a command. And who is your neighbor in the global village? Can an accident of longitude and lattitude really decide whether you live or whether you die. In a globalized world can you say, “Because that’s happening over there, it’s not really my concern.” Well, you can’t if you’re a Christian. You cannot. You know there’s 2,003 verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. I mean second only to personal redemption and salvation, the main thrust of the Scriptures is to meet Christ through working with the poor and disadvantaged. You see it in Isaiah 58, Matthew 25

…Jesus speaks of judgement once. Only once. And it’s that moment, “When the day of judgement comes, I will separate you to the left and to the right. The sheep and the goats.” And you’re thinking, “What is it? Who will it be?” The gays will go there or the guys with long hair will go here or the anti-Semites will go there? No. He says I’ll put you left and right and He goes, “To the ones who clothed me while I was naked, who fed me while I was hungry, who visited me while I was alone, I was in prison. These are my people.” And they say, “Oh, but that’s not you, Lord.” And He goes, “As much as you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.” It’s about judgement. That parable isn’t a soft warm fuzzy feeling. “The least of these”. That’s serious. That defines you or not as part of the kingdom or not. Your service to the poor, to the imprisoned. This is serious stuff. And it makes huge demands of us. And really what it’s talking about is equality. And that equality can be annoying. You know, because it’s like, “Ok, we accept that you are Jews, but not the blacks or not the women.” And now we say,”Ok, if you Jewish or women or Catholic, you’re equal. But not if you’re over there.” Now if you’re over there and equal before God’s eyes, we will have to serve you. Oh, how annoying. Unacceptable.

…A friend of man is a very wise man. He said to me, “Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing, Bono. Find out what God is doing, because it’s already blessed.”

…[On his favorite phrase in the Lord’s Prayer] “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” because a lot of people are happy with pie in the sky when they die. I don’t think that is what is our purpose. Our purpose is to bring heaven to earth in micro as well as the macro. In every detail of our lives, we should be trying to bring heaven to earth.

…This group has convinced me of the importance of the Church in creating the moral as well as the practical infrastructure to deal with some of the biggest problems facing the world. People say there is no clinics where they can get AIDS drugs to people. Well I say open the doors of the Churches and make them clinics.

…We musn’t describe this stuff as a burden, as a duty. It’s really an opportunity and an adventure.

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  1. Hi Jonathan. Wow. Very cool web-site. Have only read a few postings so far but i think it is awesome that first you take the time to really think about what is in your head and heart and than take even more time to share it with others. The fact you are a fellow admirer of Bono makes it even better! He rocks! Look forward to working together on Fair Trade and etc. Erica

  2. Hey fellow Bono fan =)

    Good to hear from you. Been hearing your name a lot but yet to meet up with you. But I’m sure we’ll be working on some stuff together in the near future! And great to know what you guys are up to regarding Fair Trade! Cheers!

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