I recently ran across this video of Bono talking about his Christian faith in an interview:
A lot has been made of Bono and his faith. I have heard some Christians declare that Bono is their pastor; I know several Christians who don’t listen to any “secular” music, but love U2 more than their first-born children – these ones typically own a guitar, on which they can play simple worship songs AND a few songs by U2, which they would say are “kinda like worship songs, you know, if you really think about it.” In fact, I have known of churches where the worship leader has lead the congregation in a chorus of a U2 song during worship.
All that goes to say: There are quite a few Christians out there. Why should it matter what Bono in particular thinks of Jesus?
As I listen to Bono speak about his faith, I feel that he is almost hesitant to admit that he believes Jesus is the Messiah. The way he talks about church kind of rubs me the wrong way too. Jesus didn’t come to establish a private religion that people practice alone or in their home with just their family – Jesus came to start a worldwide movement which has corporate expression. The church is not a somewhat-necessary evil, it is intrinsic to why Jesus came.
Having said that – here are a few reasons why what Bono has to say about Jesus matters.
Why does it matter what Bono thinks about Jesus? A few reasons:
1. He is not American
I think a lot of American’s don’t understand how the world outside of America views us. I remember the first time I travelled abroad, right after high school, I had this unarticulated view of people in other countries, that they were basically ‘the ones who hadn’t made it to America yet’. American culture tends to not have a clear understanding of how people outside of America really think about America. Often it is assumed that people either hate America or love America. In reality, it is much more nuanced than that.
One of the main views on America that I have heard abroad, is that we are a very religious country – which, statistically is absolutely true. Thus, people outside of the United States are used to American celebrities and politicians talking about their faith, oftentimes their evangelical Christian faith. However, when a European – an Irishman in Bono’s case – expresses evangelical Christian beliefs, the non-American world stops to listen a little more. And this is a great thing actually, because it helps the world to see that evangelical Christianity is not just an American phenomena – it is the natural outworking of taking the Bible seriously.
2. He is a celebrity who does a lot of good things
Bono has credibility in the eyes of the world because he has been so active in working for humanitarian causes. One of the criticisms evangelicalism has gotten (whether deserved or not), is that we are a relatively apathetic bunch when it comes to major social issues facing people around the world, such as AIDS, lack of clean drinking water, etc. Once again, the case can be made that this is certainly not the case – but there is a sense in which this is the reputation that evangelicals have gotten: that they are only concerned with getting “goose-bumps from Jesus” and getting the
heck heaven out of here, that they are not concerned with the plights and suffering that people are facing. Bono, because of his well-publicized humanitarian efforts is generally considered a credible person. <— this is something to take note of for those of us who want to be heard.
3. He understands the outsider’s perspective
This is perhaps the greatest reason. Bono knows how to speak in a way that relates to those outside of the fold of Christianity and the church. I believe there are a great number of people who have some kind of latent faith in Jesus, but are not connected to any community of faith, because they are afraid that structured religion will kill their faith. Bono has a way of talking about Jesus which retains much of the mystery and awe for him, which is often lost by evangelicals. Yes, he comes across reluctant and non-conformist, but guess what: that’s how A LOT of people out there feel. Bono is good at speaking in a way that is relatable to the “outsider” because he is able to see things from their perspective – a very important skill we could all afford to grow in, by the way! I believe Jesus was a person who was able to relate to “outsiders” well too – and that was part of his magnetism.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Bono and his faith below in the comments section!
5 thoughts on “Why Does it Matter What Bono Thinks About Jesus? A Few Reasons”
I think Bono is an awesome guy. I like some U2 songs and dislike some, but, as a whole, they are a really good band that sings about things people actually care about. Bono almost seems like the celebrity in America that mentions God, but he actually does stuff to help people and not just because of publicity. With that said, I’m not a huge fan of his views of the church as a whole either. I don’t know anything about his personal life, so I couldn’t say if that reflects Jesus in my opinion. Bono’s public life, however, is definitely worth taking note of.
On a different note, I don’t think there is any such thing as “Christian music.” I think there is music that specifically glorifies God and there is music that doesn’t. There is “Christian music” that seriously doesn’t glorify God, but claims to. I think the only time music is bad is when it is against God and I am pretty sure most music isn’t against him, just not always for him.
Here is a more thorough interview with Bono on his theology: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankviola/bono-on-jesus/
It’s worth the read.
Isn’t it a tad bit bizarre though, that we care at all what rock stars, movie stars and professional athletes think about religion and politics in this country?
Nick – I think we like to hear celebrities glorify God just because we love to hear God glorified any time it happens. I agree that Bono is a good spokesperson mostly because of what he does in addition to what he says. U2’s music is not, in my opinion, Christian music in the sense that it is not really “worship” music. Some of their lyrics leave you wondering exactly what it is that they are trying to say. “In the Name of Love”, for instance, seems to glorify MLK on much the same level as Jesus. I think U2 is a group lead by a Christian who sings mostly secular music with some spiritual overtones. The same can be said of Mumford & Sons and the Fray. I have always said that Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes” is the best worship song ever written by a secular artist though many disagree and say he wrote it about some girl – not buying it, the lyrics seem all too clear to me.
That’s a solid assessment. And I love the Fray, BTW!
I still think it is weird that we give so much attention to the views of pop culture icons on issues of religion and politics.
Here are a few further thoughts on the topic of “Christian music” and God in pop culture: http://nickandrosemary.blogspot.com/2011/03/god-and-pop-music.html