Thoughts On... Bono & James 2

Over the last 2 weeks, I've been reading Bono's interviews with one of his writer friends, called "Bono On Bono". Bono, for those of you who may not know, is the frontman & singer for the band U2, with the passion of an Irishman, the riveting and awe-inspiring voice of an opera singer, a heart for the poor that could rival most Christians, and contradictions throughout his life that he doesn't usually attempt to reconcile. U2 is my husband's favorite band, and certainly in my top 5. In his own words, this book gives us insight into his life, band, children, marriage, and most pertinent to me at present: his faith.

This man, described as a "Bible-reading band man" will disarm you with his humility regarding past sins washed in God's grace & nailed to the cross, amaze you with his attractive yet spot-on presentation of the gospel, and leave you feeling that he is, indeed, a Brother. A man with a religious blend of influences as a child, a waywardness about his adult life, and yet, a consistent return to faith. A celebrity with a rare awareness of and ability to quote Scripture, and with a rare ability to bring together political sides, and to pair seeming enemies in both people and ideas to advance his vision. An activist who dines with Popes, Presidents, and AIDS victims. A performer who has a belly dancer onstage and a wife of 25 years and 4 children at home.

While reading his interviews, I have also been trying to read through the book of James once a day. One passage has stuck out to me as a poignant description of his faith and life and as a challenge to the living out of my own faith... and I hope yours:

"Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone... you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all--it is dead and useless. Now some may argue, 'some people have faith; others have good deeds.' I say, 'I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.' " -James 2:14-18

While they discuss much more beyond faith, Bono's faith is prevalent and interwoven throughout the book. If you have even the slightest interest in this man, have enjoyed their songs, or just want to be challenged in what "faith in action" looks like, get the book.


Anonymous said...

U2 Quiz: 30 Questions For Those Who Have Ears To Hear
by David Buckna

The Sunday Times February 19, 2006
Interview: Michka Assayas meets Bono,,2092-2046759,00.html [Page One],,2092-2046759_2,00.html [Page Two]
Bono's Remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast [Feb. 2/06]
Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas (Riverhead Books, NY, 2005)

p. 200

Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so "peace and love."

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access to a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

p. 203

Assayas: As I told you, I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics--

p. 204

in physical laws--every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "As you reap, so will you sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which is in my case very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.

Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep shit. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s morality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to your actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t

p. 205

let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I’m God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. An He goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I’m the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He is-- the Messiah-- or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over a half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nut case, for me, _that’s_ farfetched…
Note how Bono borrowed from C.S. Lewis, who wrote in "Mere Christianity":

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Jesus, Pope, Dalai Lama, Mandela -- and Bob Geldof!
The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, July 9, 2005

Kim said...

Thank you so much for the recommendation! I am going to look for it next time I am out. That sounds like an amazing book.