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Online Materials

Bono: U2 Frontman & Global Activist | Biography (2018):

Bono Talks About Activism and Family (2016):

Bono: Ending Poverty is the ONE thing we can all agree on (2017):

Further Reading

Bono and Eugene Peterson

The video below is courtesy of Fuller Theological Seminary

Bono and Eugene Peterson interview about Life and Art

  • The most important think I can do is fight the causes of poverty. They are structural, not simple
  • The thing that offends me the most is the waste of human potential.
  • Love is about realizing each other’s potential / realizing the potential of the people around you.
  • Being a celebrity upends God’s values – We shouldn’t see ourselves as anything else than sharing our gifts. We can use it to shine the light on issues and put the spotlight on people whose voices are not heard.

U2’s “Psalm 40” – A Song of Thanksgiving – A Hymn of Praise

Lyrics to Psalm 40

Bono: Grace over Karma

BOOK EXCERPT | AUGUST 1, 2005 There have been a number of books written about U2 and their iconic frontman, Bono, arguably the world’s most famous rock star. But not till now has Bono himself come out to tell his own story. In the new book, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (Riverhead Books), the… Continue reading Bono: Grace over Karma

Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation

If church leaders and artists have been estranged in western culture, then David Taylor is helping to lead them into a more blissful union. Original article provided by Christianity Today // Written by: Andrea Palpant Dilley // May 20, 2016 In the short film The Psalms, Eugene and Jan Peterson welcome an unusual visitor to their… Continue reading Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation

8 thoughts on “Bono

  1. I think some people would classify me as “dumbfounded” like Eugene Peterson for not knowing who Bono is. Like Mr. Peterson, I am not concerned nor take much interest in the secular music culture. However, here, two worlds collide through the love and attraction to the Psalms.
    In the short film, The Psalms, both Bono and Peterson are both on a quest to find one common thing – the Truth through the Psalms.

    Unfortunately, in these secular times, the Truth is at times, something that people do not want to hear. Society today is moving towards the direction of moral relativism rather than an objective morality. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict addressed in his homily at the Mass “Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice” (Mass to Elect a Supreme Pontiff) on April 18, 2005 to the Cardinals present about this very issue, saying, “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

    Bono and Peterson both spoke in the short film about honesty and dishonesty. The worst fear the Church and society should have is a world of dishonesty and the rise of relativism is nothing but dishonesty. When we live in a world in dishonesty, it merely creates an illusion that, “everything is okay!” But in fact, no, things are not “okay.” Relativism gives rise to pro-choice movements, abortion, euthanasia… things that a pro-choice society convinces its members that these things will bring about a happier society, one free of suffering. Ironically, in the long term, relativism does precisely the opposite. Dishonesty leads no where.

    The Psalms really reflect the mood of the psalmist, at time in joyful glee and at times in frustration and sometimes, the modern day reader can share those feelings in the context of modern times – I experience that when reading the Psalms for Morning and Evening Prayer. However, those are merely feelings. The things that really separates the psalmist from the people of today is that even in the midst of frustration and even anger, tried his best to not let his feelings dictate his morality. David at times, did fail, but he strived to be near God. Today’s world merely stops at feelings. The dictatorship of relativism happens because we rely too much on our feelings and our desires. People vouch for relativism because relativistic morality is so easy as it does require one to think – you do what you feel is right. To live by the Truth, to live by an objective morality requires one to critically think and discern in order to make right choices.

    Members of society should use their gifts and talents either writing, music, fine arts, etc… to promote honesty, to promote the Truth which is very much needed in today’s society and both Bono and Peterson have been examples of that within their respective careers.

    1. Hi Vincent,

      Nice reflection! I have some thoughts and questions:

      1. I agree that moral relativism is problematic. 5 years ago, I would have told you that it was a major issue in our society. However, interestingly, there has been a lot of public debate recently about what some see as the very opposite in our society today. The atmosphere surrounding morality in the public sphere seems to have change a lot very quickly. Did you follow the debate about the open letter against ‘cancel culture’ published recently in Harper’s Magazine? It was signed by many influential writers and academics and calls for more open debate in a culture where they see a growing ‘blinding moral certainty’ on issues of justice. I’ve put a few links at the bottom to some of the reporting on the debate. For me it is fascinating to see the secular world debating what is ‘orthodox’ and whether ‘alternative views’ should be given a platform because this has been a constant debate in the church for basically its entire history! What do you think of this debate and its relationship to moral relativism? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.

      2. I don’t think moral relativism always means dishonestly. I have met people who deeply and honestly believe in moral relativism. I think regardless of our view of the nature of Truth, speaking honestly about what we feel and believe, while respecting different beliefs and experiences of others is really hard for everyone! Can authentic, faithful and emotional artistic expression found in the Psalms and advocated by Bono and Eugene Peterson (and Walter Brueggemann) help us navigate situations where we honestly disagree about what the Truth actually is?

      Thanks for bringing up such interesting ideas!

      Original open letter published in Harper’s Magazine in July:

      Online article from the CBC on the open letter:

      Live interview on CBC with a signatory of the letter:

      Podcast discussion from the CBC on the open letter:

  2. In his interview with Eugene Peterson, Bono reveals his relationship with God and the way that he has come to understand the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
    The interview, though seemingly unconventional, is exceptionally powerful and inspiring.
    I believe that Bono uses his voice as an individual in the public light for good and for evangelizing his revelation of the Triune God to others.

    Bono’s interviews revealed that being faithful and belonging to a definitive faith-group are two very different things. He never explicitly states what religion he considers himself to be, nor does he boast of the amount he prays each day. He simply testifies that he believes in Jesus Christ and God the Father, and that he has a very special relationship with them.
    Bono doesn’t actively romanticize his faith, but truthfully and honestly recounts the power of his interactions with God. How he speaks about his role as a public-figure is remarkable, in that he chooses to use his fame for good and for advocating for the poor and vulnerable of society.

    Overall, I believe that Bono’s perception of the faith is inspiring, and his dedication to bettering his relationship with God is what makes him even more relatable to others. He reveals that no one has a perfect relationship with God, but it is through practicing one’s faith regularly that they can truly achieve spiritual clarity.

    1. “I believe that Bono’s perception of the faith is inspiring, and his dedication to bettering his relationship with God is what makes him even more relatable to others.” As Catholics, the theme of “evangelization” is something that keeps coming up, especially in recent years with the particular terms, “new evangelization”. Sometimes, people think evangelization is doing what the apostles’ did in the New Testament, going to places and preaching out in the streets but when we speak of evangelization, especially in the context of the term, “new evangelization” means proclaiming the Gospel in the means that meet the state of the world today. The way the apostles’ did evangelization cannot simply be applied today. In the day and age where young people are using social media, and various forms of media more, the way the Gospel is delivered must be changed – let me be clear: the method the Gospel is proclaimed can evolve and change through the ages, but not the message of the Gospel itself. This is what Bono is doing – the way he is proclaiming the Gospel and enacting on it is something that is “relatable to others.” That is what people need to see – how things are relatable to them and from there, they would find the motivation to be evangelizers in today’s society through various means of communications and technology available to them.

      1. Hi Valuscha and Vincent,

        I wonder if Bono would really consider himself to be doing evangelization? I heard from a Catholic friend of mine once that the best pope is one that doesn’t actually want to be pope! Perhaps the same is true from evangelists? Perhaps the best evangelists are those that don’t really like to see themselves as ‘evangelists’ but instead just share their faith simply and authentically. What do you think?

        Thanks for a great discussion!

  3. The Christianity Today’s article entitled ‘Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation’ describes the strain and tension between the arts and the church in the modern world. Much ink could be spilt trying to understand how we got to this situation. However, I think it is clear that honest emotional expression in both religious and secular contexts requires a great deal of bravery.
    Perhaps this pandemic is an opportunity to bridge the gap between the arts and faith through lament, an experience shared by all in some way or another across the world in this time. Interestingly, the role of the Psalms in facilitating healing emotional expression is something connecting the ideas of Bono, Eugene Patterson and Walter Brueggemann.
    Also, this reminds me of a fascinating recent article from the BBC about the emotional, linguistic and rhythmic trends in pop music: ( I wonder if it would be possible to do a similar kind of analysis of music used in places of worship and/or in the daily lives of people of faith. This would not only provide information about potential points of contact between faith-based and secular musical expression, but also potentially form the basis upon which to develop and deepen a conversation about how to emotionally process the collective and personal trauma the pandemic has brought through music.
    The article mentions the rise is fast-pace dance hits whose lyrics are sad as a kind of release of pain that connects with our bodies. I can’t think of any parallel in religious music. If it exists, perhaps it could help process existential pain (as opposed to the classic ‘break-up’ pain often addressed in pop music).

    1. Iain,

      Great response! I definitely agree honest emotional expression is a very brave act and one that some of us often struggle with. I think your point about an artistical expression regarding the collective and personal trauma this pandemic has inflicted is very insightful and I for one would love to see such works. Relating to others’ pain and the concept of a collective trauma is very interesting and, in my opinion, would allow a form of catharsis to take place. The concept of researching the role music plays in religions is also a good point you bring up and I’m curious as to researching how this would look across different faith traditions. I believe at some point or another music intersects with all religions and it’d be intriguing to compare and contrast the extent to which this occurs.

  4. This interview between Bono and Eugene is extremely interesting for its very raw insights into the intertwining of arts and religion. Particularly for me, the part where Bono and Eugene criticize the lack of realism in certain modern-day Christian art works evoked a sense of self-reflection where I ponder how I interact with the arts to please my God. I was very intrigued when Bono and Eugene were urging for radical honesty in the religious arts through comparing contemporary music to that of the Psalms which are ripe with emotions of anger, despair, happiness and joy. Both parties believe what God wants is honesty in worship. I whole heartedly agree with this point and think worship is able to take on a much deeper level when it is willfully honest and raw. In my view, God already knows what is in our hearts but when we willfully and without reserve submit ourselves to Him in such a vulnerable manner – we are able to deepen that connection. This is something I absolutely loved about the Bono and Eugene piece, it worked to deepen our understandings of prayer and worship and in a subtle way implored us to re-evaluate if our current ways of worship are entirely real or simply a product of stale repetition.

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