Saturday, May 16, 2009

#81 Bono



Men in Christian culture often have giant man-crushes on Bono. Pastors who wish to be emergent/relevant sometimes quote him in sermons and work in a U2 lyric mention when they can. Obscure lyrics must be tempting to quote, but the hit songs are quoted most often. (Gen-X pastors likely went through a U2 phase in seminary during which they pondered the
worship/mourning/redemptive elements of Boy and October, but now they need to tailor their sermon references to their demographic. They may assume that most people in their congregation don't own any U2 albums older than the Joshua Tree, which is a safe assumption unless the church is very, very Acts 29.)

Conversely, many people in Christian culture disagree with Bono's theology and many pastors' blogs urge people to "pray for Bono and his bandmates." This group also often dislikes how he presents his politics and they don’t appreciate the whole Coexist thing, saying he is equating other religions with Christianity. Some of them say in their blogs that Bono is not a believer anymore.

Maybe a lot of breath gets wasted while we’re picking this stuff apart. Maybe revering or villifying Bono can be an idol. Maybe we could pray for ourselves the same way we might pray for Bono, which is that we all might know truth.

22 comments:

Mon said...

Ugh... I can't stand "The Prophet" Bono (but mainly because of his music). I feel like for Christian culture he's right up there with Coldplay - who I also can't stand. (As my brother says, "why do we need Coldplay when we already have Radiohead and U2?".. heh)

I do, on the other hand, love how he makes some of them squeamish with his otherwise liberal politics. I had this friend - classic uber evangelical, fundamental Christian type - and she really hated social activism. She thought since it was usually encouraged by "liberals" - and liberals are, of course, the enemy of Christ - that it was by default part of the unChrist-like liberal agenda.

Anyways, she of course loved U2. And then we were watching some interview with Bono and he was talking about AIDs outreach and she got really pissed. Because, as she rationalized, if you're Christian all you really had to do was pray and all the world's problems would go away. Anything else was just the liberal forcing their agenda upon you. Okay, maybe she was just an exceptional case. I digress.

In any case, as usual, great post!

Gregory said...

It's odd that anyone who describes himself or herself as a Christian would believe one just had to pray to make the world's problems go away, as Jesus Christ taught no such thing in the Bible. He was pretty explicit: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, house the homeless, tend the sick, visit the jailed. Love your neighbors (and your enemies) as you love yourself. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Nothing about "just praying" there...

stanford said...

http://graphjam.com/2008/03/16/funny-graphs-bono-sunglasses-charity-music/

CDubbs said...

I like U2 and I think they have some songs that really have some good spiritual insight...however, I like them because of their music, not any theological background.

Besides, you want to see Christians get really divided? Mention Bob Dylan.

joyous melancholy said...

I had this friend - classic uber evangelical, fundamental Christian type - and she really hated social activism. She thought since it was usually encouraged by "liberals" - and liberals are, of course, the enemy of Christ - that it was by default part of the unChrist-like liberal agenda... if you're Christian all you really had to do was pray and all the world's problems would go away. Anything else was just the liberal forcing their agenda upon you.

THANK YOU for articulating this!

I was raised in the church and still consider myself a Christian, though I haven't set foot in a church in years besides a Christmas Eve service this past year (something about having a kid is drawing me back, but that's probably another post).

My family is EXACTLY like this! Whenever I mention recycling, I get looks like I'm preaching satanic verse. Save The Environment is either a hoax or a left-wing liberal-pagan worldview.

Unless the social activism is wrapped in a layer of "Missions," it's completely rejected or seen with suspicion. I couldn't figure out why until I read this comment.

Sorry to say that it is not the exception. However, there are exceptions to this, so I guess that's something.

May 16, 2009 3:34 PM

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I'm not sure what else to say. My husband was a pastor for 15 years before we decided that the ministry wasn't for us...and NO, God didn't "tell us" that we could leave. We used our minds and abilities to determine that we wanted out and that it was OK to want out and to GET OUT. So I've just read ALL of your 81 posts on your blog, and it was quite refreshing. I'm still in the process of discovering who I am as a believer in Christ outside of the payroll of the church. You've given me food for thought. So thanks. Would that I could sit and have a beer with you and talk some more. Oh, but alcohol...that's taboo, right?

And I'm going to sign this as "anonymous" but it will be an
"anonymous" that isn't defending Christian culture, so it's OK, I think.

Paul Wilkinson said...

Saturday night. Nothing to do. So I decided to see how many different countries are represented in YouTube vids of U2 performing 'Party Girl.'

After hearing it for the eighth time, my 15-year-old asked me, "What's the big deal with Bono?"

Then I clicked on the bookmark for your blog. "Hey, check this out;" I said.

Timing!

Bruno said...

Acts : 29

heh heh

Anonymous said...

First I must come clean, Steph. I have the man crush on Bono. There- I said it.

But while that fascination (or man-crush as you call it, damn you) certainly started for many of the reasons you mention during my Christian Culture youth, I have to say my infatuation with Bono today is no less. What's really kept my attention/admiration all these years is 1) he's an amazing lyricist, 2) he's the rare celebrity that doesn't just run his mouth spewing hypocrisy about how we should live but he actually affects change with his celeb status and practices some of what he preaches (sorry for the rambling run-on sentence).

Neverthless your blog is dead on, as usual.

Love your blog Steph,

Oliver "Would make out with Bono if given the chance" Robinson

Bebe said...

Bono's a bit of alright. At least he puts his money where his mouth is. Which is more than I can say for some Christians I know.

Two things I don't get. The pathetic state of "Christian" bands with their derivative music and lyrics. U2 has a couple of good songs, but then so does any band. I see the need for today's music and today's emotions, and we cannot for sure respond only with "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". Self-styled "Christian" music always seems lukewarm to me...and we all know what God thinks of the lukewarm!

The second thing is man-crushes. Is this some attempt to avoid saying a man can feel close to another in order to avoid the suggestion of (shudder) a homosexual tag? Did a man or a woman make up this term? What happened to "admire" or "emulate"? And why do we turn celebrities into idols for worship, confusing their special gift with magical powers? Say what you mean, mean what you say.

BTW I feel Mon and Gregory are forgetting the story of Mary and Martha, the two sisters mentioned in John (or Luke). Martha was busy with Jesus's arrival, and Mary sat down to listen to Jesus. Martha complained about her sister, and asked Jesus to tell her to help out (a rather reasonable request, after all). Jesus reminds Martha that she does have many things to worry, and yet Mary is doing the better thing that she will not be denied. He doesn't say Marth's work is for naught. He says that, while action (good works) is great, prayer and contemplation is also not to be despised. Jesus wants us to center on our lives on him and his example. For him, when we run about preaching in foreign lands and volunteering at the soup kitchen and passing Christ-centered legislation, we are not always and everywhere doing his will. Only when we have brought together prayer and action will we be true servants of the Lord. I have a friend who is a Buddhist monk, and he reminds me of the importance in his tradition of "mindful awareness" when we are living our lives. I feel this concept is the same one Jesus speaks to.

There is a painting by Tintoretto depicting this scene from the Bible, "Christ in the House of Martha and Mary". As usual, our ancestors had a clear and succinct understanding of these things. Look at the way the artist sets up the typically human poses, and you'll figure out what message Jesus was trying to convey.

Bets said...

Bruno already said it, but I must agree -
"Very Acts 29" - bwah ha ha.

Drew Unruh said...

Love the blog. Makes me laugh. Just thought I would share this rare gem with you and maybe see an addendum to the bono post!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1561012238/

stephy said...

Joyous and Mon,
you're right about the recycling thing! Thanks for the idea for the next post!

Magnus said...

"Maybe a lot of breath gets wasted while we’re picking this stuff apart. Maybe revering or villifying Bono can be an idol. Maybe we could pray for ourselves the same way we might pray for Bono, which is that we all might know truth."

Amen

David said...

Sorry...I'm a newb...catching up on all the old posts...just wanted to point out that my man-crush on Bono...like Oliver...got alot bigger when I left Xian culture. (Like I said...I'm new...have you already mentioned how they DON'T like to say "Xian"?)

Anonymous said...

Bebe-

I'm pretty sure the term "Mancrush" is Seinfeldian. It shows up in an episode where George thinks Elaine's boyfriend is really cool. In fact, he's nearly the exact opposite of George. He just can't stop talking about him, adapts parts of his style and mannerisms, and looks for any excuse to spend time with him. Jerry labels this "a non-sexual" man-crush."

This describes exactly a phase of my time in college when I tried to imitate Joshua Tree-era Bono as much as possible.

C Heintzelman said...

Shane Claiborne (who makes most evangelicals at least as convicted/uncomfortable as Bono) said, "America is full of unbelieving activists and inactive believers. I want to be an active believer" I love that quote.

Just because unbelieving activists embrace recycling or caring for the poor doesn't mean those things are wrong.

This seems to be a problem with the church today. We have made "being the opposite of the World" our measuring stick for righteousness. The Bible doesn't say we should be totally different from the World. It says we should be like Christ. In areas where that makes us different, so be it. But we don't create that difference just for the sake of "staying separate". If The World starts to stay married do we as Christians get divorced just so we can stay different. There are a ton of Biblical principles in Liberalism. We need to embrace those things without embracing liberalism.

It's always ironic with me that Jesus had the biggest problems with the Religious people. I think that Bono is closer to Jesus on this one.

stephy said...

We need to embrace those things without embracing liberalism.

I would add "and also without embracing conservatism."

Guy said...

I am another Christian with a Bono man-crush.

I started considering Chrisitanity being something other than old ladies in a smelly church when I discovered bono was a Christian

Bono pisses off many Church folk... because he swears and has the audacity to appear to think for himself...

Camels With Hammers said...

Apparently there's a Methodist Church that goes ahead with an entire U2 Eucharist http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=160480746583&ref=share

Anonymous said...

Bono believes that there are a lot of ways ( by different religions ) one can go to heaven NOT just by Christianity. But Jesus said in John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Do you want to believe what Bono says or what Jesus Christ said?
It's YOUR choice :)

stephy said...

When did Bono say that's what he believes? Do I have the option of believing whatever Oprah says too, or just Jesus and Bono?