People who say that Bono bugs them bug me. And it’s not only because they undermine the greatest rock band in history (behind the Beatles). It’s also because they seem relatively unable to distinguish between the things of art, politics and religious propaganda. And nine-and-a-half times out of ten what they mean is that that they don’t like the man’s politics. Just as often these are the very same folks who have plenty of room in their hearts for cultural and political activism whose contents are different politics. On rare bad days, when Bono bugs me, it’s only because of his employment of activism, which I find generally obnoxious and contrary to an obedient institutionalism, no matter who is being active or why. But his politics are completely legitimate, just as legitimate as those who have different politics. (If you don’t grasp this, don’t worry, it takes a confessionally Reformed non-politico to see it. And if you are a western religionist chances are you aren’t a confessionally Reformed non-politico but come by it honestly enough, assuming that politics and religion are close cousins for some reason. On top of that you have accepted the modern notion that civil disobedience is a virtue, depsite the greater NT ethic of obedience. Am I buggin’ you?)
But be all that as it may, in Michael Assayas’ book Bono the author records this interview with the famous singer and activist:
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—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 you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is 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 s—. 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 a mortality 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 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.
Love him, hate him or bugged by him for his politics or activism, Paul Hewson more or less gets the gospel.