Am I Buggin’ You? Don’t Mean To Bug Ya



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.

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9 Responses to Am I Buggin’ You? Don’t Mean To Bug Ya

  1. mboss says:

    “Love him, hate him or bugged by him for his politics or activism, Paul Hewson more or less gets the gospel.”

    And he wears cool sunglasses to boot.

  2. Zrim says:


    I can’t prove it, but I don’t think the glasses are all about celebrity-cool. I think they are a creative way of dealing with bad eyes.

    He claims his eyes are sensitive to light and swell up if his glasses are removed, but he also likes to preserve some distance from his fans:

    There’s many reasons for the glasses, posing I’m sure right up there, privacy, and other more medical. I do like having one step of a remove, actually. I don’t think when I’m singing I hold anything back and I don’t think when I’m writing I hold anything back. But I think I’m allowed to hold something back in this kind of a set-up. As honest a man as you are and as honest as I’m trying to be, there is a natural insincerity in the set-up and I’m trying to be much better at it. But just one step removed.

    Mmmm, sounds cool, but I think he’s got bad eyes (like me: vision and light sensitivity), can’t do contacts like he could when younger (like me), is afraid of Lasik (like me), wants to be able to see (like me) but has to maintain his street cred as a celebrity performer (unlike me), and voila, cool sunglasses. It’s just a theory though.

  3. Wow. Zrim, is Bono Reformed?! He needs to work on his 2k theology.

  4. Echo_ohcE says:

    Thanks Zrim. Bono is cool.

  5. Zrim says:


    So far as I understand, he is not a member of any church. I wish he’d denounce U2charists though.

  6. Bruce S says:

    Bono is first of all a musician. As such I don’t much care for Bono entirely because what little I heard of his group. They were abominably and insufferably bad. Maybe I picked a lemon to sample. If Bono were merely a poet (in which case he’d be a lot less rich), then maybe he’d score in my book.

    Give me Willie Nelson, if I have to go low-brow.

    I do wonder, getting back to your post, which part of “the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world” the interviewer wishes he could believe. Is it the “sin” part, the “Son of God” part or the “takes away” part.

    I also wonder if you see a touch of Natural Law in Bono’s karma theory.

  7. Zrim says:


    I guess you’d have to ask Assayas which part he wishes he could believe. My hunch is all of it.

    I see lots of NL in his Karma theory.

  8. mboss says:

    But what about your street cred as an outhouse sitter?

  9. RubeRad says:

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

    Bono may not be Reformed, but at least Assayas is no Arminian!

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