Paul “Bono Vox” Hewson, the singer for multinational entertainment content providers U2, is getting appreciative notices among evangelicals in the U.S. lately because of an interview he did with Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family.
Bono’s Christianity (he met two of the other U2 members in an evangelical youth group in Dublin in the late 1970s) has never been a secret, so I’m not sure why there’s a flurry of interest in him talking about his belief that Jesus is the son of God. Some of the lines that have drawn particular attention aren’t even new, as it happens:
Bono in 2013: “First of all, David’s a musician so I’m gonna like him. What’s so powerful about the Psalms are, as well as they’re being gospel and songs of praise, they are also the blues.”
Bono in 2002: “[David] was forced into exile and ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting, this is where David was said to have composed his first psalm–a blues. That’s what a lot of the psalms feel like to me, the blues.”
So, Bono’s a guy who likes to rehash his own insights (or, in this case, Leonard Cohen’s). But a more interesting question: How Christian is he?
That’s not really the subject of a new book about Bono, but perhaps we can read between the lines. Harry Browne’s new book “The Frontman” argues that Bono serves as “the caring face of the global elite,” who uses his “celebrity diplomacy” to benefit governments and corporations by giving their self-serving policy decisions the veneer of cool-charity righteousness.
Bono, as Terry Eagleton notes, “has cosied up to racists such as Jesse Helms, whitewashed architects of the Iraqi adventure such as Tony Blair and Paul Wolfowitz, and discovered a soulmate in the shock-doctrine economist Jeffrey Sachs. He has also brownnosed the Queen, sucked up to the Israelis, grovelled at the feet of corporate bullies and allied himself with rightwing anti-condom US evangelicals in Africa.”
“His consistent mistake has been to regard these powers as essentially benign, and to see no fundamental conflict of interests between their own priorities and the needs of the poor,” Eagleton writes.
He’s also shockingly entitled when it comes to his refusal to pay his fair share of taxes, as many people have noted.
To this long list of grievances I would add that he makes terrible music, but that’s beside the point that a man who wears his hip Christianity on his sleeve has spent much of the last 25 years giving public relations cover to war mongers and profiteers across the globe. How does that square with someone who claims “It’s very annoying following this person of Christ around, because he’s very demanding of your life.”
What sort of demands does he make, do you think?