Tag Archives: U2

Bono on Jesus

Somewhere in my archives you’ll find my (negative) opinion on any music U2 has released in the last, say, 20 years. But while there is some theological nitpicking I might do when it comes to this interview in this new biography as conversation of the U2 frontman, Bono, there’s a lot to love about his understanding of Jesus and the Christian faith. So kudos to him.

Michka: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Michka: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Michka: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

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.

Michka: 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.

Michka: 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.

Michka: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.”

And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.

At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson.

This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched…

A taxing issue

Feel free to dismiss this post as an anti-U2 rant simply designed to sling mud at the choir boy reputation that the band enjoys in Christian culture.

But I think this is pretty funny

Bono, like many other wealthy celebrities, tries to avoid paying tax by using an off shore tax haven. But what about all those tax dollars that are directed towards foreign aid you say?

“Tax avoidance and tax evasion costs the impoverished world at least 160 million US dollars every year. This is money urgently required to bring people out of poverty.

“U2 is just one part of the problem. This is a much wider and systemic problem in our global financial system. Every company and individual has the responsibility to pay the right amount of tax.”

Now this probably pales in comparison to the contribution Bono has made, and I don’t want to rob him of the credit he is due.

But Bono, with shades of Metallica’s anti-napster campaign is crusading for the poor musicians suggesting that governments should monitor the internet in order to prevent file sharing. While pointing the finger firmly at the evil Internet Service Providers.

A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us — and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.

Stuff “Christ Followers” like…

On the one hand these videos are really funny and poke legitimate fun at “bumper sticker” Christian sub-culture.

On the other hand, they’re pretty dumb and based on the pursuit of the Holy Grail of Christian authenticity. The “Christ Follower” totally listens to U2… he even says so… in the third video.

Both extremes are dumb… just as they are when it comes to the Mac v PC ads being spoofed – as this SMH article so humourously points out

I hope the video is actually mocking both ideas – but I get the impression it’s pushing people to define themselves as “Christ followers” rather than Christians, as though the label is so loaded with negative ideas that it needs replacing. I end up feeling just as frustrated by both of them.

When you boil it down, both Macs and PCs are computers, and both the characters in these videos are sinners forgiven through the work of Jesus.

Besides there’s nothing more fake than the relentless pursuit of authenticity.

If I ran a law firm…

I’d call any charitable work “antibono” because I think Bono gets too much free publicity in social justice spheres already.

I’m just saying.

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Losing your edge

It’s been ages since I last paid out U2 and their myriad fans. This little rant is Ben’s fault, well, more correctly it’s Warren the word over-use watchdog’s fault. Warren doesn’t like the word edgy – because edgy people/groups/things don’t need to proclaim their edgyness. As soon as they apply the label they lose their edgyness. Immediately.

Which brings me to this guy:

Surely he’s now about as edgy as James Blunt and should consider a more appropriate sobriquet. As Warren would say:

“But as soon as you drop the ‘E’ word, you’ve set yourself up for a fall, and you sound like your daggy uncle saying ‘I really like to get jiggy and bust a move to 50 cent, dog, for real’. Not good.”

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Coffee idolatry

JT’s Between Two Worlds is one of the pillars of the Christian blogosphere. Today he shared a little link to this article on sacred cows – and coffee in particular.

While I can appreciate where the author is coming from – I do like my coffee. More than most. It stings a little to see coffee lumped in with U2.

What you find on many websites is some kind of description like this: “I love reformed theology, U2, anything by Steven Soderbergh, and a fresh cup of joe.”  Or maybe: “My interests are theology, issues of social justice, Beastie Boys, and an Americano from (fill in neighborhood coffee shop here).”  Or perhaps: “Can’t resist a good Bonhoeffer quotation, Edwardsean philosophy, and a venti mocha with light whip.”

You get the point. Here’s the thing about this situation: there’s nothing ironic or unique about liking coffee. We all like coffee. Coffee is good. Made well, it’s really good. It’s kind of like saying you like bread. “Anything by Piper, Band of Horses, and Pepperidge Farm rocks my world.” Everyone likes bread. And everyone likes coffee.

Ouch.

Horsing around

I hate Nickelback. More than I hate U2. They are the world’s most painful band.

I was at the pub the other night with Tim and Aaran for trivia. There was a Nickelback had a video clip playing. Luckily there was no sound on. But the band have this odd habit of looking like they’re riding horses when they’re singing.

Microsoft, on the other hand, apparently love Nickelback – and they think you do too.

They want you to clog up your computer with their stupid product – and a stupid song by a stupid band. What an incentive.

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The importance of clear communication

Bagging out U2 on a public forum had some unexpected consequences. I’m not talking about the outcry from Christians keen to hang their hats on the Bono coathook of public Christianity.

No. It’s changed the way I engage in conversation with my wife. Now, if she says “I love you” – I say “I love you also” lest I be branded a hypocrite.

U2charist

Anglican Churches in England are trying really hard to be “cool and hip”*. So it’s a shame they think “cool and hip” means singing U2 songs in church.

“Among the alternative services explored in the book, which is co-edited by the Rt Rev Steven Croft, the new Bishop of Sheffield, are so-called “U2charists”, services in which the congregation receives communion but sings the songs of the Irish rock band U2 instead of traditional hymns.
The services, which include such songs as “Mysterious Ways”, “One”, and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, have been pioneered at St Swithin’s church in Lincoln.”

You’d hope that people in church have, in the majority, found what they’re looking for. That’s kind of the point. Isn’t it?

There are also churches praying for the executives of companies like Google.

Some of the ideas for being “cool and hip” are just plain weird. Not that singing U2 isn’t…

“One Holy Communion service promoted in the book, called Ancient Faith, Future Mission, begins with the congregation being shown a video clip from the YouTube website about a United Nations anti-poverty campaign.
Worshippers are told that “our planet is messed up” and that “things are not right”.
They are then asked to approach the altar and rub sea salt on their fingers to represent tears, before walking around and meditating at eight “prayer stations” representing themes such as “gender equality” and “environmental sustainability”.”

* My term, not theirs.

Cards for the not quite Hallmark moment

Someecards is a site full of ecards – about half of them are too inappropriate to put here and the other half are brilliant. You shouldn’t go there thinking I’ve endorsed it – more that I’ve laughed at some of them…

This one’s for U2…

Crap Sound 2

Wow. So I stirred up a hornets nest of angry female commenters (and one male), eager to defend U2’s honour.

And I regret nothing.

I thought about it, and for a while I decided that I was being harsh, that it’s wrong to judge people on the basis of their musical taste. But then I decided that’s exactly what I do. I am unapologetically prejudiced when it comes to Music. That’s why I own a T-Shirt that says “I hate the bands you like” and another that says “you have bad taste in music”… In fact. If you like U2 you should go to this site. Consider it an online support group.

I measure people – and how much I have in common with them – by what’s on their CD shelf, iPod, DVD rack or book shelf. And why shouldn’t I. You no doubt judge me on things equally superficial.

Will I not love you on that basis? No. Robyn had some Christian music CDs when we started dating – and some equally embarrassing music, and I have the Backstreet Boys as a musical skeleton in my closet. I still love her (and she me), though we disagree.

For those not reading the comments here’s some of what went down (well, what I said… other people can make their own points known in the comments – or on their own blogs)…

“Understanding that something is a subjective taste should not stop me objecting to the subjective taste of others.

I don’t like modern fashion – should I not be allowed to voice my opinion on that? Besides, I see providing all these alternative bands as a public service to my readers.

I wonder too, if the label “alternative” could just be applied to “those bands not trying to be U2″.”

Here are the things I’ve actually said about U2 (in the comments on other posts):

  • “If you listen to U2 your musical taste is boring and your (clef) palate undefined.”
  • “This article pretty much sums up why I don’t like U2 ”
  • “They’re also not very good. Musically or lyrically. In my opinion. They are champions of inoffensive blandness.”
  • “I’m happy for you to like U2. I’m sure you have reasons. I don’t like U2.”
  • “It’s where I write my opinion. On things. Like U2. And how they should retire. They used to be cool. Now they’re old men. ”
  • “I wonder too, if the label “alternative” could just be applied to “those bands not trying to be U2″.”
  • “Why listen to one band that tries to appeal to every aspect of musicallity and becomes middle of the road when you can embrace diversity which lets you appreciate the whole road, bit by bit?”
  • “There’s six bands in a list of five bands that I find more sonically pleasurable than U2″
  • “Bono’s public Christianity makes him a bit of a sacred cow. But I don’t like to criticise things without offering solutions here are 5 bands that are better than U2. In my opinion”

Sound of Music

I’ve been on a bit of a sound wave this morning – with my earlier posts – and the slightly more heated than anticipated comments on my anti-U2 post. I’m not surprised. Bono’s public Christianity makes him a bit of a sacred cow.

But I don’t like to criticise things without offering solutions here are 5 bands that are better than U2. In my opinion*…

  1. Radiohead – both Coldplay and U2 wish they were as politically aware and musically diverse as Radiohead – incidentally – Radiohead are apparently recording a new album.
  2. Muse – another British band with less people and more musical talent (and a greater talent per capita ratio) than U2.
  3. Gomez – They are to alt.Country what the muppets are to puppetry. Defining. Actually they’re incredibly difficult to pigeon hole.
  4. Athlete – For those of you who like U2 because they’re easy listening try Athlete, or Death Cab for Cutie – both equally compelling in sound but less self-righteously musically annoying.
  5. Augie March  – not only are they Australian, intelligent, poetic, they’re “easy listening” without being middle of the road inoffensive babble.

There’s six bands in a list of five bands that I find more sonically pleasurable than U2. Here are 10 more that fit that category off the top of my head (or out of my iPod – which does contain a bit of U2 – early U2, back when the Edge didn’t look like the kind of guy you’d keep your children away from at public parks).

If you like saccharine music and just can’t help yourself – why not listen to Dave Matthews, or Simon and Garfunkel…

  1. Smashing Pumpkins
  2. Weezer
  3. Architecture in Helsinki
  4. Blur
  5. Oasis
  6. Cake
  7. Custard
  8. The Dandy Warhols
  9. Placebo
  10. The Panics

Those are just the bands – there are plenty of solo artists or balladeers who write nice, sweet music who are infinitely more compelling than a 50 year old who petulantly refuses to remove his sunglasses. I won’t list them. I think I’ve made my point. Why listen to one band that tries to appeal to every aspect of musicality and becomes middle of the road when you can embrace diversity which lets you appreciate the whole road, bit by bit.

That is all.

*I’m not sure this needs to be said on a blog. That’s kind of the point.

Not you too?

This article pretty much sums up why I don’t like U2 (and Coldplay for that matter).

U2 have long been so ubiquitous that their music has threatened to lose all meaning – for me, it happened around 1988 – but of late, they have truly excelled themselves. Some questions: when Bono is photographed going to church in New York with Blair, what does that do the idea of rock as The Other? Is their slide heartening proof that, after years of handwringing about music becoming so pan-generational and pro-establishment it had lost all meaning, there may actually be a point where the great unwashed realise a group stands for absolutely nothing, and recoil? If so, watch out Coldplay.

Are you a U2 fan? Are you offended by such snobbery?