I recently read an interview with U2’s Bono (does any body know Bono’s last name?) in this granola cruncher magazine subscribed to by the beautiful and charming Susan. The interview is actually an excerpt from a series of interviews in a book called Bono: a Self-Portrait in Conversation by Michka Asayas. I’ve followed from the fringes Bono’s African activism the past few years as an “I’ll wait-and-see” skeptic I must admit. I really dig his music, but I’ve never taken seriously the activism of actors or rock stars. But the more I watch Bono, the more I like what I see.
The following is a portion of the interview I read. I felt like the interviewer was baiting Bono with politically and religiously loaded questions. Watch how Bono turns the tables:
[Interviewer’s intro] Our next talk took place a week after the Madrid train bombings that left 191 people dead and more than 1,800 wounded on March 11, 2004. I wanted to know how Bono reacted to the news—not as a spokesperson or an ambassador for DATA, but as a human being. I mean, how do idealism and goodwill stand in front of that?
[Interviewer]Terrorists are focused on big ideas. You’re quite aware that there are no greater idealists than terrorists. Most of them revere the notion of God and holy justice. I guess for a person like you, who is deeply religious and idealistic, it must be very disturbing.
[Bono]I’m a lot of other things as well. But you see, people who are open spiritually are open to being manipulated more easily, are very vulnerable. The religious instinct is a very pure one in my opinion. But unless it’s met with a lot of rigor, it’s very hard to control.
[Interviewer]Correct. But you’ve never seen a skeptic or an atheist smash himself to pieces in order to kill as many people as possible. I mean, atheists would organize concentration camps or would plan collective starvation, but this kind of terror we are dealing with now is of a spiritual nature. You can’t hide from that.
[Bono]It’s true. Yeah, smashing other people to pieces doesn’t need the same conviction. Most terrorists want to change the material world. Well, add eternity to that, and people can go a lot further to pursue their ends…. But of course, this is always a corruption of some holy thesis, whether it’s the Koran or the Bible. My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated, I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now, that’s not so easy.
[Interviewer]We have been talking before about Jesuit priests arriving with the conquistadors in South and Central America with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.
[Bono]I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building.” [laughs] “A list of instructions where there was once was conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. But the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma...
[Interviewer]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.
[Interviewer]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 will you 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.
[Interviewer]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 sh*t. 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.”