My (Imaginary) Interview with Bono
For those of you who know me, you are aware that Bono, lead-singer of U2, is one of my top living heroes (along with Kobe Bryant–the topic of many entries in the future, for sure), and it is one of my lifelong goals to meet him on earth before we meet in heaven. It’ll probably be easier to meet up in heaven anyway… we probably just have to think of who we want to hang with and BLAM! there we are having a glass of glorious wine together!
Unless I suddenly become super important, famous and/or influential, I will probably never have the chance to gain an audience with him. I am confident, however, that if I had the opportunity to hang with him for just ONE hour, we would be the best of friends. Well, since this is my blog, I got to have this opportunity and what a grand conversation it was! Bono is not only one of the most influential frontmen in Rock and Roll history, he is also one of the leading voices in the movement to end poverty and relieve the AIDS crisis in Africa. He has used his immense platform to impact and influence millions– that’s why he’s one of the top 2 people I’d like to meet before I die! I think what Bono has to say will astound, inspire, shake, and move you. Here’s the interview:
(Disclaimer- once again, in case you missed the heading, this is my imaginary interview with Bono. My questions along with his “answers” are mostly based on what I want to say along with what I speculate Bono may say in real life. Although Bono is reflected in a very positive light here, it is with the knowledge that he too is a flawed, imperfect individual. If you are offended in any way by this entry, please leave now and go visit http://www.sesamestreet.org to blow off some steam. I hear that they have great educational games and Elmo is really friendly. Finally, Bono, if you are reading this, please mentor me… I’ll do anything.)
DK: (understandably nervous) Wow… so Bono… I’m so honored that you would have me in your home here in Dublin. Ireland is just like I imagined it would be– green, alcoholic, and jolly with crazy people wearing Larry Bird and Paul Pierce jerseys while bumping House of Pain’s “Jump Around”…
Bono: That’s why this place will always be home. It’s truly heaven on earth, my friend. Welcome. By the way, I hate the Celtics and Paul Pierce… one of the bloody ugly spots of our country. Let’s keep those boys in Boston.
DK: I couldn’t agree more! I’m so glad we’re on the same page with that. We have so much in common already! (awkward silence) Umm, I found out a while ago that your real name is Paul Hewson. Am I allowed to call you Paul?
Bono: Am I allowed to call you Dan, Danny Boy?
DK: Bono it is. What do you think about your new album, Bono?
Bono: I’m really happy with it actually. I’d like to say it’s our finest work but you’d have to hear it to believe it. In fact, we’re selling it for only 4 U.S. dollars on Amazon.com!
DK: Whoa, what a steal! I’m going to download it RIGHT now. Gimme one sec…. OK, done. (sippin some celebratory Guinness)… so Bono, let me cut right to the chase as this may well be my biggest question of the night. Many people have wondered over the years, is U2 a Christian band? Are you Christian? Have you heard of how churches use your songs to perform rituals and special services called the U2charist? No joke!
Bono: First of all, I had nothing to do with the U2charist… what kind of name is that anyway? It’s a strange form of flattery, that one. In fact, the actual word “eucharist” is a funny word too, wouldn’t you say? Sounds like a disease or mental condition… “I have a bad case of eucharist, Doctor. Please prescribe me some of that mary jane!” (laughs) Ok, well bloody…back to your question which is actually a little deeper and more complex than you may realize.
The word “Christian” has different meanings and reactions depending on where you are in the world. Some places are more hostile to it while others like the U.S. may accept it as more a part of their religious culture. What I find really peculiar, however, is how Christians tend to put a label on everything and put things and people in boxes.
DK: What do you mean?
Bono: For instance, “Christian” music, “Christian” books, “Christian” political stances, and even “Christian” breath mints called “Testamints”…
DK: Lord, have mercy.
Bono: No kidding. To answer the first and second part of your question, I suppose the simple answer would be “no” to both. U2 is not a Christian band and I don’t consider myself to be Christian. I believe the truth of Scripture and I follow the teachings of Christ but I don’t put myself under the label or branding, if you will, of Christianity.
DK: Why is that? Wouldn’t it be a little more “cleaner” for you to associate yourself with Christianity? Take away the mystery for other people, if you will?
Bono: Well, like I alluded to a little bit before, institutionalized Christianity has a lot of baggage doesn’t it? I suppose the idea of religion in general has baggage but Christians simply have done a pretty (expletive) job of representing Jesus. Where Jesus demonstrated grace, mercy, compassion, and inclusion, Christians have been very judgmental, unforgiving, selfish, exclusive and territorial…
DK: Wow… so how do you really feel Bono? (at this point, every time Bono mentioned “Christianity” or “Christian” I knew he was referring to it in a very general, institutional sense; not aiming his views toward any particular denomination, church, or individual. Please take note of this for the rest of this interview!)
Bono: I think 2 things that many Christians have overlooked over the years are how much God values and prioritizes true love and freedom which often manifest in forms of compassion and justice for our fellow man. The love that Christianity has come to know and preach has been diluted with conditions and a numbers-driven mentality. I don’t know if Christians know what it really means to befriend someone and be kind to someone without agenda!
DK: What’s the agenda?
Bono: Quite simply, it’s the agenda of evangelism or proselytizing and adding arses (dk: he said something else) to the Sunday pews. I think they’ve got it all wrong. Acts of compassion should lead to deep relationship and more acts of love without strings attached, but often times, they come with the expectation that the person will commit to one’s church or convert! The world is actually catching on to this and is starting to shut some of its doors to any organization coming under the banner of Christianity–as well as other religions, I might add. If you’re going to bestow an act of love on somebody, do it without expectations of adding to your evangelism “quota” or making the name of your church or organization great. Do it because Christ did it and genuinely cared about the one person. Then the world will take notice.
DK: Strong words. Tell me more about the whole “freedom” bit you mentioned.
Bono: I guess I see chains all over the place, both in the literal and figurative sense. There are the literal chains of poverty that I know break the very heart of God but there are also the chains of compartmentalization that keep people from experiencing life as God may have intended. Plain and simple, I think Christians compartmentalize just about everything and it is putting them in captivity. For instance, I know there are people out there who would label me a pagan and damn me to hell because I am a rock and roll frontman who likes the occasional bottle of booze and throws in a (expletive), or (expletive), and (expletive) into my everyday vernacular! Haha! I don’t fit their white box so therefore, I am in the other, black one. I experienced this in the early days of U2, actually. The church didn’t know what to with our music so we decided to take it out into the streets and pubs– probably the best decision we’ve ever made!
DK: I’ll say!
Bono: Yes. But back to boxes… how about the way churches are done? What is the church anyway? Is it not about people and how God intersects with the people on a daily basis? Christians have made it a focus on one day of the week, one gigantic building, and one charismatic leader who dissects the Bible in pieces that taste sweet and easy. These things may not be bad in of themselves but it has certainly limited the larger scope of Church and dare I say, God. I don’t know what it may be like if Jesus did church but something tells me it may not look like this. We forget that “church” as we know it is a man-made thing. What Jesus did in his time on earth was a lot more organic and centered on generosity, healing, kindness and relationships. Somewhere along the line, this particular 20th century paradigm of church and Christianity became the norm and we all know how difficult it is to burst out of one’s paradigm, am I right? Just look at poor Britney Spears…
DK: I don’t get it.
Bono: Never mind. Another thing that irks me is how many of the Christians today serve a black and white God.
DK: You mean Caucasian and African American?
Bono: No, my Asian friend (we both laugh). I’m talking about how there is no grey area with some people. I feel that God exists and even thrives in some of the grey areas that certain Christians feel don’t exist. We see this especially in the way America does politics. Why has the Republican Party taken on the unofficial title of God’s Party? I think of issues like abortion, gay/lesbian rights, etc. in light of the individual, and I refuse to put a black or white law on these issues. Jesus had a cup of well-drawn water with a Samaritan whore–to be rather blunt–who was considered dirty, sinful and unfit for conversation with other people who were more “normal” or clean. Jesus saw the individual and had compassion. I guess the word that sums it all up for me is grace. We all know and preach on this word, I even wrote a song about her (it), but do we really know what it means? (Bono’s voice slowly rises) Grace is radical, outside-the-box, black, white, gray, purple, rainbow, whatever! Grace covers over sin. Grace died on the cross so that all men could be unified with God and with one another. Grace doesn’t care so much about fighting to get the last word about who’s right and wrong! Grace works to bring justice and peace to places like Africa…
Bono: Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, whatever… we can all use and extend a little more grace to one another. I suppose if you’re a professing Christian and you bare the name of Christ, there is a greater responsibility for you to extend this grace, and act on behalf of the poor and marginalized. We are all wasting our time by fighting over things that have no bearing in the scope of eternity.
DK: (wiping, blowing nose, re-inserting contact lens…) So how do you suggest we spend our time?
Bono: I think it’s pretty simple really. For those who follow Scripture, let me offer a Biblical slap in the face that comes from Amos 5:23-24 —
“Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
Righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
I guess I share that to say that God does not desire religion, ritual or even more sparkling churches and cathedrals. He doesn’t care for our songs and shouts of acclimation unless we respond to his mandate for unconditional love expressed without strings. His priority is with the poor and needy. Love in action. I believe that to be the Jesus of Scripture and if you want to see him, touch him and feel him, go to the marginalized places and you will.
DK: (nodding, thinking, feeling slapped in the face)
Bono: So I suppose that was a really long answer to your first question. I want to live my life in freedom and part of that means, living without label or categorization when it comes to my beliefs and convictions. I want to live out what Christ taught without religious affiliation. I hope that suffices for you.
DK: uhh… most definitely. Hey Bono, I know you have to get going now but I have wanted to ask you this for a long time…
Bono: What is it?
DK: Will you mentor me? Can I see you a few times a year to chat, listen in on your studio sessions, carry your gear, etc?
Bono: Most definitely! That sounds like a bloody good idea. Here’s my mobile number along with my secret twitter acount and facebook link. Call me anytime!
Bono: OK Ali, can you make sure he gets on his flight back home after he regains consciousness?
[ONE CAN ONLY DREAM…. ] END of INTERVIEW.
Thanks for reading! I end the entry with this video of Bono at the Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. a few years ago. Even if you skipped this entire faux interview, you have to watch this video. It will slap you in the face in the best way possible. For more information on some of what Bono is involved in, I suggest you visit www.one.org