Before beginning, I would like to reaffirm what I said in the introduction of my post about the conversion of Mark Wahlberg Summarizing things: our model is Jesus Christ and we discover paradigmatic examples in the lives of the saint. Period.
When we speak about the conversion or faith of famous people, we are in no way affirming them as models of Christian life. Human beings that are still walking the walk in this world, especially artists and rich youngsters in Hollywood, don’t have heaven guaranteed.
As such, before putting Bono or Wahlberg on any altar, I would recommend praying for them a lot so that their Christian faith be strengthened and can illuminate their respective environments.
This said, the interview is very interesting. Bono lucidly takes on the fact that his Christian faith cannot be based on mere feelings, rather on a person and a fact: Jesus Christ of Nazareth and his Resurrection from the dead. The artist directly critiques all those say they believe in Christ but dress him up as a prophet or a political leader, striping him of his divine nature. For Bono, and for any thinking Catholic, it is Jesus himself that prevents us from making a reduction of this kind, because he proclaimed himself Messiah, Son of God, He who is one with the Father. At the bottom, there are two sensible ways of comprehending Jesus: or he was the Son of God or he was a nut. No need to get scandalized though. Trying to portray Christ somewhere in the middle as a revolution, politician or Socratic philosopher, is typical of those who have never opened the Gospels.
In Michka Assayas’ book inteveriew Bono on Bono, the singer reaffirms this point:
“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.”
Finally, another element of the Bono’s Christian faith that I would like to point out is his authenticity. In a world were Catholic artists believe that in order to reach the summit of success they must hide their faith, or at least propose it in relativistic terms (real personal like, with 17 disclaimers so as not to offend their fans)… someone who has reached that summit of success – more than once– proves things are different. They need not renounce their principles or their faith, because, in the end, they are renouncing their very selves, the treasure and identity that makes them unique. How great it would be if all the Catholic artists could have this kind of courage when speaking publicly (granted with a bit of a Protestant feel) about Christ:
“… 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”.