Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bono's Amazing Grace

A 2005 book — Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas — includes long interviews with the U2 frontman. The Anglican blog “Baby Blue Online” (quoting the blog “The Poached Egg”) excerpts passages about his Christian faith, including his personal relationship with Christ, his occasional suspicion of organized religion, giving his famous shades to Pope John Paul II, and how he sees “the Old Testament as more of an action movie.”

Any doubts about Bono being a Christian — rather than yet another New Age rock star — is dispelled by his impassioned explication of my favorite Scripture passage (John 14:6):
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!
I don’t know if Bono has read C.S. Lewis, but he ends up at the exact same conclusion as Mere Christianity: “either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah — or a complete nutcase.”

More directly relevant to this blog, another answer by Bono reminded me of the old devotional “Amazing Grace”:
I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace. … 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.
However, the hymn by John Newton takes the implication of grace one step further. The second and third verses (H82: #671) also emphasize the transformational nature of our salvation through faith:
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Given all Bono has genuinely done to comfort the afflicted, perhaps we can take his actions (rather than his words) as a testimony to the transformational power of God’s saving grace.