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LinkFest – Pro Bono

Ok, a friend of mine has asked me to pinch hit on a Sunday School class this week, so my attention will be a little pulled by that. So instead of two thousand words on 2 Corinthians, I've got a list of links for you that represent maybe the only time in my recollection of “The Algorithm” giving me exactly what I wanted without me asking for it.

So there's this rock star, Irish lad named Bono. He sings for a band called U2, you should check them out if you've never heard of them. U2 is something of a fixture in my wife's family, my in-laws have been to several of their shows, including the big anniversary tour they did for The Joshua Tree. Big deal. I had almost no exposure to U2 before this, other than thinking Vertigo was a pretty good single (still is), knowing they were “a big deal”, and knowing that some people in my circles didn't like Bono because of his “attitude”. I didn't know what that attitude even was. Presumably it had something to do with always wearing sunglasses.

So I'm a bit of a latecomer to the U2 fold, but the more I listen and the more I read, the more I begin to recognize something special here. I learned what the “attitude” people didn't like was (broadly, debt forgiveness and AIDS activism that leads him to shake hands and work with people who are definitely not punk rock) and decided that I definitely did like his attitude, I loved his art, and I appreciated the fact that his faith was there, for those with ears to hear.

To that last point, and by way of introduction, I feel like the introduction of Chekov's Algorithm is appropriate here. Christianity Today, a publication of decidedly Evangelical persuasion, likely provided the inciting incident here with their publication of an interview with Bono as the cover story for the December issue. He has an anecdote that drives to the middle of what I mean, that his faith is in his art for those that have ears to hear. Bono relates a conversation he had with Franklin Graham, who picked him up from the airport on his way to meet with and receive a blessing from Billy Graham. Franklin wasn't quite sure of his cargo...

“You … you really love the Lord?”
“Okay, you do. Are you saved?”
“Yep, and saving.”
He doesn’t laugh. No laugh.
“Have you given your life? Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?”
“Oh, I know Jesus Christ, and I try not to use him just as my personal Savior. But, you know, yes.”
“Why aren’t your songs, um, Christian songs?”
“They are!”
“Oh, well, some of them are.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, why don’t they … Why don’t we know they’re Christian songs?”
I said, “They’re all coming from a place, Franklin. Look around you. Look at the creation, look at the trees, look at the sky, look at these kinds of verdant hills. They don’t have a sign up that says, ‘Praise the Lord’ or ‘I belong to Jesus.’ They just give glory to Jesus.”

I really enjoyed reading the article, and when I visited it from a couple computers it seemed to me that they don't have it paywalled. The author, Mike Cosper, is the host on the famous-in-certain-circles podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, and he was good enough to post the audio of the interview up for us to listen to on the feed for his news commentary podcast, The Bulletin. I've enjoyed the Bulletin more than I thought I might, for a show that's about as Evangelical as I am not. Bono's deliberate carefulness, thoughtfulness with theological matters was surprising to me, in his speech and manner. Listen for treats like “That's a beautiful phrase you might have coined, just that behind Lament often lurks Hope. The grief becomes a kind of invocation, isn't it, to be filled. The emptiness, your emptiness, is this... prayer to be filled. Punk rock prayers.... yeah. That's probably what they were.”

So I listened to the interview, loved it, passed it on and then forgot a bit about it, until I was reminded that The Algorithm's panopticon captures all. Turns out, about six years ago, Fuller Theological Seminary's media studio arranged a meetup and conversation between Bono and the author of his favorite tranlation and interpretation of the Bible, Eugene Peterson, to talk about the Psalms. I didn't know this existed until YouTube served it up for me and made sure I had the opportunity to watch it. Very special conversation for fans of either man.

To wrap up, I'll end with a recommended reading section. The whole conversation with Bono on the artist's waiting and reaction and expression of the move of the Spirit is very much on the wavelength with Makoto Fujimura's work in Culture Care and in describing the Artist's role in Faith, and Faith's role in Art. Do yourself a favor and check him out.

Lastly, I'll give a link to Bono's memoir, Surrender, the likely inciting incident for the whole enchilada here. It's a big ol brick of a work, and I haven't read it yet myself, but I likely will.

Also, here I'll include a parting plea. Buy your books from people who want to sell books, not people who want to colonize the moon. Support your local independent bookstore.

This post is part of #100DaysToOffload, a challenge to blog a hundred days in a year hosted by Kev Quirk. This is post #6.

#links #linklist #100DaysToOffload #bono #u2 #surrender #EugenePeterson #MakotoFujimura