.- For years, the exact nature of the religious beliefs of Bono, lead singer songwriter of the band U2, have eluded fans and music experts. But now, in an interview published in the new book Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, the Irish superstar makes some very strong statements about Christ, grace and the nature of salvation. Although the Irish-born mega star professes to be a Christian, and although many of his song lyrics reflect it, some say Bono’s actions, “rock star antics” and various statements contradict this.
The interview however, throws some new light onto the faith of a musician who grew up watching first hand the bloody battle between Catholics and Protestants which wracked northern Ireland for years. Bono grew up in Dublin with a Protestant mother and a Catholic father.
Perhaps in light of this, Assayas asks Bono if he thinks “appalling things” happen when people become religious. The singer responds by showing the deep personal relationship the Christian faith calls believers to with God, rather than the violent extremism the interviewer seems to be prodding to.
At one key point in the interview, Bono talks about the difference between Karma and Grace, a difference which he says, is a “mind blowing concept…that keeps me on my knees.”
“At the center of all religions” Bono tells his skeptical interviewer, “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."
"And yet,” he says, “along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . 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."
Unwilling to divulge the “stuff” in question, Bono admits “I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge…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."
Later in the interview, the musician seems to take a page from C.S. Lewis, the famous British author and theologian, who wrote the famous “Lord, liar, or lunatic” discourse. He says, “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”, he says, “Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook.”
“Christ says, No,” Bono continues. “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.' . . . So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . 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."
Recently, just after the death of Pope John Paul II, the singer hung what has now become the tell-tale rosary which hangs around his neck--a gift from the late Pontiff, from his microphone during a concert, in a silent tribute to the great Pope.