Friday, May 12, 2006

Bono: Prophet to the World

I heard Bono speak at Fair Park Music Hall last Friday night.

All 3,200 seats were filled. The event was sponsored by the World Affairs Council here in Dallas.

He was amazing.

Alternating between comic relief and cold, hard reality, U2's lead singer held us spellbound for about forty minutes. His speech was peppered with applause, as he made his powerful points one after another.

He spoke of tragedy, opportunity and adventure, to use his words. He creatively connected music, politics and business; spinning out his vision for how the world could and ought to work for everyone.

Assuming that we all cared as much as he, Bono reminded us that the path to progress for each of us is blocked by indifference and the "NOs" we hear as we try to move forward.

Bono first traveled to Africa in 1985 when he toured Ethiopia after the "We Are the World" phenomena took popular culture by storm.

He told of an event at the end of that trip that forever changed his life. An Ethiopian father approached him, carrying his small son in his arms. The man extended the boy to Bono saying, "Please take my son with you to Ireland so he will live."

Of course, that was not allowed. But as he flew back home, Bono said that in that brief exchange he took the first steps on the remainder of his life's journey and be became a very "dangerous thing"--a rock star with a cause!

As I listened, I found myself jotting down notes of his words. It was as if they were precious jewels that should not be lost.

"Africa experiences a Tsunami every month. Each is avoidable."

"Our work is not about charity. We do that really well in the U. S. and Ireland. No, our work is about justice and that is much different. Our work is about equality and we must keep moving forward."

"What we demand for ourselves we deny to others. That is a justice issue."

"Religious extremists are making progress in Africa. . . . Poverty fuels terror."

"Every country has a brand. I have loved the U. S. brand for a long time. I am a fan. But the brand needs a bit of polishing up today around the world."

"I told the President to paint the AIDS medication red, white and blue. Polish the image a bit, Mr. President."

"Every generation has its 'defining moral moment.' This is ours."

"As people of faith, these issues are for us a matter of obedience."

Speaking of the world's poor and oppressed, "God is with us, if we are with them."

"America is not just a country, but an ideal. That is hard. That raises the standard." He reported of his conversations with the President and the Congress during which he urged that the U. S. devote at least 1% of its budget to poverty relief around the world.

"Where you live in the world should not determine whether you live."

Speaking of the death camps of World War II and the holocaust, he told of a man who had been present at the time. The man reported that the most haunting images to him were of the non-Jewish citizens who watched with blank faces as the trains were loaded and as they moved out.

"We know where the trains are going today. . . ."

Prophets are not too popular these days.

We prefer our preachers light, bright, positive.

You know, the beaming, encouraging, inspirational types who lift our spirits and help us make peace with our selves and with our lives just as they are.

Yet, God finds a way to bring the message God wants the world to hear.

Conventional means seldom work very well anyhow. God is fairly unconventional by nature.

No surprise then, is it?

Last Friday night I sat at the feet of a genuine prophet.

[Check out the ONE Campaign by clicking on the rotating banner at the upper right of this page. It is one of Bono's projects to attack poverty in Africa.]


boxthejack said...

I was 'at the feet' of Brian McLaren yesterday, and I found the experience similar in many ways - my friend has done a brief write up on his blog ( Still I must confess, I'm jealous of your time with Bono.

The question that keeps coming up for me is that of praxis vs. prophecy. It's a tricky balance to strike - how much time do I devote to telling a reluctant church that they should be doing the right thing, and how much time do I spend devoting myself to living as if a better world were already here?

Larry James said...

boxthejack, man, you nailed it here!

I find myself willing to spend less less time trying to convince the unwilling. There is so much to do.

It is surprising to me, again and again, when people in churches learn just how little churches do as a % of their capacity to support the work of inner city ministries in the US.

Mike Todd said...

I think you've both nailed it. You can't wait for others to catch up...

Todd said...

I hate to think aobut what would happen to our churches if individuals with passion stopped sharing their passion with church parishoners.

I think we need to do, but we also need to share. Share a message of hope, despair, justice and inequality. There are some serious shortcomings in our orthopraxy that need to be remedied and those with the gift of prophey need to preach on!

Amy Boone said...

My sister and brother-in-law heard Bono the same time you did. Their take on it was identical to yours. My sister said that as they left she and her husband both had the feeling that they had been in the presence of a prophet. She said she immediately thought of "all things to all people".... rock star speaking in a tie to the Dallas big wigs!!! Love it!

Carl said...

like any good preacher, God speaks through Bono and we who hear must now go do, and in so doing drag, beg, cajole, those in our communities to join us in the journey to do His work for His purposes.