Bono Rocks His Own Soul
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
I’ve been skeptical about celebrity pet charity projects and rock stars like Bono who have endorsed the RED campaign — encouraging people to shop and buy stuff in order to aid impoverished Africans. It just rings hollow to me and somewhat paradoxical, even though I recognize the good intentions behind it.
And then I read these lines from his op-ed this weekend:
It’s Lent I’ve always had issues with. I gave it up … self-denial is where I come a cropper. My idea of discipline is simple — hard work — but of course that’s another indulgence.
Then comes the dying and the living that is Easter.
—Bono, lead singer of U2
Whatever brash generalizations or dismissive attitude I may have held, that changed after reading the Irishman’s contemplative words. Even though the rest of his essay is much more poetic and eloquent, it’s that second sentence above that captured me. He recognizes the falsehood of working harder. That staying at work is often an escape, a source of leisure rather than fulfilling one’s obligations and roles of responsibility at home — the mundane tasks of being present while one’s children ask for your time or hiding behind a gadget rather than engaging your spouse. Here, the man is revealing something of himself, his ordinary self. He is speaking to something greater than his own ego — and mine.
Nearly two years ago, I enjoyed Bono’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Bush. Like many others, I admired the way he was reaching out; yet, his words felt removed to me — a diplomatic performance to unite disparate parties.
But, his reflection in this essay starts from his personal core. They reveal a man who is a seeker of some greater truths, both personal and universal, that have a grounding in fallibility and transcendence. And that I respect greatly.
I can only hope that Krista could interview him for SOF. Perhaps at Trinity Wall Street? Wouldn’t that be an incredible event to witness? The likelihood is minimal, but it would be a dazzling adventure. Can anybody make it happen?!
"Got Faith? Your Life Has Meaning: Live It. Love It. Pass It On."
Mitch Hanley, Senior Producer (from the road)
Great event yesterday afternoon at Maria Shriver’s 2008 Women’s Conference. Krista moderated a wide-ranging and lively conversation with Benedictine sister and author, Joan Chittister; Tim Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics; and spiritual teacher and author, Sylvia Boorstein. Ingrid Mattson, professor and president of the Islamic Society of North America was scheduled to participate but had to cancel due to a family emergency. Regrettably, the hour-long discussion among the four was so moving that there was no time to include questions from the audience.
A rough transcript of just one of the highlights:
Krista had just mentioned that often, some religious leaders appear to have all the answers to the large questions of meaning, not only for themselves, but for everyone. And that there is value in the questions, and we need to honor that mystery.
Sylvia Boorstein: Instead of saying, this is how it is, start with, “In my experience…”
Krista Tippett: I can disagree with your opinion, but I cannot disagree with your experience.
Tim Shriver: There are a lot of questions that have nothing to do with God […] I think God is a starting point, not a possession. “God is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, but he is mine.” What a ridiculous idea.
Joan Chittister: A period of questions is a period that takes us into the soul, where less and less is more and more, where we can let God be God. Without questions, you never move off of the place where you are.
Tim Shriver: We are always asking the questions. The questions are the journey. Get comfortable in that search.
The Women’s Conference concluded with a keynote speech by Bono, who described himself as a salesman who, at times, has new U2 albums to vend and now comes calling with his plea for ending global poverty and disease through the (RED) and ONE campaigns.
Being fully aware of our rational inclination to focus our attention inward at such a challenging time, Bono’s closing remarks included a plea to Americans, “We are not asking you to put another man or woman on the moon. We are asking you to put humanity back on earth.”
Bonnie Raitt followed up with a great concert, but I was so tired I could only stay for two songs. Man, did she sound good!