Thursday, December 10, 2009

bono: third way’s icon of the month

I’ve been beating my head for the last few weeks around a couple of sentences in a chapter I’m writing: struggling to know how to express what I consider messianic pretentiousness in Bono’s claim in this Youtube video that songs can change the world.

So it was a relief to find Bono’s messianic pretentiousness captured by no less a luminary than Bruce Springsteen, who

observed, when inducting U2 into the rock and roll hall of fame that ‘every good … front man knows that before James Brown there was Jesus’. And Bono, as the Boss suggests, seems to know this better than most.

A quote as part of the December edition of Third way magazine, who have named Bono as their icon of the month. (They do an icon a month and it’s a fantastic resource for cultural studies, which I drew on for my Gospel in post-Christian class earlier this year with every student reflecting on the use and abuses of such things as – Nike, football pitch, play station, widescreen TV – in our world today.)

Which needs to be placed alongside John Drane’s incisive little book Celebrity Culture. John argues that today’s celebrity culture offers a fantastic opportunity for the gospel. Specifically

  • that our fascination with celebrities reminds us that for many humans, truth is embodied and experienced as relational and personal
  • that we no longer expect our celebrities to be completely perfect. Indeed, that their pain as they struggle to be a person of value is good news, for it portrays a form of honest discipleship that is deeply Biblical.
  • the contemporary human fascination with the warts and all of life, including the spiritual search, asks questions about how authentically open are most Christians in their spiritual search

And for a wonderful exposition of this theology of “celebrity culture”, see the Drane’s post on the death of celebrity Jane Goodie.

So thanks Bono, for even if your songs can’t change a world, nevertheless, in your stubbled way, you help me stumble toward my being formed in the way of Christ.

Posted by steve at 04:36 PM

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