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Bono and Eugene Peterson talk Psalms, Christian art in new video

Bono and Eugene Peterson appear in a screen shot from a video on the Psalms produced by Fuller Seminary.

(RNS) In a new video conversation with Christian scholar and poet Eugene Peterson, U2 frontman Bono said he finds “a lot of dishonesty” in Christian art.

The video — posted Tuesday (April 26) on YouTube — launched Fuller Studio, a new website for Fuller Theological Seminary dedicated to providing resources for churches and individuals interested in spiritual formation.

In it, Bono says: “I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful voices and writing these beautiful gospel songs — write a song about their bad marriage, write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government, because that’s what God wants from you. That truth — ‘the way, the truth’ — and that truthfulness — know the truth, ‘the truth will set you free’ — will blow things apart.

“Why I’m suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism, and I’d love to see more of that in art and in life and in music.”

Bono and Peterson first met after the Irish singer expressed his admiration for  Peterson’s The Message — a version of the Bible that “speaks to me in my own language.”

The American pastor, scholar and author hadn’t heard of Bono.

“That’s not really the circles I travel in very much,” Peterson admitted in the video.

But he quickly felt Bono was “a companion in the faith.”

In their conversation at Peterson’s Montana home, moderated by Fuller professor of theology and culture David Taylor, Bono and Peterson discussed their introductions to the Psalms as children.

The Psalms, a collection of poetry included in both Jewish and Christian Scriptures, showed Peterson “imagination was a way to get inside the truth,” he said.

Meantime, Bono said, “The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy he’s feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion, and it’s that that sets the Psalms apart for me, and I often think, ‘Why isn’t church music more like that?'”

Along with the video, Fuller Studio posted the first 40 Psalms from The Message with a new introduction by Peterson, reading tips for the Psalms and a curated Spotify playlist of “modern psalms.”

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About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

2 Comments

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  • Bono is so full of himself. Christianity does that to a person – I know about it because I was a Christian for a long, long time.

    “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents…and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” – Jesus (Luke 10:19-20)

    Nothing humble in this soaring, solipsistic, prideful madness.

  • I see Bono’s point, and that kind of song has long been popular in country music. However, when praising God in collective worship, that is not the place for “Why did my man do me wrong?” kind of songs. Worship aims to praise and give thanks to God. On the other hand, Catholic musicians have been writing songs from the psalms that encourage us , raises us up, in spite of the conditions in which we sometimes find ourselves. Not only is this inspirited music not disingenuous, but rather it is music of hope, of encouragement calling us to rise above or work through and dealing with pain. Would Bono check the Catholic canon of today’s contemporary music, and perhaps record a few of those songs, and/or write some of his own having listened to them?

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