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Old 02-19-2004, 09:40 PM   #1
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Et tu, Bono?

The copyright on this is 2004 so I assume this is a new piece, what is your thought on her claims?

Et tu, Bono?

by Megan Basham


As a teen in the early 90s, I had yet to make a personal connection with Jesus Christ, though I spent plenty of time with my parents in His Church. Wanting to distance myself from my “Sunday” persona around my weekday friends, I naturally gravitated to the somber grunge music that was popular at the time. Looking back on the lyrics of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, I have a hard time remembering why I identified with their poetry of despair.
But one favorite from my teenage years preached a different message. Though their lyrics could be tough and rebellious, U2 also sang about faith. Whereas other singers seemed to claim that life has no meaning, Bono sang about a transcendent purpose, even if he hadn’t found it yet. I admired how different, how authentic he seemed in comparison to the rest of the MTV crowd, and I followed that admiration back to U2’s earlier albums The Joshua Tree and The Unforgettable Fire. In these albums, the hints of biblical imagery I’d glimpsed in later songs were there for the world to see. For the first time, I had a “Christian” artist that I actually liked. Strange as it sounds today, God used U2 to work on both my heart and my head, telling me that all His music didn’t have to sound like Amy Grant or Michael W. Smith — that He gives his children unique gifts so that they can make a unique contribution. Perhaps that’s why, as a Christian in my twenties, I’ve felt betrayed by Bono’s seeming desire to distance himself from the faith he helped plant in me.

U2's frontman has long taken a secretive stance on his personal faith — attacking the organized Church on the one hand while espousing biblical philosophy on the other. But his recent commitment to fight the tide of AIDS in Africa and provide relief to AIDS sufferers has prompted him to approach American churches for the first time in nearly 20 years.

And church members — many former U2 fans who felt burned by the singer's belittlement of "organized" Christianity — are understandably responding to Bono's outreach with a bit of trepidation. After hearing statements like, "I don't set myself up as any kind of 'Christian.' … I don't feel comfortable with that badge," Christian leaders can't help but wonder, "Is Bono a part of the Body or not?"

While his comments smack of flavorless salt, the rock star claims to be salt nonetheless. And pastors like Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church in Illinois believe him. After meeting with the singer during his weeklong speaking tour to drum up Evangelical awareness of the African AIDS crisis, Hybels stated, "I came away convinced that Bono's faith is genuine; his vision to relieve the tragic suffering in Africa is God-honoring."1

Then there are the words of Bono himself. Forced into a corner at a press conference of Christian journalists last year, Bono finally stated, "I am a believer and I have faith in Christ." It's a belief that has been with him since childhood.

After his mother died when he was 14, Bono (real name Paul Hewson), David Evans (known as guitarist The Edge) and Larry Mullen Jr. (U2's drummer) became involved in Shalom, an informal Christian fellowship in Dublin, Ireland, that met regularly for Bible study and worship.

It was only when Shalom grew into a more structured church (and the band's popularity began to soar) that Bono and his band mates left. Ironically, at about the same time, their reputation as a groundbreaking Christian rock act took off.

Their second release, October (1981), was marketed explicitly as a Christian album, sold in Bible bookstores, and reviewed in major Christian music magazines. The lead song, "Gloria," incorporated phrases from the Psalms.

Their follow-up album, War (1983) was also perceived as a Christian record and opened with the hit "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which contained a call to "claim the victory Jesus won," and closed with a hymnic meditation on Psalm 40.

Despite this success (or perhaps because of it), U2 then spent the better part of the late 80s and 90s distancing themselves from their Christian music past.

For the most part, their endeavor was successful.

As lyrical references to their faith became more cryptic (one reporter stated that the favorite pastime of Christian teens in the 90s was playing a musical version of "Where's Waldo," trying to locate biblical messages in U2 songs), their over-bloated concert productions became more worldly. (1994's PopMart tour featured an intermission sequence in which a transvestite's genitals were displayed on stadium monitors for several minutes.)

Bono, in particular, seemed bent on shedding his saintly image. Just before U2 launched the "Zoo TV" tour, Rolling Stone ran a profanity-laden interview with the rock star in which he spoke of drinking and partying. He went on to talk about U2's music and his spirituality in a way that let church-going Christians know that, publicly anyway, he wanted little to do with them.2

To Bono, established churches didn't uphold biblical mandates well enough for him to be associated with them. They didn't do enough international work and they didn't demonstrate real brotherly love. (Speaking of upholding biblical mandates, Titus 2:8 tells us to "show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned," but perhaps Bono didn't get a chance to read that one before the Rolling Stone interview.) From that time on, U2's acknowledgement of their original Christian fan base was nearly non-existent.

Until last year, that is, when Bono's goodwill crusade brought him once again to the doorstep of the Church. His genuine commitment to help heal the sick became a common interest on which he and church leaders could engage one another.

The problem is that while Bono has been willing to engage churches on the matter of AIDS in Africa, he's not been willing to show them much respect. During his speaking tour, he continued to deride what he called "organized religion," despite the fact that he was addressing some of its organizers.

Of course, in and of itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Bono's criticisms are often well-deserved. When he calls today's Christians, "a load of sissies who run around in their 'bless me' clubs … asleep to the millions of lives being lost," our indignation is probably more defensive than righteous. And he's certainly right that American Christians have a tendency to be complacent in their luxury, oblivious to the immense suffering of their brothers and sisters in other countries. More than a few of us were surprised by a 2001 Barna Research poll that discovered that a scant 3 percent of Christians say they intend to help with AIDS internationally, compared with 8 percent of non-Christians. And Christians were the least likely of the polled groups to support children orphaned by AIDS. Our prevailing attitude on a great many causes seems to be, "Hey, I'm happy and my kids are happy, so what's that got to do with me?"

However, when Bono rails that the African AIDS crisis is "the defining moral issue of our time" he conveniently ignores the other moral crises that have mobilized Christian Americans. Perhaps abortion as a social cause has less traction in his famous circles?

It seems that his resistance to be a member of, and have accountability to, any church body has left him with an outwardly childish understanding of a biblical commitment to Christ. After all, Hebrews 10:25 exhorts us not to "give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." In other words, modeling Christ-like behavior requires much more than simple activism.

By making inflammatory comments like, "What's on trial here is Christianity itself"3 and "If the Church doesn't respond to this, the Church will be made irrelevant,"4 Bono minimizes the power of the Cross.

Even if Christians of this time fail (as Christians in the past have failed) to do good works, the message and motive of Jesus Christ's Church will remain relevant because there will still be sinful people on Earth who need redemption. Christ came to accomplish infinitely more than the alleviation of suffering in this life. He came to save the soul of man for eternity. And one cannot experience full growth as a believer as a solo act.

While Bono understands that being a follower of Christ must involve a sense of community responsibility, of charity, and of caring for one's neighbor, he doesn't seem to understand that connecting to the Body is essential too. Perhaps if he did, Bono would be as willing to forgive his fellow church-going believers for their blind spots as much as we, his Christian fans, are willing to forgive his.

1 “Bono’s American Prayer.” Christianity Today Magazine. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/003/2.38.html. 02/21/2003.
2 “U2 Finds What It’s Looking For.” Rolling Stone Magazine. 10/01/1992.
3 “Bono: The BeleifNet Interview.” Beleifnet, 02/20/2001.
4 “Bono’s American Prayer.” Christianity Today Magazine. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/003/2.38.html. 02/21/2003.




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Old 02-20-2004, 02:43 AM   #2
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Re: Et tu, Bono?

Hmm...very interesting article...

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
As lyrical references to their faith became more cryptic (one reporter stated that the favorite pastime of Christian teens in the 90s was playing a musical version of "Where's Waldo," trying to locate biblical messages in U2 songs), their over-bloated concert productions became more worldly. (1994's PopMart tour featured an intermission sequence in which a transvestite's genitals were displayed on stadium monitors for several minutes.)

Bono, in particular, seemed bent on shedding his saintly image. Just before U2 launched the "Zoo TV" tour, Rolling Stone ran a profanity-laden interview with the rock star in which he spoke of drinking and partying. He went on to talk about U2's music and his spirituality in a way that let church-going Christians know that, publicly anyway, he wanted little to do with them.2
I've never understood how any of that stuff automatically made somebody seem to be less of a Christian. Bono's never claimed to be a goody-two-shoes, after all. I mean, how exactly should a true Christian act, according to the person who wrote this?

Besides, this is probably why he's not a fan of organized religion in general:

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
To Bono, established churches didn't uphold biblical mandates well enough for him to be associated with them. They didn't do enough international work and they didn't demonstrate real brotherly love.
Well, when certain churches screw people over-refuse them for who they are, or the whole scandal with the molesting priests, and when religious people force people to follow their religion or else (the person who wrote this should keep in mind that Bono is from an area of the world in which the words "religious tolerance" don't seem to be very popular), is it any wonder that he'd feel that way?

As for this...

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
(Speaking of upholding biblical mandates, Titus 2:8 tells us to "show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned," but perhaps Bono didn't get a chance to read that one before the Rolling Stone interview.)
So he swore. Big deal. I wonder if the person who wrote this article has a sparkly clean mouth? He's still a well-respected person, he's still serious when he needs to be, he's got integrity, and if people listen carefully to what he says, he makes a lot of sense. A few swear words here and there don't necessarily detract from the overall meaning of the message (context of the swear words uttered would be important to look at, too).

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
Until last year, that is, when Bono's goodwill crusade brought him once again to the doorstep of the Church. His genuine commitment to help heal the sick became a common interest on which he and church leaders could engage one another.

The problem is that while Bono has been willing to engage churches on the matter of AIDS in Africa, he's not been willing to show them much respect. During his speaking tour, he continued to deride what he called "organized religion," despite the fact that he was addressing some of its organizers.
I think he means that he's not a fan of how some people can corrupt organized religion. He knows full well that there are good people inside of organized religion, and he's said before that if there's a church he feels comfortable in, a church in which he could go into and be accepted with open arms, he'll go and enjoy himself there. He wasn't saying the people he spoke to on the tour were bad and part of the problem. He was actually pushing the people he spoke to during the tour to take a stand and rid their religion of whatever corruption may be occuring, because that corruption is one of the many obstacles that prevents the Africans from getting the help they need. He knew they were good people, and he wanted their help.

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
Of course, in and of itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Bono's criticisms are often well-deserved. When he calls today's Christians, "a load of sissies who run around in their 'bless me' clubs … asleep to the millions of lives being lost," our indignation is probably more defensive than righteous. And he's certainly right that American Christians have a tendency to be complacent in their luxury, oblivious to the immense suffering of their brothers and sisters in other countries. More than a few of us were surprised by a 2001 Barna Research poll that discovered that a scant 3 percent of Christians say they intend to help with AIDS internationally, compared with 8 percent of non-Christians. And Christians were the least likely of the polled groups to support children orphaned by AIDS. Our prevailing attitude on a great many causes seems to be, "Hey, I'm happy and my kids are happy, so what's that got to do with me?"
Exactly. No, not every Christian acts this way. But unfortunately, some do. And that's why some, Bono included, tend to be wary of organized religion.

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
However, when Bono rails that the African AIDS crisis is "the defining moral issue of our time" he conveniently ignores the other moral crises that have mobilized Christian Americans. Perhaps abortion as a social cause has less traction in his famous circles?
That's a whole other debate entirely. Personally, I'm more concerned about the actual people wandering around today than I am about those that aren't born yet (and I mean no offense to anybody out there with this comment, so sorry if it comes across wrong to some-this is just my personal view). People will never be able to come to an agreement about abortion-that's up to each person to decide as far as morals go.

But when it comes to seeing people with AIDS dying...I don't think you'll find too many people who would consider helping save their lives immoral.

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
By making inflammatory comments like, "What's on trial here is Christianity itself"3 and "If the Church doesn't respond to this, the Church will be made irrelevant,"4 Bono minimizes the power of the Cross.
Bono is not the one minimizing the power of anything. It's the Christians who do not do good deeds and don't live up to what Christ wanted who are minimizing the power of their religion, of the cross, of the whole concept their religion promotes, which is one of love and acceptance and helping people. And he's right about the whole irrelevance thing-if religious people don't live up to what Christ has commanded them to do, then that makes them seem pretty phony and out of touch to the rest of the world. And God himself would be pretty upset with that.

That's what he's trying to say.

Angela
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Old 02-20-2004, 02:48 PM   #3
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I guess what scares me is that people put so much stalk in waht Bono considers his faith to be.. That is a personal thing for him.. I don't need to know what Bono's faith is , I just need to know what my own is and that has always been clear.. Becasue I found the words of U2 song comforting in what my own faith is not a reason to guess on what U2's religious belief is.

I don't think Bono has ever tried to distance himself from his faith I think he has tried to distance himself from peoples perception of his faith.. Plus who ever thought Bono had a saintly image.. he is a man he has faults.. I admire Bono to death but I know he makes the same mistakes as we all do.. I don't put him up on that greater than man pedistil that he is bound to fall from.. he is the finest example of a humaniatarian thats how I see him .. but he is human.
Why why do people feel the need top label him .. living a good life and living a life alined with God does no mean you want to be the example of christianity.. bono has never claimed to be a good christian .. I have always thought Bono to be of genuine faith .. his own faith of how he sees God..
I think be calling the church out on what they should be doing .. Bono is showing them respect.. he is saying you hold this influence and power and look what you are doing with it.. to care enough and try and make people see the problem.. that is respect
How can you not be dissapointed in how the church has acted in the past.. thats what people should be let down by .. not by discussing what is our is not Bono's faith..Be concerened with what your own faith is .
Bono as he said .. has never had a problem with God just with religion .. I can't argue with him there..
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Old 02-20-2004, 04:17 PM   #4
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The strange thing I find about this article is that Bono has actually come down quite a bit more gently on the church lately than he has in the past. I'm sure he's not entirely comfortable with the church now...but we know that he takes his kids to church now and he has been working with quite a few people in the church lately. Perhaps he has overstated his cliams about the church's percieved relevance or irrelevance...but from interviews I've seen lately...he's actually gained some more appreciation for the church through this political and spiritual journey he's taken for the past 5-6 yrs...
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Old 02-20-2004, 04:56 PM   #5
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I didn't know they had stuff like that on the PopMart screen.

Morals aren't supposed to be relative, you know. Go read the Bible if you don't believe me. That's Liberalism, not Christianity.
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Old 02-20-2004, 05:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rachel D.
I didn't know they had stuff like that on the PopMart screen.

Morals aren't supposed to be relative, you know. Go read the Bible if you don't believe me. That's Liberalism, not Christianity.
The Bible's full of a lot of stuff most people would consider immoral, though-there's violence and death and destruction all over the place there.

Just because you read the Bible doesn't mean you're automatically a moral person. I can think of a few people who read the Bible and yet aren't exactly what most would consider "moral".

Also, Katey, very nicely put. .

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Old 02-20-2004, 07:21 PM   #7
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People like this scare me. One of the reasons I too fear the organized church. In one year I went to probably 30 or so church services, that same year I went to three U2 shows. I was more moved and felt closer to God at the U2 shows. I'm still strugling trying to find a church that I can worship in. I don't know how many churches I've been to in my life, I can't count that high, but the majority lacked a lot of God and to replace what lacked they had rules. Rules don't bring you closer to God. So Bono swears or drinks, this does not make one Godless. I know people who go to church every Sunday, they don't drink, swear, have premarital sex, etc. and they still haven't found God.

He who's free of sin cast the first stone.

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Old 02-20-2004, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: Et tu, Bono?

Quote:
Originally posted by bonosloveslave
...their over-bloated concert productions became more worldly. (1994's PopMart tour featured an intermission sequence in which a transvestite's genitals were displayed on stadium monitors for several minutes.)
Wackiness. First of all, Popmart was in 1997 and 1998, not 1994. Secondly, the transvestite was shown with his face covered and (I believe) solely from the waist up, belly-dancing on the Popmart screen during the Lemon intermission. The closest he came to showing his "genitals" was shaking his "breasts." Nice fact-checking.

I'm not a Christian, but I've always admired U2's faith. In his post-War lyrics, Bono expresses his doubts and troubles with his faith. He shows that it's okay to not have all of the answers when it comes to religion, and that questioning your faith can actually help to strengthen it. Bono's faith is ever-growing and changing, not static. He would definitely have issues with the author's attempt to portray her own version of Christianity as the only way to be truly Christian.
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Old 02-20-2004, 11:13 PM   #9
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BVS and ThatGuy, well said. .

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Old 02-21-2004, 12:36 AM   #10
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Why are Christians so surprised that a rock star acts like a rock star? And why are they shocked, shocked I tell you, when a man doesn't live up to whatever standards they decide are Christian standards? And yes, different Christians have different standards of Christianity.

And one last thing. The author of the article lets her fellow Christians off way too easy with her excuse as to why Christians don't deal well with AIDS related causes. It's not because their own children are healthy; it's because AIDS is still associated with homosexuality and promiscuity.

And one more last last thing. Could her reference to abortion and the Christian obsession with this topic be one of the reasons pro-choice Bono has little time for organized religion?
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Old 02-21-2004, 12:39 AM   #11
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Ok, I'm rolling right now. She compares abortion with the AIDS bonfire that is happening in Africa, and wonders why Bono gives her church shit?

Look in the mirror, toots.
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Old 02-21-2004, 09:51 AM   #12
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Re: Re: Et tu, Bono?

Bono uses his faith as currency, just as he uses his celebrity. I doubt any of us would say that Bono is above reproach, immune from any form of criticism. I found some healthy, constructive criticism in the article.

This sounds like one of the articles that appeared in Christianity Today last year. Maybe it has been updated, but many of the topics and statements are familiar.

In response to the Titus 2:8 comment, we got this:

Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel
So he swore. Big deal.
Actually, Moonlit_Angel, there are people who take all of the Bible seriously and desire to live their lives by all of it. It is not a menu, where we get to pick the nice parts (God is love) and ignore the rest. I think it would be fair to ask Bono about Titus 2:8. To dismiss swearing so casually is to fail to realize that it may compromise Bono's message to some people.
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Old 02-21-2004, 11:30 AM   #13
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If people don't like the swearing (see my post above about rock star behavior), and they think less of his message about working to control the spread of AIDS in Africa because he says a dirty word now and again, then those people have some serious priority issues and should reread the bits in the Bible about loving and judging.
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Old 02-21-2004, 01:09 PM   #14
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God speaks to both the sides - and both sides have their own responsibilities. It is not judging to let a brother or sister in Christ know that they are straying from God's Word.
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Old 02-21-2004, 02:49 PM   #15
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Re: Re: Re: Et tu, Bono?

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Bono uses his faith as currency, just as he uses his celebrity. I doubt any of us would say that Bono is above reproach, immune from any form of criticism. I found some healthy, constructive criticism in the article.

This sounds like one of the articles that appeared in Christianity Today last year. Maybe it has been updated, but many of the topics and statements are familiar.

In response to the Titus 2:8 comment, we got this:



I think that passage can go both ways here. Her speech was pretty condemning.
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Old 02-21-2004, 07:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
It is not judging to let a brother or sister in Christ know that they are straying from God's Word.
Depends on which version of God's Word, doesn't it. The author's version of God's Word appears to be different than Bono's. Who is right? And how does she know?
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Old 02-21-2004, 07:33 PM   #17
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An article written like I'd expect a Pharisee would judge.

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Old 02-21-2004, 09:42 PM   #18
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Re: Re: Re: Et tu, Bono?

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Actually, Moonlit_Angel, there are people who take all of the Bible seriously and desire to live their lives by all of it. It is not a menu, where we get to pick the nice parts (God is love) and ignore the rest.
If people were to take the Bible totally seriously, then that means they'd have to support a lot of the things in there that most would frown upon, like killing people who work on the Sabbath, or not wearing clothing of two different cloths, or whatever. And since religious people don't do that, then that would mean they're obviously picking and choosing what to go by in the Bible, right?

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I think it would be fair to ask Bono about Titus 2:8. To dismiss swearing so casually is to fail to realize that it may compromise Bono's message to some people.
Well, hey, I consider listening to a religious person try to scare people into their religion with the threat of hellfire compromising their message, but if they can go and do that...

Besides:

Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
I think that passage can go both ways here. Her speech was pretty condemning.
.

And again, has the person who wrote that article ever swore before? If she has, is she really in any position to be judging (especially since, last time I checked, that was God's job, and nobody else's)?

Martha, nice posts from you, as well.

Angela
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Old 02-22-2004, 07:19 AM   #19
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The only thing I learned from that article was that the author seems aggrieved that Bono's vision of what it means to be a Christian differs from hers.

I also agree with what martha said regarding people's refusal to help fight AIDS because of its association with homosexuality and promiscuity. Sad but true.
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Old 02-22-2004, 04:38 PM   #20
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Even though I'm a member of a church, I still have alot of doubts and questions about Christianity. I naturally have an inquisitive mind, and faith is not really natural for me. It's acquired. I can relate to Bono's experience with Christianity in many ways. Basically he's a believer, but there are certain things about the church that bother him. I would imagine that it's tough to be from Ireland, a place where the church has had *alot*of political power, unlike the U.S. where it really does not, and not have problems with the institutional church if you have much in the way of doubts or questions about the church. I use a few, uh, choice words myself, although not in public. It depends on where I am, actually. We use the words at the art studio because the staff does. We do not use them at the library unless we're in the staff room. This is something reasonable people can disagree on, IMHO.
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