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2/18/2006

THE COOLEST GUY ON OUR TEAM PREACHES

Bono, who Mark Driscoll refers to as "the coolest guy on our team" preached the best sermon I've honestly ever heard on the subjects of justice, equality and charity at The National Prayer Breakfast on February 2nd in Washington, DC.

Most relieving for me was his opening assertion that because we are religious we may at times find ourselves critical of the religious:

"Yes, it’s odd, having a rock star here—but maybe it’s odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was… well, a little blurry, and hard to see.

I remember how my mother would bring us to chapel on Sundays… and my father used to wait outside. One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God.

For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land… and in this country, seeing God’s second-hand car salesmen on the cable TV channels, offering indulgences for cash… in fact, all over the world, seeing the self-righteousness roll down like a mighty stream from certain corners of the religious establishment…

I must confess, I changed the channel. I wanted my MTV.

Even though I was a believer.

Perhaps because I was a believer.

I was cynical… not about God, but about God’s politics."


Most spankalicious was his reminder that there is a higher law than man's which lawmakers must live by:

"I’d like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I’d like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws… but of course, they don’t always."


And most unarguably scriptural and decisively Christian is his insight on the difference between charity and justice - and which is the higher ideal:

"...you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it.

But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment.

6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality..."


There's a little, maybe a lot, of debating and pontificating about whether Bono is a Christian by our definition these days. Is he too ecumenical? Is he too Catholic? Too ambiguous? Paul said belief crosses us over from death to life - not language or piety. And John tells us the evidence of this crossing over is our love for people. He said if we claim to love God but don't love people we're liars. Jesus said if we love the Most High we'll be about loving the least. Bono seems to know Jesus, though it's not my job to judge either way, and, more importantly, Bono seems to know where He hangs out:

"I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."

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