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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Bono for President


U2 dominates Grammys
8 Feb 2006
The first time I heard the music of U2 was from a double vinyl release of Rattle and Hum. Before cassettes and CDs and iPods there were vinyl records. The black and white grainy photos and reversed out lyrics (white text on black background) created an experience that's difficult to explain. For those older than I, the musician(s) may have different names: Elvis, Bob Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen. For me it was the rebel Irish rockers of U2.

Many of you already know I don't own a television. So, I was delighted this morning when NPR broadcasted the results of last night's Grammys:
- Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”
- Best Rock Song for “City of Blinding Lights”
- Best Rock Album for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
- Song of the Year for “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”
- Album of the Year for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb


Bono at the National Prayer Breakfast
2 Feb 2006
Here's something NPR did not cover [hat tip to Thicket Dweller]. Last Thursday, Bono spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. I know. It is very odd indeed.

"If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast," began Bono. "Well, so am I. I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather."

He continued his introduction at the National Prayer Breakfast by commenting how "unnatural" it seems to have a rock star behind a "pulpit and preaching at presidents."

"It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned - I'm Irish."

After a couple more comments he offered this reflection:
"I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here - Muslims, Jews, Christians - all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God.

"I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too... 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 didn't change the channel -- I threw the whole television away. Don't think of me as pious for doing it. My noble motivations were mingled with selfish reasons as well.

I share the same cynicism toward organized religion that Bono confessed in his address. When people are placed in positions of power, whether it be religious or political, there is always the potential for the abuse and perversion of that power. Abraham Lincoln is credited for saying: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

From there Bono presented a topic near to his heart -- poverty.
"God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so... 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... It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40)."


The Christian Scriptures mention money over 2,300 times. Heaven is mentioned to over 500 times. But I digress.

Bono concluded his speech on the topic of "a completely avoidable catastrophe" -- AIDS in Africa.
"There is a continent - Africa - being consumed by flames.

"I truly believe that when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for three things: the war on terror, the digital revolution, and what we did - or did not to - to put the fire out in Africa.

"History, like God, is watching what we do."


I don't know about you, but I still find it difficult to believe that Bono didn't drop the f-bomb during his National Prayer Breakfast address. I suppose NPR would have run that story if he did.

Transcript: President Bush's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast
Transcript: Bono's Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast


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  1. Blogger Carla | 12:02 PM, February 10, 2006 |  

    Excellent post, Matt. My feelings on religion are very similar to Bono's. I feel disillusioned, disappointed, and disheartened.

    My mother occasionally mentions her wish that I start going to church again, but while my heart still believes in God, my body doesn't want to sit in a building filled with so many people who are more concerned with what the woman on the next pew is wearing or who has the best minivan or SUV or who participates more in church activities.

    You've inspired me to do my own post about my religious dilemma. Hope you don't mind if I link back to you.

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