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Bono Wants More Realism in Christian Music: 'Write a Song About Their Bad Marriage'

Bono Eugene Peterson the psalms 2016
Courtesy of Fuller Theological Seminary/Fuller Studio

Bono and Eugene Peterson in the short film The Psalms.

There’s a certain spiritual quality to Bono’s presence. It’s existed onstage and in the lyrics of U2 for decades, and in a recent talk with acclaimed author Eugene H. Peterson, this side of his personality took a scholarly turn. 

Back in 2002, Peterson released a contemporary-language version of Bible called The Message, which, according to the video below, has been printed 17 million times. Bono was deeply inspired by one of those copies, and sought out the American scholar to discuss their mutual appreciation of the Psalms. He first expressed his admiration for Peterson in a 2002 video message, and last year, he made it out to his Montana home for a face-to-face philosophical conversation.

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Peterson had to challenge traditional interpretations of the Bible for The Message and similarly, the U2 frontman said he would like to see some changes in Christian art -- where he says he sees “a lot of dishonesty.”

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Bono explained: 

I think it’s a shame because these are people who are vulnerable to God in a good way -- porous, open… I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful voices, Gospel songs… Write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. That’s what God wants from you -- that truth… Why I’m suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism. I’d love to see more of that in art and in life and in music.

The entire conversation is quite thought provoking. It also sheds light on U2’s 1983 War track “40,” which was adapted from Psalm 40. Watch the entire mini-doc below: