Grey Thoughts
On Bono and Poverty
I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last weekend, and one of the sessions was an interview between Bill Hybels and Bono. Whilst I don't doubt Bono is a Christian, I am certainly not going to overly praise him. Some of the things he said actually made me a little unhappy.

There are 2003 verses in scripture about the poor, second only to personal salvation.

Jesus speaks of judgment only once and that is the passage in Matthew where we are asked: ‘who clothed the naked?’ and ‘who fed the poor?’ and ‘who visited those in prison?’ That defines whether you are a part of the Kingdom or not.”

“The reason the church has been slow to respond is that the church has historically always been behind the curve: civil rights, apartheid…the church is afraid of politics.

The second reason the church has been so slow is less palatable..the church has been very judgmental about the AIDS virus…it believes that it is about people living irresponsibly.

Only 6% of evangelicals felt like they were to act in response to the AIDS epidemic. But the Christ will not let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency…it is like a car crash, we have to act. AIDS is the leprosy of our age.

But then something tragic happened…the church woke up and began to act…and they ruined it for me…I couldn’t hate the church anymore.

Bono has a huge heart for the poor, and that is a great thing. The problem is, he bills it as the biggest social justice issue there is. That's wrong. Abortion kills more people every day than poverty. The figures don't lie. Poverty is a huge issue to be sure, and one we should deal with, but it isn't the biggest. Overstating your case doesn't help.

Which brings me to my next point. Bono talks of 2003 verses in the bible talking about the poor, and that Jesus only talks about judgement once. I think this is also an overstatement. Jesus talks about judgement and hell a fair bit, and I am betting those 2003 verses do not ALL talk about helping the poor, but also verses that just mention them. Overstating your case doesn't help.

The final thing I noted was that Bono, with his big heart for the poor, condemns those who don't share his heart. His last comment that 'he couldn't hate the church anymore' once they came on board with HIS passion shows this clearly. But people have different hearts for different things. Just because someone doesn't necessarily share his heart, does not make it a good reason to judge and condemn them.

One last note is that dealing with poverty is very important, but we should do it intelligently. Over a trillion dollars of aid to Africa has resulted in the conditions worsening. This is because the aid is done in such a way as to reinforce the conditions (Corrupt goverment, badly structured economy, stupid trade legislation), rather than fix it. We need to address the real problems, the governments, not just the lack of food.

Making governments force their population give aid is not a moral choice. You can't force charity.
Hi Allan

Thanks for this post and thanks for the link through to my blog.

Yes there is a lot to irk a person about Bono. But hey, I bet you and I are not easy to deal with when we get onto our own favorite Christian subject. For example when evangelists try and tell us that should all GO! and completely disregard that we're NOT all evanglists.

And don't get me started on my hobby horse about love. I can get really forcefull about it.

So Bono is no different. He is human after all. I respect him for standing up and poking the church's conscience. SOMEONE needed to do it! Don't you think? He has the strength of character to do it. (A bit of a bull in a china shop maybe.)

But when we all come together with our separate viewpoints, we can act like a body. He's a hand, I'm a toe, you're something else. That's cool.

So my POV is that we should love, respect and tolerate and even encourage Bono... he's doing his job as an index finger... pointing it in the face of the church. We're just lucky he isn't a foot planted in our butt! hehehehe. (Gotta keep a sense of humor.)

What part are you Allan? What is your mission to contribute? I'll encourage you to find and do that ok? You can encourage me too if you want.

Bless you,
Thanks Mark.

I agree that people can get to be a pain to deal with when own their own favorite subject. Which I think is a negative and why I commented.

The mentality of get on board or I will hate you and insult you is not a Christian mentality. And whilst the church needs a good kick up the butt more often than not, the ends do not justify the mans in a Christian worldview.

I to believe we should respect Bono as a person, and for his passion, but not for his attitude to those who disagree with him. I think we can give that respect for the good, whilst pulling him up for the bad. In no way is my post an attempt to say that Bono is not worthy of that respect.

Whilst I hope he succeeds in relieving world poverty, I think his solution is wrong. Terribly so (And indeed based on very non-Christian ideas about the nature of man). As such, I think his current efforts are doomed to failure. His heart for the poor is huge and a great force for inspiring people to help. His head for the solution is what needs work.
(I'm probably in the reverse situation...which is why I am not trying to play the "i'm better than him line").

Thanks for taking the time to reply...btw.. its 'alan', not 'allan'.

God Bless
Hi Alan

You're right, we should respect him. I think it's cool that you have another perspective on how to relieve world hunger. Go for it! I'm glad he's going for it too... we need to do SOMETHING.

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