Blessed be the ties that bind

bonohelmsOK, it’s just a little cute Associated Press story about the Alpha Male rock star hanging out with the once powerful arch-conservative U.S. senator.

Some would say that it doesn’t need to be taken all that seriously. But I have my reasons for wishing that Paul Nowell had done more with his recent “Bono Dines With Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms” report from Charlotte, N.C., that ran all over the place.

Here’s a chunk of the short text, which seems to think it is breaking news that these two men are friends:

Before U2 opened to a raucous crowd of 17,000 at the city’s new downtown arena, Bono had dinner with Helms.

“He (Bono) called us a couple of weeks ago and said he wanted to see his old friend the senator,” said John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center, who accompanied Helms and other family members to Monday’s meeting.

Since they were introduced several years ago, the Republican Helms and Bono have become close allies in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Helms, who is 84 and suffers from a number of serious health problems, arrived backstage before the show and was joined by Bono for a casual meal. On the menu: grilled chicken, roast beef and salmon. “It was nothing fancy,” Dodd said. “They ate in the cafeteria with the roadies and the rest of the crew.”

Now, to be fair, it is possible that Nowell had zero access to Bono or the senator and, thus, he was not really able to talk about what pulled them together for this meeting or, of course, what they talked about. Note, however, the assumption that the main tie that binds them is political. This is the font of all life, of course, in the worldview of many or most mainstream reporters.

But I suspect that politics, or even foreign affairs, was not the main topic of discussion. I suspect this because (a) that is not really what knit the two together in the first place and (b) Helms is in bad health and it seems that Bono may have wanted to lend him comfort and friendly support — even though Helms is no longer one of the principalities and powers inside the D.C. Beltway.

Having listened in on at least one short chat between these men — click here for details — I can tell you that they probably talked about faith, compassion and love. It would have been interesting to see what the senator’s spokesperson would have said if Nowell had asked a simple question: Did Bono and Helms spend some time in prayer?

Print Friendly

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Michael Rew

    Grilled chicken, roast beef, and salmon are “nothing fancy.” I wish my typical dinner menu included that! :-)

  • Jim Dahlman

    Doesn’t the original story say the two men talked about the AIDS work?

  • Will S.

    At the risk of being thought of as a troll, why do so many Christians like U2, and think so highly of them, when, notwithstanding Bono’s admirable compassion for those in genuine need, particularly in the Third World, he doesn’t evidence orthodox Christian faith in his own life; on the contrary, he appears to believe in syncretism…

  • Beth

    It’s a pity the publisher didn’t do any factchecking before sending that article out to 30,000 people, since its entire argument is based on a copiously-documented lyric which the author, unfortunately, got wrong.

  • tmatt

    In my lifetime, I have seen it as Blest and Blessed.

    You can find it either way in online hymnals.

  • tmatt


    The article says that this is what the SPOKESMAN said they discussed and, I am sure, that is part of what they talked about.

  • Beth

    tmatt: I wasn’t referring to the hymn you mentioned, but to the article linked in the comment right above mine, which bases its argument on a misquotation of a current U2 lyric.

  • rachel

    That thing that Bono says in concert, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammad, it’s true,” he now completes with, “all are sons of Abraham.” Just so you all know. I didn’t post a response at the above link, but if anyone’s a member, maybe you ought to tell them so they can be a little more at ease.