As you may have picked up, I have been reading the Psalms lately, to my great benefit. Fuller Seminary has made a video of U2 frontman Bono and respected Christian author and Bible translator Eugene Peterson talking about the Psalms. It’s quite illuminating, with Bono making some applications to Christian art in general. After the jump, read from an account of the interview and then watch the interview itself.
From Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Beyond Bono and Eugene Peterson: The Most Searched and Shared Psalms | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com:
“The psalms … showed me that imagination was a way to get inside the truth,” Peterson told Bono on the Fuller video.
Their friendship began with Bono’s admiration for Peterson’s Bible translation, which the singer read to his dying father and quoted before “Where the Streets Have No Name” during U2’s 2001 Elevation tour.
The rawness of the Psalms is missing in a lot of Christian music, Bono said.
“The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he’s feeling, and the deep sorrow or confusion, and it’s that that sets the Psalms apart for me,” he said. “And I often think, ‘Gosh, why isn’t church music more like that?’”
Christian art could use more of the naked abandonment of David, who gave himself over to emotions, Bono said.
“I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful gospel songs to write a song about their bad marriage, write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. Because that’s what God wants from you—that truth,” Bono said. “That truthfulness … will blow things apart. Why I’m suspicious about Christians is because of this lack of realism, and I’d love to see more of that in art, and in life, and in music.”
The imprecatory psalms lay out examples of how Christians can be angry and hurt by the violence of this world—in order words, how they can “cuss without cussing,” Peterson said. “We’ve got to have some way in context to tell people how mad we are.”
Bono said U2’s “Raised by Wolves,” about a triple bombing in Dublin in 1974, tries to do that.
“I don’t see God as a violent God, but I think the world is a violent place,” he said. “It’s a terrifying thing—some of the Old Testament. But it is real. And in a way I kind of prefer it to the airy fairy stuff where we don’t get real.”