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Monday, August 15, 2005

Bono, Celebrities, and Stuff of Substance

[Warning: Glaring generalization ahead] Most of the time, when I hear celebrities commenting on religion or ethics, I know I'm going to need to crack open another bottle of Pepcid AC. Even if I kinda like the person, I frequently wince on account of their breathtaking ignorance of the subjects they choose to comment on. I know this will be a splash of cold water for some, but having your face on GQ or Seventeen doesn't make one an authority on the crisis in the Sudan, epidemiology, or bio-ethics. I'm no expert on most of that stuff either, but I hope I generally know when to plug the hole in my face. One gets the impression that most celebrity Mensa candidates wouldn't know an ebola virus if it challenged them to an arm wrestle. Take for instance, the lovely and talented young actress, Scarlet Johansonn who recently opined that fetal stem cell research is necessary so that we can find cures for such scourges against humanity as polio, etc. Huh? Polio is under control, my dear, and no one had to carve up fetuses to do it. (On that, check out the recent research from Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital which shows that adult, or post-natal, stem cells are as useful for medical research as fetal stem cells.)

Or how about when Tom Cruise (whom I believe to be a terrific actor) lectured America - in a profoundly inarticulate verbal belch - on the validity of psychiatric medicine? This is the guy who believes that the source of all our problems is that we're all infected with spiritual cooties from ancient space aliens. He's not in the best position to call anyone a quack.

Everyone has a right to his or her opinions and I am an ardent believer in freedom of speech. But that is not to excuse pomposity, an inflated sense of self-importance or grinding stubborn ignorance.

My dad used to tell me that it is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt. I've said and done enough stupid things myself to see his point.

[Alert: Refreshing exception ahead] While bags and bags of Hollywood celebrity types are too pampered and self-indulgent to form a meaningful sentence on their own, there are refreshiing exceptions. Readers of this blog have seen my relatively high regard for Bono, the lead singer of perhaps the most famous rock band in action today, U2. Now there is a man who has held AIDS babies and slept beneath mosquito netting.

Christianity Today has given us these excerpts of an interview he did some time ago. You must go here too, while you're at it. And though I don't agree with everything he says, I am pleased to know that at least one hugely influential celebrity is more than chrome-plated faddish activism. His positions on religion and human care go beyond deciding which color of ribbon to wear on his Armani tuxedo to the Wolfgang Puck after-party.

I believe Bono has some truly lucid insights on the person of Jesus Christ and His work as Savior. He seems to have a very accurate and personal understanding of the atonement and his thoughts on Karma vs. Grace sound a lot like, in my vocabulary, Law and Gospel. In fact, some of his comments in this interview are 10 times better than the flacid drivel most American preachers drool out every Lord's day. Take two and half minutes and read it. He even does a bit of C.S. Lewis.

Now I'm not recommending we give the man a blue-ribbon for Lutheran orthodoxy in every point, but I'm certain there has never been a more serious thinking or theologically articulate rock star in the "history of the whole world" (as Bunnie Diehl likes to say). Now that is a celebrity that I'd love to have a beer or three with sometime . . . oh, and Mel too.

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Lisa said...

Yep. Yep. I had the same reaction. There's something encouraging in his depth of understanding, his enthusiasm and his way of putting it in almost "surfer" terms.

Lisa said...

Hmmm. I just reread some of the interview. I don't know why it struck me as "surfer" sounding the first time. He's actually quite articulate and windex clear.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Alice Cooper once said (more or less) how no one should listen to a rocker, they tend to not be too bright and make very poor life decisions. I wish Michael Stipe and The Dixie Chicks would heed the warning.

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