Relevant Magazine recently posted this article on their website. The article is written by a woman named Tara Leigh Cobble who had a bad experience at a U2 concert. In a nutshell, she was shocked by Bono’s saying over and over ““Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.” This made her feel as though Bono was promoting a universalist mindset when it comes to faith. Bono, being someone many christians look up to, seemed to be promoting something that makes many christians uneasy. The problem with this article was that she didn’t understand clearly what Bono was actually saying and she didn’t do much research to support the point of her article. Based on the show I personally witnessed in Las Vegas and the live dvd of their Chicago show Bono was saying “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed…it’s true… all sons of Abraham.” That statement is actually true and doesn’t promote a universalist agenda but rather it points out that these faiths have a commonality and that we should build upon that common bond in peace rather then continuing to blow each other up.
Just as one would expect, the writing and publishing of this article on Relevant’s website has caused quite a stir. People who embrace Bono are defending his statement and those who are simply sick and tired of the idolizing of Bono are generally supporting her concerns. Needless to say, it’s become a very heated and much talked about piece. The blogosphere is having at it, much like me, and the Relevant.com message boards are on fire with activity with people expressing their views.
What’s very interesting about all this is that this article is not the first offering of an opinion on Bono and U2 by Relevant Media. They published a book by Steve Stockman entitled “Walk On” which chronicles the spiritual journey of U2, but focuses heavily on Bono and his Christian faith. This book seems to fall in direct opposition to this recent article because it makes a very strong case for the genuine Christian faith that Bono indeed promotes and does his best to practice. Steve Stockman, on his website, released a very well written response to the Relevant piece and I highly recommend it. Here is an excerpt:
Just one last thing and I promise I don’t mean it to be a cheap shot. Tara says of this rock concert moment, “It was, without question, the most disturbing experience of my life; I felt like I’d been covered in bile.” We have thousands of children dying because they don’t have the water and drugs that we take for granted. We have three people having more control over wealth than the sixty poorest nations. We have wars raging, some of us involved in the killing of thousands of civilians for the most dubious of reasons. We are raping the creation of our God and Father and it is causing catastrophic “natural” tragedies. In the season when God made himself poor, we are lavishing one another with joke presents and gratifying our sick materialism while people die of hunger. Only 13% of evangelical Christians in America are interested in helping with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa. Anti-Christs are rampant and ravaging the world and the most disturbing thing is a misquote from a rock star. God forgive us. At least Bono believes He will!
I realize that although this was very poor display of journalism, it was an honest mistake by the author of the article. She misunderstood the concept Bono was trying to communicate and her article was written out of that misunderstanding. But what I’ve had a hard time understanding is why the editors of Relevant Media would allow this story to be published in the first place. With some simple fact checking, which is a very basic practice for any credible journalistic effort, this confusion could have been avoided and Bono would have not been represented in a false light. Whether we love or hate Bono, none of us would want to be falsely criticized due to misinformation like he has been by this Relevant article.
If Relevant Magazine wants to remain true to their name, they must do better than to allow this story and stories like this to appear under their banner of “relevance”. They’ve set the bar high for themselves as simply being “Relevant” at all times is not easy. Nevertheless, this is what they are striving for and I wonder why they don’t consider that this story and others like it will work towards the undermining of their overall effort. Yes, this story has caused quite a stir and has brought with it a huge amount of attention and debate. I’m sure that relevant.com is experiencing a spike in traffic and more attention for their book “Walk On”. I’m sure they will sell a few more cute t-shirts with witty christian sayings on them. These are all great things to happen when operating a for-profit business but they come at the cost of a hollow relevance.