WASHINGTON (CNA) – If you’re an ardent fan of U2, you may know that lead vocalist Bono loves the Psalms. The 57-year-old Irish musician has spoken out several times about the inspiration that he draws from reading the biblical hymns.
And now, Bono says the psalms offer a lesson for aspiring Christian musicians: If you want to create real art, you need to be way more honest than is typical of the “Christian music” genre.
“Creation screams God’s name. So you don’t have to stick a sign on every tree,” he said in a new video interview, released last month.
The Irish rock icon rejected the idea that music or art must be explicitly labeled Christian and limited to overtly Christian messages in order to glorify God.
“This has really, really got to stop. I want to hear a song about the breakdown in your marriage, I want to hear songs of justice, I want to hear rage at injustice and I want to hear a song so good that it makes people want to do something about the subject.”
Bono’s comments came in a five-part video clip series released by Fuller Studio, a group that promotes “resources for a deeply formed spiritual life.”
In another part of the series, Bono said that what he has learned from years of reading the psalms is the importance of listening and honesty.
He pointed to the biblical figure of King David, to whom the Psalms are attributed.
After falling in love with a married woman named Bathsheba, King David commits adultery with her and then arranges a plot to kill her husband, a soldier, to cover up the subsequent pregnancy.
The evils committed by King David are “mind blowing,” Bono said, and yet he was able to find grace and redemption.
The honesty of giving expression to the real things that are going on in one’s life is the key to good art, he said, encouraging Christian musicians that their goal is to create art, not advertising.
“I want to argue the case for artists or potential artists who might be listening in on our conversation and are not giving expression to what’s really going on in their lives because they feel it will give the wrong impression of them.”
“Brutal honesty,” he went on to say, “is the root. Not just to a relationship with God, but it’s the root to a great song. That’s the only place you can find a great song. The only place you can find any work of art, of merit.”