As the lead singer of U2, Bono has written his fair share of lyrics and helped influence popular culture, but in a new four-part video series from Fuller Studio titled “Beyond the Psalms,” the rock legend sits down for a candid conversation about the state of world and the role art and the Bible play in it.
In part one, “Pslam 82 is a good start,” Bono explores with David Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Seminary, the psalms that speak most to him as an artist and a Christian.
Watch part one below:
“I would like this conversation to unlock some artists because I believe there are some trapped artists,” he said. “And I would like them to be un-trapped.”
The Songs of Ascent (Pslams 120-134) were of particular interest to the rocker because of the utilitarian messages—“song of mercy, song peace, a song of hubris, a song of rage, a song of tears, a song of searching, a song of humility”— they convey, but he lamented their lack of presence in Christian music.
He believes the “brutal honesty” of the psalms should inspire artists to create works that are reflective of their true selves, for that is the only form of true expression.
“I want to argue the case for artists or potential artists… who are not given expression to what is,” he said. “You can’t please God in any other way but to be brutally honest… You can only find work of art, of merit, in brutal honesty.”
With that in mind, part four of the series dives into the cultural relevancy of art and the relationship between prophets and artists. Admitting his viewpoint may be controversial, Bono defined the role of a prophet as one “describes the state of the soul.” In today’s world, he believes that “state of the soul” or “state of the city” is manifested through art.
Watch part four below:
“Go look at the art. Go look at the graffiti. Listen to the hip hop,” he implored. “Some of it is strong stuff, but it is honest. It’s reflecting the real state of the soul… I think all art is prophetic.”
He likened the “revelatory” quality of art to cave paintings in which people drew lines to “describe how they feel.”
“So art, even if it is done for the most flippant reasons, it’s revelatory just by its nature,” Bono said. “We are finding out, through art, how people feel.”
Taylor proceeded to ask what advice he would give to pastors or ministers or worship leaders who are interested in incorporating art into their teachings and message, to which Bono reiterated the importance of listening, and learning, and understanding the pulse of the people.
“As a pastor, I presume what you want from your congregation is to know how they feel,” he said. “That is really critical.”
Bono’s advice to young artists, meanwhile, is to take a cue from Jesus and “draw in the sand.”
“I say this because it is my own aspiration to listen more. To be silent more. To both draw in the sand and look for the drawing in the sand,” he concluded. “I don’t know why we don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand. It’s telling that we don’t know. But the privacy of that moment is sort of rich. In a world where there is no privacy that is a rich moment.”
Watch the entire series HERE.
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