Saturday, February 25, 2006

Article: 01.18.06

It all started in April of 1987. Seventh grade at Conyers Middle School was a warm mixture of energy and trauma. We walked the halls of that school as semi-people, students searching for their real selves. However, no one could find a hint of what we were seeking. One day, our questions came booming through our radios, all tuned into Power 99. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” stated Bono on The Joshua Tree album. His voice was our own.

U2, his band, stayed with me as I progressed to high school. Our freshman class won the Homecoming Parade float contest, even though the blasted sophomores literally ripped our 10-foot, paper mache Bart Simpson in half. My mother made my dress that year, and we shopped for weeks for shoes that did not make me look any taller. “With Or Without You” was the final song at the dance that night. Bono, once again, created our world with his words.

In 1996, I stood beside my best friend and lifted my cellphone during the Pop Mart Tour to let my then-boyfriend hear the words. “One life, one love, get together, share it.” My big brother and I drove through the Painted Desert in 2002 listening to “Bullet, the Blue Sky” as I returned from three years living in Los Angeles. He and Bono challenged me on that seemingly endless road trip to go home and change the world.

Last week, Bono was the speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Our president, national political and spiritual leaders, along with various world powers gathered that day for the specific purpose of calling out to God in prayer. “If you’re wondering what I’m doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I’m certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather,” commented Bono to his powerful audience.

At that moment, Bono made history. My great, great grandchildren will read that speech in their history books a hundred years from now. As Bono proceeded to use the Bible to explain why believers, people walking in the way of Jesus, cannot turn our eyes away from “the least of these” any longer.

Bono challenged us to make greater strides to support Africa. He explained, ““. . . there's no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in South East Asia with the Tsunami. 150, 000 lives lost to that misnomer of all misnomers, ‘mother nature’. In Africa, 150,000 lives are lost every month. A tsunami every month. And it’s a completely avoidable catastrophe.”

Once again, I hear Bono speaking words that drive the deepest parts of my heart. Those forgotten people, the ones drifting in the margins, haunt me. They live in our own community. We hide people, so no one will find them. Look under the overpasses, in the bushes, or between the main roads. They still “live and breathe and have their being.” A friend from church recently told us her story of ministry among a socially hidden community in Conyers. The residents asked her why she came to visit them. She told of her love for Christ and that He loves them too. They told her that most people like her could not see them. Like those in Africa, have our neighbors started become invisible to us as well?

In a recent survey, I was asked a frightening question, "Who do you trust?" Howard Gardner, the highly respected psychologist out of Harvard University, is studying current cultural trends regarding trust. After reading through the list of names compiled on the survey, all reflecting current political, spiritual, educational, and journalistic voices, I had to rank them according to my own level of trust. My conclusion was horrifying. Bono is one of the only public figures that I really trust. Do not forget; he is a rock star.He has become a hero. What does that tell me about our culture? Have I officially bought in to the media's propaganda campaign? Is his PR person the real star? Or, has our world reached a stage in globalization and true consumerism where we can not take this anymore? Is Bono the only voice we hear crying out that sounds a bit like Amos, Isaiah, or Jeremiah? I'll go ahead and put my money on him to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year. What happens to our world when the spiritual and political community follows a rock star? Maybe we will start walking down roads that help us find those who have been lost. What if we start to find ourselves?

My main concern is that more voices are not shouting out like Bono. Why did he seek out the church to challenge them? Should we not be the ones lifting the challenge to the world?

Bono, tells about his trip to Ethiopia made with his wife. This trip was the inspiration behind the song, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” "I remember one man, this beautiful man with a beautiful boy, his son. He was so proud. And he came up to me and said, 'Please. Will you take my son? My son will have no life if I look after him. He is sure to die. But if you take him, he is sure to live.’ . . . You had to say no. Well, it's the last time I'm saying no."

Like most 30-year-old people in America today, I can sing along to virtually all U2 songs. Sift through my old t-shirts and a few U2 concert shirts will rise to the top of the pile. However, they have left a deeper impression upon my soul. Can I as a follower of Christ say the same thing of myself? Will I leave a lasting impression?

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