Bono finally speaks on his faith
Is U2 Christian? (Or, more directly, is it still?) The question is the Christian version of Is Paul dead? and it's been around a lot longer than the rumors McCartney's demise ever were. Lead singer Bono and other members of the band have commented vaguely and enigmatically on the question over the group's recent history, but, as a Dallas Morning News article earlier this month concluded, "When it comes to U2 and God, the answers we'll probably always get are more questions." Not necessarily. Beliefnet finally scored an interview with Bono exclusively on his religious beliefs. But is it the final word on Bono's faith? Probably not. "The most powerful idea that's entered the world in the last few thousand years—the idea of grace—is the reason I would like to be a Christian," he tells Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, who has covered the band since 1984. "Though, as I said to [U2 guitarist] The Edge one day, I sometimes feel more like a fan, rather than actually in the band. I can't live up to it. But the reason I would like to is the idea of grace. It's really powerful." Bono also talks about the role of religion in music ("The idea of turning your music into a tool for evangelism is missing the point. Music is the language of the spirit anyway.") The Holy Spirit and religion ("I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It's almost like religion is what happens when the Spirit has left the building. God's Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace that can never be constricted by any one religious paradigm.") and AIDS in Africa ("America will be judged by God if, in its plenty, it crosses the road from 23 million people suffering from HIV, the leprosy of the day. What's up on trial here is Christianity itself."

More stories on music and religion:

Pat Robertson worried about Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, and Moonies getting government money
The Washington Post and AP are all a-flutter over Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson's concerns about Bush's faith-based initiatives. "This thing could be a real Pandora's box," Robertson said Tuesday on his 700 Club show as John DiIulio, head of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was his guest. "What seems to be such a great initiative can rise up to bite the organizations as well as the federal government." But what's the big deal? As Weblog noted weeks ago, Robertson has been vocalizing his concerns from the beginning. Both the Post and the AP quote Americans United for the Separation of Church and State chief Barry Lynn as saying that Robertson's 700 Club statements mean "Bush's plan is in enormous political trouble," but always take anything Lynn says about Robertson with a grain of salt.

Lent meant giving up most meats, but not necessarily taste
UPI's religion editor, Uwe Siemon-Netto, chronicles medieval dietary restrictions on Lent, and notes that though there were restrictions, they didn't necessarily mean the ascetic fasting that might come to mind. St. Gall in Switzerland, had a saltwater aquarium for holding Mediterranean fish, shellfish, and even a female whale for the 40 days before Easter. And regulations turned fowl into "feathered fish" during Lent. After Easter, however, geese, ducks, partridges, and pheasants went back to simply being birds. Turtles and beaver are fine during Lent, too. And there's always puddings, creams, crepes, souffles, and tortes. Mmmm, Lent. Weblog's simply looking forward to the Hot Cross Buns. (And speaking of Protestants fasting during Lent, Siemon-Netto writes, "even Protestants and others tend to go on a fast at that time—less for reasons of faith, mind you, that out of a desire to lose weight." Wrong. Big time wrong. For a longtime religion reporter and Lutheran theologian, Siemon-Netto seems to have fallen asleep on this one.)

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Is Eugene Rivers an Uncle Tom?:

  • Have these ministers lost touch? | Eugene Rivers said he went into the castle ''on behalf of those we serve.'' He will have to come back with a lot to make us forget all the black bodies white conservatives dumped in the moat. (Derrick Z. Jackson, The Boston Globe)

Church expansion controversy:

  • Public school allowed to build in rural area | Last week the Metropolitan King County Council closed the door on new churches or schools in rural areas for at least the next 10 months. Yesterday it opened that door a crack. (The Seattle Times)
  • Churches not immune to growth limits | The churches seek an exception, one with perhaps unintended consequences, but with dire possibilities for the region's quality of life. (Editorial, The Seattle Times)

Politics and law:

Other stories of interest:

  • Image of Jesus Christ in Akron bar? | Owners of James Dean bar initially taped over image that appeared in cash register dime drawer (WKYC, Cleveland)
  • U.S. grapples with how to help curtail religious persecution abroad | Can the US have any impact on curtailing religious persecution abroad? Just how challenging the picture can be is evident from the USCIRF's latest hearings, held last week on Vietnam. (The Christian Science Monitor)
  • Vietnamese factory workers convert to Christianity in Samoa | The 250 mainly female workers were being fed and looked after by the Baptist church after the Daewoosa Samoa company collapsed, leaving them jobless. (Radio Australia)
  • Priest's stalker freed | Churchgoer who bombarded a priest with love letters and gifts, forcing him to flee his parish, gets probation due to illness (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)
  • Britain must find its soul, says new Cardinal | Archbishop of Westminster says he expects to "be attacked as a witness to the truth" as he wears the red (The Daily Telegraph, London)
  • God's Triptik | The Routledge Historical Atlas of Religion in America makes for a fascinating, though relatively new means to study the religious diaspora in the United States (The Christian Science Monitor)

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