Rocking the Boat

The article on Bono was interesting yet troubling ["Bono's American Prayer," March]. I deeply respect Bono's efforts in Africa and agree with him that the U.S. church has the tendency to ignore this tragedy, but Bono's theology seems shaky.

His modified Christianity seems to compartmentalize his relationship with Christ. He doesn't want to be a "poster child" for Christianity, but aren't we all supposed to be witnesses for Christ, rock stars or not?

Bono also expresses his disdain for institutionalized religion and does not attend church regularly. The Bible teaches us to be members of the body of Christ in order to grow spiritually.

Perhaps Bono doesn't want to come out strongly as a Christian so he can still appear on awards shows, drop the f-word excessively, appear drunk, and cross-dress on cd covers.

Allyson Gehring
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

May Bono's humanitarian efforts for Africa—a realm of concern pioneered and sustained by Christians—reap abundant fruit.

I do not want Bono's apparent bitterness to distort the longstanding reality of effective Christian outreach to Africa. All my life I have watched churches send and support compassion to Africa.

My church today is blessed with many African refugees. I personally know as many missionaries devoted to Africa as I know of rock stars. And they trust in more than just money and AIDS drugs to make a difference there.

But bless Bono for bringing money and drugs to the table.

Joel Mark Solliday
Maple Grove, Minnesota

It is disheartening to see CT using its front cover for Bono, who uses disgusting language on television and now instructs the Christian church (which he left long ago) on church matters.

Christian missions in Africa have cared for lepers, the dying, and the downtrodden in disease-ridden, forgotten places. Mission hospitals in Africa stand as lonely bulwarks against AIDS. The Christian church in Uganda has devised the only comprehensive program that has begun to reduce AIDS there.

Spare us instruction on moral matters from someone who needs his mouth washed out with soap.

Priscilla Weese
Wheaton, Illinois

Thank you for your decision to feature Bono on your cover. I cannot emphasize enough the impact that Bono and U2 have had on me and friends of my generation.

Even through his "bitter" stage, those of us who were really listening at my Christian university did not analyze this man as a sport. He was not our role model. He was our voice, our beating heart, our angst, and our anger. He was the child who wasn't afraid to argue with his heavenly Father, yell at him, cry with him, rejoice in him.

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In 1991, when I was a college junior, my Achtung Baby cassette rolled itself raw as I absorbed the most important songs of my life as both an artist and a Spirit-led human: "Until the End of the World," in which Bono takes on the role of Judas at the Last Supper; "Acrobat," where he grapples with his tug-of-war of spirit and flesh; and "Ultraviolet," a celebration of God's light leading the way.

It is both ridiculous and disconcerting to me that some Christian critics and doubters of Bono are so eager to draw lines in the sand. Why wouldn't you want this man on your team? It's clear that in Bono's criticisms of the church, he's lumping himself right in there.

Bono has stood before millions of "secular" fans as he lifts high the names of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and, yes, Jesus. Show me any other secular celebrity of modern times who has done it so boldly, and with such a loud megaphone.

Someone please inform the Wheaton College students that the "is he or isn't he?" queries are wasted energy. If there are CT readers who are put off by Bono's resistance to organized religion, remember that this is a man who grew up in an environment where Catholics and Protestants were killing each other.

It's a testament to God's wonder that he emerged on the global scene with such a leadership attitude.

Todd Edwards
Los Angeles, California

Pro Bono

I was disappointed by your editorial, "Bono's Thin Ecclesiology" [March]. You were so fixated on pointing out his faulty faith that you undermined the point he was raising: Where is the church in the midst of this AIDS crisis? True, there are Christians who are responding to the need. But let the average U.S. Christian be honest and not hide behind those few who actually care.

We may feel a twinge of compassion, but not enough to do anything about it. The fact that Bono, not the church, has emerged as the most compelling voice for AIDS is humbling.

I hope that we would not let our wounded pride get in the way of truly listening and responding.

Christine Lee
New York, New York

I was glad to see CT acknowledge Bono's spiritual influence. Your editorial, however, struck me as a tad defensive.

In some senses, I share your frustration that Bono's comments about what goes on in "the church" are often stereotypical and clearly not based on much direct personal experience.

But I'd struggle with the evangelical subculture too if I had spent two decades watching it personally attack me in print, dissecting and judging my every utterance.

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"Activism for its own sake"? Whatever language they use to talk about it, U2's members know a lot about prayer, liturgy, and holy community-building—and clearly know more than most churchgoers about communicating these realities to people who don't speak the language of the Christian subculture.

Finally, your slam at U2 for spending money on ZooTV and Popmart while people were dying in Africa is low-level polemics. This mirrorball lemon could have been sold and the money given to the poor, is that it?

They're a rock band, not Oxfam.

The Rev. Beth Maynard
Church of the Good Shepherd
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

It is ironic that your editorial embodies the very attitudes that

Bono rails against. It should not matter whether he is orthodox in his beliefs or not. It also should not matter whether he is a Christian or not. If what he is saying is true, we would do well to listen.

As for his charge that the church will become irrelevant, is he really that far off base? The church can become irrelevant. It has been irrelevant in many parts of the world throughout history.

If we ignore the issues in Africa today, Bono may be right. We should write letters to the editor and to our congressional representatives. We should consider civil disobedience. We should consider debt relief and AIDS major issues when we enter the balloting booth.

Josh Wekesser
Denver, Colorado

Onward Injured Soldiers

As a hard-of-hearing person, I had a great opportunity to join the company of the wounded ["The Church's Walking Wounded," March]. Those in my fellowship did not know how to deal with my deafness. I was not on their list of top 20 people to talk to. The greatest temptation was to leave for another church.

It was a great opportunity to put my church's teachings on the Cross into effect. I died to my "needs" in order to live for others. I kept coming with something to share about the Word. I refused to withdraw into pity parties.

I am still here 20 years later and all the stronger for it. My advice to the wounded is to first learn to forgive others. Then learn to serve them. You cannot do these steps successfully without meditating on the life (and death) of Christ.

Steve Husting
Fountain Valley, California

Thank you for dealing with the issue of the wounded in a balanced way. When I was new to the ministry 25 years ago, someone came to our church with stories of how she was deeply hurt by conflict in another church. I later learned from others in that church that she was no victim but the ringleader of the troubles.

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The cultivation of victim status is a recent U.S. art form, but if we truly love our brothers and sisters we will not enable this self-destructive behavior.

David Van Boven
Orcas Island Community Church
Eastsound, Washington

Many churches tend to ignore the nature and quality of the relationships of their people with God and with others.

Then churchgoers get deeply injured and no reconciliation occurs. They sense a priority vacuum and are forced to focus on secondary issues (obedience, programs, attendance, etc).

Their woundedness is real and legitimate and does need to be considered serious.

Tim Mooney
Gardens Counseling Associates
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Gothard Matters

Your review of Bill Gothard's A Matter of Basic Principles was very good. I have distributed copies of this book to over 30 churches in the Cedar Rapids area in an effort to alert local pastors to the harm in Gothard's teachings.

It never ceases to amaze me that our shepherds have for years willingly sent members of their flocks to this man's seminars and even host them at their churches. Gothard's propensity for twisting Scripture is equal to that of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.

The church needs to call Gothard to account for his Scripture twisting and legalism and deny his seminars access to our facilities.

Glenn E. Chatfield
North Liberty, Iowa

God's Business

I was disappointed with "The Profit of God" [February], primarily the authors' lack of recognition of the social importance of profit.

The goal of business is to serve.

The better a business serves its customers, the more profit it will make. Profit is the necessary signaling device to steer capital toward those who serve consumers better.

It is true that businesses can make short-run profits that will not serve their customers (such as reducing quality). But the market will quickly punish the offender.

There is in fact nothing wrong with a business maximizing long-run shareholder value. This can only happen by serving consumers relentlessly, by treating their workers equitably, and by exercising wise stewardship of the resources given to them.

Jeffrey E. Haymond
Warrenton, Virginia

Good Abortion News

Your editorial "New Life for Prolife" [February] did an excellent job of showing how changes in attitude and technology are assisting the cause of life.

While you are absolutely correct to highlight the decline in abortions, the 862,000 figure you mention for 1999 comes from the Centers for Disease Control. This figure reflects the CDC's chronic undercounting. It also reflects the CDC's inability in 1999 to obtain data from New York City and four states, including California.

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The real count for 1999 is roughly 1.2 million. As you point out, the abortion ratio dropped from 264 for every 1,000 live births in 1998 to 256/1,000 in 1999. None of this changes the big picture: a steady decline in abortions from a high of slightly more than 1.6 million in 1990 to around 1.2 million in 1999. And there has been an amazing change in self-identification: as many people now label themselves prolife as prochoice.

Dave Andrusko
National Right to Life News
Washington, D.C.

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