Bono’s Sermon

I am a subscriber to Jim Wallis’ Sojourners magazine. He recently put a speech by Bono, the rock star from the band U2, at the National Prayer Breakfast on his newsletter.

National Prayer Breakfast is normally a time for reaffirming
spiritual truths and testifying to the power of faith in
people’s individual lives, but not so much a moment for
prophetic and controversial social utterances. There have been
exceptions – when Sen. Mark Hatfield spoke courageously about
the moral "shame" of the Vietnam War in the presence of Richard
Nixon and Henry Kissinger (I know a lot about that prayer
breakfast speech because I helped write it when I was a
seminarian in Chicago); when Mother Theresa spoke about the
sacredness of life and raised the issue of abortion with the
Clintons on hand; and yesterday, when Bono spoke like a
modern-day prophet about extreme global poverty and pandemic
disease and called upon the American government, with George
Bush and Congressional leaders present, to do much more.

The speech, published below, was the most explicit about
religion and the role of faith that I had ever heard Bono
deliver, and his insistence on the biblical requirements of
justice and not just charity was reiterated over and over again.
In a small session with religious editors afterward, Bono spoke
about how the churches had led on the issue of debt cancellation
with the Jubilee 2000 campaign, on HIV/AIDS, and now on global
poverty reduction. "You’re the bigger crowd," he said, "much
more than my stadium audiences." He said the church will just
hear "fanfare" from musicians.

But Bono is offering far more than fanfare, as his talk below
demonstrates. To the religious editors he stressed how the
justice issue is "really it," and said that the churches had to
figure out how to make that clear to people and that "movement
is the way" we will finally succeed. Bono said he believed that
something is moving now and we have to create the momentum to
accomplish our goals. On the way to the car afterward, we spoke
together about how really crucial that movement building is, how
nothing else will suffice to make the changes in our world that
are so vitally and morally necessary, and how the strategy in
the religious community is so key. We also talked about the
Isaiah 58 passage he had quoted in his speech – that when we
respond to the poor as the prophet instructs, "God will cover
your back." This is one speech you will want to read and pass on
to your friends.

I did, and I do…

Blooming at Williams Center

  060205_white_blossoms_2jpg    Originally uploaded by byways. I caught this wonderfully soothing photo from a local Flickr user off the new Zeitgeist tool at the bottom of the right hand column. The zeitgeist displays the latest postings of 90 members of the local Tucson, AZ Flickr group. This tree is just one of a row … Read more

Who is the New LD7 Representative Nancy Barto?

BartoNancy Barto was selected by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to
replace LD 7 State Representative David Burnell Smith, who was forced
out of office for campaign finance violations. Although Burnell Smith
was one of the six nominated by the LD 7 PCs to replace himself, the
PCs were wise enough not to select him as one of the three names to
forward to the Board.

The Board selected Mrs. Barto, who was the LD 7 Chairperson of the
Republican Party, over Howard Levine and Howard Sprague. Her selection
is about as close to re-selecting Burnell Smith as they could get
without actually trying that stunt, however. Mrs. Barto is a staunch
supporter of Burnell Smith in his fight with the Clean Elections
Commission and the courts to keep his job. Mrs. Barto claims that there
is still strong support for Burnell Smith in the district, as well as
strong animosity toward the Commission.

Barto said, “I’m disappointed that they [the Commission] would go this
route. I don’t think they have the authority to overrule the voters of
this district.” The Arizona Supreme Court and the voters of Arizona, in
adopting and continuing to support Clean Elections, disagreed.


I have been reading a lot about Christianity lately. I recently
finished reading “The Five Gospels: What did Jesus really say?” by the Jesus Seminar. As a complement, or in some cases an
anodyne, to this fare I also watched the documentary film The God Who Wasn’t
and skimmed “Holy Writ as Oral Lit : The Bible as Folklore” by Alan Dundes, both of which postulate the idea that
Jesus was not a historical figure at all, but rather a construct of
folklore. In addition, I am currently halfway through listening to the
audio edition of “The Gospel of Judas” by Simon Mawer
about the discovery of a previously unknown account of Jesus’ life from
the viewpoint of Judas Iscariot. In sum, I have of late been steeped in

I didn’t have any particular program or goal in mind in digesting this
material, I just felt that I hadn’t taken a good look at biblical
scholarship of late, and there might be something of interest in either
fiction or non-fiction. With the runaway success of essentially
heretical biblical scholarship in “The DaVinci Code” I thought I would
get ahead of the curve and see what might be next to hit the Christian
cultural zeitgeist.

SOTU, So..?

FlagbaloonNot surprisingly, I was quite unimpressed by Bush’s State of the Union. He started with the lie that our Union is strong, and didn’t stop with the lies and half-truths and terrible ironies throughout. The high point was when Bush alluded to his defeat on Social Security ‘reform’ and the Democrats gave him a standing ovation. The rest was Bush’s characteristic jive of taking our highest ideals and traditions and shitting all over them for the low and corrupt ends of his ‘base’.

But I don’t really want to talk about the SOTU. It is never politically significant, anyhow. Most years, Bush’s ratings have fallen following his SOTUs. And while he didn’t drop any real clinkers this year, such as addressing the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports, neither did he say anything that will have any resonance or ring true outside his base. What I thought was really interesting was the Democratic Response.