U2's frontman opens up about the Psalms and what makes for real art.



About this time last year, Fuller Theological Seminary released a delightful video of Bono and Eugene Peterson discussing the Psalms. Bono, apparently, can’t get enough of the topic, and Fuller recently released five short videos of Bono talking more about the Psalms with David O. Taylor, Fuller Texas professor of theology and culture.

Bono’s razor is a bit more sharpened this time around. His goal with this conversation is “to unlock some artists” to follow the example set forth in the Psalms for listening to God and expressing the state of the soul. Whether he’s reflecting on the Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) or the brazen honesty of King David’s songs, Bono is convinced that the Psalms are capable of forming artists in a Christ-centered way.

In part one, Bono begins by expressing his desire to help free artists in what they find acceptable to express. He then delights in how Jesus’s “manifesto” can be clearly seen throughout the Psalms.

In part two, Bono eschews the “Christian” label in our music because “the creation screams God’s name.” He encourages Christians to drop the adjective because it comes off as a kind of advertisement when “it’s art, rather than advertising, that the Creator of the universe is impressed by.”

In part three, Bono offers some practical advice for artists and aspiring artists. “We don’t have to please God in any other way than to be brutally honest,” he says. “That is the root not only to a relationship with God but the root to a great song . . . or any work of art of merit.”

You can watch all five of the videos here. If you are interested creating or curating art that honors our Creator, then these videos will most likely be a tremendous resource for you.

A few things stand out to me after watching these videos a few times through. The first is the way Bono pronounces “Psalms.” It’s the best. Irish accents are the best.

The second is how meaningful these songs of Scripture are to Bono. They have been indispensable in his discovery of God’s “big love,” as he put it.

The third is how clearly Bono is able to find Jesus throughout the Psalms. Tim Keller has called the Psalms “Jesus’s songbook” because he quoted it more than any other book of the Bible. “. . . the psalms were not simply sung by Jesus,” notes Keller, “they are also about him . . .”

The fourth is the way Bono let’s the Psalms speak for themselves. “The song is singing me,” he says in one of the videos. What is our posture when we approach Scripture? Do we let it read us?

Finally, I think it would be great if we could get other celebrities to talk about their favorite book of the Bible. I’d love to see Fuller release videos of Justin Bieber exegeting 1 John. Or Shia LaBeouf expounding on the righteous power of Isaiah 6. Or Viola Davis sharing any of the thoughts she has on anything from the Bible.

Yes, this has to work. We need this to happen. Let’s do it, Fuller. Every April, let’s record a different celebrity talking about how a particular book of the Bible has formed his/her faith.