We Get to Carry Each Other
The Gospel According to U2
Westminster John Knox Press, $16.95, 176 pp.
Stereotypical rock stars use their fame to get sex, or as an excuse to trash hotel rooms and smash their guitars. U2’s lead singer Bono uses his rock-star status to gain an audience with billionaires like Bill Gates. “It was late, we’d had a few drinks, and Bono was all fired up over a scheme to get companies to help tackle global poverty and disease,” Bill Gates reported. “He kept dialing the private numbers of top executives and thrusting his cell phone at me to hear their sleepy yet enthusiastic replies.”
“I do have responsibilities,” Bono explains on another occasion, “and actions speak louder than words.” That deep sense of responsibility, founded on Christian convictions-his mother was Protestant and his father Catholic-compels Bono not only to write songs that call for peace and justice, but to lobby tirelessly for organizations such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Hailed by popes and presidents alike, U2 has earned the respect it receives as a philanthropic juggernaut. It would have been easy for the group to rest on its musical laurels, particularly after their 1987 album The Joshua Tree-an instant classic. But instead of coasting, the band has remained restlessly inventive and hardworking. Its story, like its musical corpus, continues to grow.