"Why do we need art, why do we need the lyric poetry of the Psalms?" asks Bono in a new short documentary with FULLER Studio.
"Because the only way we can approach God is if we're honest."
Bono recently sat down with author of The Message Eugene Peterson to explore the Bible's lyric poetry. The Message is a translation of the Bible that uses more contemporary language. Published in 2002, it now has 17 million copies in print. And Bono is a huge fan.
But when the U2 star first invited Peterson to hang out, Peterson declined him. The biblical scholar said he had to meet his deadline to finish a large section of Old Testament translation.
"It's Bono for crying out loud," journalist Dean Nelson remarked at the time.
"Dean, it's Isaiah," responded Peterson.
The two are now good friends, and this new short film documents their conversation on dancing, violence, and even swearing. But the best parts of the film are Bono's reflections on the honesty of the Psalms.
"The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he's feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion," Bono said. "And it's that that sets the Psalms apart for me. And I often think, 'God, well why isn't church music more like that?'"
Bono didn't hold back in what he wanted to see more from Christian artists.
"Why I'm suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism. And I'd love to see more of that in art, and in life, and in music," he said.
"I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautful voices and these beautiful gospel songs, write a song about their bad marriage, write a song about how they're pissed off at the government, because that's what God wants from you, the truth. Weigh the truth ... the truth will set you free. It will blow things apart."
Peterson, for his part, put it in terms of swearing.
"We have to find a way to cuss without cussing. And the imprecatory Psalms surely do that. They just lay it out."