Jesus is Punk Rock and Capitalism is the Solution to Poverty

Photographer Kay Neitfeld Associated Press
Photographer Kay Neitfeld Associated Press

Bono, the lead singer of U2, arguably the greatest rock band of all time, has recently been found quoting C.S. Lewis and speaking in support of capitalism. This may be surprising, because while his fight of eradicating poverty is well known, as is his organization the One Campaign, which currently boasts over 3,766,311 Global Members, his faith in Christ and his belief in capitalism are not as commonly discussed.

Recently, when speaking at a Georgetown University Global Social Enterprise Event, he spoke about the problems that the “least of these” were and are facing around the world, especially in Africa, and also proposed possible solutions. For many years, he has been pushing for foreign aid, but recently his view towards foreign aid has further developed. He has not backed off his quest for aid nor his mission of informing people and persuading them to join his cause. Currently though, he is looking not only at the continent of Africa’s present condition, but is also looking towards it’s economic future.

When discussing solutions for the continent, he said, “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.” At the end of his speech he says, “It’s not just aid. It’s trade. It’s investment. It’s social enterprise. It’s working with citizens to help them unlock their own domestic resources and do it for them selves.”

His support of capitalism may be surprising, but perhaps even more so, is his faith. This summer, in an interview by Jim Daily, the President of Focus on the Family, Bono was asked about his faith. He paraphrased C.S. Lewis and answered that, “When people say ‘Good teacher,’ ‘Prophet,’ ‘Really nice guy,’ … this is not how Jesus thought of himself.  So, you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who he said he was or a complete and utter nut case. And I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God…”

But do not assume that believing in Jesus has made this rock star polite or politically correct. When asked about Jesus, he summarized Luke 9, the passage about Jesus telling a man not to wait to bury his father, but to follow Jesus immediately.  Daly said that this summary “Seems cold-hearted.” And Bono replied, “No, seems punk rock to me. He could see right into that fellow’s heart. He knew he wasn’t coming and he was just, it was pretense. We’ve gotta be a bit more cutting edge, not look to the signs of righteousness. Look to the actions.”

Actions. Bono was not calling for sympathy, he was calling for action. To eradicate poverty, action must be taken, and promoting capitalism on the African continent is a start. He told Georgetown students that, “Your heart is not going to solve these problems. In truth, if you want to turn the world right side up, it’s not going to take an hour of your day; it’s going to take your whole life. And I’m going to make a bid for that today.” He exhorts students to be engaged in this fight against poverty and he challenges them to change the way they view the people in need. “Those people I have been talking about are not “them” they are “us.” When you truly accept that those children in some far off village have the same value as you in God’s eyes, or even in just your eyes, your life is forever changed. You see something that you can’t unseen.”


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