When U2 musician Bono reads the Psalms, a book of the Bible filled with ancient hymns, he sees the full range of human emotions: anger, irritation, sadness, bliss. While the Psalms have been a source of spiritual inspiration for him throughout his life, Bono has much harsher words for contemporary Christian music.
Modern Christian worship music has often been critiqued for its mediocrity -- the repetition of the same four chords, the same set of reliably inspirational words, and theological jargon that leaves outsiders bewildered.
Bono, who has become more outspoken about his Christian faith in recent years, is advocating for a return to the raw and honest emotion of the Psalms.
"The psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy that he's feeling and the deep sorrow or confusion," the singer said in Fuller Studio's newly released documentary "The Psalms." "And I often think, 'Gosh, well, why isn't church music more like that?'"
The singer's comments in the film were part of a wide-ranging conversation he had with Eugene Peterson, a pastor and scholar who is best known for "The Message," a translation of the Bible into contemporary language. The film documents the friendship between the unlikely pair, who were drawn together by their common interest in this ancient book of the Bible.
Peterson talked about how his translation of the Psalms are as close as he could get to the original meaning of the text.
"It's not smooth, it's not nice, it's not pretty, but it's honest," Peterson said. "I think we're trying for honesty, which is very, very hard in our culture."
Bono agreed that honesty was hard to find in modern Christian culture. In fact, he said that he found "a lot of dishonesty" in modern Christian art.
“I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing 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,” Bono said. “And that truthfulness .... will blow things apart."
"Why I am suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism,” he continued. "And I'd love to see more of that -- in art and in life and in music."
Watch the video above for more of Bono's conversation with Eugene Peterson.