Bono, Eugene Peterson, and the Psalms

I call this blog “Intersection” and this week’s entry is a good example why. This week, several folks shared with me a video, “Bono and Eugene Peterson on The Psalms.”

Here’s the link:

Eugene Peterson is a Presbyterian pastor and author who is best known for his translation of the Bible called The Message. There are 17 million copies of the message in print. A mentor once told me that Eugene Peterson is a “rock star” among Presbyterian pastors.

In 2002, Bono sent Eugene a video message telling him how much The Message meant to him and to his band, U2. The band would read psalms from The Message before a concert to inspire their performance. Not knowing that Bono really was a world famous rock star, Eugene ignored Bono’s message. But Bono was persistent, and over the years, the two struck up a relationship.

In this 21-minute video, Eugene’s wife, Jan, welcomed Bono into their Montana home by baking cookies. They discovered that they shared a passion for music and poetry, and a love for the way the psalms spoke to the reality of life. Peterson’s translation of the psalms was the inspiration for much of Bono’s music. As Peterson said, “Bono is singing to the very people I did this work for. I feel that we are allies in this. He is helping get me and The Message to the very people Jesus spent much of his time with.”

Bono’s advice to Christian artists is to “Get real,” and to write music that describe life the way it really is. “What God wants from us is the truth.”



It always amazes me that we celebrate the resurrection only one day a year.

We go on and about Christmas, but without the resurrection, there would be no Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Jesus would be remembered as a teacher who said some wise things, if he was remembered at all. More likely he would be forgotten, like all the other leaders of messianic movements, (there were lots of them) whose movements died with them.

In his book, Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life, Eugene Peterson examines how the risen Jesus comes alive in us. Peterson begins by noticing the sense of wonder that’s common to the resurrection accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This wonder is expressed in five ways:

First, the resurrection caught everyone totally unawares. Jesus repeatedly said he would die and be raised on the third day, but nobody believed him. Resurrection is not something we master. We have to let God continue to surprise us.

Second, no one did anything to prepare for the resurrection. No one’s worldview in the first century allowed for a person to be raised from the dead in the middle of history. So Peterson says, “Everyone is a beginner in this business. There are no experts.”

Third, marginal people played a prominent role in the story. In the same way, it will be the poor, minorities, the suffering, the rejected, poets, and children who have the most to teach us about resurrection.

Fourth, the resurrection took place quietly, without publicity or spectators. The changes the risen Jesus wants to make in us will come quietly.

Finally, the most common response to the resurrection was fear. It’s still true with us. We’re afraid when we don’t know what will happen to us, or what God wants to do in us.

Will you allow the risen Jesus to come alive in you?