St. Paul (Hewson aka Bono) on the difference between grace and karma

Posted by bryanzug - 2011/07/06

Roo & Tug —

One of my favorite missionaries of all time is a fellow named Paul Hewson. When he was a kid, his friend Guggi gave him the nickname Bono. That’s what most folks call him these days.

He and I share a deep affection for a faith of Mere Christianity that plays itself out in the narrative of the public square. We identify with a circle of friends like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Mother Teresa, and MLK.

One of my favorite riffs of his concerns how the natural way of the world around us is completely upended by Jesus — how the reap what you sow rule of the universe known as Karma is completely turned on its head by the Grace of Jesus.

I’ve pasted the full quote below.

I especially like the part where he describes how love interrupts this natural devolution of things.

That’s pretty cool.

Much love —


Excerpt from the book “Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

Bono: …the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace…

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics–in physical laws–every action is met by an equal or an opposite one.

It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, you will sow” stuff.

Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit.

It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace.

I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

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