Bono and US Exceptionalism

Early last week Bono wrote an op/ed for the NY Times, and a member of our faith community posted  it for us to read about (we’re followers of Jesus in the Mennonite tradition).  Below are the questions that came to mind that I offered for some dialogue on our community listserve.

As a citizen of the US and participant of our stories and myths (willingly or not…), is Bono (and the rest of the world he points to) falling into the myth as the US as manifest destiny or exceptionalism?  He says that the US is poised to eradicate “extreme ideology”, among other things.  Does a country which regularly and publicly claims to be the greatest nation in the world (a statement that strikes other nationals as amusing, alarming, or otherwise) count as extreme?  How would it be that America would be a hope to shape the global “economy” (in the broad sense of the word), facilitate change without also exporting a strong ideal of the social democracy/free market captialist economy as it addresses extreme poverty?

In addition, as the Anabaptist community has often been at the margins of society, in fact a marker of the community, how would we advocate for the voice of the dozens of marginalized countries whose voices may not be heard by the democratic political economy of the west?  How does a faith community that identifies itself on the margin within a global power (that has gone unchecked up to this point) respond to a charge made by Bono that “the world wants to believe in America again because the world needs to believe in America again. We need your ideas — your idea — at a time when the rest of the world is running out of them.”?  How do we empower conversation and engagement of the globally marginalized?

What do y’all think?


~ by Brian Shope on October 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “Bono and US Exceptionalism”

  1. This is an extremely good question. I really like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s response in his new book. God’s Economy: Rethinking the Health and Wealth Gospel. I think we are to be with the marginalized. We are not so much to respond to the powers that be, for they are just that: the power. We are to be with the powerless and ourselves also to be powerless. The complete dispossession of life is the Christian life.

    You can hear the Hauerwas and Yoder in me.

  2. Yes, I find myself more in agreement with you than not (and to the Hauweras and Yoder in you as well!). But the question still remains for me as a struggle: how the people of Jesus go about their communal following of him in this way? Do we engage in the culture as the participants we are, or is the “something different” approach the way to go. In other words, as an example, do we engage in health care reform ourselves through legislation, or do we imagine and create alternative means of health care (like paying into a communal pool of money that gets distributed to the members who need it?) More complicated yet, is it a both/and?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: