Bono and Eugene Peterson | The Psalms

By Davide Werther

Bono & Eugene Peterson | The Psalms (Brehm Texas and Fuller Studio, A Fourth Line Films Production, 2016)

A review by David Werther.

“Bono & Eugene Peterson | The Psalms” is an engaging conversation about the Psalms, but more than that, it is a picture of a friendship that crosses generations and cultures. The Petersons, Eugene and Jan, are decades apart from Bono in age and culturally far removed. This comes out clearly in the first part of the film, which explains how Bono and Eugene Peterson got connected. Initially, when one of Peterson’s Regent College students told him that Bono had mentioned him in an interview in Rolling Stone, Peterson’s response was, “Who’s Bono?” Years later, by the end of a long lunch with Bono prior to a U2 concert, Peterson knew they were “companions in the faith.”

Professor David Taylor of Fuller Theological Seminary guides the conversation between Bono and Eugene on the Psalms, at the Peterson’s home on Flathead Lake, Montana. For Bono, it is the brutal honesty of the Psalms and range of emotions that set them apart. When emotions are wide ranging, the question of violence is inescapable, and that triggers Peterson’s comments about the imprecatory psalms: “We need to find a way to cuss without cussing, and the imprecatory psalms surely do that … We’ve got to have some way in context — and the context is the whole Bible and the whole Psalter … to tell people how, how mad we are.”

In the preface to his Message translation of the Psalms, Peterson comments, “Prayer is elemental, not advanced language. It is the means by which our language becomes honest, true and personal in response to God. It is the means by which we get everything out in the open before God.”

Kudos to Fuller Seminary for putting this friendship out in the open, and in doing so, opening up the Psalms.

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