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Big 5-Oh: A Bono-Fide Hero

Big heart, big voice, big ideas. Can Bono save the world?

A Bono Fide Hero

— C.F. Payne

The child of a Protestant mother and a Catholic father in Dublin, Paul Hewson attended church with his mom—while his dad waited outside. Years later Paul, now known as U2 lead singer Bono, told the National Prayer Breakfast in 2006 that the experience taught him “religion often gets in the way of God.” Young Paul drifted away from church—and from his birth name. In the early 1970s he tried on a number of stage names, including Bonavox, before settling on the one that has seen him reach the top of the rock world. U2 has sold 145 million records, but Bono’s legacy may be as a global citizen—championing refugees and fighting poverty and disease in the Third World. It all goes back to the lessons he learned as a kid, sorting out whether God dwells in a spired building or an open heart. As he told the prayer breakfast: “The poor are where God lives.”

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