Search Term Friday: The Gospel and Lady Gaga

I get a lot of Lady Gaga search terms linking to the blog.

This is because I wrote a post in 2011 entitled The Gospel According to Lady Gaga, which has ended up being one of the more popular posts I've written.

To be sure, Lady Gaga is an odd location for theological reflection. In the post I was reflecting on the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, who was gay and who had faced prolonged bullying because of his sexuality.

In a tragic in hindsight "It Gets Better" video Jamey had filmed, he described himself as one of Lady Gaga's "little monsters," a term of affection Lady Gaga uses for her fans. The point I was making in the post is that kids who feel like "monsters"--the freaks, weirdos, misfits, deviants and outcasts--are drawn to Lady Gaga, because of her affection for them, in a way they don't feel attracted to the church. These kids don't feel much affection from the church.

Which is strange given that Jesus was a minstrel for the little monsters of his day--the freaks, weirdos, misfits, deviants and outcasts.

In my post I use work from my book Unclean with a dash of Girardian scapegoat theory to deconstruct Gaga's "little monsters" to point out how religious institutions--in Jesus's time and in our own--continue to scapegoat outsiders.

Anyway, the post I wrote isn't an apology for Lady Gaga as much as it using Jamey's attraction to Lady Gaga as an indictment and challenge for the church. "Little monsters" should feel affection from the church.

My post was brought to mind again this week because of some traffic from a Lady Gaga fan page. One of the members of that site took a quote from my post and used it in a picture with Lady Gaga.

Here it is (H/T to Wahkeenasitka at the Gaga Daily forum):

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8 thoughts on “Search Term Friday: The Gospel and Lady Gaga”

  1. Some places give "church" a bad name. The Episcopal Church is welcoming. The United Methodist church has found a way to make people feel welcome.

  2. So glad to find this link back to the original post, which I had not yet as of yet. Hailing from a family who has overwhelmingly chosen to homeschool if they can't afford to send their kids to 'christian' school, this really resonates. It has always bothered me, but I have never fully considered why. (Not having a kid before now probably has something to do with it) I think this nails it. The words of Bonhoeffer continually ring in my ears, "The primary confession of the Christian before the world is the deed which interprets itself." How can you live the message of Christ in the world, or teach your children to, if you wall yourself off from it?

  3. One needs to only look at the slew of recent church trials within the UMC to see how much of a veneer our "welcoming" can be in many regions of the United States and the world.

    I'm sadly not entirely sure how "welcoming" I can describe my own denomination where I grew up and still serve... We seem to fall all over the spectrum.

  4. Let's invoke, once again, Francis Spufford's HPtFTU: The Human Potential to Fuck Things Up.

    Also known as sin.

    The HPtFTU infects every church.

    Welcome, in my mind, isn't a system or organization or institution. Welcome is a human event where the Kingdom of God breaks in when "two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus."

    Thus, "the church" is more like the tabernacle than the temple.

    Or better yet: "The church" is the stone cairn at Bethel.

    You mark it--"Here is the Gate of Heaven!"--and then move on, following the winds of the Spirit.

  5. I get what you wrote in your previous post, Richard. I don't know very much about her at all, but I do know that when she is simply Stephanie apart from the performance art and decibel level in her shows, who does duets with someone like Tony Bennett, I am bowled over at how great her voice actually is. It's her singing voice that makes me want to listen to her, but you have probably seen something of the voice of her heart that is easy for me to overlook...


  6. Maybe. She's really eccentric and works almost as a transgressive performance artist. But I think she's a very compassionate person.

    My main interest in writing the post was really just about the label her fans own: "little monsters." Given my chapter on monsters in Unclean and monster theology generally I found this label interesting. Plus, regardless as to what one thinks about Lady Gaga, the other thing behind that old post was and is my lament that the kids like Jamey aren't better loved by the church.

  7. I'm still mulling over the graphics of the poster,the blocking of the text, the highlighted ("red") words, the audacity of Gaga's performance art (almost direct contrast to the red pen of the authoritarian (and obnoxiousness) of one who wants to "correct"). In an almost pure form of empathy, Gaga IS the monster/freak that she embraces.

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