Lady Gaga serves as a chaplain to the freaks and geeks and anyone who has felt like they have been an outsider at one time in their life. Her followers, known as Little Monsters, look to her for acceptance. She is a bearer of hope, and yesterday she brought that hope and welcome to the Super Bowl halftime show.
In conversations with many in my church and others online I sense a rising angst and fear. Those emotions should be taken seriously, yet in times of fear we still need joy. Joy produces hope, which allows the values of inclusivity and welcome to continue. Lady Gaga played chaplain once again last night, coming out in full force to provide temporary relief from rancorous American politics and encourage us to do as her song says: “Just Dance.”
I enjoy her catchy pop ballads, but also I enjoy her because she weaves many progressive Christian themes into her music. Lady Gaga talks openly about her faith online and in her songs. Last summer she Instagrammed a picture of herself with a Catholic priest, whom she thanked for his homily. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, she grew up in Catholic school (after attending West End Collegiate preschool, at the church I currently serve) and knows the stories of the Christian faith well.
Lady Gaga consistently provides a place of hope.
Writing in the Washington Post this past weekend, Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons characterized Lady Gaga’s own faith this way: “In an American context where the media equates religion with social conservatism, Lady Gaga represents a welcome, non-fundamentalist Christianity. She is the closest pop culture version, in values if not tone, to her fellow Catholic, Pope Francis. She champions Christian values not of exclusion and discrimination but of empowerment, grace and self-acceptance.” Lady Gaga has opened up doors for those in the LGBTQ community and champions an ever-inclusive love for all of God’s children. The way she understands the Christian faith may not exactly match your or my understanding, but that doesn't discount the hope that she provides. Seeing as her music makes room for everyone, it’s ironic that many Christians aren't willing to make room for her.
During her Super Bowl performance, Lady Gaga sat down at the piano and said, “We’re here to make you feel good. Do you want to feel good with us?” Her songs of hope and relief reminded me of Ecclesiastes 8:15: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat, and drink, and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes reminds us to enjoy the moments of pleasure that produce hope. Lady Gaga consistently provides a place of hope, a spiritual engagement with modern issues, and creativity for the way forward.
As I cautiously open my Facebook newsfeed these days and mostly find despair, it was refreshing to watch Lady Gaga’s performance bring hope and joy. Joy has a way of reawakening creativity and vision. Just dance, then, and keep walking by faith as well.