Lady Gaga the Theologian

Like a meat dress that has been sitting out for too long, I had mostly soured on Lady Gaga. She’s an incredibly talented musician, but her antics were over the top and her videos’ use of religious symbolism was about as tasteful as rotten meat.

And then this happened:

Yes, that’s Gaga, wearing normal (non-edible) clothes, holding a Bible, and showing her affection for a priest who means a lot to her.

“Lady Gaga and a priest walk into a restaurant” sounds like the beginning of a joke. Instead, I think it has been one of the best lessons on mercy during this year dedicated to it.

She’s not saying she has it all figured out. She knows she’s not perfect. But she clearly understands something about the mercy of God. And I could learn from her.

All too often I can be like the Pharisee1 who follows the rules but closes his heart, the one who thanks God that he is not like the rest of humanity. I think, “Look at that terrible ‘Alejandro’ video that Lady Gaga made. I’m so glad I’m not like her.”

But Gaga is like the tax collector who prays, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” And this is the example Jesus wants us to follow. Gaga quotes her priest,2 who is echoing Pope Francis3 in saying that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”4

Can you still disagree with some of the things Gaga has done? Of course. But that’s not the point. The point is the mercy of God. And Gaga gets it.

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The cover image from Flickr user MixEvent can be found here.

  1. Luke 18: 9-14.
  2. Check out this inspiring profile of Father Duffell and his parish from 2008 in the New York Times.
  3. Five years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be writing about Lady Gaga quoting the Pope — at least in a really positive way.
  4. Evangelii Gaudium, 47.

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