Lady Gaga got the much coveted halftime gig at the Super Bowl and the following Sunday evening Beyonce, who appeared at the past two Super Bowls, was center stage at the Grammys. The nation watched two renown performers entertain their fans.
Lady Gaga and Beyonce are more than entertainers though. They are cultural phenomena with devotees all across the world. But maybe they are even more than that. Maybe they are religious teachers?
That’s the contention of 2 recent articles in the Washington Post. The first, by Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, champions Gaga as a progressive, compassionate Catholic teaching her congregation of “Little Monsters” and the “bad kids”. These are the kids that Gaga sings for–the freaks, the odd, the ones who don’t fit in, the cast offs, and most explicitly the ones who identify with the LGBT movement.
The message she teaches in Born This Way is to feel good about yourself.
“I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way”
Or this from the song Hair…
“I just wanna be myself / And I want you to love me for who I am … this is my prayer.”
How should we think about Gaga’s theology? One positive is that her love and concern for the outsiders, the overlooked, and the marginalized reflects Jesus’ initiative toward the same people. Too often Christians have judged and ostracized those that Christ came for.
Unfortunately, Gaga fails to point the “little monsters” and the “bad kids” to anything beyond themselves. Instead of a message of sin and redemption hers is a message of self-esteem and self-acceptance. It’s a message that fits well within our self-oriented culture but not the pages of the Bible where God defines sin and all people are in need of a Savior.
According to the Post’s Katie Mettler, Beyonce’s Grammy performance was inspired by African, Hindu, and Roman goddesses. Of course, Beyonce’s fans weren’t surprised by any of this as similar religious themes were prominent in her most recent visual album, Lemonade.
The article states that in her performance onstage at The Grammys, “Beyonce was teaching.” What was the lesson viewers were supposed to learn? I’m not exactly sure. But based on the article the lessons might have included feminist theology, fertility rights, the goddess’ [Mami Wata] ability to bring good or bad fortune in the form of money, and another goddess’ [Osun] promise to give us whatever we ask for in prayer.
There’s no doubt that many Christians consider themselves fans of these two women. Both are exceptionally talented. But it would be naive to believe that their art is only entertainment. Every artist has a worldview that gives birth to her work. That’s why Christians must consume entertainment with discernment asking what is behind the performance. What we watch has a profound impact on our soul. That the goddess worship comes in the form of entertainment allows it fly under the radar of most Americans and most Christians.
Finally, I’m amused by the idea that America is getting more secular and less religious while two of the most famous entertainers in the world insert their religious convictions into the heart of their music.