Blogging for the Jesuit national weekly America, Tom Beaudoin (associate professor of theology in the Graduate School of Religion at Fordham) indulges in speculation about the theological and cultural significance of … Lady Gaga, soliciting reflections from a new generation of budding scholars and theologians on Lady Gaga’s “ethos of ‘authenticity'” — as in the following, from a faculty member of Marymount School in NY:
To bring in the notion of incarnation as Fr. Martinez did regarding LGBTQ issues is to talk about Gaga’s own embodiment of her beliefs, experiences, and hopes to her fans. Her self-presentation, media savvy, and visual/performative sensibility make her sometimes fantastic and larger than life, arguably at the expense of her music: the music is simply a vehicle for the fame so that she becomes a living, breathing icon (idol?) of intentional outré-ness.
But to think about incarnation in another way, imagine Gaga performing unplugged and sans makeup as her natural-born self. She would then be not the Gaga sanctified and worshipped as “Mother Monster” on a (media) pedestal, but the Gaga-who-walks-among-us, the one who knows and understands the pain of being freak, outcast, and reject.
Recall the furor back in 2005 when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the direction of then-Cardinal Ratzinger, gave the order to dismiss Fr. Thomas J. Reese, former editor of America. The CDF has been long concerned about the Jesuit publication’s promotion of positions on moral issues often in conflict with Catholic teaching. And insofar as the heterodox theological output of America was taken seriously, the Vatican’s concerns seemed warranted.
But in this case, I would encourage Mr. Beaudoin and company to keep up the good work.