How is it that we ended up in a world where the truth-tellers are not investigative journalists but comedians and satirists, men like Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert? Why are they asking the questions journalists should be asking? Why are they the only ones demanding answers to those questions?
Why is it that the spokesperson for unconditional love and acceptance is not a priest but an entertainer, a pretty young New Yorker who wears meat (and less) and has mammary glands that generate lightning, Lady Gaga?
Why is it I can watch Lady Gaga live in concert preaching that Jesus loves everybody equally while we hear from Christians, who should be preaching the love of Jesus tell us that Jesus only loves some people and hates everyone else? Why is it that those Christians say Lady Gaga is one of those people Jesus hates?
I’m no Christian, but why is it that Lady Gaga’s message seems the more heartfelt, sincere, and genuine? Why is it that it is left to Lady Gaga to preach acceptance and toleration, to love your enemies and to turn the other cheek, the same things we are told Jesus preached? It seems strange to me that Jesus would hate Lady Gaga, who unlike his purported priests, teaches the message of love and acceptance he taught.
At the concert I speak of, televised by HBO from Madison Square Garden, she tells Jesus she is confused. I confess I am as well.
You might find her to be profane; Bill Donohue of the Catholic League hates her. But Bill Donohue is an intolerant bigot.
Its ironic Donohue would object to her playing Mary Magdalene, a young woman early Christians understood to be full of vices, as conservative Christians today take Lady Gaga herself to be. Who better to play her?
Focus on the Family also hates her. Jim Daly, head of the hate group, says “the lyrics of Born This Way is in stark contrast to the message of the Gospel.”
Chuck Colson hates her. More intolerant bigots and hate groups. Colson doesn’t want to take seriously somebody who wears a meat dress and gives the finger at a Mets game.
We shouldn’t, he insists, “expect too much nuance and thoughtfulness,” but writing a song in ten minutes does not in itself make it less true than if written in an hour or two or four or over a period of days.
Look at the lyrics of her latest hit, Born This Way:
“THERE’S NOTHIN WRONG WITH LOVIN WHO YOU ARE”
SHE SAID, “‘CAUSE HE MADE YOU PERFECT, BABE”
“He” of course being God, as the chorus makes clear:
I’M BEAUTIFUL IN MY WAY
‘CAUSE GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES
I’M ON THE RIGHT TRACK BABY
I WAS BORN THIS WAY
For Lady Gaga and her God it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are. It doesn’t matter “WHETHER YOU’RE BROKE OR EVERGREEN” or whether “YOU’RE BLACK, WHITE, BEIGE, CHOLA DESCENT” or “YOU’RE LEBANESE, YOU’RE ORIENT” ; “NO MATTER GAY, STRAIGHT, OR BI, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDERED LIFE,” she says.
The logic is simple: if God made you (and this is a tenet of Christian fundamentalists, let’s remember) you’re perfect because God makes no mistakes (another tenet of Christian fundamentalists) and therefore you were born the way you are supposed to be. Bryan Fischer, another hate monger, insists that sexuality is fluid:
Even Lady Gaga is perpetuating the myth with her new song, “Born This Way,” which is receiving notorious attention mostly for being a blatant rip-off of the Madonna song “Express Yourself.”
But would it make any difference if it wasn’t? If we could prove scientifically that it isn’t fluid? Let’s remember William Throckmorton’s words, those I mentioned here yesterday, seeing to be a response to Eric Holder’s assertion to John Boehner that sexual orientation is an “immutable characteristic”:
“Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth, even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible, because of research findings.”
If you parse his words what you end up with is that God may have, as Lady Gaga insists, made you this way, but that doesn’t make it right because the Bible says it’s wrong. This echoes Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, who argues that “Despite the fact that we were ‘born this way,’ each of us can be set free.”
But this seems to beg the question. If this is twisting your brain into a pretzel at the moment don’t feel bad; the Bible is, after all, for many Christians the inerrant word of God. So does God have a personality disorder?
It’s easier to hate; it’s easier to fear. It doesn’t take any effort to fear and hate. It takes effort to understand, to show acceptance and understanding of those things you may not understand, of things you fear. We can criticize Lady Gaga for letting her penchant for unusual address and immoderate behavior get in the way of her message (dare we call it a gospel?) but these behaviors do not alter the message; if so, the first Christian authority to hate instead of love would have invalidated the Beatitudes for all time. And they would have been invalidated countless times since.
The message we are hearing from the men and women who purport to represent Jesus on this earth, to be his spokespeople, give us a soul-destroying and never-ending diatribe of hate and rejection. I thought religion was supposed to be affirming, to make you feel better about yourself and the world and your place within it. I am a religious person myself and I do believe this to be true.
I can only conclude therefore that what passes for religion among fundamentalist Christians is not religion at all, but anti-religion. They represent not the restoration of a religious America, but a rejection of it, a destructive parody wallowing in hate and self-loathing, a hate and self-loathing that extends to America itself, to the modern liberal democracy it is and was founded to be. In the end, I find Lady Gaga’s gospel the more compelling, a note of hope not degeneracy. A dress of meat is far less offensive than human beings deprived of their rights simply because of who they are, what they are, and what they believe.