Who are the most influential musicians on today’s popular music scene? Everybody knows about Justin Bieber. Or if you’re a country fan, it’s Carrie Underwood or Brad Paisley. Or maybe you prefer the urban sounds of Usher.
All fine, but one the most influential musicians around right now is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. You say you’ve never hear of her? And how would they fit that name on the CD cover anyway? Who is she?
How about this: Lady Gaga. That’s Stefani’s stage name. The 24-year-old hit the top of the charts in 2008 with her project The Fame, which included the hit Poker Face. There have been other hits (enough to garner 5 Grammy awards), and the vast number of albums sold landed her at # 7 on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful and influential women.
But Lady Gaga is almost as well known for her outrageous dress and fashion sense as her music. Her outfits combine androgynous sexuality with burlesque with avant garde with Versace with theater props with political and social awareness, particularly as related to gay and lesbian issues. (She once wore an outfit in which each part was fabricated from the flesh of a dead animal; another was just made of bubbles).
So, it wasn’t really a surprise when Lady Gaga came down the red carpet at the 2011 Grammy Awards inside a huge egg, which was on a platform being carried by men. Why was she in an egg? Later, she was “hatched” onstage to begin a performance of her new song, Born This Way, an anthem to homosexual identity and rights. But again, why the egg?
Gaga creative director Lauri Ann Gibson said, “It was necessary to incubate her for a certain time, because tonight she is actually birthing a new race, A new race that doesn’t have the ability to judge or hate in their DNA, so she is incubating right now so she goes through that process.”
So, Lady Gaga is incubating because she is birthing a new race of human beings. The first response one has is “riiiiiight”, while looking for the guys in the white coats to take away this delusional person. On further reflection, it begins to sound overwhelmingly arrogant. Theologically, it is idolatry of the highest order, placing oneself in the place of a Creator.
But this is also unfathomably sad…. and strangely true. Here is a young woman who longs for the world to be different than it is. She wants there to be less hatred and isolating judgment in relationships. And she sees that the only possible solution to the mess of the world is starting over.
That’s true, but the problem is her source for that do-over. Her source is…herself. And that is simply a make-a-wish-on-a-star (or an egg!) fantasy. No song, artistic expression, celebrity influence or campaign for justice has in it the power to change the DNA of any human heart. Our hearts are “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) and there is not a thing any ordinary human can do about it. Incubation and every sincere attempt is futility.
But there is an answer to Lady Gaga’s longings. It is called the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead of a foam egg on a platform being carried down a red carpet, there is red blood running down a rugged cross at the town garbage heap. In Jesus’ death, all sin and injustice is completely and forever dealt with. In His resurrection, new life sweeps out musty rottenness.
For anyone who trusts this death and resurrection as their hope, there is utter transformation, from the inside-out. God promises “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put into you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.” (Ez. 36:26-27) In other places, it’s called the new birth (Jn. 3:3).
That sounds a lot like a new race, with new DNA inside, which produces a life of love, justice, holiness, peace and more.
Art often expresses the people of a culture. So there are people all around us with Lady Gaga longings. Let’s tell them they don’t have to wait for some person to incubate a solution. It’s all been done. A new world of new lives is available… in Jesus.