I don't know much about Lady Gaga - the fact that I've even heard of her is testimony to the level of publicity, some might say notoriety, that she generates with her outlandish appearance and acts (a meat dress - really?) But I did have a chance to hear some serious remarks she made when she appeared in Maine last year to attend a rally in favor of the repeal of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. And you know what? - she impressed me as a pretty serious young woman who had something important to add to the debate.
Today I read that Lady Gaga is creating something of a buzz in traditional Christian circles. A column by Bill Gregory in yesterday's Portland Press Herald helped me understand better what I had seen in her. He wrote, "I...suffered generation shock at the sight and sound of her, but her message is age-old, the stuff of compassionate prophets and Jesus: "You have the right to be who you are. I'm here to tell you that I love you." ...Lady Gaga speaks the truth in drag. Her invitation to those who can hear her is grace-filled. It is a call from fear to faith."
Now I am not what you would call a religious person but I do believe that all individuals, every one of us, have the capacity to love and be loved for who we are, because of our differences not in spite of them. In Lady Gaga's words: "Believe! The truth of existence is that love exists specifically for you, you paradoxical child of the universe, like and unlike everyone else."
Lady Gaga's message of love and inclusiveness and the inherent worth of every individual seems to me to stand in stark contrast to the "values" being promoted by the Evangelical Christian and "social conservative" forces that seem to be dominating the political debate these days. These folks seems to feel that their beliefs should be universally accepted and that non-believers (infidels?) are going straight to Hell. They rail against anybody and anything that doesn't conform to what they see as "right". And they hate Lady Gaga.
Gregory writes that that the path that Lady Gaga invites us to follow, "...shapes lives of kindness, compassion, humility, courage - and it produces people willing to live for and learn from others as well as insisting on being themselves." So I guess if she feels the need to wear brassieres that shoot sparks to attract attention to her message, I am OK with that. She gives me hope that someday there will be a world where everyone can attain some level of, in Gregory's words, "...love and respect and some modicum of leverage on their world", and the understanding that others need and deserve these for themselves.
As Gospels go, I think we could do a lot worse.