Sunday, May 27, 2012

Love, Hate, and Lady Gaga

I'm a Catholic, and I take my faith seriously. Which means that I'm not allowed to act like this lot:

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

In some circles 'everybody knows' what practicing Catholics and other religious people are like: and 'everybody' is wrong. In a way, I don't blame folks living in America for having odd notions about the Catholic Church, and I've posted about that before:
I also don't think that attending Lady Gaga's live shows is a good idea. But I am at least as concerned about the way a few folks in Indonesia expressed their concerns:

"Lady Gaga?!"

Folks don't always use a 'stage name' when they start a career in entertainment, but some do. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta decided to follow that tradition: and now this New Yorker is called Lady Gaga.

Aside from using a professional pseudonym, Lady Gaga isn't particularly 'traditional.' Those things in her hair seem to be empty pop-top cans.

I think that wearing soft drink cans in one's hair is silly, but don't see any harm in it. Lady Gaga's outfit is, even by American standards, a bit on the immodest side, and I've posted about that sort of thing before. (August 16, 2009)

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Having Standards, Getting a Grip

I suspect that some of a common American perception of 'those religious people' comes from burning crosses.

Not all American Protestants gather around a burning cross to pray, or use it as a warning against someone whose ancestors came from the 'wrong' place, but some did.

I think the connection between burning crosses and dead bodies made it easy for some Americans to assume that all crosses represent hatred. This isn't, in my considered opinion, a good thing. (April 7, 2011)

I also think that there's a huge difference between thinking that human sexuality is a good thing, which can be used or misused: and telling people who don't act the way I would to go to Hell. Which brings me back to Lady Gaga. And Indonesia.

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"Go To Hell, Lady Gaga" - Not a Loving Statement

I'm not a fan of Lady Gaga. Like I said, I think her wardrobe is often immodest. Even by contemporary American standards. I also gather that her live shows involve expressions of sexuality that do not reflect the dignity and value of the person.

But carrying a sign that says "Go to Hell, Lady Gaga" - and threatening violence is she performs in a nearby city? I think that's a really bad idea: for me, or anybody.

In a few decades, maybe less, I get some serious one-to-one time with my Lord: a sort of final evaluation. (August 8, 2010) I've already got enough to deal with then, without adding more deliberate violations.

Telling someone to go to Hell isn't a particularly loving thing to do: and my Lord is pretty specific about how we're supposed to behave:
I gather that the folks in that photo are Muslims, not Christians, and that's another topic. Several, actually. I'll get back to that later. Some of it, at least.

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"Tone Things Down" - or No Concert Permit

Here's what got me started: "Lady Gaga cancels Indonesian show after threats"
Associated Press, via (May 27, 2012)

"...The Islamic Defenders Front said Lady Gaga's sexy clothes and provocative dance moves would corrupt youth in the world's most populous Muslim country.

"The group said supporters had bought tickets to the concert and planned to enter and force it to be stopped. It also threatened that thousands of protesters would confront the singer on her way from the airport.

"Police had said they would only issue the required permits for the concert if Lady Gaga agreed to tone things down. Instead, she pulled the plug on the show, which had sold out with more than 50,000 tickets...."
I think that concerns about 'corrupting the youth' can be legitimate. One of my four surviving children is still a "youth," and I'd be concerned about his buying a ticket to a Lady Gaga concert. But I'd be much more concerned about why he decided to buy the ticket in the first place.

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A Parent's Job

Trying to shut down a public performance because teens want to see it strikes me as a case of locking the barn door after the horse is gone.

By the time kids are likely to get interested in Lady Gaga, parents and neighbors have had maybe a dozen years to show by word and example what's a good idea: and what isn't. If they still think that watching a Lady Gaga show is sensible: I'm not at all convinced that attacking the performer is going to change the kids' minds.

Part of a parent's job is educating children, teaching ethics, values, and mutual respect; as well as skills. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601, 1652-1653, 2206, 2372) I think that education gets easier after kids reach the age of reason, and that's yet another topic.1

Early in their teen years, our children started looking a bit like adults: and my wife and I started treating them that way.

We didn't 'let them do anything they wanted to.' But we did let them know that they could make reasoned decisions now: and that we expected them to do so. There are still 'house rules,' which we all follow, and that's yet again more topics.

The sort of heavy-handed 'NO DAUGHTER OF MINE WILL WEAR PANTS' approach of some American parents didn't work in the '60s. (September 26, 2009) I think it's likely folks in Indonesia will discover that The Islamic Defenders Front's actions will produce unintended consequences, too.

Not that Indonesia in 2012 is Alabama in 1966.

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Lady Gaga and Indonesia: There's a Lesson Here

What's the harm in putting "go to Hell, Lady Gaga" on a banner, or screaming insults at "transvestites, atheists and others" whose decisions I don't like?

I've mentioned the personal consequences before. (August 8, 2010)

There's also the effect of that sort of emotional outburst on others: and on whatever I am associated with.

Back to Lady Gaga and Indonesia:
"...'This is not only about Lady Gaga's security, but extends to those who will be watching her.' [Minola Sebayang, a lawyer for concert promoter Big Daddy]

"Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million people, is often held up by the U.S. and others in the West as example of how Islam and democracy can coexist.

"Ninety percent of the population is Muslim, but most practice a moderate, tolerant form of the faith.

"A small, extremist fringe, has gotten more vocal - and violent - in recent years, however, sometimes attacking Christians and members of other religious minorities with clubs and machetes.

"They also targeted transvestites, atheists and others considered 'blasphemous.'..."
(Associated Press, via
I think it's important to remember that the "go to Hell, Lady Gaga" faction is almost certainly a "small, extremist fringe" of Indonesia's Muslims. I also think it's important to avoid acting like the "God hates you" folks here in America.

It's hard, when my faith is attacked, to keep from hating the attacker. I've had a few opportunities to practice the self-discipline needed to act according to the 'love God, love your neighbor' principle: and could have done worse, or better.

That's a consecrated Host with a nail pushed through it, by the way: an example of academic freedom from the University of Minnesota, Morris, a few years back.

(from PZ Myers, Pharyngula (July 24, 2008), used w/o permission)

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Love: No Matter What

As a practicing Catholic, I'm not allowed to hate anyone. (Catechism, 1033) I'm also supposed to "stop judging" others. (Matthew 7:1-5) That isn't the same as lacking good judgment. (October 12, 2011, September 4, 2011)

More importantly, I'm supposed to love. When someone asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, my Lord said: 'love God, love your neighbor.' I don't think what my Lord had in mind was the sort of misty feel-good 'love' that's been popular off and on for the last half-century: and that's still another topic.

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Related posts:

1 Human beings are, generally, able to tell the difference between right and wrong by the time we're seven years old. It's called the "age of reason:"
  • "The Eucharist and Children"
    Cardinal Dario Castrillon, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood (January 8, 2005)
  • "Age of reason"
    Free Online Law Dictionary

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