Reflecting on Lady Gaga and What She Has in Common with Glenn Beck

About a month ago, Lady Gaga was on the cover of Rolling Stone again. To borrow the word from the Boomer generation, it’s a bit “risque” (in fact, most of their late summer covers were, Katy Perry, the True Blood cast). I like RS and I’ve been reading since high school. As I have been getting older, I’ve lost a bit of interest in the content of the magazine and if I am being honest, I only read barely more than half of the issues. They usually end up collecting in my basement.

I did read the cover story though and I find Gaga somewhat intriguing, I mean that’s what I am supposed to think right? I remember the first time I heard “Lover’s Revenge”. I was in a store and thought to myself, “Wow, I think I am going to have to admit that I like this new Madonna song.” It wasn’t until the following month that I realized that I liked a Lady Gaga song and by then, it was too late, it had grown on me.

People say, “She’s really talented”, “She’s only 24!”, “She went to Juilliard” (she didn’t but was accepted when she was 11), and “She’s such a consummate entertainer”, and that’s why she is who she is. Maybe. In all honesty, I don’t have a problem with Gaga; she’s probably a really cool person. Further, I don’t really like using the term “problem” because it’s too strong of a word for how little I actually think about her. I think my issue, concern, hesitation or whatever is how seriously people take people like Lady Gaga like when the call her “The next Madonna”. Sorry, I just don’t get it. I understand why Bruce Springsteen sells out his shows. I obviously understand (and love) U2. (Yes, Bono is on my prayer list)(Shut up ;-) I know when you mention Bruce and Bono and admit you don’t understand Gaga, it just means you are “old”. Yeah I guess so. (But I like the Muse and Kings of Leon a lot – they’re younger right?).

Here’s the thing that struck me as I read this interview though. Throughout the interview, she insists on trying to appear as a normal, down-to-earth, artistic person. However, she sounded to me as a person on the verge of a breakdown. Her relentless touring, promoting, rehearsing, recording, etc. while still channeling years of hurt and heartbreak (as she refers to repeatedly throughout the interview) really point to a potentially disastrous crash. Now mind you, I am not a psychiatrist, I am just a youth pastor with some counseling classes with the data of a handful of images, videos, and this RS interview, so I hope I am wrong but this young woman seems to be in trouble and this has nothing to do with my greater point here but I’m unlikely to mention this here again.  Again, I hope I am wrong.

However, to her credit, she really believes in herself. Just like Glenn Beck believes in himself. While you could make the case that they both suffer from similar forms of narcissism, you could also reason that their outrageous behavior is a ploy to advance their careers.  They are just putting on a show for us. Gaga wants to be the next Madonna (numerous “Like a Prayer” references in the “Alejandro” porno, I mean video. For conservative viewers, be warned and know that I’ll never watch it again. By the way, am I the only one that thinks this song sounds like “Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base?).   And Beck wants to be President (“The most used phrase in my administration if I were to be President would be “What the hell you mean we’re out of missiles?”). Neither of them will be, nor should be. There’s only one Madonna – thank God. Only one Gaga. And I’m still not sure we even need Beck but he may have “jumped the shark” with this Restoring Honor rally. But they do believe in themselves.

Which gets me thinking – I believe in the hope that Jesus offers. Personally, I believe it’s better than Gaga’s message and certainly greater than Beck’s counterfeit gospel of Americanism. While I know Jesus is not calling me to wear latex or to get on tv, I do find myself wondering at times if I am making the most of the opportunities presented to me and I wonder if we are being faithful as a Christian church. The easy answer is no we are not but what do we need to do remedy that for the sake of the Kingdom is a much longer and more difficult answer to articulate.  But I take hope and comfort that anything is possible, especially here in America.  If these two can get their message out, with the blessing of the Spirit and with a Church that believes in its calling and identity – we too can get our message out to a world that is hurting and hungry for redemption.


I think I’m finished talking about Glenn Beck for quite some time. For more consider reading:
Christianity Today’s article “And Glenn Beck Shall Lead Them” by Tobin Grant (short article that my first Beck post was based off of).
A very well-wrtitten and intelligent article by my friend and fellow Biblical Seminarian Greg Kilimovitz entitled “A Response to Relevant Magazine’s Article and Glenn Beck’s False Gospel”.
And why not spend 4 minutes watching and listening to a few clips by the leader of the “Restoring Honor” crusader? Be warned though, it’s offensive and contains profanity.

Question: Why Were Evangelical Leaders at the Glenn Beck Rally? I Believe I Have the Answer

Tuesday’s post was pretty adamant that Glenn Beck is not a credible leader for evangelicals. Today I want to focus on why were some of our evangelical leaders present at the Glenn Beck rally.

A bit of my context first. When I first heard about Beck, I thought two things: “That’s the last name of one of my favorite professors, I should give him a call”. And second, “Wow, this guy is getting a lot of attention.” A short while later, I tuned in and thought, “Well, he’s got charisma, he’s entertaining but no one is going to take this guy seriously.” There was a brief moment that I thought that his show was a spoof on the Colbert Report spoof. A spoof on a spoof – that could have actually had the potential of being somewhat cool but I soon realized that I was completely wrong. But even worse, I was even more mistaken on how seriously people were taking him.

Fast forward to this Resorting Honor rally in DC where thousands of evangelicals gathered. For me it was jaw-dropping and not in the good way. Not only were people listening to this guy, but they were evangelicals. I began realizing that there were people I appreciated and in a few instances, even admired that liked Glenn Beck! But I am not sure what could have prepared me for when I learned of the number of evangelical leaders that shared the stage with him on that day.

James Dobson, John Hagee, Jerry Falwell Jr. – it was like a mini-conference of has-been and wanna-be pastors and leaders. I guess it figures they would end up at an event that began with word, “Restoring”. Beck even had a name for them – the “Black Robe Regiment” because historically, preachers who fought for morality wore black robes or something. Oh yeah, I think I remember Jesus wearing one for the sermon on the mount. Let me look it up in Matthew 5 (insert the sound of pages turning here), yep there it is, “Then Joseph Smith asked Jesus to take the stage. He entered in with his blonde hair parted, Birkenstock sandals, and of course, his classic black robe. His thunderous voice filled the air as he shouted, “Blessed are you who are tired of these liberals taking over Israel! It’s time to fight back and reclaim what was ours from the beginning …” (I’d go on but I’m sure you have heard this story countless times).

The humor keeps me sane and I have to say this reminded me of those one day mini-concert events that had a series of one hit wonder bands and a classic old band that should really just retire opening for a current headliner but they weren’t even the same genre of music. It was like Smashmouth, Papa Roach, Chumbawamba and Chicago opening up for … Justin Bieber or something. Really – how in the world can Hagee, Dobson and Beck share the same stage?Where was Kirk Cameron? And how in the world did Albert Pujols get mixed up in this? (Has he learned nothing from Roger Clemens? Stay away from Capitol Hill Albert!)

The ironies were even more staggering. None of these men are known for their ecumenicalism. Anything that poses a threat to their narrow brand of evangelicalism is inevitably struck down. So why am I bothered that some of these men have finally have opened their minds and shared a platform with someone from another faith? For one, i expect a little consistency. But two and more importantly, because I suspect their motivation for being there was to maintain or pursue power in the evangelical world. For whatever reason, Beck is the darling of countless evangelicals and these men want a piece of the spotlight and a turn at the mic regardless of who it’s pointed at.  That is not leadership but rather the pursuit of vanity for a counterfeit kingdom with personal agendas.

Harsh – Why else would they be there? Was it because they care about the country and wanted to issue a call for Christian repentance but did not know how to organize a rally? Have they forgotten things like Promise Keepers? Or was it because they are riding Beck’s bandwagon? As always, feel free to disagree.

Is Glenn Beck the first televangelist of the post-911, cable news era?

For the record, I do not hate Glenn Beck. Honestly, I try hard not to hate anyone. Secondly, I am not sure I have watched enough Glenn Beck to hate him. In full disclosure, I can really only tolerate a few minutes before I have to turn the channel. It’s like country music for me. Further, Glenn Beck (and these political talk-shows) are forms of entertainment that I do not enjoy and I typically abide the motto, “If you don’t like it – change the channel”. But here’s where it got tricky for me.  You can’t change the channel on your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. So this post is an expression of a problem that I feel we as evangelicals are having.

You may have caught that in the first paragraph that I equated political talk shows as entertainment? Indeed they are. CNN, FoxNews, The Daily Show, all of them –  are not created to inform the public necessarily. Sure they give us news but there is something else going on.  Rather, they are created to entertain, to inspire you to get you keep watching, to anger you with carefully edited information to insure you tune in tomorrow. All this to pay the network sponsors and we do that every time we got to Burger King, pick up DiGiorna’s Pizza or even buy a car. If you are still having trouble following me, consider reading the amazing book, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It’s an eye-opener.

I am not against Glenn Beck per say – he’s just doing his job. He’s getting people to tune in and clearly he’s doing a great job at that. My real concern is that the evangelical obsession with him (and other FoxNews personalities). They seemingly speak our language – love your family, protect America, honor God and fight against the things that grieve Him like terrorism and socialism. It’s a great shtick – “We need to bring this country BACK to its values!”. “We need to guard our families from those who intend on harming us!”. “We need to give back to the hard-working family that are trying to raise their kids right, put food on the table and one day send them to college!”. “Let’s give our children a chance!” … I could go on but you get the idea right?

Let’s face it, who can argue with that? No one I know is against hard-working families. Nor do I anyone I know wants Americans to be harmed. And I don’t know anyone who is against “values”, though we may disagree on what they are and how far would we should go to get them.

Let me tell you who Glenn Beck is – he’s the first televangelist of the post-911, cable news era. What King Saul was to the people of Israel, Glenn Beck is today’s conservative evangelical. Just like Saul was not Israel’s first “leader” and Beck not the first Fox News personality to make it big, Beck has emerged to be today’s evangelical leader (Yeah consider O’Reilly and Hannity to be like the “judges” of old ;-).

But Beck seems to be the evangelical’s choice.  It’s an odd pick, since you know, he’s a television superstar, his shifting views on gay marriage, and he’s not an Evangelical – he’s Mormon!!! Yet he’s leading evangelicals in a God and Country rally at the Lincoln Memorial. (I won’t even get into the arrogance of doing this on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” given on the March to Washington for Jobs and Freedom). Pardon the exclamations but I can hardy stand the Billy Graham comparisons.

I am not saying that evangelicals should not watch his show but some are more faithful to watching then worshipping at their local churches. Some quote and share his words more than their own pastors’ and the worst – some know his message better than Jesus’! I am also not suggesting that we cannot agree that honor, values, principles are indeed noble and important practices for us as individuals and as a society – of course they are. What I am saying is that he is not a leader for evangelicals. We ought to seek that wisdom from actual evangelicals (preferably not on primetime television) like many of our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, our pastors, godly people throughout our communities, our great writers living and non-living and the true characters that our faith and church have celebrated throughout the ages. Let us, as evangelicals, be inspired by them as we follow Christ.

Am I right that Beck in the first televangelist of the post-911, cable news era?  You are welcome to disagree or reframe it in another way.

More tomorrow …

This past week, I spent some time in prayer and took a break from blogging …

This past week, I spent some time in prayer and took a break from blogging for a few reasons.
1. I have never been that consistent – I didn’t think anyone would care.
2. Long ago, I decided that I will not be controlled by a blog so if I don’t:
a. Pray, read Scripture and care for my soul, I won’t blog.
b. Spend time with my family, students, and the many wonderful people in my life, I won’t blog.
c. Have anything to say, I won’t blog.
3. Recently, I do have a few things to say and as this audience is expanding to more in my local community    and apparently a few more outside it, I wanted to pause, pray, collect my thoughts before hitting “Publish”.

In the coming weeks, I want to tackle a few things that are controversial, the Ground Zero Islamic Center/Mosque, Glenn Beck, conservativism, and as always evangelicalism. There will also be a couple book reviews and other items of interest to me.
Please know that the purpose of my blog is not to hurt, offend, etc. but hopefully to contribute to a larger conversation (and maybe encourage you to participate) that aims to critique questionable approaches, reform the Church, and offer the hope of Jesus.
Appreciate you reading.