Beyond the Classic: Lady Gaga and Theology in the Wild Public Sphere

in International Journal of Public Theology
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There is a rich vein of theology running through much popular culture as exemplified by the artistic output of Lady Gaga, a discussion of which lies at the heart of this article. Such theological engagement with popular culture, it is argued, is an important task for public theology because this is a locus in which theology is already present in the public sphere. This suggests an approach to public theology that moves beyond David Tracy’s notion of the ‘classic’ in the context of hypermodernity. The case for this new agenda is presented in a twofold structure. Firstly, the theopolitical significance of Lady Gaga’s pop art is established. Secondly, a way of conceiving the ‘publicness’ of theological engagement with popular culture is articulated in dialogue with Habermas’ conception of the wild public sphere.

Beyond the Classic: Lady Gaga and Theology in the Wild Public Sphere

in International Journal of Public Theology

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References

2

Jürgen HabermasBetween Facts and Norms (Cambridge: Polity Press1996) p. 307.

11

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77

HabermasThe Structural Transformation p. 250.

85

HabermasBetween Facts and Norms p. 307 italics original. Habermas specifically acknowledges the influence of Nancy Fraser in a footnote to this passage. The importance of equality in the public sphere also asserted by Fraser is acknowledged in Habermas’ developed understanding. Throwing off ‘the millennia-old shackles of social stratification is necessary to realise ‘the potential of an unleashed cultural pluralism’ p. 307. This rather dynamic vision is markedly different to the bourgeois public sphere of the earlier Habermas. Though not referenced the mention of a ‘wild complex’ seems to echo the Bakhtinian critique of Gardiner et al discussed above.

86

Jürgen Habermas‘Religion in the Public Sphere’European Journal of Philosophy 14:1 (2006) 1–25 at 10.

87

HabermasBetween Facts and Norms p. 374.

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