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.
Alexis Petridis‘Years & Years: Communion review—utterly of the moment, for good and bad’The Guardian(2015) <http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/09/years-years-communion-review> [accessed 13 July 2015].
Sara Amis‘Beyoncé and Making Theology Out of Lemonade’A Word to the Witch: Patheos Pagan Chanel(2016) <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awordtothewitch/2016/05/02/beyonce-and-making-theology-out-of-lemonade/> [accessed 11 July 2016].
Courtney Lee‘Beyoncé, Lemonade and a Womanist Theology’Women in Theology(2016) <https://womenintheology.org/2016/04/25/beyonce-lemonade-and-a-womanist-theology/> [accessed 11 July 2016]; Yolanda Pierce ‘Black Women and the Sacred: With “Lemonade” Beyoncé takes us to Church’ Religion Dispatches (2016) <http://religiondispatches.org/black-women-and-the-sacred-beyonce-takes-us-to-church/> [accessed 08 July 2016].
Candice Benbow‘Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Black Christian Women’s Spirituality’Religion & Politics: Fit For Polite Company(2016) <http://religionandpolitics.org/2016/06/28/beyonces-lemonade-and-black-christian-womens-spirituality/> [accessed 11 July 2016].
See Roland Betancourt‘Gagagraphy: Gaga, “Judas”, and Saint Theodosia’Gaga Stigmata: Critical Writings and Art About Lady Gaga(2011) >http://gagajournal.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/gagagraphy-gaga-judas-and-saint.html> [accessed 07 July 2016].
Song Meanings‘Lady GaGa—The Edge of Glory’Song Meanings(2011) <http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858858592/> [accessed 13 May 2015] brackets original. The use of this source for interpretations is simply to indicate the wide range of readings that the song has generated.
Popjustice‘Lady Gaga interview: “I looked to my past and my faith to find bravery in myself” ’Popjustice(2011) <http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/an-interview-with-lady-gaga/84204/#ixzz2YAg1ShM7> [accessed 13 May 2015].
Danielle Pafunda‘Into the Groove of Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory”, a Phenomenological Inquiry’Gaga Stigmata: Critical Writings and Art About Lady Gaga(2011) <http://gagajournal.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/into-groove-of-lady-gagas-edge-of-glory.html> [accessed 13 May 2015].
HabermasBetween Facts and Norms p. 307italics 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.