Lady Gaga and the Good News

Lady Gaga was a recent guest on Ellen Degeneres’s talk show, and interestingly enough, she touched on the topic of religion:

                “Pop culture is our religion, and through self-worship (in terms of your identity, through honoring  your identity and really fighting for who you are every single day down to your core) you can have more faith and more hope in life and in the future.”   Lady Gaga to Ellen Degeneres, 7/21/11.

She went on to describe how she spends five minutes a day in meditation, thinking compassionate thoughts about herself.  “Love who you are.  You’re all you’ve got,” Gaga encouraged the audience.

I actually think that, without realizing it, Lady Gaga aptly addressed the issue that has plagued humankind since the Fall.  We want someone to give us value, even as broken and messed up as we are.  We want someone to love us.

Lady Gaga was right that pop culture is a religion for many people.  By this, I mean that we tend to think if we conform to what the media tells us is acceptable, we will be loved and valued.  Usually this involves buying the right jeans or shampoo or car.  Religion implies that we have to do something to receive something, and the concept of relationship is completely missing from the picture.

Unfortunately, her advice to direct compassionate thoughts toward oneself as a means of boosting self-love falls short.  Why?  We all have this built-in need to be approved of and accepted by someone we perceive as greater than ourselves.   Gaga’s advice, while well-intentioned, will never fill that hole.  As C.S. Lewis puts it, what we truly want is “fame” with God:

                “To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son –it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain.  But so it is” (Weight of Glory).

When we fully comprehend that we are pleasing to the Father, Son, and Spirit with all of our faults, we finally understand that any self-admiration we might feel for any good we have done will never fill the hole in hearts.  Lewis calls it “the most creaturely of pleasures…the specific pleasure of the inferior:  the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.”  The beautiful thing is that we already have this “fame” with the Triune God.  We are loved and accepted without reserve, without requirement.

Lady Gaga is to be commended for her kind encouragement to “fight for who you are” and “love who you are,” although I don’t think that self-worship will bring about the hope and healing she speaks of.  Even though she is famous worldwide and fast becoming a pop-culture icon, the good news for Lady Gaga is that she (and we) are already “famous” with God.  And we didn’t have to do a thing.

~by Nan Kuhlman

      ~photo courtesy of

6 comments so far

  1. Jane Hinrichs on

    This week our church is holding a Vacation Bible School at our local school and my husband is teaching the teens. He talked about how some girls who attended can get so mean to each other. They quickly attack when they are no longer the prettiest or the smartest or the cutest (or whatever). It is so sad but it is all based in that need to be loved and cherished. We can only truly find this in God. Nan, you are right on. Thank you. And if you read this, consider saying a prayer for the kids who attend our SD VBS — so many and their families need Jesus. Thank you.

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      It’s true that we can more easily see this desire in kids. As adults, we learn to cover it up or medicate it with work, food/drink, owning things. I hope your VBS is able to communicate to the kids that they are already “famous” with the One who really counts, anyway. Prayers for your VBS kids and workers,


  2. shackbible on

    I like all your posts, Nan, but I think this is my favorite to-date. Gaga has surprising depth and clarity of insight. Her songs celebrate her rejection of intimacy, how she is interested in sex and drama, but not love or relationship. I understand her very well, especially her desperate need to not have needs that must be met by anyone outside herself. It’s an ideal in our culture that many of us aspire to. I did, anyway. It didn’t work out well for me. I hope sister Gaga gets through it okay.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Mr. Shackbible,

      I agree that Lady Gaga has her finger on the pulse of today’s culture. While her insistence on the value of each unique individual/personality is commendable, unfortunately, it comes at the price of relationship. And relationship is what we’re all about – it’s what we were created for.

      I’m glad the post resonated with you!


  3. Jeannine on

    Right on as always, Nan! I feel so blessed to be able to raise my children with this mindset. I can tell them all the day long that they are loved unconditionally by God – but they’ll only believe it when they see that I believe it about myself too – and that I’m not putting myself into contortions trying to “please” Him or anyone else.

    I know how much I want my children to be themselves and to see their own intrinsic, irreplaceable value – value that brings pure joy to me. It’s amazing that God feels the same way about me.

    So true that feeling this way about oneself without reference to a loving God must feel very empty.

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      “Empty” is a good word to crystallize my post regarding Gaga’s encouragement for self-love. While it’s important to accept who you are, I still think that most self-love is performance-based (I am lovable because I can….., I am acceptable because I do…). What happens if we can no longer do the things that we based our definition of self on? Knowing that we are acceptable and lovable even if we can do nothing (or do nothing well) is the ultimate gift the Triune God gives us, if we’re willing to receive it.

      Thanks for your input!

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