Reading Steve Forbes magazine and then Rodney Clapp on “From shame to fame” we ran into Lady Gaga who we suppose most of you know from watching her on T.V. or viewing her on the internet. I probably became interested in her background because we grew up in a little town northwest of Winona, and was known as a P.K. (preacher’s kid). After 8 years of parochial school we entered high school where most of my forty peers who had been together in school since their first grade tended to keep one out of their circle. This avoidance caused me to hate school. Upon the insistence of my German father we finally selected a Norwegian school named after a King called Olaf. There we gradually learned that about 1 out of every 6 of my peers were either sons or daughters of pastors and the P.K. hang-up evaporated.
But that memory and experience leads me to scribble a bit about Lady Gaga. Her name was Stefani Germannotta. An awkward teenager, she remembers being bullied for being ugly, for having a big nose and big eyebrows, and teased for her laugh and the make up she wore.
“They made fun of my hairdo and even called me a slut and for that reason I didn’t want to go to school sometimes.”
And now Stefani is famous, for that matter, a world famous billionaire! Her music concerts are very popular and her T.V. appearances are eagerly awaited for, as people wonder just “what will she come up with next?” At the Grammys this year she was carried on stage in, and emerged from, a giant egg.
The great wonder is that with all her success she has not forgotten being a “MISFIT.” She says, “It wasn’t until I put my music out into the world that I was able to look into myself and honor my own misfit and know the reality of how I was treated when I was a kid, not by my family but by my peers in school, and how it affected me.”
So Lady Gaga’s message to her fans is that it is alright for them to be little misfits, or as she says, “monsters.” Others may say you are too fat or too skinny or queer or gay or in some way just different. But she says as your mother misfit/monster, you need to know you have real worth. She tells them in her concerts she was a misfit (and is a misfit) but look at her now. She tells them that one day they too may be great. This of course brings applause as she shares her fame and herself with the audience. And so in a way her fans become a part of her, AND IN TURN, her listeners begin to respect themselves!
It does not seem too much to say that this Lady Gaga has a way of liberating her viewers. Actually her message resonates with the gospel. You know “God so loved the world” - well that surely includes misfits. It seems to me that sometimes the church has hidden the real Christ from people. Lady Gaga reminds us that Jesus lived among us as a misfit. Born in a manger and laid in a feed trough. He lived as an itinerant with no real home or place to lay His head. He was regarded as an outcast. He asked rugged fishermen and despised tax collectors to follow Him. And he finally ended up between two criminals, despised, crucified naked on the humiliating Roman cross. Surely His classmates in Nazareth would have not voted Him “most likely to succeed.”
Your dictionary defines the word monster/misfit as one who deviates markedly from the norm. In this sense Jesus was a misfit. He is a misfit right down to our orthodox confessions as both “very God” and “very man.” He’s the King Who doesn’t ride a white horse but peacefully rides on a donkey, on a colt, one upon which no man ever before sat. He is the Savior but He dies! So he turns upside down all our definitions of divinity and humanity.
Finally, look at His theatre. Sending His disciples to catch a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay a border tax. Or look on the mountain, the theatrics of feeding 5,000 with a few loaves and two fish. And there were 12 baskets full leftover. He walks on water and in a terrible storm with two words stops not only the wind but causes a “great calm” to come over the wild waves.
But isn’t it strange, while Jesus lived on earth He was despised and rejected, treated like a misfit. So we need to remember as Christians that He was despised and treated as a misfit, and it is He Who calls you to be like Him and to be part of His body. So then we are original little misfits. And maybe Lady Gaga is just singing an old song, as old as the WORD that became flesh and dwelt among us.