Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta… That moniker is quite a mouthful. Most wouldn’t recognize her by that name, but she’s a bit more famous as Lady Gaga. The first question that comes to mind is, “Where did she get Lady Gaga out of that?”

Apparently, while she was looking for a good stage name, she became fixated on the old Queen song, Radio Ga Ga. One day in a text from a guy she was dating, Radio Ga Ga came across as Lady Gaga. Gotta love those predictive text glitches! She liked it and kept it.

So the young lady (known by family and friends as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) is now known to the rest of us as Lady Gaga. It’s not her real name, but she’s Lady Gaga to us.

“Jesus is NOT a cosmic cowboy!”

For some reason, hearing of Lady Gaga’s renaming exploits reminds me of something that happened years ago. You may remember Barry McGuire of Eve of Destruction fame. After he professed faith in Jesus, he began to record Christian music. He did a narrative song entitled Cosmic Cowboy. In the song, Jesus was the cosmic cowboy.

I was a bit surprised when I discovered there were preachers railing against his composition. They were saying things like, “Jesus is NOT a cosmic cowboy!” They were offended that anyone, particularly a Christian, would call Jesus by that name.

Come to think of it, I was more than a bit surprised. I was shocked. I remember thinking, “C’mon folks. It’s just a metaphor—another way to describe and understand Jesus!” I remember hearing McGuire, himself, commenting after hearing the criticism, “Jesus is not a little lamb going ‘baaaaa’ or a flower out in a field somewhere, either.” Yet, we call him the Lamb of God and the Lily of the Valley.

The same thing has recurred in recent years with the popularity of the book, The Shack. After reading the book, I ran across another tome that was a refutation of the theology behind The Shack. I had much the same reaction to that as I did to the critics of Cosmic Cowboy.

“Being right is not a spiritual gift.”

In The Shack, God appears to the central figure as a matronly, black woman named Papa (and later as a Native American guide). The Holy Spirit appears to him as a young Asian woman. If you read too much into the dialog, you can infer traces of universalism (among other things).

With the release of the movie of the same name, it’s hitting the fan once again. Personally, I love both the book and the film. I led a class that examined the book over a period of several months. It was the springboard for a deep and fulfilling discussion that enriched everyone involved.

I heard a podcast interview with the author, Paul Young, recently. I think he may have said it best when he answered one of the interviewer’s queries by saying, “Questions are not our enemies, and being right is not a spiritual gift.” Amen to that!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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