Madonna’s Guilt, Gaga’s Monsters, Lewis’s Plan All Along

Sez The Atlantic‘s Spencer Kornhaber, in a piece on Lady Gaga’s theology:

Gaga-Madonna comparisons […] are played out—yes, both singers are ethnic Italians, raised Catholic, and artistically chameleonic—but remain instructive. For example, compare Born This Way with 1989’s Like a Prayer. Both are self-consciously artsy statements that lean heavily on their creators’ Catholic backgrounds. But Like a Prayer was about relationship politics, with the psychodrama stemming from Madonna’s bouts with unwanted guilt: On “Oh Father,” Madonna excoriates her emotionally abusive dad, and then, at the end, starts singing that she may have been too harsh on the guy.

Gaga, on the other hand, luxuriates in the absence of guilt. Again and again on Born This Way, she encourages her “Little Monsters”—these are her fans–to reject, defy, outwit, and ignore external judges of behavior: parents, boyfriends, kids at school. But internal shame—vestigial Catholic guilt, held over from Sunday School—for, say, premarital sex, dressing funny, hooking up with members of one’s own gender? For Gaga, such feelings are incomprehensible. She is certain of her own righteousness; her emotional enemy is not shame but insecurity.

It brings to mind a passage from a letter C. S. Lewis wrote about his intentions for the radio lectures that would become Mere Christianity:

I think what I mainly want to talk about is the Law of Nature, or objective right and wrong. It seems to me that the [New Testament], by preaching repentance and forgiveness, always assumes an audience who already believe in the law of nature and know they have disobeyed it. In modern England we cannot at present assume this, and therefore most apologetic begins a stage too far on. The first step is to create, or recover, the sense of guilt.

Which seems like proof that there really is a cabal of repressed white men who are planning how to instill irrepressible guilt among the unsuspecting masses for mind-control purposes. Lewis again, incriminatingly enough:

There’s no sound I like better than adult male laughter.