My college students ~I teach as an adjunct in the Theology and Religious Studies Department of the local Jesuit university ~ were dumbfounded last week to learn that I am a Lady Gaga fan.I mentioned it to them because Lady G had just posted an expression of gratitude to her Catholic priest on twitter and, consequently, I discovered that she had attended the Convent School of the Sacred Heart in New York City. "So Lady Gaga and I were both convent schoolgirls," I told my class. "We both spent part of our lives wandering around in Catholic school uniforms and hanging out with nuns."
Lady G first came to my attention about a year ago when a local radio station began playing her song Edge of Glory. Could the lyrics be about what I thought they were? I wondered. On the surface, they are about sex, and the video exudes a blatant and raw sexuality, but I thought there was more to it. Indeed, it seems that she wrote the song as her beloved grandfather was dying, and that "glory" means exactly what I thought it did.
Glory is what comes next. After the horror, after the sorrow . . . glory.
If you know that I have lost a child to suicide, a child with whom I walk every day and whose death haunts my dreams, that perhaps you understand why I sometimes open the car's sunroof and crank my music up loud to listen:
It's time to feel the rush to push the dangerous
I'm gonna run right to, to the edge with you
Where we'll both fall far in love
I'm on the edge of glory and I'm hangin' on a moment of truth
Out on the edge of glory and I'm hangin' on a moment with you.
Lady Gaga's tweet about the meaning of the Eucharist created some controversy among those who understand faith to be more about law than about grace. I'm guessing that they those folks don't much like the Edge of Glory video.
But grace abounds in the most unusual places.
Lady Gaga sings it. I raise the bread and the wine and I think it. I'm on the edge of glory, and I'm hangin'on a moment of truth.
PS: Now that I know about her convent school background, I also "get" Lady Gaga's inspired Sound of Music tribute to Julie Andrews at the 2015 Oscars. Even though I can't carry a tune, I was actually in our school production of The Sound of Music (7th grade; Kurt) and have astonished my family by my encyclopedic knowledge of every line and lyric, but more than that: it was a convent school. I suspect that Lady Gaga's powerful performance honored Sacred Heart sisters as well as Julie Andrews.