Most of the world was horrified on Friday evening; in the U.S. it was coming home to see horrible reports of terrorists executing concert attenders one by one. Over the weekend and continuing today, many are wrestling with how the world will respond, as well as the U.S. Mrs. Clinton tried for some separation from the president on the Democratic debate; calling for American “leadership.” This, of course, is a slam toward Mr. Obama’s approach of leading from behind.
There will be time to engage in those debates, but I think its too early (in the blogosphere only–the government authorities better have woken up and should be questioning our current policies post haste). Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Hollande are to blame for these deaths. They are the result of a malignant evil that comes out of the heart of wicked men that are stoked by evil forces in the heavenlies (Eph 6:12). We will come back to this in the coming days, but I want Bereans today to listen to video from the pop singer Madonna on her take on the bombing, and then offer your thoughts below. She is heavily criticized here, do you think the criticisms are right? I will update this blog with my thoughts in a few days, but I don’t want to prejudice your opinions.
EDIT Update 18 Nov.
Only Joel really took up the challenge, and he likely did better than I could. But, that won’t stop me from trying!
First, I admit I could be slightly biased as I actually liked some of Madonna’s music in the 80s. I can still remember one of her first breakthrough song playing on the radio, “Borderline;” it remains one of my favorite songs of that era. The song she sings after this statement is my favorite of hers. Madonna was pretty blasphemous in her integration of sacred things, yet I always was more sad about it than angry. Its pretty clear that her early exposure to religion through her parents Catholic faith made an impression on her:
Her parents’ strict observation of the Catholic faith played a large role in Madonna’s childhood. “My mother was a religious zealot,” Madonna explains. “There were always priests and nuns in my house growing up.” Many elements of Catholic iconography—including her mother’s statues of the Sacred Heart, the habits of the nuns at her Catholic elementary school, and the Catholic altar at which she and her family prayed daily—later became the subject of Madonna’s most controversial works.
I always felt that while rebelling against the faith of her parents she nevertheless knew that there was something behind it that was transcendent, something that she didn’t have and knew that it was something that was needed. I don’t believe her inclusion of religious themes/icons was simply part of her act.
So here we have here providing her analysis of the current bombing in Paris. I believe this is someone who understands that there is something transcendent, something that is other, that is holy, with an understanding that it is needed in this world to make it right. To be clear–she is not a Christian from anything we can discern. But we can see that as a fellow human being created Imago Dei, she has that God sized hole in her heart (Ecc 3:11). So given this, while we are suspicious, we should not be surprised to see her get some things right, as well as get some things wrong.
First, she clearly sees what the other side wants: domination, to “silence us.” She doesn’t use the word enemy, but it is implicit in her comments. This is a correct understanding, as far as it goes. Madonna does not seem to understand that ultimately there are spiritual forces behind these ideas and conflicts–neither does the rest of the world. We dare not forget it.
Second, she correctly sees that this enemy wants to take away freedom. But she thinks this is freedom to “have fun.” Freedom is a curious word–certainly very debatable in meaning even in a secular sense. One definition is the conservative “freedom from” coercion, while the progressives usually have a definition of “freedom to,” such that one is not free unless one has the resources to act (so the poor are not free unless we redistribute resources to them). Yet in a Biblical sense, we are called to freedom and slavery. Romans 6 is very clear that we will be either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Who will we obey? Whoever we obey is our master. Madonna is asking for freedom for slavery to sin, “no one should be able to stop us from doing what we love,” which is a “freedom from” view. The Bible generally prescribes a “freedom from” position for earthly issues, even when it leads to destructive results, e.g., Adam and Eve in the garden, because freedom in this sense is intrinsically part of God’s plan to bring him glory as we choose correctly. The Islamic terrorists will not allow that type freedom–the spiritual forces behind them do not want to see God glorified. They don’t even offer “freedom to,” they offer only slavery.
Finally, and what I liked best, was Madonna’s comment that to fight this ultimately we must change. She is absolutely right. Why? Because God was not surprised at 9/11, Paris or anything else. He is sovereign and on his throne. Given he has allowed this evil, there is a purpose–and our response to this evil is to repent (Luke 13:1-5). So many of us want to change the world–including the terrorists, don’t mistake this in how the enemy deceives them–when the only true way to change the world is to change ourselves. She correctly said the solution is not to “elect another president,” and we need to learn to treat everyone with dignity and respect. That is certainly what I need to do. Everyone of us falls short in this to some degree. If you don’t believe this, remember the power of Charleston this summer. Remember how God’s grace and forgiveness pouring out through Christians who had suffered grievous wrongs shocked the world? They killed evil by their love. That is our call.*
* This doesn’t mean the government cannot and should not do something much more significantly–I wholeheartedly agree with MCS’ post that the government responsibilities are different than ours as individuals.