The Gospel of Katy Perry

June 15, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - KATY PERRY performing at the launch of Volkswagen's 2011 New Compact Sedan in Times Square in New York City on 06-15-2010.  2010...K65180HMc. © Red Carpet Pictures

Yes, Christian rockstars are real. But Katy Perry isn’t one. She years ago gave up on Christian music, and her image is anything but.

Last week Perry appeared on a cliched cover of Rolling Stone under the headline: “Sex, God & Katy Perry: The Hard Road & Hot Times of a Fallen Angel.” Perry told the magazine that she is still a Christian.

Christianity Today’s entertainment blog excerpts one of the more choice quotes while revisiting a review the evangelical magazines sister’s publication wrote eight years about Perry’s Christian music:

“God is very much still a part of my life. But the way the details are told in the Bible — that’s very fuzzy for me. And I want to throw up when I saw that. But that’s the truth. … I still believe that Jesus is the son of God. But I also believe in extraterrestrials, and that there are people sent from God to be messengers, and all sorts of crazy stuff.

“I look up into the sky and I’m just mindf—ed — all those stars and planets, the neverendingness of the universe. I just can’t believe that we’re the only polluting population. Every time I look up, I know that I’m nothing and there’s something way beyond me. I don’t think it’s as simple as heaven and hell.”

There are a lot of theological issues to unlock in that quote — it’s like Paul’s letter to Rome for the uber-universalist. And I’m not sure how the Rolling Stone writer followed up on it because viewing the story online requires a subscription, and I can’t even handle the six magazines I already get.

But I was able to access this story from The New York Times. It gives a nice window into Perry’s life and a decent arc to her pop culture transformation. Still, the religious details are in want.

After mentioning early that Perry was raised an evangelical Christian but is now one of pop music’s dirty girls, the reporter actually gives us a quick window into Perry’s upbringing. The meat is only contained in this paragraph:

Ms. Perry was born Katy Hudson in California, the middle daughter of itinerant preachers who set up storefront churches and gave sermons around the country. (She uses her mother’s maiden name to avoid confusion with the actress Kate Hudson.) Eventually they settled in Santa Barbara, Calif., where Ms. Perry attended a Christian school that, to her retrospective dismay, did not have “cute or sexy” uniforms, just plain old khaki ones. Her family spoke in tongues at home, and she sang in the church, picking up guitar and writing her own songs at 13, around the time she realized she was “an interesting little oddball,” she said. She was kept away from mainstream pop culture but had some traditional Southern California pleasures’ she went to a Christian surf camp where the kids prayed for big waves. “I was sheltered in a weird way,” she said. “It was very, like, pick-and-choose.”

Yes, Katy, I too wish that people reserved prayers for more meaningful needs — or at least issues that He would expect us to take to him. I don’t, however, think this should inspire a crisis of faith. I’m interested in details about her parents’ ministry, though it’s vague and raises more questions than it answers. And that’s a funny line about the school uniforms.

But what was that about speaking tongues at home? Would they do this when filled with the Holy Spirit or just when sitting around the dinner table, much like a child who was very into Star Trek might talk Vulcan to his parents?

That question isn’t answered. Instead that detail is left hanging, adding to the others and giving the impression that Katy Perry lived a very sheltered existence and that it’s no wonder she “Kissed A Girl” and has become the creator of exactly the type of pop music her parents tried keeping her from.

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  • Kitten Mitten

    And her ideas are more outre than the ones you get out of a bronze age book written by ignorant tribesmen? LOL!

  • Mike Hickerson

    I read the Rolling Stone print-copy of the article and don’t recall much of a follow-up to Perry’s statement. However, the full version gives lots of space to her parents’ lives and ministry – though, oddly, never quite managing to identify their denomination or even the name of their church/ministry (at least, as far as I can remember – it’s been a few weeks).

    A part of the story that jumped out at me was a line the journalist put in that went something like, “Unlike most evangelical Christians, Perry’s parents had secular – and strange – childhoods.” Their life stories, however, sounded a lot like that of many Baby Boomer evangelicals: rock ‘n’ roll, lots of partying, then a conversion experience that caused them to reject their previous scene. Their stories might have been slightly beyond the norm because of her father’s friendships with several rock musicians and her mother’s family wealth, but they read like “par for the course” conversion stories to me.

  • Yogurt

    “And her ideas are more outre than the ones you get out of a bronze age book written by ignorant tribesmen? LOL!”

    First off, speaking as part of the religion, culture and history produced by those “ignorant tribesmen”, I find your lack of understanding of the Hebrew people sad. Also, I would think that term is borderline anti-semitic, but I am giving you alot more credit than that..for now.

    No. Her ideas are scattershot and confused (a result of someon in the midst of a spiritual journey and being stuck on the “LA freeway at 5:00 PM” stage) . The “bronze age book” is the exact opposite: it is organized and focused in it’s purpose.

    Now on to the story:

    Muddled is how would describe the whole article. It seems to jump from place to place, get stuck in strange details, and yet leaves out important pieces. Ah well…

  • Yogurt

    *sidenote: when I say the “whole article”, I was referring to the one in Rolling Stone. It wasn’t a bad issue overall though. Just a lackluster article on Perry, IMHO.

  • Randy

    Thanks Rolling Stone for giving some background to where pop stars are coming from. Yes its interesting Katy Perry is still a Christian, and that she has come to terms with her God. Its a wonder that she doesn’t reject her parents faith entirely as a product of rigid Evangelicals. We have to take her at her word that she’s a Christian. But the religious character of pop stars is not what readers of contemporary culture magazines want usually. Katy Perry is pretty tame as pop stars go, but I come away with a more positive view of her understanding her background.

  • icouldbewrong

    I personally dont get the problem, she merely chose a different marketing strategy that appears to be working. One cant fault her for that, personally she is working the business, she is just a bit more honest about it. In a way I admire that.