It seems every media outlet other than Vanity Fair did a story on Vanity Fair’s interview with Katy Perry. Most of these described the pop star as “slamming” or “blasting” her strict sectarian upbringing.
I thought she was actually pretty gentle in her criticism, considering.
There’s a spectrum of evangelical culture and Perry’s family was on the far end of it.
Mine, thank God, was closer to the other end. My family didn’t drink or dance, but we didn’t spend a lot of energy condemning those who did. We listened to “secular” music as well as to CCM. I had all the Spire Christian comics, but also read a bunch of titles from Marvel and DC. After high school, my siblings and I were encouraged, but not required, to consider evangelical colleges and we wound up attending places like Houghton and Eastern where that encourage-but-don’t-require approach continued.
Or, to use another illustration that evangelicals will understand, my family was theologically and culturally closer to InterVarsity than to Campus Crusade. Katy Perry’s family seems to have been out on the other side beyond Campus Crusade.
Her description of her upbringing reminds me of plenty of my unhappier classmates at the private Christian school I attended in elementary and high school. Their families didn’t just refrain from drinking and dancing, they railed against them as grave sins. Yes, just like John Lithgow in Footloose — except he gave a more nuanced and sympathetic performance than my classmates’ parents ever did. Not only were those kids forbidden to listen to my wicked, sinful Beatles or Eagles albums, they were forbidden to listen to my wicked, sinful Amy Grant and Steve Taylor albums.
When those classmates graduated their parents gave them a choice between three possibilities for college: Liberty, Bob Jones or Pensacola.
Some of those friends went to those schools and graduated from them and now are raising kids of their own whom they will, one day, require to attend those schools as well. But for many of them, the rubber band stretched too tight all those years finally snapped and they dropped out of Liberty or Bob Jones or Pensacola and set out on a Rumspringa that continues to this day.
You could see many of them starting to crack already in high school — showing signs that, as soon as they turned 18 they were going to take off for the bright lights of the big city, put on some of that forbidden scarlet lipstick, cultivate an ironically tarty pop-star persona and marry some demented British comedian.
All of which is to say that Perry doesn’t “slam” her strict, evangelical/fundamentalist upbringing nearly as much as she could or maybe should have.
It slammed her for 18 years and she walked away. That’s not retaliation, that’s turning the other cheek.