Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miley Cyrus and Her Soul

In case you missed it, Miley Cyrus recently acted like an over-sexed teen on national TV.  It has been
interesting to watch people on both the 'left' and the 'right' react in shock and disapproval.  It isn't often some of these people agree on cultural issues.  So, putting aside the fact that she is not the first and will not be the last, and the fact that the African-American hip-hop culture lives and breathes on hyper-sexuality and exploitation, and that people rarely react to these displays relative to how often they are public, I want to think through a couple of reactions to her performance.

First of all, many people have responded with some version of, "If you don't like it, turn the channel."  This is a very politic answer.  It relies on the notion that we live in a pluralistic culture in which plenty of people do things that we disagree with, some things we disagree with strongly, but which we must learn to live with.  I don't like the fact that the VMA are more about debasing women and teens than it is about music, but I lack the social power to force my opinion upon MTV and we are generally happy that a single individual or a single group of people lack that power.

Alongside that reaction has been an either explicit or implicit acceptance of her behavior as a result of the image of her mother in the audience approving of what she had just watched her daughter do.  This reaction relies heavily upon the knee-jerk relativism of our society that teaches us that if someone approves of a behavior (especially someone as close to an individual as a parent), then we are not in a position to disagree with it.  Yet, even among hard-core relativists, moral judgments refuse to be so pliable.  An individual may make the argument that hyper-sexual behavior in music is fine because they are inured to that behavior, and yet the same person is likely to eviscerate someone who takes a strong stand against abortion or for traditional marriage.  In the end, the retreat to relativism here is exactly what it always and everywhere is - a "get out of moral reasoning FREE" card. 

What I see is a screaming soul.  And no, I don't mean that is what I think of her singing ability.  I see a soul so far from her God that she, and the crowd that influences her, believes that what she did was good for her and those around her.  In no mature, rational sense is this the case, yet she seems to be sure of it and there are plenty around her ready to buttress that belief.  What she did was not some form of respectable free-expression or artistic display.  It was not deep.  It was not meaningful.  It was transient trash performed by an eternal soul who does not know how low she has sunk.  To paraphrase C.S. Lewis and his essay, "The Weight of Glory," she was playing with mud pies when the glories of heaven are being offered to her.

Without the reality of our Creator God alive within our lives and our culture, we are subjected to semi-serious conversations about whether what she did was appropriate or even profound.  Yet, when the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ breaks in on that insanity, we see things differently.  We watch a soul writhe, not in simulated sexual pleasure, but in the spiritual agony of a drifting and anchorless soul.

No comments: