So apparently there is a well-publicized, ongoing “feud” between pop singers Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, which has prompted both artists to write songs about each other that are negative, petty, and intentionally demeaning.
I wasn’t aware of this until I watched James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke primetime special on TV the other night. Katy Perry was on the show and James asked her about the situation with Swift. Perry replied, “It was a full shutdown [from Swift] and then she writes a song about me. I’m like, ‘O.K., cool. Cool. That’s how you want to deal with it? Karma.’ Now, there is a law of cause and effect. You do something and there’s gonna be a reaction. And trust me, daddy, there’s gonna be a reaction.”
Hence, Perry’s song trashing Swift.
But later in the interview with Corden, Perry said that she’s ready for this “beef” with Swift to be over and added: “I think personally, that women together – not divided, and like none of this petty (expletive) – women together will heal the world.”
And that line got a huge ovation from the audience.
However, I couldn’t get over the fact that her actions toward Swift – that she had just proudly spoke about earlier – completely contradicted her belief about women healing the world together. Yet, the audience still applauded.
To me, this highlights one of the problems with our society: we fall for the “applause line” believing that to be the heart and character of the person saying it, instead of examining that person’s actions.
We applaud Katy Perry for saying that “women together – not divided, like none of this petty (expletive) – women together will heal the world” as if she is some champion of women and unity among women and we completely ignore the fact that her actions prove to be contrary to her statement. Instead of taking the high road of forgiveness, Perry strikes back at Swift in the same petty manner and deepens the divide between the two women.
And we are fools if we don’t see this.
But, if we are so easily fooled into eating up the applause lines we want to hear from our celebrities and politicians instead of looking deeper at the person who’s feeding us these spoon-ready sentiments, then it would be just as easy for us to replicate this cycle in our own lives. And many of us are.
Including many of us Christians.
We Christians need to remember that if we aren’t living out what we say we believe about Jesus, then we look just as foolish to the world as Katy Perry does when she preaches unity but takes pride in her acts of division and revenge.
James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet, you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
That passage warns us against the very pattern of thinking to which our society has succumbed. James says that it does no good for us to give a poor person an “applause line” if we aren’t willing to do something to tangibly help that person. Words alone, sentiments alone, intentions alone do not fix whatever problem we think we are addressing with our “applause lines.”
If Katy Perry really believed in the unity of women, she would be working to reconcile with Taylor Swift instead of adding to the feud. And that’s the standard we should be holding her to, instead of putting her on a pedestal as a champion of women.
But that’s also the standard I should be holding myself to – and you as well.
As a Christian, I cannot give an “applause line” about loving those who are different than me if I am not actively loving those who are different than me. I cannot preach to others about the necessity of being reconcilers in the world if I am not willing to reconcile with the people in my life. And on and on it goes.
James says that kind of “faith” is so useless it’s dead.