NBC TV is pondering what to do about rock singer Madonna’s upcoming TV special on the network. A video of the middle-aged pop star’s latest concert will be broadcast on the network in November. The problem: Madonna sings one song, "Live to Tell," while suspended on a cross, bound by silver cuffs and wearing a crown of thorns.
Catholic and Orthodox church groups have protested the spectacle. Madonna defends it by saying that it is not "anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous." She says that in fact Jesus himself would be just like her if he were here today: "It is no different than a person wearing a cross or ‘taking up the cross’ as it says in the Bible. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing."
OK. . . .
NBC will probably air the scene. E! Online reports:
NBC President Kevin Reilly told TVGuide.com several weeks ago that the scene will probably stay put because Madonna "felt strongly about it" and considers it a highlight of her show.
"We viewed it and, although Madonna is known for being provocative, we didn’t see it as being ultimately inappropriate," Reilly said.
This was a foregone conclusion, really. The scene is obviously a central part of the show, and the network would be subjected to widespread scorn if it deleted it. They wouldn’t have bought the program if they weren’t wiling to air the scene.
As to what it all means, I suspect that most of the audience will get the message Madonna is trying to send in her usual unsophisticated, unsubtle way: that religion is all about caring about other people and doing good works.
That sounds nice on the surface, but it is very bad theology because it considers only half the story—the part about loving God with all one’s heart, and all one’s soul, and all one’s strength is missing, and it is the foundation for the message about loving one’s neighbor as oneself.
Nonetheless, I doubt that the scene will have any real effect on what people think about the Almighty, one way or the other.