A Theology of Taylor Swift commentary


Do I like Taylor Swift? That was the question posed by Father James Martin when he shared an article on Facebook from America Magazine last Friday. Actually, it’s the thumbnail showing Swift that caught my attention. I must admit that she’s such an eye candy. Sorry, this is not a post about how much I admire her. The first song I can recall of her is Teardrops In My Guitar which I heard from a radio last 2007. My first impression of her at that time was that she’s already in her thirties. But when I saw her in the music video Love Story, I realized she’s only seventeen when she released her debut album. Her latest album name gives away how old I am now.

Anyway, the article written by Stephen Bullivant started with a Summa Theologiae quote which I admit is not familiar to me (I am not so good in theology, you know?). It says that no topic is out of bounds for a theologian. While reading, I am already anticipating a part where she (over)use her love life as a material for song writing especially heartbreaks. But no. It’s an article which tackled the theological content of some of her songs. Of course, she’s not overtly doing theology nor vocal about her religiosity. And I was not reading the title and intro properly. Talk about click baiting. A female theology student even said how relatable Swift’s songs are. And the student has a point. Taylor, like Adele, write songs (not just about heartaches) regarding their current life stage. Some songs mentioned like Innocent, inspired by the Kanye incident last 2009, was not familiar to me. So there. I’m not really a fan of Taylor Swift. Ask me about Lighthouse Family instead.

Though the article only notes that Swift has a lesson for us working in the church, I was challenged because I realized how big the responsibility that I’ll be facing this coming school year. How can I not be challenged when the author said to “take note youth ministers!”? Especially now that our school is in a “crisis” during this first year of senior high implementation of the K+12 program of the Department of Education. I know that the year is going to be rough when I learned I am going to be a Christian Values Education teacher for Grade 8 students, a homeroom adviser, a table tennis coach, a senior high school instructor, and a Campus Ministry staff. Using basketball as an analogy, I feel like a playing coach, who can plays all the five positions in the court, plus the water boy duty.

The article inspired me how to be effective in my teaching ministry; to take note what Taylor Swift is doing when it comes to expressing the “young adults’ everyday ‘joys and hopes, fears and anxieties’ (Gaudium Et Spes, 1)”. I am reminded of the book The Wounded Healer where Henri Nouwen wrote about a minister who is able to see in through the eyes of young men and women today, their joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams. And by just reading the article, I was challenged also to look into the eyes of my students just like the gaze of Jesus with the rich young man.

I am now challenged to be there with the teens no matter how hard would that be; to show that my presence is evangelizing (i.e. a good news); and to “brother” them.

And brother, for me, is a verb too.

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