There are times when I fear I am out of my pop cultural depth. Reading this article in Sojourner's "Culture Watch" today, I had that feeling. It wasn't that I didn't know who Beyoncé was, or hadn't heard about this incident, but in genuinely didn't occur to me that there was a religious dimension to be plumbed!
Thankfully, Adam Erickson came to my rescue, with a very interesting write-up on the relationship of the ideas of sacrifice and mercy (a la the anthropology of Rene Girard). Overthinking it a bit? Perhaps, but any time a light can be shown on mercy as an alternative to sacrifice is a good thing:
What does all of this anthropology have to do with Beyoncé? The man in the video above crossed the line of prohibitions at a concert – he grabbed Beyoncé and pulled her down from the stage. This produced a situation similar to what Girard calls a “sacrificial crisis” – someone transgressed the prohibition and something needed to be done about it!
Beyoncé escaped his clutches and continued singing. The man was soon seized by security and dragged off. Most of us would think that this man needed to be banished from the concert, and possibly charged with a crime. I would understand if Beyoncé shouted some expletives and united the crowed in anger against the man. But Beyoncé responded differently. She stopped singing. Instead of responding with hatred and exclusionary sacrificial violence toward the man who pulled her down, she responded with the mercy.
“Hey! Hey!” she said into her microphone. “It’s alright. Calm down. It’s alright.” She picked up the Brazilian flag, walked to the man, and spoke words of love. “I love it here. It’s alright,” she said to the security guards. “He just got excited. Hey. What’s your name? Nice to meet you … Thank you. I love you too.”
As we can always stand to learn, transgression neededn't always be repaid with retribution. And sometimes the most profound statements can be rooted in our desire and capacity to forgive.
That having been said though, I still prefer The Mountain Goats for my mixture of music and religion.