Two days after the Ides of March, the roots-rocker Michelle Shocked initiated a Julius Caesar–like assassination of her career by addressing gay marriage from the stage of San Francisco’s Yoshi’s club.
“I was at a prayer meeting yesterday,” she began, “and you gotta appreciate how scared folks on that side of the equation are. I mean, from their vantage point—and I really shouldn’t say ‘their’ because it’s mine too—we are nearly at the end of time. … [O]nce preachers are held at gunpoint and forced to marry the homosexuals, then I’m pretty sure that will be the signal for Jesus to come on back.”
The predictable backlash followed. Outlets mainstream, left-stream, and trickle condemned Shocked as a hateful bigot unworthy of further depriving an already fragile ecosphere of oxygen.
Next came the predictable perp-walk apology. (Shocked insisted she was merely speaking on behalf of fundamentalists to whom she was spiritually related but with whom she did not agree.) Then came the predictable liberal refusal to accept the apology.
To news-cycle junkies made cynical by celebrity “meltdowns,” the episode probably seemed like business as usual.
It wasn’t. The treatment Shocked received involves portentous complexities.
First, Shocked has attended the West Angeles Church of God in Christ for over 20 years. Most of its members are black and therefore, statistically speaking, Obama voters. When condemning “homophobes” trumps alienating the party faithful, celebrating homosexuality has not only replaced tolerating homosexuality but also has become the modern-day equivalent of those Babylonian edicts of which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ran afoul.
Second, despite having long alluded to her faith in even ostensibly non-religious songs (the infectiously hard-rocking “Giantkiller,” for example, from her 2009 album Soul of My Soul), Shocked has also devoted songs and stage rants to assailing George W. Bush (on To Heaven U Ride, for example, her 2007 live-Telluride-Bluegrass-Festival gospel set) and supported the Occupy movement. Apparently, nothing less than 100 percent compliance with the liberal agenda exempts one from being stigmatized as intolerant.
Third, Shocked brings to mind Dorothy Day, the late former socialist whose canonization the Catholic Church is currently considering. Day’s struggles were political; Shocked’s have been political and moral. But, like Day, Shocked has faithfully held her inherently liberal nose to the grindstone of God’s Word and experienced steady, if slow, growth. Conclusion? Pursuing sanctity now makes one an enemy of the state.
Last, Shocked’s church’s statement of faith begins, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired and only infallible written Word of God.” What do liberals expect someone like Shocked to believe about behavior biblically defined as sin? Their outrage is obviously feigned.
“Let’s go with reality,” said Shocked at Yoshi’s, “just for a little while.”
As she soon discovered, there were few takers.
The liberal fantasy world has no clearer musical expression than John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a cover of which is the only thing that’s wrong with Lost in You (The End), the otherwise masterly new album by Petula Clark.
Besides breaking the octogenarian barrier, Clark has crowned her remarkable career—and life—with a delicately dignified and wistfully gorgeous collection of songs that sounds like nothing so much as what Susan Boyle could achieve if only she weren’t so fragile as to need over-buttressing.
The highlight: a reflective revisitation of Clark’s biggest hit, “Downtown.” As fantasy worlds go, it’s worth inhabiting now more than ever. —A.O.