Papa, Please Preach

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Fathers, love your daughters.

The December 1st issue of Rolling Stone features a cover story on the singer Madonna. Most of the article is typical celebrity boilerplate, including Madonna’s latest thoughts on Kabbalah “spirituality.” There is, however, one moment of interesting self-disclosure. The article mentions Madonna’s father, Tony Ciccone, a Republican and practicing Catholic from Long Island, who sent his daughter an email following her latest movie that said “In spite of our differences, I don’t agree with everything that you say, I’m very proud of you.”

Madonna tells the interviewer of her surprise at this admission: “That’s the only time my father has ever said that. I mean, he’s only liked certain things I’ve done: my last tour, Evita, Dick Tracy and a couple of ballads. That’s about it.”

Neil Strauss, the Rolling Stone reporter, notes that Madonna “shakes her head and flutters the fake lashes her makeup artist has put on her,” as she comments:

“It’s terrible. All my life I’ve been going out of my way to get my father’s approval. And he’s never been impressed.”

This is certainly not to say that Mr. Ciccone is to blame for his daughter’s transgressions. He probably did the best he could as a father, and is to be commended for maintaining a relationship with his celebrity shockster daughter. But, still, it is telling that Madonna, who has spent her entire life, parading through various identities, all of them designed to sexually titillate men, has been craving through it all a father’s approval.

Let’s pray for Madonna and for Tony Ciccone. Let’s pray that one day she’ll find the approval in her father’s eyes…and in her Father’s eyes. If the Material Girl ever finds herself in the Father’s house, she’ll find the true virginity she’s mocked all along and she won’t mind a Papa who preaches.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.