The female lord
A couple of nights ago at about 230 am, I was driving back from church and listening to JACK-FM on the car radio, when I heard one of the station’s witty promo bumps. The station’s slogan is “playing what we want” and the point of these bumps is to display the station’s (within the universe of hit popular music) democratic and catholic playlist. These were the songs that the piece played a few bars, in every case surrounding the song’s title:
- “Amy” by Pure Prairie League
- “Rosanna” by Toto
- “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith
- “Oh, Sherrie” by Steve Perry
- “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister
Then came the punch line “Chicks dig JACK” — a reference to a famous Nike ad campaign. And with most of these songs, the point is obvious … there is a female name in the title. Except one. Can you guess which one it is? If you’ve ever been in a liturgical church — or even most non-liturgical ones — you know what “Kyrie” means. And it’s not a mispronunciation of Kylie Minogue (who IS a chick who could, in principle, dig JACK or the long ball).
No … “Kyrie” is the Greek word for the rather non-feminine term “Lord.” It is part of the Catholic Mass (and quite a few others), in the prayer “Kyrie Eleison/Christe Eleison/Kyrie Eleison.” Or in English “Lord have mercy/Christ have mercy/Lord have mercy.” Further the Mr. Mister song itself rather obviously deals in religious imagery. “Kyrie” is NOT a woman’s name, like Rosanna, Sherrie, Amy and Janie.
There’s more here to chew over, I think, than mishearing a simple pop song (like the classic mishearing of the gay Jimi Hendrix: “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”). The Get Religion team has had great fun in the past with the way that media ignorance of religion — the basic facts, the ABCs — has resulted in some embarrassing mistakes that Christians can’t help think results from insularity. Once upon a time, people could assume a certain religious literacy, by default, even among people who are not religious. Even the atheists Camille Paglia and Christopher Hitchens have lamented the decline in Biblical literacy in culturalist terms, pointing out (correctly) that you cannot understand Western literature without at least *some* understanding of its dominant religion. Hitchens even has said he teaches the Bible to his children.
This radio ad is, I think, another example of what happens when education and the social environment becomes totally secular. Was there nobody in the offices of JACK-FM or its ad producer who had ever been a member of the Catholic Church, or any other “high church” religious body?