Like a Prayer by Madonna

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The track 'Like a Prayer' is off Madonna's forth studio album released in 1989. "The autobiographical album, Like a Prayer, makes explicit the traces of a Roman Catholic Italian American family ethos in Madonna's work. The album itself is dedicated to her mother, who, she writes, "taught me how to pray." The cover playfully exploits Roman Catholic religious themes and reinscribes Madonna signifiers, most notably her navel, from her earlier work" (Harold Jaffe, Madonna and Other Spectacles (New York:PAJ Publications, 1988),7-12).

In the music video 'Like A Prayer', Madonna witnesses a double crime that is equated with a burning cross, Madonna falls into a dream. That this a dream is of utmost importance, for it signals that the character Madonna is not really putting herself in the place of the redeemer but imagining herself as one (note the insistence on dreaming in the script). At this point Madonna sings the words, 'Oh God, I think I'm falling' and 'Heaven help me,' cliches that in the context of a dream flight and a divine encounter become literal. A Black women catches her; the women is a figure of divinity (a heavenly mother) and assists Madonna. She plays this role throughout; meanwhile, similarities of hair, halo, and voice establish an identification between the two women. Back at the church, Madonna encounters the black icon (apparently a representation of Saint Martin de Porres), who comes alive through the praying Madonna's faith and who, after conferring upon the character Madonna a chaste kiss (like the chaste kiss in 'Open Your Heart'), leaves the church. (source 22). The scene of the encounter between mortal and saint epitomizes Orsi's description of 'popular religion' and the hostile reaction it provokes from the established church: When used to describe popular Catholic religiosity, the term conjures up images of shrouds, bloody hearts, bilocating monks, talking Madonnas, weeping status, boiling vials of blood-all the symbols which the...
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