‘Who’s to Say?’: Katy Perry Discusses Her View of Truth on New Show
Celebrities and pop stars who struggle with mental health issues or promote therapy at their concerts is not a new concept to the media, but enduring a public therapy session apparently is. A new Vice TV series — called “The Therapist” — features Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh who “sits down to speak with musicians from the world of rap, rock, pop, dancehall and EDM to discover what lies beneath their public personas.”
A relatively new show, the network has so far released 12 episodes of the first season. Siri, who facilitates the therapy sessions with the musicians, earned his Ph.D. in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and has taken a variety of paths within the therapy field. From being “recognized internationally as a dynamic lecturer on Eastern spiritual philosophies and as a master teacher of yoga” to working “as a clinical director, supervisor, group facilitator, MAT Assessor, therapist and consultant,” the show depicts Siri as a man who has seen it all.
The episodes often open with an eerie clanging noise, almost indicating the start of a “round” before Siri kicks off the discussion with mental health questions directed at the musician sitting across from him. Guests have ranged from metal rockstar Corey Taylor to transgender-identifying singer Laura Jane Grace.
Each episode of the show averages 22 minutes until episode seven, where Siri sits down with popstar Katy Perry. Snippets from the 44-minute episode have been circling social media, as Perry depicts her two-faced life and shares about her faith. While I have never been drawn to reality TV, Perry’s discussion of this dual lifestyle and her interpretation of Christianity seized my attention.
Speaking in a third-person narrative, both Perry and Siri reference Katheryn Hudson (her birth name) and Katy Perry (her stage name). The popstar admitted that the person who gets more attention (Katy Perry), is “more a facade” than her real self. In true therapy fashion, Siri directs most of the conversation to how she developed this public persona while leaving 11-year-old Katheryn “underground.” Although at the beginning of the episode Perry attempts to credit her parents by saying that “they did the best job,” she often attributes her current problems to the experience of her youth and the “rigid” household she grew up in.
“I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs, so I had likeminded people like that. I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” she shared. “It wasn’t always that easy, because it was very strict, and I was a very curious person. The curiosity sometimes wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.” To that, Siri responded, “What I am hearing is that you had these … rules and ways of being in the world [which] may not have been in sync with who Katheryn really was, because she was curious.”
While their conversation seemed harmless for the first 30 minutes or so as they discussed Perry’s ongoing balance of her true self and the persona of a popstar “goddess” (according to Siri), I experienced internal tension when the therapist directed the end portion of their session to Perry’s belief in God.
“I loved learning, even in church. But you know… I feel like the church does more judging than loving,” she said through tears. Perry then referenced a song she used to sing in church called “Come As You Are” by Crystal Lewis. “If I was to come as I am, how would I be accepted?” she asked. “Because this is who I am or who I am developing into.” While Perry “absolutely” believes in God and knows that He “gives us free will,” she and Siri’s perception of truth is that … well, there is none. The answer as to why there is good and bad lies in the law of cause and effect, according to Perry.
“I think that’s absolutely correct,” Siri responded. “I don’t think there is a right or wrong.” To this, Perry chimed in with “Who’s to say? I mean you may have come from a world or place where that’s right for you. … There are some basics. Those are the Ten Commandments.”
By her logic, you could conclude that everything outside of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20 is up to an individual’s own discernment. Siri went as far as to say that “there are no absolutes in the creation” and attempted to prove this using the example of murder. He then added, “There is a labyrinth of choices, and we make choices, and those choices will have consequences.” These choices, according to Perry, are a matter of the head and the heart.
While I appreciate the boldness of both participants to even talk about religion in a public therapy session, I can’t help but think about the irony of their conversation. Growing up, my mother always told me that a person’s relationship with Christ is between them and God — i.e., don’t make judgements about someone else’s salvation. I can’t assume what Perry’s standing with Christ looks like, but while she claims God is important to her, she omits the fact that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Scripture teaches us that humans have a choice: we can walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh (Galatians 5:16-21). Instead of relying on our heart to make good decisions and our head to make bad ones, believers ought to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who reveals the sinful areas of our life and leads us to things that are of God.
In John 16:12-13, Jesus addresses His disciples before His crucifixion, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
From this, I contend that living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit is a much simpler life than living by the guidance of my heart. God invites us into relationship with Him, where we can hold tightly to a single identity. When we accept the invitation of eternity with Christ, we become “children of God” (1 John 3:2).
I’m saddened that Perry feels judged and unwelcome in the church. The church ought to have the opposite effect on those seeking the Lord. Instead of entering with yet another facade, she should be able to come just as she is. My pastor regularly tells our congregation that the church is a messy place, but only because we are there. We are sinners in need of saving, but that only comes from one Savior. Throughout the therapy session, Perry mentions wanting to learn and to grow, but ultimately focuses on her longing to be loved. My prayer for her is that while she seeks to learn, she will seek the one Way, the one Truth, and the one Life, who loves her more than she could ever comprehend. Her Father in heaven is calling her name and inviting her to run to Him, just as she is.