Faith and fame aren’t always an easy mix, but Mormons who hit the big time seem to be able to hold it together most of the time. At least that’s the thrust of “How Mormons Deal With Fame” at the LDS Newsroom, discussing, among other names we all recognize, the 17-year-old phenom David Archuleta.
Some commenters may disagree with this notion — and I’m sure there are a few counterexamples — but I’m just going to assume for the sake of argument and on the basis of anecdotal observation that Mormons do, in fact, handle celebrity better than average, and just float a few possible reasons why this might be so:
- Family. Warm family ties and a busload of relatives help the new celebrity stay grounded despite the pressures and compromising offers that come with fame or riches.
- Humility. Stereotypical Mormon activities like trudging one’s way through a proselyting mission, cleaning a chapel on Saturday morning, working a shift at the local LDS canning plant, or serving in the nursery on Sunday must have a cumulative effect on one’s perspective, even if simple injunctions like “be thou humble” don’t.
- A classless church. Even if your bank account is off the charts, your Sunday (if you attend church) is just like mine and everyone else’s. You sit in the same pews, sing the same hymns, go to the same classes, and dread the same callings. On Sunday you are, to a remarkable degree, just like everyone else, which might actually be a welcome relief from the burden of public recognizability.
- Deep roots. Could it be the fact that most Mormons are very, very Mormon — the sort of identity that doesn’t get dislodged or rearranged by fame or fortune — to a greater degree than is the case with other denominations or faiths?
As a closing thought, I’ll add that I have great respect for any believer who maintains their commitments and does not hide their faith when they are thrust into the public spotlight, whether it be for days, months, or years. But I’m especially impressed with fellow Mormons who pull it off. Not everyone out there likes us, you know, so it takes more than a little backbone to put “I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” on your celebrity home page.