In anticipation of the Grammy Awards tonight, Neill Strauss asks, “Why do so many musical superstars think that their careers are part of a divine plan?”:
When this year’s Grammy winners accept their awards on Sunday night, God is likely to be thanked and praised more than a few times. It’s a longstanding showbiz tradition, after all, prevalent at the Oscars, the Emmys and even the AVN Awards for adult movies. Until I began interviewing many of the winners of these awards two decades ago, I thought this was a sign of humility and gratitude (or at least an affectation of them). But the truth is more interesting than that.
Before they were famous, many of the biggest pop stars in the world believed that God wanted them to be famous, that this was his plan for them, just as it was his plan for the rest of us not to be famous. Conversely, many equally talented but slightly less famous musicians I’ve interviewed felt their success was accidental or undeserved—and soon after fell out of the limelight.
Strauss concludes that popular musicians are actually more likely to be successful if they believe God wants them to be famous. In other words, there’s a belief bonus for those seeking superstardom.
Let’s call it competitive theism, a self-styled spirituality that can be overlaid on any religion and has nothing to do with personal morality. This faith gap, I’ve noticed in the interviews I’ve done, is often what sets the merely famous apart from the ridiculously famous. It can make the difference between achieving what’s possible and accomplishing what seems impossible.
This belief bonus leads to a theological paradox:
The meek may indeed inherit the Earth, but until then, stars who are presumptuous enough to see themselves as God’s chosen ones are likely to dominate the pop charts, award shows and sports championships. Talent counts for a lot, but so too does the motivating power of divine conviction.
Read Strauss’s piece here.