Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., Dec. 9
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- Progress Planet
The God of Gaga: Celebrities and Their Varied Faiths
We find some famous people fascinating and we like to know what they believe about God and the universe, too. Sometimes, they even lead us in our spiritual quests over time, as Oprah is doing for many with her Soul Series.
Deepak Chopra, the doctor and writer, is now listed as a church, too, on the Big Religion Chart. Famous people such as Lady Gaga follow his spiritual guidance, along with scores of not so famous people who have moved away from traditional church and synagogue teachings.
It is always interesting to see what our politicians’ faiths are. It is nearly impossible to get into public office in the United States without stating one’s religious opinions. It is true that in the US, we have had some barely practicing Presidents and even three atheists long ago, but it seems that Christianity in some mainstream Protestant form usually paves the easiest path to election these days. With a Mormon candidate in the running (Mitt Romney), it will be interesting to see how Mormonism, as it is revealed in the press, is received by the public.
We also find it interesting to learn that famous people like Madonna, who was raised Roman Catholic, begin studying Kabbala. She, along with a dozen or so other celebrities, really jump started interest in this ancient Jewish mystical philosophy in the US. Having attended a few classes and read a book on it myself, I was surprised at how progressive the beliefs are and how truly distant from mainstream Judaism Kabbala is. Cool stuff.
We hold Mohammed Ali up as a great example of a peaceful Sunni Muslim, along with many others. We know that John Travolta, Jada Pinkett Smith and other famous actors practice Scientology, although many worried about Katie Holmes, a nice Catholic girl, getting sucked into Scientology when she married Tom Cruise, an active adherent to the faith with a general sentiment prevailing that he was perhaps so enthusiastic that she was overpowered to join. After many years in the religious spotlight at this point, she seems to enjoy it just fine.
There have been many reports about half or part-Jewish celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Sean Penn and Robert DeNiro. Those revelations are always surprising and help us peek into the personal challenges and thoughts of people we admire and spend money to watch.
The one that really stopped me in my tracks recently was that Christopher Columbus was probably a Jew. It sounds hard to believe and I really had to stop and do some research of my own to see about this. Well, based on what I’ve read it sure looks like it to me. Who would have known?
A man looking for religious freedom found a place where it would one day arrive.
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