Drawing on interviews with Lady Gaga, Snoop Dog, Christina Aguilera and others, Neil Strauss of the Wall Street Journal reaches at tantalizing conclusion:
Believing that God wants you to be famous actually improves your chances of being famous. Of course, from the standpoint of traditional theology, even in the Calvinistic world of predestination, God is much more concerned with the fate of an individual's soul than his or her secular success, and one's destiny is unknowable. So what's helping these stars is not so much religion as belief—specifically, the belief that God favors their own personal, temporal success over that of almost everyone else.
He labels this phenomenon "competitive theism," describing it as
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.
To deal with the psychological burden of becoming a household name and the attacks that come with it, it helps to be thick-skinned. It helps even more to have a sense of divine mission and to feel that, when everyone else seems to be against you, God is walking at your side. Most stars who feel even a sliver of doubt about being in the spotlight will buckle under the constant pressure. Fearing criticism or failure, they become risk-averse and pass up opportunities.
The hip-hop mogul Diddy, for example, has been in and out of courtrooms over the years, facing charges for assault, gun possession and bribery—yet he continually bounces back with a new name and a new career. When I asked him if he ever felt fear, he replied, "My faith is in God. Like, look who I'm rolling with. Look who my gang really is. My gang is God. Come on, now, I don't have fear."
Does competitive theism take the notion of a personal God a bit too far?