Understand that I don’t mean to mock Buddhism or Hinduism or Kabbalah studies here, but rather to ponder the ways of certain varieties of Hollywood folk who seem peculiarly inclined to hook up with religions whose cultural roots could not be more alien to their own and whose disciplines and rituals bear little or no resemblance to their own actual lifestyles. And who, at least in some cases, do seem to snap up and discard faith traditions as if they were restaurants or dresses that are in fashion one year and out of fashion the next.
But again, no sneering intended here. If these folks really do find spiritual sustenance in these faiths, more power to them. No, what I’m preoccupied with at the moment is what promises to be a highly entertaining new development – the Hollywood convert to Islam.
Not, I must hasten to acknowledge, that celebrity converts to Islam are an entirely new phenomenon. Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam way back in 1977. Cassius Clay’s 1964 transformation into Muhammed Ali was only one of many instances of high-profile black Americans who, like Malcolm X, decided the Nation of Islam was where it was at. (Snoop Dog was another.) Mike Tyson, like innumerable less famous inmates in Western prisons, underwent a jailhouse conversion to Islam.
But the conversion of Sean Stone in Iran, summoning as it does memories of the Beatles’ and Mia Farrow’s epochal spiritual journey to India, appears to opens up a whole new world of delicious possibilities. Can it be, in other words, that Sean Stone is at the cutting edge of a new trend among Hollywood airheads? Oh, please let it be so. Because when Sean and his fellow Muslim converts in the Industry eventually tire of Muhammed and decide to pursue some other sage’s path to enlightenment, they’ll actually learn something about the real world. They’ll discover, in short, that Islam is, in certain not insignificant ways, utterly unlike every other item on Tinseltown’s standard spiritual bill of fare. That it isn’t just another accoutrement you can toss out like last season’s designer rag. That, not to put too fine a point on it, the Islamic penalty for apostasy is – ahem – death. Ah, what fun, when the frivolity of Hollywood’s ditz brigade encounters the deadly serious reality of the Religion of Peace!
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