Music and Faith: Concerning David
Anyone who is a devoted David Archuleta fan knows all about his faith as a Mormon. For those who share his faith, I’m sure there is a great deal of pride, especially because David himself is a walking testimony – no proselytizing necessary. For others, that he is so respectful, so loving, so thoughtful, and so joyous without being preachy means that we can enjoy him without any discomfort.
So, when different fans share their experiences about encountering David, I find myself having to really sift through their observations. It seems to me that David is a savvy dude, who knows how to keep his faith private and his practices surrounding his faith out of public view. But, what if a secular fan is made uncomfortable with knowledge of their idol’s faith? Does this really shift one’s perspectives?
I would hope not. I mean, before an artist like Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness (a faith shared by tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams and at one time by the late Michael Jackson, who in his last interview with Ebony was still “thanking Jehovah,” thus revealing his early upbringing), I thought he was the sexiest man alive. After he joined that faith, which I don’t share and which I have profound issues with (and I must admit my personal bias against it is based in my childhood encounters with its practitioners when I used to live with the family of one of my aunts, who were all Witnesses), I can honestly say that my perception of Prince’s sexiness has still not changed, despite my knowledge of the faith he practices. Why? Because Prince hasn’t proselytized his religion through his career and public persona.
Yes, there are subtle hints here and there (his song “Sign of the Times,” for example, is in keeping with his faith’s fixation on the Apocalypse, as is “1999”), but for the most part, they are unobtrusive and can only be detected by those in the know.
There are a number of other music artists who are deeply religious, but unless they’re primarily singing sacred music or thanking God every now and then when they accept an award of some sort, the secular fans usually don’t know and most often times, if they don’t know the codes and the signs, often stay pretty ignorant of such things. (I, for example, was surprised to discover that two artists that I really like – R&B singer Erykah Badu and the rapper Eve – were Muslims until a fellow Muslim pointed out the subtle hints of their faith.)
The problem with the Internet and Reality TV is that fans are often digging up all the nitty gritty about their favorite idols. Seriously, if we were introduced to David first on radio, we might not have ever known what his faith was until later revealed in an interview (and only if the interviewer specifically asked him about it). As a rule, David does not divulge information about his religion, nor does he proselytize its doctrines. Yes, he lives his life a certain way and sings certain songs that are not in conflict with his own moral compass, but that’s not the same as being public about one’s faith. The only time I ever hear about messages from his religion in a certain song or in a certain fashion choice (remember when David was spotted wearing a ring?), it’s always somebody proselytizing on his behalf. Because, when it comes to David, you will not get a peep from him on the issue.
So, for those secular fans who are ever made uncomfortable with a religious choice on David’s part, always remember who divulged that information (for it most likely didn’t come from the young man himself). At the same time, let’s not color our views of his faith and interpret certain actions as somehow problematic. Our secular society does have a tendency to vilify religion without due cause and to paint religious individuals as unhealthy, repressed persons in need of modern intervention.
In short, I’m hoping both secular fans and fans of faith can come together in our admiration and love for David without feeling uncomfortable about this issue. Nor should we be uncomfortable at all considering that the one we have gathered together for – David – has yet to make a public statement about his faith, let alone to preach from this perspective.
Music started out as sacred worship – that’s its origin and that’s why our best musicians often come from a religious background. We’ve all basically testified to the divine origins of David’s glorious Voice. If we recognize its miracle, then that’s really the only proselytizing we need anyway.
David doesn’t have to preach. He just has to sing, and we’re all convinced. There is a God, a higher power, a force in the universe, all contained by the magic that is the Voice.