As many have seen, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has recently gone on something of a viral YouTube spree, creating promotional videos that spotlight different members of the Mormon church who tell a little about their lives and then profess their Mormon faith at the end of it (“And I’m a Mormon” campaign). They’re rather simple videos and seem to be made in desire not to necessarily convert people to Mormonism, but instead to simply normalize how mainstream culture views them.
They’ve had a number of famous people participate including athletes and celebrities, but a recent video featuring The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers has become one of the most talked about videos of the series, resulting in pages upon pages of comments on the Web.
While his video has inspired some interesting discussion, the entire series of videos seems to have done more damage than good for the Mormon church. Putting aside theological differences, it’s a bit sad to me that the Mormon church felt it was necessary to produce these videos; it shows me how hostile our culture really is toward spirituality and religion.
It got me thinking about how I had no idea Flowers was a Mormon, even though I’ve been listening to his music in the band The Killers since 2004. He never explicitly addresses faith or God (outside of one passing reference, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus”) and has never publicly talked about it until now. In fact, most of the videos (including his) made by the Mormon church don’t talk much about what it means to be a Mormon at all. Instead Flowers talks about how music has always been important to him and how he’s thankful to have an occupation that he loves. The only distinction he makes is that he doesn’t participate in the “sex-driven and money-drive” tendencies of the music industry. While I can sympathize with the Mormon church’s desire to appear as “normal people,” Christians should be thinking about what “normal” really means in our own lives. After all, would it not have made a difference if he would have said, “And I’m a Christian,” at the end of the video? Do we sometimes boil our Christian faith down to avoiding Christian taboos and following our dreams?
Furthermore, how do we appropriately balance the idea that God has truly changed us from the inside out, yet we are still just “normal people” who deal with many of the same things that everyone else does? Also, how should this play out in things we call our “occupations” and in the art we produce? How we portray our religious/spiritual life in the highly secularized and materialistic culture we live in can be an extremely touchy and delicate subject, but we must face it with both honesty and grace.