A hot kind-of Mormon in Hollywood

kheigl ringGentle GetReligion readers! Please know that this post is not a shameless attempt to shoot the following paragraph from a William Booth feature in the Washington Post out into the search-engine universe at Google and Yahoo. Your GetReligionistas are above that sort of thing, I'll have you know.

LOS ANGELES -- She enters the room in a knit that fits, the kind of dress with a place for everything. Lipstick the color of a valentine. The doors to the balcony are thrown open and she exhales, "Great, I can smoke," and pulls one from the pack and you think, carbon monoxide might not be so bad. She was raised Mormon, but she's drinking coffee by the gallon, and for the next hour Katherine Heigl is happy to ride the buzz and talk about raunchy jokes, humorless shrews, breast size and God's infinite mysteries.

Now, with that kind of lede you just know that this is not going to be your usual religion story. I also thought that it was not going to be your usual, run-of-the-mill Hollywood junket celebrity story and for a long time there I was worried. It covers all the usual bases and finally, finally, near the very end Booth gets around to covering the religion angle mentioned at the start.

I am not sure that the reference offers as much light as it does heat. That's the whole question, of course.

Heigl, you see, in kind of a Mormon convert and kind of an ex-Mormon. The story doesn't really clarify that. It also doesn't provide much depth, when it talks about how her religious beliefs -- whatever they are -- might have affected her work in the sexy blonde atmosphere of Tinseltown.

Here is the information that we are given:

We wonder whether they also treat Heigl like a Mormon. Apparently not. "If I were a still super-practicing strict Mormon, then people would be a little more cautious around me, but unfortunately I'm fairly vulgar, and I smoke and I drink coffee and I drink alcohol and I love to talk about religion."

Heigl's family converted to Mormonism after the death of her brother, who was killed while riding in the back of a pickup truck when Katherine was 7. "It's something that interests people because it's one of those religions that don't really fit into Hollywood," she says. "But it did a lot to save our family." How so? "What appeals to me is that love goes on and continues. It doesn't mean that after death it's the end of this person you loved and cherish. Because then you're living in a world of what the hell is the point? .... I've always thought that there is a beautiful balance within the Mormon religion, where they believe in some very solid answers, but there is also a lot left unknown. There aren't answers in this lifetime."

Does she still go to church? "I haven't gone in really long time," Heigl says, but notes that "we still pray over our meals. I still say a prayer every night before I go to bed. I talk to God all the time. He doesn't really talk back all that much. But every once in a while I get an inkling of something. Atheists or agnostics can tell me I'm crazy and it's just my safety blanket and need to believe. I'm okay with that. I am. Why not? Why should I live my life afraid and alone if I found something that comforts me?"

That's interesting, to say the least, especially since images of marriage and family are so central to Mormonism and its often-controversial teachings on heaven and salvation (which brings up that word "exaltation," yet again).

But the Heigl reference sounds very, very ordinary. It would be nice to know if her fondness for her Mormon-convert roots is linked to something distinct about what she learned in that faith.

It would be nice to know, but that is not what a Hollywood promotion feature is supposed to be about, especially when it focuses on the hottest hot blonde in the movie universe (right now).

A missed opportunity. Especially in light of the interesting debates that are taking place these days about movies like "Juno," "Waitress" and, well, "Knocked Up." What kind of debates? Click here and read on.

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