We've been covering such fluff this week -- abortion, environmentalism, statistical analysis -- that it's time we get to something really serious. I write, of course, about screen legend Lindsay Lohan (star of the Oscar-worthy I Know Who Killed Me). So let's go not just to the Daily Mail but to the paper's "TV & Showbiz" section for breaking, important Lohan news:
Lindsay Lohan is converting to Judaism in a bid to prove her devotion to Jewish girlfriend Samantha Ronson.
Although raised a Catholic, the 22-year-old star announced she was planning to change her faith on her Facebook page.
After jetting into London last week, Lindsay joined girlfriend Samantha at the Bar Mitzvah of the DJ's half-brother Joshua Ronson at the Westminster Synagogue on Saturday.
After taking part in the service, Lindsay then went to the nearby Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge to celebrate Joshua's 'coming of age'.
Showing her seriousness about converting, Lindsay had also visited the synagogue the day before with Samantha and her designer sister Charlotte.
Entering the synagogue, a photographer asked Lindsay if she was switching religions, to which she replied: 'I'm trying.'
Updating her Facebook status this week, Lindsay wrote 'I'm converting'.
Reader Tree McCurdy, who submitted the article, pointed out something that's almost impossible to escape when looking at religion coverage. Reporters think of religion as a genus and the various "brands" of religion as species and subspecies. Or, as McCurdy said, reporters say religion is a container that can be filled with any flavor. As a result, they miss key aspects of the story:
If Lindsay Lohan wished to embrace Islam, she could simply declare her faith and be a convert, and this story would fit with minor adjustments.
Conversion to Judaism does not fit in the same jar-- it's less about declaring belief and more like petitioning for adoption into a family. Ms. Lohan cannot declare herself a convert, and the Media certainly cannot declare her Jewish. If she seriously attempts to convert, she will have a long and intense course of study ahead of her to understand the committments she is considering, she will need to find a rabbi willing to bring her before a rabbinic court, and the court will decide after questioning her whether to adopt her as a member of the Jewish people... an outcome that will be very much in question, first because rabbis are particularly leery of accepting anyone with a known history for "trying out" different religions, and also because Jewish law explicitly forbids accepting those who wish to convert because of love.
I realize it's a fluff piece but even celebrities deserve better coverage. At the very least it would help to know which branch of Judaism she's aiming for and what that branch has to say about conversion.