In my first annual Oscar preview (if I start watching movies again I’ll do a second), I want to share a couple of quotes from past Academy winners that appeared in a recent Newsweek.
Here’s Meryl Streep: “…I mean I guess I’m in awe of and in love with what I don’t know. All the certainties that are embedded in doctrines—I understand the solace they provide, but in a way, they also, for me, form a kind of fence that divides us from each other. I am pulled toward the ineffable and I’m trying to conceive why we exist and is there a greater purpose. But I’m a mother, and I have a purpose, and I have a place, and I deeply resent the idea that if you’re not a member of a church, temple, ashram, synagogue or—what else is there?—that you are somehow denying your children the meaning of life. I feel I’m a deeply moral person. But often religion is a club out of which people are excluded.”
And Will Smith: “I love the nature of humanity’s search for meaning. For me I’m certain about my relationship with the model of perfection of human life that’s laid out with the life of Jesus Christ. I’m certain of that. So I’m at home and not fearful when I sit in a mosque or a synagogue or a Buddhist temple…. I like anywhere people are searching for the truth, and I respect their path and I’m intrigued by their path. I think when you are certain in and of what you believe in, you can open your mind to seeing the ways of others. I’m not bothered when someone says ‘Allah’ because they’re talking about God—we are talking about the same person. I was in India recently and my hotel was near the Taj Mahal. Five times a day there would be a call for prayer, and it was the most beautiful thing. I was lying in my bed thinking, no matter what your religion is, it would be great to have that reminder five times a day to remember your Lord and Savior.”
…“My grandmother raised me to be a do-gooder in the church, that it was about doing what you can to help your community. So whatever religion does that—Jewish, Muslim…it’s cool because the end result is the same.”
My initial thought when I read these is that these quotes could have been said by any number of Emergent authors. I’m not saying that secular culture is always wrong, but it’s generally not a good sign when the church is moving in sync with it. In the history of the church, such enmeshment in the culture has never ended well.