24 August 2009

"Always Looking Up"?

Everyone loves a good optimist, right? I mean, who wants to hang around with a nay-sayer all the time? Even folks like me, who often tend to have a half-empty glass can appreciate the ones who look into even the most dire of situations with a sunny outlook. I envy them; I want what they have… or do I?

Case in point… Michael J. Fox, highly acclaimed actor of my generation. Who can’t admire this guy for his overcoming spirit and now renowned optimistic attitude? To suffer from Parkinson’s Disease has got to be one of the most physically exhausting and emotionally taxing diseases there is. Yet, Fox just seems to grow all the more determined to fight for his cause, all the while cracking jokes (at his own expense) and crediting his rosy outlook as his source of power and strength.

In perusing through “Today’s Christian Woman” magazine a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see them showcase an article about Fox’s newest book “Always Looking Up” in their “The One {everyone is talking about}” feature. Although I haven’t read the book (and perhaps should, to gain a fuller perspective), I did catch the first part of the special they aired on television about 2 months ago. And, although his determination is not to go unappreciated, I honestly turned it off 5 minutes into it.

Though few would argue that he’s deserving of every commendation for his warrior spirit in the midst of such hardship, should we really exhalt him for his rose-colored view on his world?

Although the article quotes Fox as saying it’s been ”an emotional, psychological, intellectual and spiritual outlook that has… saved (him) throughout (his) life with Parkinson’s” and notes that his ” ‘critical supports’ of his life – work, politics, faith and family (have) sustained him throughout the physical and emotional ravages of his disease”… it leaves you wondering exactly where this said “faith” lies?

The article states that “when describing his personal code of ethics, he lists biblically based principles such as ‘Do unto others as you’d have them do to you’ and ‘judge not lest you be judged’ “. However, “sadly, his encounters with Christians who failed to live out those principles – treating him harshly for his support of stem-cell research, emphasizing God’s wrath rather than His love for sinners – have pushed him from Christianity rather than drawn him in.”

And though that is a debate that’s very crucial in our times, that’s not the part that has stuck with me. It’s the next part that keeps getting tossed around my mind and hanging from my heartstrings, wishing I had the words to penetrate through all the ‘gooshy feel-good stuff’ that our culture has become so contented with. And get to the true heart of the matter.

In his book, Fox is quoted as saying “We talk about fear of God as a good thing… but that just makes no sense to me. As a way of motivating people, cultivating fear is easier than investing the time and effort necesary to engender respect. Respect requires greater knowledge, and in my experience, the more you know, the less you fear.”

Wow. How do you contend with that? I understand where he’s coming from… so, how do you, as a Christian, convey the Lord that you not only fear, but have also come to know, love and cherish and hold in high esteem, to those who just hear the words and have never gotten to know the heart?

How do you help them to not only “look up” figuratively, but to “look up” to the true Sustainer and Lifter of our heads?


The Hill Family said...

Jessica, you are an extremely gifted writer. I mean, seriously. Who would have thought that a book on Micheal J. Fox's life could invoke such thought processing? Intriguing, to say the least.

I can't wait to catch up on your previous posts..grabbing coffee and settling in. :)

filling my glass,

Jill (your Esther bible study friend) :)

Linda said...

Jess, on the fear part. I think we need to cultivate a loving fear. The fear of displeasing someone who's given us the opportunity to have ever lasting life. He wants repentant sinners. The bad things of this world ARE going to be done away with or without help. That's where our faith lies, we can't cross the line in order to save this life.