Kirk Cameron and the Code of Fear.

This has been bouncing around for several days and I really need to say something about it.

The interesting thing about this Kirk Cameron interview isn’t necessarily the Anti-gay comments.  That’s typical “Hate the sin, love the sinner” boilerplate stuff. No, it’s later where he says that he’s a sinner and as much in the need of a savior as anyone.
And that’s the thing I find fascinating about the guy.
He’s not a leader.  He doesn’t run some big league mega-church. He’s like most evangelical Christians, just trying to make his way through the world.
But it does beg the question, what exactly has he done to make himself believe that he’s sinned?

From the March/April 2003 issue of “Today’s Christian”.

People presumed Kirk Cameron to be the happiest guy on the planet. He was driving around in sports cars. He flew to exotic countries for vacations. He was offered lead roles in movies without having to audition. While all his dreams were coming true, Cameron likens that time in his life to biting into a chocolate bunny on Easter and realizing that it’s hollow. “There was this aching, empty feeling that left me very disillusioned with the business I was working in,” he says. “What else was there? What else did I have to shoot for? I’d basically reached the top of the ladder, and I was 18.”

He sat on the set of Growing Pains contemplating what life was all about. A far cry from the superficial character he played on the show, Cameron was a thinker. “It was difficult to discuss things with people because they knew me on a celebrity level,” he says. “You couldn’t really get into conversations like that. As a teenager, I wasn’t comfortable talking to my parents about it and didn’t have any true friends that I could really sit down and talk with.”

Although he had only been to church once or twice in his life, the young man had seen hypocrisy and self-righteousness among those who believed in God—so much so that Cameron began to consider himself a “devout atheist.”

“As far as I was concerned, thinking people didn’t believe in fairy tales,” he remembers telling himself. When asked in interviews about God, the teenager would respond: “There’s no God. You can’t prove that there’s a God. Absolutely not. You guys are performing your own lobotomy in order to believe this kind of stuff.”

An actor on the set invited the teen star to his church in Fullerton, California, where well-known preacher and author Chuck Swindoll was then pastor. Although he was hesitant, Cameron agreed to go. It was there that he heard a message about God’s holiness, about judgment against sin, and the concepts of grace, mercy and the Cross.

“I left the church with my head filled with questions,” says the actor. “I felt guilty when he talked about sin.”

One day, after dropping off his friend at acting class, Cameron pulled his sports car to the side of Van Nuys Boulevard in Studio City. The thought occurred to him that if he were to die in a car crash that day, he wouldn’t go to heaven. This is too important. I don’t want to be wrong about all this, he thought. “I prayed the clumsiest prayer that’s probably ever been prayed. I closed my eyes, because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do when you pray. I said, ‘God, if you are there, please show me. If you are real, I need to know.’ “

He started studying the Scriptures. “I couldn’t get enough of the Bible,” he recalls. “I read about this amazing God who sees my thought life, who considers lust to be adultery, who considers hatred to be murder, who sees all the sins that I’ve committed that no one else knows about—the secret arrogant attitudes. And instead of giving me what I deserved, he’s provided a way for me to be forgiven and changed.

Three points I need to make before I go on.

1.) I am very sympathetic to Cameron’s view that fame is an empty prize.  The Chocolate Bunny metaphor is a good one.  (Not as good as Charles Beaumont’s “Rose on top of a pile of Horseshit” metaphor but serviceable.)
Any actor worth a damn will tell you that fame is a mug’s game.  In the end, it’s the quality of the work that counts. You forget that and yeah, it seems like an empty enterprise.
2.) You have to remember that Cameron was coming up in the eighties. “Growing Pains” started airing in 1985. A scant three years after John Belushi met his fate at the business end of a Highball. Hollywood has never been the safest of places for child stars.  And with the town awash in cocaine during the eighties, it had to be doubly so. It makes a kind of sense that Cameron would choose a firm system of belief heavy on the “Thou shall nots” as a defense.
3.) John Milius said something in an interview in Playboy in 1991 that’s stuck with me. (And I’m going to have to paraphrase it because although I can find the article citation on IMDB, I can’t find the actual article. If anyone has a link to it, please include it in the comments below.) He said in effect that people need codes to live by. Anyone that doesn’t have a code is capable of anything.  A code gives you limits. A code makes you strong!
And to to the best of my memory, he did not specify what code.  You could choose Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, even the way of the freaking Samurai.
Or in the words of Shepherd Book, ” I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it”.

In spite of those things, there’s still something troubling me. And I think I’ve locked on to it. Bold is mine.

He started studying the Scriptures. “I couldn’t get enough of the Bible,” he recalls. “I read about this amazing God who sees my thought life, who considers lust to be adultery, who considers hatred to be murder, who sees all the sins that I’ve committed that no one else knows about—the secret arrogant attitudes. And instead of giving me what I deserved, he’s provided a way for me to be forgiven and changed.

“Thought Life”? “All the sins that I’ve committed that no one else knows about”? “Giving me what I deserved”?
I can’t even being to process this idea.  That God is somehow this Orwellian super being that can drop into your head and put down a black check every time you look at a hot woman in jeans while walking down the street.
And then there’s this story that came out when he did “Fireproof”.

In Kirk Cameron’s new movie, “Fireproof,” he has to kiss the actress playing his wife. That was a problem.

Cameron will not kiss any woman who is not his wife.

“I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman,” the former child star of “Growing Pains” told Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford Monday on TODAY in New York.

To get around the conflict, the filmmakers employed a bit of movie magic, Cameron explained. They dressed his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, like the movie’s female lead and shot the scene in silhouette.

“So when I’m kissing my wife, we’re actually husband and wife honoring marriage behind the scenes,” Cameron said as Gifford and Kotb melted from the romanticism of the moment.

Somewhere, Daniel Day-Lewis is reading this and laughing his ass off.
Look, I have no problem with not screwing around on your wife. That’s admirable. I’m down with that.
I can even understand not wanting to do full on love scenes with another woman. But to be unable to believably interact with another actor who’s playing your wife because you’re afraid that in the act of pretending to be in love with that person, WHICH IS YOUR EFFING JOB, you might accidentally have a impure thought about that other actor?
It’s not romantic. And it’s not melt worthy. It’s an abdication of the basic job of acting.
And it crystalizes an issue that’s been bothering me for ages.

Kirk Cameron is a Christian.  And that is not my beef with him.
Yes, he believes that homosexuality is undermining Western Civilization. But plenty of other Christians don’t believe that.
Patricia Heaton is a Christian but that didn’t stop her from snugging up with Ray Romano for nine seasons.
So the problem is not that Kirk Cameron is a Christian.  The problem is that he’s using his Christianity as an excuse not to face his fears.
Rather than ask himself why he’s so afraid of every thought that passes through his head, he’s constructed a belief system that justifies and enables this fear.
As a result, when he says something silly like “Homosexuality is undermining Western Civilization”, it’s because he can’t handle that gay people are open about their sexuality and he’s projecting that fear on to them.  (To the best of my knowledge, Gays getting married did not cause the economic crises, climate change, strife in the Middle East or any other number of things that threaten to toss us into the ashcan of history.)
And this in microcosm, is a main reason we’re in the mess that we are in now.

We have just gone through an entire century of massive technological and societal change.  And we are discovering that many of the old systems either are inadequate to the change or simply do not work.
And as we move ahead, we are finding that society is dividing into two camps. Those scared to death of the future and those are working like hell to bring it about.
The more accepting people are of gay marriage, the more rabidly the ones who aren’t scream of morality.
The stronger the evidence of man made climate change, the more rabidly the deniers yell.
The more you point out that tax cuts for the rich is hurting the nation through lack of funds for social services and infrastructure repair, the more shrilly they yell “Socialist”.
And the reason is fear.
People are afraid of change because they’re afraid that it will rupture the stability of their world. They treat life like it’s an involuntary game of musical chairs. they’re afraid that if they get up, they’ll lose their seat.
Hell, you think about it, greed is a kind of fear.  The rich feel that if they give up too much of their wealth, they’ll lose all their status and safety.
Fear is the thing that is killing us.
And fear is the enemy that we need to fight.

As for Kirk Cameron, I hope that someday he can look beyond his fear and find some measure of peace.

About theragingcelt

Actor/Writer/Homegrown Pundit/Cranky Progressive/Sometimes Filmmaker. talesofthegeeknation.com
This entry was posted in Politics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Kirk Cameron and the Code of Fear.

  1. Pingback: The precise moment Jon Cryer decided to drop out of show business and open a record store. « News from the Front

  2. Pingback: The Kill the Gays bill and that awkward moment when you have to scream about the limits of religion. « News from the Front

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