I generally believe a person’s private beliefs are just that; private beliefs.

On the other hand, if a person ends up on CNN and nominated for an Emmy for stalking 70 million strangers…

while simultaneously professing strong beliefs in a loving God…

Bill-Oberst-Jr-Jesus-quote

 …then some explanations may be in order. And, as Mark Twain once said, “That is just my case, my Lord, just my case.”

The easy answer is to say that I am an actor and that the roles I play mean nothing. That’s a lie. Movies and video and television do mean something. They are flickering images that will still be flickering when we who created them are dust. They are legacies. So why would a man who says this…

Do this…?

Excuses abound. Actors have to eat. You play the roles you get cast for. Being bad in films is fun.

All true. And yet…and yet…and yet. Impressionable young minds are watching this stuff. So on the off chance that there remains in this world at least one young viewer who so isn’t jaded with behind-the-scenes knowledge that the worst horrors have no power to invade the citadel of their cynicism, I should say a word or two about horror and faith.

I believe in demons. I have played them. And will again. But I also believe in angels. I know that good always trumps evil; that God’s light always trumps the devil’s darkness. And although I may not have the face nor the propensity to play the light, I can play that darkness. I can be that cautionary tale. I can be the personification of evil that makes people a little uncomfortable in their own skin, wondering what might lie beneath. I can play the unexamined life as a cautionary tale for that one viewer who might need to see it. Even if the rest of them just munch popcorn and check their messages.

And then I can go home and be a normal guy. And a believer in the power of grace.

Some of the most powerful passages in the Torah and the Bible to me are the ones dealing with doubt and dark nights of the soul; with inner conflict and overt evil. Moses kills an Egyptian in rage and hides the body…King David orders the murder of his mistress’ husband…a naked wildman rushes from the stench of the tombs to confront Jesus Of Nazareth, screaming “My name is Legion, for we are many!” These stories affect me. They ring true to me.

But so do the stories of grace. Moses is forgiven, and becomes the chosen one to say ‘Set my people free’… Nathan traps David with a story that reveals his crime and sets him on a path to atonement…the wildman is relieved of the burden of his demons and sent home to proclaim a message of mercy. I love those stories, too. But they could not exist without the antagonist.

I am the murderer. I am the adulterer. I am the wildman. Onscreen, that is. Offscreen I am a middle-aged actor with bad skin and mixed reviews. I like the dichotomy.

No yin without yang. No moral without a story. No protagonist without an antagonist. No light without dark. I play the night. But I believe in the dawn.

I’m glad God made me a little dark. I guess He knew what he was doing.

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