Category Archives: Christian actor

Fonda’s conversion not exactly like Paul of Taursus

jane fonda early yearsLong before her political activism and Oscar-winning acting, Jane Fonda felt she was being pulled toward God.

“I had begun to feel I was being led. I felt a presence, a reverence humming within me. It was and is difficult to articulate,” Fonda says on her website. “Today I think I know what was happening: I was becoming embodied, whole. I had spent 60 years dis-embodied, trying to be perfect so I could be loved. You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect.”

If she was drawing close to God, there were also psychological forces inside her heart that would flout the mainstream. She was, after all, “Hanoi Jane,” a starlet who risked her career by touring North Vietnam to denounce the “atrocities of the Vietnam war against the peace-loving communists.” She even posed for a picture seated on top of an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down her fellow Americans, enraging many in the U.S.

jane fondaBorn “Jayne Seymour Fonda” to actor Henry Fonda in New York City in 1937, Fonda got her start with a Broadway debut in 1960 in the play There was a Little Girl, for which she received a Tony nomination. She hit fame in the ’60s with the films Period of Adjustment, Sunday in New York, and Cat Ballou, among others.

Ulimately, she won two Academy Awards, two Oscars for best actress and two BAFTA Awards. She cycled through marraiges: director Roger Vadim (1965-73), leftist politician Tom Hayden (1973-90) and media mogul Ted Turner (1991-2001).

Fonda quickly gained notoriety as a rabble rouser, throwing herself into the midst of the 60s counterculture, with her opposition to the Vietnam war, support for the Black Panthers and backing of Native American causes. She became a strong voice for feminist concerns, and in 2005, she co-founded with Gloria Steinem the Women’s Media Center to advocate equal rights for women.

TBS' "A Century of Women" New York City PremiereAside from her work on the The China Syndrome and On Golden Pond, Fonda is also known for her workout videos, which were #1 hits and helped boost the fitness craze among baby boomers.

But while she won accolades and enjoyed the trappings of success, Fonda found true happiness elusive. The actress said that coincidences are what led her to where she is today, and are what created that feeling of always being led by something greater than herself.

Author Abalo Kossi quotes Fonda in the book In Lumine Tuo: Why Believe in God? “What happened to me was, and I remember exactly where I was on the day: I mean, I was really in pain, and I said out loud – I was by myself: ‘If God wants me to suffer like this, there must be a reason.’

“I did a double take. I thought, ‘Where is that coming from?’ And from that time forward, I became aware of, I call them coincidences. I just became very aware that the absolute right person would come into my life at the moment that I needed to know something. The exact right book would come into my hands. Oftentimes by people I didn’t know. They were like sign posts! And I thought, ‘Has this been going on all along and I just didn’t notice?’

“And along about that time, I heard Bill Moyers say, ‘Coincidences are God’s way of manifesting,’ and that lodged in me. That just really struck me and about that same time, I met Ted Turner and moved to Georgia, Atlanta.”

jane fonda work out videoShe had divorced leftist Tom Hayden in 1990, and the following year married
Turner, the founder of CNN. It shocked many when she married the swashbuckling entrepreneur, who often acted crudely and was known as “the Mouth of the South.” He was known to verbally attack Christians and once said, “Christianity is a religion for losers.”

But living in the South with Turner, she encountered many believers. “Now, I had never lived in an environment where people went to church regularly and had a living faith. And I was, utterly fascinated because they were smart people, President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, and Ambassador Andrew Young and many others who were friends with Ted and people of deep faith. And I was married to Ted, a professed atheist, for ten years and for eight of those years, I spent a lot of time listening and talking and asking questions of these people.”

The actress said the connections she made with these people contributed to that constant feeling of being led. “It was a somatic feeling that I was being beckoned, and I often felt that there was a light drawing me. And I’m not a woo-woo kind of person! I’m not a New Age person. I grew up in the fifties. But it was a very powerful feeling.” She said. “I felt my emptiness being filled up with reverence.”

Several Christian friends in Atlanta were among those involved in Fonda’s journey toward Christ. These are said to include Ginny Millner, wife of Georgia Republican leader Guy Millner, and Nancy McGuirk, whose husband is an executive in Turner Broadcasting, according to the Washington Times.

But the key figure in Jane Fonda’s spiritual search was her black chauffeur. When Ted Turner became upset when she started attending Atlanta’s fashionable Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Fonda asked her driver if he could recommend a church.

The chauffeur invited her to attend his place of worship, the predominantly black Providence Missionary Baptist Church. In 2000, she began attending the church and earnestly studying the Bible. During this time she read the book of John, which she said left her experiencing grace.

When the Hollywood-shattering news broke that she was “born-again,” it was touted as another “Paul of Tarsus conversion.”

But if Paul defined orthodoxy, Fonda defied it. Find out why?

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Rocky, Rambo and Ross got redeemed

expendables

Stallone in the purple jacket.

Action megastar Sylvester Stallone has always done his own stunts, which sometimes resulted in broken bones and hospitalizations. The Italian Stallion’s faith in Christ survived many blows as well, until the Hollywood prodigal found his way back to the Lord.

“I was raised in a Christian home,” Stallone told the Dove Foundation. “I was taught the faith and went as far as I could with it until one day I got out into the so-called real world. I was presented with temptation and I lost my way and made a lot of bad choices.”

rocky-balboa_punched_ignStallone, 70, was born in New York City. His father was a hairdresser and beautician. His mother ran a gym, being an astrologer, dancer and promoter of women’s wrestling.

His birth was accompanied by complications. The obstetrician used forceps that accidentally severed a nerve causing paralysis in portions of his face, contributing to his trademark mad dog look and slightly slurred speech.

His parents divorced when he was nine, which may have had a bearing on his poor school performance. Evicted when he was 24 and sleeping at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Stallone accepted a role in a soft-core porn movie for $200.

sylvester stallone“It was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end – the very end – of my rope,” he told Playboy.

He landed some other minor roles but hit huge success with the 1976 Rocky, which won three academy awards and seized the American consciousness. The underdog boxer became an American icon.

Six sequels and a Special Forces series called Rambo followed that success. The Expendables came later. From the dregs of society, he was catapulted to the summit of Hollywood success, and the flush of money and fame brought a glut of temptation.

“All of sudden you’re given the keys to the candy store and temptation abounds, and then I began to believe my own publicity,” Stallone told Pat Robertson in an interview. “There’s no question. I admit it. I just lost my way.”

He divorced twice, first from Sasha Czack and then from Brigitte Nielsen. He is currently married to Jennifer Flavin, with whom he has three daughters.

His personal struggles have become fodder for the introspection in some of his later films. His 48-year-old half sister Toni Ann Filiti succumbed to lung cancer in 2012. In his most recent film “Creed,” Rocky Balboa needs to be pushed to fight cancer by Donnie Johnson, the youngster Rocky is training to fight in the ring.

By his own account, Stallone spiraled downward for 12 years until he finally had a prodigal son epiphany and decided to return to the faith of his childhood.

“Finally I realized it had to stop,” Stallone said. “I had to get back to basics and take things out of my own hands and put it in God’s hands.”

Even in the anti-Christian environment of Hollywood, he unabashedly acknowledges his faith in Christ – and he spills enthusiasm about going to church.

“The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now,” Stallone told Focus on the Family. “The church is the gym of the soul. You cannot train yourself. You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else.”

Now older and wiser, Stallone admits to some distaste for the shallow violence of his earlier films. But he stands behind the Rocky series.

“This is a story of faith, integrity and victory,” he said. “Jesus is the inspiration for anyone to go the distance. You could compare his courage to that of David, who as the epic underdog defeated the giant Goliath in battle. It’s a metaphor about life. ”

A sequel to Rambo has been in the works for some time, with discussion of one version being a rescue of missionaries out of ISIS’ control in Iraq. But this film may never get done.

The Stallone trademark for his movies is that he does his own stunts. This has resulted in injuries that he has tried to mask with tattoos on his shoulders, chest and upper back. The first tattoo was a portrait of his wife Flavin.

For Rocky IV, he told Dolph Lundgren (who played his Russian opponent): “Punch me as hard as you can in the chest,” he said at a Comic Con panel. “Next thing I know, I was in intensive care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!”

The injuries too are a metaphor because when we wander from Christ, they tend to make us reflect about what is most important and bring us back to Jesus. It would seem to be something Stallone would say.

This article was written with Alex Cervantes, a student of the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, where I teach. It was originally published on God Reports.