May 05, 2005

Jane Fonda's Gnostic Feminist Christianity

Awhile back I had heard rumors that Jane Fonda had become a Christian and was even attending Bible Studies at a Baptist church in Atlanta. By all available accounts, it seemed to be the real deal. However, you can imagine my confusion over hearing such reports while at the same time witnessing her anti-Americanism (even giving a nod to Michael Moore), feminist advocacy, and safe-sex campaigning. Well, I think that her recent interview with Beliefnet clears up a lot of the confusion. (Note: Beliefnet, itself, is no bastion of classical Christianity. Observe this vacuous article regarding the new Pope: The Pope's [astrological] Chart: A Willful Ram With a Spiritual Side)

Things seem to start out, for her and this article, promising enough:

Things began to change for me—as I think they do for many people—when I was in crisis. I think that the reason that that happens is because pain can break you open.

I was, utterly fascinated because [some of the Christians I was meeting] were smart people.

It was a somatic feeling that I was being beckoned, and I often felt that there was a light drawing me.

What I realized writing my book was that I had been empty since adolescence. I was learning to be satisfied by spirit, [whereas before] I had been trying to satisfy the hunger with other things.

And we even see a near brush with Biblical Christianity (though I've no guarantee that the Missionary Baptist Church that she was drawn in to was feeding her a protein-rich, balanced diet):

You know, I wasn't attracted to Buddhism although I really respect it. I wasn't attracted to Islam although I really respect it. Or Judaism. I'm attracted to Jesus.

I asked a friend of mine what did [being "saved"] mean, to her? And she said, "Well, to me, it meant going the next step." Well, boy, I mean, I'm a going-the-next-stepper! If there's a next step that can be taken, I'll take it. And so she had me read the Book of John and I was—I was experiencing grace at that time.

And then I began to go to Bible study class, and it didn't take long for me to think, "Uh oh, I've made a terrible mistake, this is not for me." I started going to churches and I fled. I just fled.

But then it all seems to sadly go down hill from there:

It wasn't a man in the sky! It was, it was: Come on! When we talk about—depending on how you talk about it—God, the Almighty, Sophia, a greater power, whatever—can't you understand that this is beyond gender? This is beyond anything that we can imagine. I mean, we can't even describe it. I understand why people latch onto gender things, but this is not a man. But because people have taken it so literally, it becomes gender and hence, hierarchal. And it just made my teeth grate. The more I studied, in the very kind of linear, fundamentalist way, the more I felt reverence leaking away from me.

And I read Elaine Pagels. I had read "The Gnostic Gospels" years before and it had really impressed me. In fact, I read it when I was first feeling God. And then I read "Beyond Belief," which is a book she came out with recently, and it had a lot of references to early Christians and Gnostic Gospels, and so I read the originals. In fact, I got the whole Nag Hammadi library and through that reading, I began to realize that I am on the right path. That Christianity is my spiritual home. This is where I'm meant to be. And that I have to discover for myself what that means.

I started venturing out when I finished the book last fall and discovered that there's a whole community nationwide of feminist Christians. I finished the book and then I heard about this book "Faith and Feminism" by Helen LaKelly Hunt, and now I've gotten to know her and through her, discovered that there's a lot of us out there. And it's like, "O.K., this was waiting. I needed to finish [the book] and this was waiting for me." And it's very exciting.

But perhaps there is yet hope:

And this is very new and so you know, it's hard for me to go into it in great detail because I'm only a few years into this journey. But I am riveted, I am fascinated with religious history, with Biblical history, with the early Gospels, with Robert Graves, King Jesus, I'm just, I can't get enough. This is a very real journey for me.

Could it be that she is on a journey toward authentic Christianity? Could it be that she is there, but is just so loaded with baggage and negative influences, and perhaps has received only a meager portion of the real thing thus far? Is this just another passing fad in her chameleon existence?

In all of my observations, I have failed to see even a hint of the idea that she understands the concepts of sin, repentance, and Jesus' person and work. And as long as she continues to flirt with major heresies, such as Gnosticism, and champion clearly un-Biblical moral causes, then I do not think I am simply being narrow or ungracious in assuming that she is outside of the camp. But who knows what lies ahead for her.

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At 6/01/2005 11:58 AM, Blogger Jim V. said...

I think one of "Hanoi Jane's" first mistakes was reading the likes of Elaine Pagels. Just typing the name leaves a foul taste in my mouth. It's interesting how she's into gnosticism AND feminism...didn't the gnostics believe that women had to become men in order to enter heaven? (Gospel of Thomas(?))
By the way, I appreciated your comment on my blog and hope that you pass the word along to other blog-watchers. I look forward to interacting with others about what I post there.


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