An open letter to Brad Pitt that is based off an article I read in Relevant Magazine. This is an open letter to Brad Pitt touching on guilt from fundamentalism, how science was handled, God’s will being manipulated, and Brad being an atheist. This blog encouraged Brad to wrestle and work things out and go at his own pace. I say this from one fried person to another fried person from fundamentalism.
“You’re looking at a man who loves science, and has an interpretation and a feeling for God. In America, those two things usually don’t coincide. And yet he sees the two as one: he sees God in science and science in God.”
Source is Wikipedia
***Quick Note – There is often news and stories of people leaving evangelicalism for a wide range of reasons. Today in my email I had one more reminder from David Gushee on telling the story of why he left American Evangelicalism. Recently Relevant magazine had an article in which it spoke about the concerns Hollywood actor Brad Pitt had with evangelical Christianity. What brought about the article is an interview Brad Pitt did with GQ magazine. In this article Brad speaks about the effects of charismatic theology and of being told that rock music is of the devil. I did some more digging about Brad Pitt and found some more information. In this British newspaper article Brad Pitt describes himself as an atheist and how guilt from being a fundamentalist effected him. He felt guilty about doing this or not doing that and the guilt was manipulative. In this Christian Post article Brad Pitt talks about how he is amazed that Tree of Life director Terrence Malick believes in both science and God. Plus in that same article he says about God’s plan or will and how it didn’t work out in his life. So based on those themes I want to write Brad Pitt a letter and share some thoughts.***
I read about you the other day and I want to sit down and share some thoughts. You have been through a lot in your life. The recent press about you also indicates the challenges in your midst. Its a stressful time for you, and please know that I am thinking about you and reflecting on much of what you said. I also want you to know that this is not me evangelizing you. I want you to know that I love and care for you regardless. I have a lot I need to say which you have alluded and spoken about over the past few years. So without much ado let me dive into the what I want to communicate.
God’s Plan and Issues with God’s Will
Evangelical Christians and fundamentalists frequently manipulate and abuse God’s plan and the issue of God’s will. Many evangelicals are very legalistic about the issue of God’s will for your life and its used to often control people or to try and control people. For example I have heard stories over the years of people using God’s will to try and get people to date or to break up relationships. Or they try and use the issue of God’s will to influence marriage. But many have also done it in the context of a job or relocation. Let me give you two examples…I bought into the God’s will garbage and moved and took a job that backfired in my life. This happened years ago. Then I have also heard people using God’s will to justify situations after the fact. For example… years ago I knew someone who worked in Crusade. He wanted to move to a particular city in the United States where his wife’s family is from. He spoke often about how he wanted to move there and then he finally applied for a job in the location. When he got it, he then started speaking about “Well God wants us to move to…” Hearing that after knowing all the times he said he wanted to move was well…..awful. The issue of God’s will has screwed up many Christians. You are not alone Brad. I have dealt with this issue in Washington, D.C. and known so many people who have struggled with this topic. I would think God would love anyone and everyone regardless of where they are in their life. If you are working as a plumber in Racine, Wisconsin, football coach in Billings, Montana or a transportation analyst at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) here in Washington, D.C; then I believe God loves you. But I want to communicate that many people are often screwed up by this issue and its a massive and constant problem.
Guilt from Fundamentalism and Mischaracterization of Sin
Another issue that comes up Brad is that you mention the guilt you have dealt with. One of the main problems with fundamentalism is that it creates and leaves with people misplaced guilt. That guilt creates a lot of problems and affects lives in so many different ways. Here are some examples….churches have used guilt to get people to donate money. In other situations people were guilted on how to think or feel about a large number of issues. People deal with guilt which prevents them from dating or having sex. Others were so focused on spiritual things that they then feel guilty about enjoying life. In your case Brad you mentioned how rock music was pleasant and enjoyable. You felt guilty about liking rock music, especially after being taught that it was sinful. Other examples of guilt are people who miss church and feel guilty. Drinking alcohol can result in some people feeling guilty. I could go on, but I think I made my point…there is some toxic stuff out there that you have encountered. I have as well Brad. This blog was started out of toxicity. We need to have an honest discussion about unhealthy guilt and what it has done to people. When said guilt prevents people from being able to function in a grocery store or a bedroom there is a serious problem. You know the other thing that deeply troubles me? And this I have learned from personal experience. While there are many churches controlling people in unhealthy ways some of these places are engaged in allegations of criminal activity or not being transparent about their finances or more. In some of these places people are urged to confess sin, which is and can be used against them. Meanwhile the church downplays its own sins, or the sins of the pastor. You know Brad people over play and put many pastors or ministry leaders on a platform. In the end they are sinners also…no different than you or I.
Science Should not be an Issue
One thing that broke my heart Brad is what you alluded to about science. It is possible and feasible to be both a Christian and have a firm belief in science. I attach myself to science quite a bit. I don’t believe in a literal 7 day creation story and I hold deeply to the belief of evolution. Plus I also reject conspiracy theories such as the anti-vaccine movement. Science is important and key and its one of the ways to understanding life. That can vary from life on the Oklahoma plains where you are from to life in the Atlantic or Indian Ocean. Science should not be an issue. You can be both a Christian and a person committed to Science. This is one of the reasons why I love Francis Collins at the National Institutes of Health. He’s both a Christian and a scientist. My apologies for so much of the crap you have been fed about young earth creationist. Just between you and me Brad, this blog would love to play an active role in getting Ken Ham deported back to Australia! Maybe we can do that together bro!
Leaving the “Faith” and Wrestle with Yourself
One of the biggest problems in evangelicalism today is that many parts of the faith are quite toxic. Brad all that I have read about you , and what you said and what makes you tick are indicators of that. How you are acting and the direction you going in I think is good for you and that it will take some time for you to search yourself and find answers. My advice is for you to seek, search and question. Turn over every rock, ask every difficult question, press ahead with every angle and follow the trail wherever it leads. I am not going to evangelize you, however, I am going to ask you to be honest to yourself and follow the trail and seek truth. You know Brad one of the difficult questions that I have in my mind is the following. If the Gospel is so crucial and key to salvation why would a loving God entrust it to man, and a church filled with corruption, problems, spiritual abuse, and scandals? I have thought about that from time to time and here I am typing and the question is back in my head.
Brad I also believe this…we have a massive problem in the church today with spiritual abuse, toxic theology, the marriage of politics and faith, and so much more. Spend an afternoon here at The Wondering Eagle and look at what I have written about. Its a major problem. And its one that needs to be tackled and resolved. I want to encourage you in your search Brad. I also believe this…sometimes people have to leave the “Christian” faith and find themselves. They need to go on a journey and find answers to their questions, doubts, and find a resolution to their problems. Sometimes people need to remove themselves from the church to heal and find peace. In many parts of evangelical Christianity you can’t find peace or heal. Not with that status of conflict which exists today. But here is another point in my mind that you don’t hear from Christians today. In order to have stories like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, sometimes people have to leave the faith. They have to make mistakes, mishaps and more. And you know what Brad that is fine. Any faith system that goes ballistic over a failure or lapse is one that is too shallow and flawed. I respect many atheists for their honesty and integrity. There is no facade no pretending. You know how honest it was to read you say that you are an atheist? Honestly Brad, there are many times I would rather chill in your crowd than mine. I hope all this will give you something to reflect upon. You ever make it out to Washington, D.C. the beer will be on me.
Take care bro,