Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chris Pratt Falls for God

image by Gordon Correll
Chris Pratt is not a saint.

I want to get this out of the way.  This is not a statement of judgment against the man, but in our celebrity culture, we tend to rush role model status on anyone in the spotlight who does something we like.  Pratt would be the first to tell you (as we will see below) that he is imperfect.

I have been a fan of Pratt's since his days as Andy on Parks and Recreation.  He was a ball of comedic energy.  I never would have pegged him to be an action star nor a fine dramatic actor.  But he has encounter great success and I am very happy for him.

Because of this success, Pratt won the MTV "Generation Award" at the MTV Movie Awards recently.  Pratt was on hand to receive the award and he gave a speech.

I have a friend of mine who calls MTV a cesspool.  It is not hard to see why.  Someone had once said that MTV decided a long time ago to stop being a music channel and became a lifestyle channel.  And the lifestyle they promote is, for the most part, morally toxic.  It is even more pernicious to see how kids are ushered from Nickelodeon (owned by the same company) into MTV and all of its corruption.

It could be argued that Pratt should have rejected the award because of this.  Instead, he went and gave an acceptance speech.  Part of it included the following:

"Nine Rules from Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner", which went as follows: 

(1) "Breathe. If you don’t, you will suffocate."
(2) "You have a soul. Be careful with it."
(3) "Don’t be a turd. If you are strong, be a protector. If you are smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons, so do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that."
(4) "When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won't even know they're eating medicine."
(5) "It doesn't matter what it is. Earn it. A good deed. Reach out to someone in pain. Be of service. It feels good and it's good for your soul."
(6) "God is real. God loves you, God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do."
(7) "If you have to poop at a party, but you're embarrassed because you're going to stink up the bathroom, just do what I do. Lock the door, sit down, get all of the pee out first. And then, once all the pee is done, poop, flush, boom! You minimize the amount of time that the poop's touching the air."
"Because if you poop first, it takes you longer to pee and then you're peeing on top of it, stirring up the poop particles, create a cloud, goes out, then everyone at the party will know that you pooped. Just trust me, it's science."
(8) "Learn to pray. It's easy, and it is so good for your soul."
(9) "Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace."
"And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted."

I have few observations about his speech:

1.  Knowing Your Audience  Pratt is speaking to an audience who would put up walls if there immediately called out on their immoral lifestyles.  Pratt was not there to do finger-wagging.  Instead, he surmised that the best way to reach them was by open invitation to the good he has received by his faith.

2.  Using Humor.  A third of his rules were jokes.  But instead of diluting the strength of the message, it served to put is audience more at ease.  This is especially true with the gross language of rule seven.  Pratt demonstrates that he is the same silly person we expect him to be.  His faith is an augmentation, not a contradiction of his character.

3.  Prominence of the Soul.  Pratt mentions the soul three times in his speech.  He makes clear that the soul is real and what is good for the soul (prayer and acts of charity).  This is an important and fundamental message.  In this world, there is a movement to reduce the person to the body and focus on bodily pleasures.  If we tell young people this, they will begin to pursue their happiness only in material things and when they find that these pleasures don't satisfy, they will despair.  I believe this is the main cause of suicide increase in our country.  Pratt is making clear that we are more than the body, we are bodies and souls.  And our soul will find its happiness not in material things, but in love and spirituality.

4.  Broken, but Redeemed.  I love that he rejects that we are perfect the way we are.  This message of perfection has been something I've noticed creeping into movies and TV shows.  We are broken in so many ways.  So many young people feel broken and it does them no good to tell them that they are not broken.  If they feel awful and we tell them that the state they are in is perfect, then awfulness becomes their primary reality.  But God's grace is stronger than our brokenness.  He is the way out.  Pratt invites them to accept that gift, paid for by His Blood.

Based on a brief survey of social media, there has been a generally positive reception to this message. 

Pratt used his moment in the spotlight to invite people in to a relationship with God.

And that is a good thing.


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