Today’s not about celebrity but about character, and about characters with — or without — vision.
That vision thing, that’s about ideology. It’s about ideology and how you make the daily grind the daily statement and unless you have an ideology, you are character but not necessarily character-driven by character. Vision is knowing where you intend to go and keeping yourself moving toward that, as often as you can keep that vision thing present on any given moment, every given day. You focus, you’re focused; you have vision, you see past the focus.
Not an easy thing to do — an understatement of obviousness — on even a few days every once in a while, much less more often. But, some of us try, as in, we ask whether the choices we make, the tempers we display, the use of time we decide and use, and much more, if those choices insult or offend our beliefs and if they do, how to change the choices and realign with who and what we want to be. What we think is right. And not be who we think is wrong or who. More importantly, how to affect what we think is wrong and modify that, if and when possible, to bring about what we think is right.
And the “we” to which I refer is those of us who try to do what we can do, can do like that. John Wayne was one of these. And he motivates me to keep up.
John Wayne was a celebrity of awesome proportions, yes, but aside from the celebrity, he seems to have been a person who lived a good life and knew why, who made choices to accomplish something good — his great appeal was and is that decision process visible in his moment-to-moment personna, onscreen and off. You just saw him working through with vision, beyond the focus — focused, extremely, but what Wayne had that is unique onscreen and some say off, is that we could actually see him in that motion of crucial ideological choice: yes, no, yes, I will, no, I won’t, by God, yes I will, and he said all that in nearly all his performances and all of that without scripted copy. He was principle in motion, but in a motion made by consistency of that vision thing. He made those choices to move toward kindness and wisdom and with purpose and that’s about what he brought to the world, from his life’s legacy, as also with his own arrival in film, and our American film industry could just tag along with Wayne’s methods and did. While he was with us, we had cinema.
So, today would have been John Wayne’s birthday and again, as with last year, I remember that and make a moment in my day to evaluate. I shared many links to the work by John Wayne and about his life and times last year, “He was ugly, strong and had dignity.”
ON THE OTHER HAND, Warren Beatty is no John Wayne.
I don’t know Warren Beatty, I doubt I ever will know Beatty, and I have no interest in denigrating Beatty the individual on an individual basis, but when Beatty (as with anyone) makes public comments about public figures in the political realm — Beatty as source is and has been an active shaper of California Democratic Party politics for a long time now — he isn’t so much a lone individual as he is representational of a political party politic and because of that, becomes a part of our public discourse. So denigrating the statements made by Beatty is something I feel compelled to do.
Thus, I take umbrage with the comments by Beatty that I read earlier last night, as published in the L. A. Times (no surprise there), “BULWORTH TAKES ON THE TERMINATOR” (that the L.A. Times comingles two actors with two of those actors’ roles in reference to American politics is another but equally problematic issue):
“…Over the weekend, Beatty, 68, gave his first commencement speech ever to the graduating class of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, and used the occasion to humorously but witheringly attack Schwarzenegger…
“…One unusual feature of Beatty’s address was his reference to his own relatively modest background. ‘I grew up a nice Southern Baptist boy in Virginia. My parents and grandparents were teachers,’ he told the graduating class. It seemed a pointed reference to Schwarzenegger’s frequent use of his rags-to-riches story as part of his campaign sell. Beatty explains that he was trying to make the point that ‘the usurpation by the rabid right wing of the message of the church on a national or state level shouldn’t be permitted. As a Democrat, I feel that the basic tenets of the Christian church that I grew up in are “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Love one another.” I simply believe that the philosophy of the Democratic Party is closer to those Christian principles than what has become the principles of what I would call the Republican activist base.”
Allow me to hone in on the Beatty meandering as Beatty has avoided and as his intent of irresponsibly informing a college graduation class in Public Policy blares out, if you can get beyond the celebrity and find the man:
Being “raised in” a church does not cancel out the many moment-to-moment choices that an adult makes every single day of thier life afterward. It helps to form a basis of culture and identifies — to anyone so blessed as to be raised by church-attending parents — a source that is available by personal choice later, a compass point that may lead you to decision later, certainly a wellspring that can provide you drink when you run dry as most of us do in our lives after childhood when we don’t live by that life giving water, but only with the memory of it.
Unless someone makes a personal choice to embrace, believe and participate in those faith activities later, the cultural blush of having been “raised in” a religiously conscious family environment does not save the day and does not save the soul.
Because, you have to make a dedication, an actual individual choice when you’re of the mind and age and ability to do so, make an individual choice to commit. You believe and belief makes you something new. Unless you do that, make that commitment, all the other stuff is just background reference, just class and cultural and familial memory.
Without that individual commitment, you get many among mostly liberals and Democrats who declare a relativism as “spirituality,” and you get statements such as Beatty made before that graduating class.
Note that Beatty starts off his wrongful and inaccurate dismissal of “…As a Democrat, I feel that the basic tenets of the Christian church that I grew up in…”, that Beatty starts off that statement with qualifying his frame of reference on religious tenets as him being “a Democrat,” as in, “as a Democrat, I feel that…” So, he identifies himself first (and only, sadly) as “a Democrat” and not as a Christian, AND identifies various “tenets” of his “religious” “feel(ings)” as being “what (he) grew up in,” and not what he knows and experiences and has chosen to commit to as an adult.
THEN he continues toward a conclusion, that, based upon those “feel(ings)” (and all the rest of it) that the Democratic Party is substitute for personal religious commitment. For Beatty and the lost like him, it is enough — if not preferable — to have those family memories but leave it there like he’s left his childhood clothing in some closet when he grew and walked out, and because of that, as per Beatty, to be a Democrat concluding that OTHER people who HAVE made personal commitments to Christianity, specifically (and who cannot affiliate with the Democratic Party for a number of reasons related to Christianity and Christian morality), are “…the rabid right wing of the message of the church on a national or state level…”, to do that is to be profane, and to miss the Sacred Heart: Christ’s salvation for souls can seem like your old clothes from childhood that no longer fit when you don’t know Christ: you can’t, don’t want to, fit in. We do look pretty scary to Beatty, us Christians, I get that.
But us Christians are the body of Christ. Christ isn’t a past tense, He’s alive and present. And, missing that, Beatty declares himself an opponent to that Christianity he says he was “raised in” while living in his parents’ home (the obvious is that he’s no longer a child living with his parents and that he’s a man who has lived a long enough life to have taken pause at some point for to make a decision to embrace the faith his parents pointed him toward, or not embrace that, and his choice has been not to), and equates Christians today — his present — with being “rabid”.
He makes the same mistake of spiritual perspective that individuals allow inorder to rationalize wandering into false messages after first hearing and rejecting the truth — happens in my experience when popular culture (“the world/wordly”) is idealized above personal salvation: that “to love one another” is enough to satisfy, to compensate, to make worthy. While, yes, “to love” is a commandment of Jesus Christ but Jesus Christ makes it clear what He means and how He defines “love” and somehow I don’t get from Warren Beatty that becoming a Democrat and regarding Christians as “rabid” who are interacting in today’s political processes (and who can’t align with the Democratic Party because THEIR tenets are to ensure opposition to life, and to ensure promotion of behaviors that Christ spoke and warned and instructed against), I don’t get from Beatty that a populist “love” and an unaffiliated, rewrite of Christian principle for to suit Beatty’s Democratic Party, liberal creed is the way to save his soul, or anyone else’s.
Beatty’s conceptual rewrites may feed a table but they will not multiply the loaves and fishes and feed the multitude: only Christ can do that, and faith in Christ and so Christ again.
There are many actions that are popularly defined as representational of “love” — Christ explains what His intentions are and what He explains runs contrary to those populist tenets that Beatty and his political party politics “worship.” To feed even the multitude without gratitude of the source is simply supply-siding and accommodates whatever means work to whatever ends whatever may want, and that’s what most among relativism actually “believe” in: do whatever ‘feels’ comfortable and disregard what your means are if you arrive at that multitude place. That’s not Christ’s love, it’s not what Christianity is, it isn’t who Jesus Christ is — and Beatty’s Baptist parents should be able to, or perhaps might have in the past, been able to confirm that for him if he’d stayed affiliated long enough to get to that point. Which is not to say that it is insufficient for survival and humanity to deny other humans basic helps (and us Christians do not), but it can be and often is a means by which individual salvation is prevented, that focus on earthly needs, and often, wants. It’s not love to feed with food while stealing away eternal life, to lie about that vision thing, to deny that there is more than food available. Or, worse, deface the source of that food when it is available. Beatty just doesn’t make either spiritual or gourmet sense.
No, Beatty has submitted to the populist insistence that suffering will be gone if you believe in his Democratic Party. So, applying Beatty’s reference here, who, exactly, is infected with some form of deathly presence?
Beatty doesn’t get into any of that — he doesn’t define what his definition of “love” is in the context in which he uses it there — but he does do a great job of affirming for the rest of us that religious intolerance is alive and well, and that even the word, “love” can be reduced to a dried, ripe fig to accommodate his concept of socialism — which is worship of everything and nothing at all, is acceptance of nothing and rejection of everything. It’s populism boiled down to a communal pool of mirky water.
Beatty’s biggest problem is that he needs to be saved. If he was, he’d understand why what he’s said in this past weekend’s address to those college students is blasphemy.
Meanwhile, Democratic legislators in California help themselves to a heapin’ helpin’ o’ higher salaries and dress up in that Beatty “love.”