Despite non-stop carnage in Lebanon, the subject of top news stories, and the blogosphere continues to be Mel Gibson and his DUI arrest and possible conviction. I am not exempt from the rest of the populace who is interested in all the goings-on; although my interest is not for the sake of blame or blood-letting, as has been presented in certain blogs, opinions and commentaries.
I’ve read much of the press, and some of the opinion. Besides the Hollywood insider-speculation about whether he’ll eat lunch (or make deals) in this town again, much of the opinion I’ve read has been from conservatives and Christians who feel he has soiled the “cause.” Funny thing is, apart from his Catholic faith, I don’t think he considered himself a factor in this supposed cause. All he did was produce and direct a movie that resonated with believers in Jesus, and the rest was their doing. What is that scripture, “The arm of flesh will fail you?” Despite his gift in crafting a story that held closely to the Jesus presented in the Bible and that reflected him in a manner that did not offend true believers, this did not make him a spokesman or a leader. Mel Gibson is a flesh and blood man, who is prone to failure and mistakes, just like us. Unlike us, his failures are plastered across the television, print and online media for all the world to see. I wouldn’t know how to begin to live down that mug shot, short of plastic surgery and a name change.
Unlike certain groups, like the Anti-Defamation League and the so-called Hollywood elite, I am neither condemning him, nor rushing to predict what his future will be. My two overriding emotions have been overwhelming sorrow, and deep concern. Addiction of any kind is an ugly thing, and while this is not an excuse for his behavior, it is a clear indicator that he is in extreme pain, and not just because of his “anti-Semitic” rants or because he got caught.
Mel Gibson’s interview with Diane Sawyer in 2004 was particularly telling to me. At the time, he was addressing the swirl of controversy surrounding “The Passion,” defending himself against charges of anti-Semitism, not only because of what was presented in the movie, but because of his own father’s Jew-hating position and remarks.
The interview was pure fluff (I find Diane Sawyer vacuous), but Mel’s demeanor and behavior was what most riveted me. He came off as a frightened, wound-too-tight, little boy, plunked in the middle of a media controversy that I don’t believe he himself intended to produce. He managed to come through the whole brouhaha with grace and aplomb, not to mention extremely rich and powerful. A $600 million-plus box office has its privileges.
But after the payout and the vindication, Mel was still left with…Mel, and whatever pain that produces could not be assuaged with production deals and A-list meetings. So it appears that he went back to what buries the pain, and for him, it seems to be alcohol. I know too many people, including family members, who have battled the demon in a bottle. Some have conquered, others have lost, and some are still fighting.
Despite what I may think of Mel the actor, the director, the alcoholic or the supposed anti-Semite, because he professes faith in Jesus Christ—the same Christ in whom I hold faith—that makes him my brother. And because he is my brother, he, first and foremost, needs my prayers. So I began to pray for Mel as I drove home from work today, and will continue to pray for him as he crosses my mind, or a headline concerning him crosses my TV screen or web browser.
My prayers for Mel are that he keeps fighting, and gains true victory; that whatever pain drives him to self-destruction will be healed, and for healing in his marriage, which cannot be doing well under the stress of addiction and the present scandal. I also pray for healing for his children, who often carry unseen scars as a result of their parent’s fallout and failures.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.