Exploring Humanity's Biggest Questions: An Exclusive Interview with Morgan Freeman
Through an incredible series of events, I found myself knee to knee looking into the eyes of one of the great icons of the silver screen, with twenty minutes to discuss humanity's biggest questions. Whether embodied in the wisdom of Shawshank Redemption, the divinity of Bruce Almighty, or the courage of Glory, Morgan Freeman's onscreen persona and reputation is one of the most compelling in Hollywood. His latest project — The Story of God (premiering Sunday, April 3rd on the National Geographic Channel) — is no different, as it transcends any dramatic cinematic story and finds its life in the embodied stories of humanity seeking a reality within and beyond ourselves.
We live in a cultural climate of heightened rhetoric, relational distance, and snap stereotypes directed toward those of different faiths, belief systems, and world views. Rather than leaning into differences with curiosity, we are retreating to our corners in critique. This is a problem, and it is darkening the very soul of our collective humanity. As a follower of Jesus and one who is continually learning in the diverse classroom of global relationships (see my organization, The Global Immersion Project), I see this movement away from one another as a direct contradiction to a God who relentlessly moved toward "the other."
Scholar and theologian Paul Knitter describes it well when he refers to one's inherited worldview as a telescope. No matter how objective we may think we are or desire to be, we all see the world through a specific telescope/worldview that is informed by our familial upbringing, dominate culture, religious tradition, and personality. When we choose to look through the telescope of people who are "different" than us, we begin to get a more holistic picture of the world and the way God is at work within it. Ironically, we often fall victim to delegitimizing telescopes that are different than our own before we even seek to look through them. We write them off as "crazy" or "strange" or "radical." While I'm not at all arguing we aren't different (actually, quite the opposite!), I am saying there is no more important moment for us to look through the telescope of those who are different than us as we embrace our role as global citizens.
It was with this metaphor that I opened my interview with Morgan Freeman and thanked him for investing so much into creating a resource that would give us a small glimpse into the telescope of people across the world from different religions, traditions, and cultures as they pursue their quest for God.
In the stoic, introspective, and thoughtful demeanor unique to Morgan, he slowly settled into his seat and said, "Hmm, I like that."
He then cracked a joke in his relentlessly dry, but witty humor, and we were off into one of the more fascinating conversations of my life. I'd say it was the most fascinating, but my three- and five-year-old daughters still hold that title.
Here are three things I'm wresting with as a result of my conversation with Morgan Freeman based on The Story of God:
Jon Huckins is a pastor and the Co-Founding Director of The Global Immersion Project, a peacemaking training organization that guides immersive trips into global conflict to learn from the peacemakers embedded within. To learn more and participate, go to globalimmerse.org. Jon has a master's degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, is a dad of four kids, a speaker and a writer. His latest book is Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community. Find Jon at jonhuckins.net, Twitter, or Facebook.