Another unlikely convert

We blogged earlier about Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas becoming a Christian. Now he tells his story in a book, which Anthony Sacramone reviews. From A Strange Review: ‘Crossbearer’ by Joe Eszterhas « Strange Herring

You know Joe Eszterhas. Well you know his films — or at the very least know of them: Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Showgirls.

Yeah, that guy. Well after years and years of abusing his body with booze and smokes, he was found to have throat cancer — then found himself on the jagged, ragged edge himself. Know what he did? He cried out to God.

And got saved. Yep. Saved. His word. And in Crossbearer (St. Martin’s Press), he offers his confession, of a life of sex, drugs, rock n roll, crime, booze, and enough nicotine to put a neat little hole in his windpipe.

He tells of the years he and his Catholic Hungarian family spent as refugees fleeing the Nazis, about growing up in Cleveland, about his work as a journalist and some of the psychological tricks he’d play on the families of crime victims to arrange just the right photo op. How he used to roll the drunken homeless. How he used women. How he bullied his way through Hollywood and managed $3 million pay days. How he was basically just the kind of self-absorbed fundament you would expect a screenwriter of sex-and-violence melodramas to be.

And then he got saved. On a curb, in tears. Fearing for his life. Fearing he couldn’t kick his smoking and drinking addictions. Fearing his throat cancer would keep him from raising his kids. growing old with his wife, Naomi.

And then … for the first time since I was a boy … I opened my heart to God on that curb … and instead of turning His back on me, instead of saying, “Come on! Give me a break! Not you!” God entered my heart. And God saved me—from darkness. From death itself. God saved me … from me.

And so he went back to the Catholic Church, the church of his youth. He became a cross bearer, the layperson who carries the large wooden cross in procession at the opening of the liturgy — Rolling Stones T-shirt and all. . . .

Along the way the writer delivers his views on priestly celibacy, gay marriage, and various and sundry other social and political issues that put him closer to Michael Moore than Mel Gibson (although he is decidedly anti-abortion, except in the case of rape). But as far as the person of Jesus goes, his theology is catechism-worthy. He loves Christ, wants to be Christ in the world, wants to raise his four sons in Christ. He prays earnestly and frequently and received concrete answers to prayers. And he wants a chance to shout to his friends, enemies, colleagues, that Christ saved him and that Hollywood needs some serious reform.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Aren’t all converts unlikely?

  • WebMonk

    Some more-so, some less-so, but yeah.

    I’d be interested in reading the book, but unfortunately the county library system doesn’t have it.

    One of the nice things I’ve noticed about several of the celebrity conversions is that they very clearly show that Christ takes people just as we are and doesn’t require us to clean up our act first. Sounds like this one also very clearly shows that.

  • FW

    amen webmonk. and the evidence also suggests that those who find Jesus also find a strange new desire to at the same time clean up their act and strength and faith to deal with the fact that their life is still a mess. and that it probably always will be….

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/pets Donna J

    “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

    Who can fathom the ways of God?

  • Jack Kilcrease

    To me this is quite interesting. I read his autobiography a few years ago and he seemed to be very pleased with himself for his years of boozing and his generally nihilistic view of the world. This in some ways pleases me more than the Anne Rice coversion.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I have been thinking about this since yesterday. Truth is all are converted by the work of God. So all are a bit surprising. It is a miracle everytime, one the angels rejoice over. So we have reason to rejoice over his conversion. But why aren’t we more joyful when Jo Blo off the street is converted? Something sort of bothers me about the whole thing. Maybe it is the celebrity. May be it is the sort of back sided boasting of “look how far down I was before I was converted.” Sometimes I think conversion stories, or Testemonials, serve no purpose but to inspire our children to see if they can sin better. I don’t want to criticize the guy. I am overjoyed with his conversion. I am glad God has found him and pulled him up out of the gutter, and I look forward to being his neighbor someday.
    but perhaps in a weird way this is what that whole showing deference to the rich man thing is all about. I think for us Christians we are always looking for the unusual conversion. Here in Utah I think many Christians pray for the conversion of Monson (the current false prophet,) or one of the quorum. Mean while they pass by thousands of souls in the street that have been broken by that pseudo church never mentioning Christ. They pass by those that are even wanting to be Christian. We want the trophy conversion, and remain unimpressed with the other opportunities the Holy Spirit puts before us.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Bror, you encourage us to see dead people all around us. And I like that. Thanks. There are many that we would pass by, may we begin to regard folks as God regards them – as individuals of priceless worth. Perhaps that has something to do with Christ’s incarnation?

    Also, I love the term “Trophy Conversion.” Perhaps that’s how every Christian should regard Christ’s own saving action for their own selves.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Well Bryan,
    I am trademarking the term, so use it sparingly.


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