Rod “The Sledgehammer” Dreher on “The Restoration of Stephen Baldwin”

Rod Deher weighs in here on this preposterous endeavor, which is, for me, a strong contender for #1 on the list of Most Embarrassing Moments in Christian Media.

Look, I’m sorry that actor Stephen Baldwin is bankrupt, but this whole Restore Stephen Baldwin campaign is the ne plus ultra of Evangelical cheesiness.

Baldwin is the D-list actor who became a born-again Christian in 2002. But he got into financial trouble, and is now deeply in debt. Now this coterie of Baldwin supporters, who claim to be operating independent from the Massapequa thespian, are trying to raise money to get him out of bankruptcy. Well, look, I’d love it too if I went bankrupt, and my friends rallied to help me out. But what they’re doing here is Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey crazy.

They’re claiming that Baldwin is broke because he’s a Christian, and Hollywood blacklisted him over his faith. The Velveeta-like video clip on the RSB site actually says that if you give money to Stephen, you’ll help show those Hollywood types who look at broke Stephen and laugh at God. Restore that Baldwin or the Devil wins!

I’m glad Dreher went ahead and said it, because I started writing a post about this a while ago and just quit because the whole thing makes me so sick. [UPDATE: Dreher has posted some follow-up thoughts here.]

Don’t forget, Stephen Baldwin said this about Bono’s crusade against poverty in Africa:

“You would do far more good if you just preached the gospel of Jesus rather than trying to get rid of Third World debt relief.”

So…

Um…

If many millions are dying in Africa due to poverty, we should just tell them about Jesus. That’s all they need.

But if Stephen Baldwin is suffering bankruptcy, send millions of dollars right away!

One of the most troubling things about the Baldwin site – an aspect that Dreher doesn’t address – is the way that it seems to exploit the Biblical account of Job for Stephen Baldwin’s financial gain. But the thing is… it *doesn’t* exploit the actual, Biblical story of Job, because they’ve rewritten the story of Job to their own advantage.

Baldwin’s supporters on the site say that God restored Job through the help of “all who knew him.” In fact, the Bible says this:

Job 14:10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.

Job 14:11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.

Did you see what happened there? After the Lord restored Job, then Job’s community showed up. And when they did, they each gave him a piece of silver and a ring. These were tokens, given after the restoration.

So the Stephen Baldwin site gives us A) a sloppy misinterpretation, or B) a bunch of lies about what the Bible says. And all you need to do is read the Job account for yourself to see that.

That’s not to say it’s unbiblical to support our neighbors in their time of need. But I’m still struggling to see this Baldwin predicament as a serious “need.” If somebody wants to help him get out of debt and start living more responsibily, great. But no, we don’t need to ensure he earns “many millions of dollars” when that money could be invested wisely… like, say, in the efforts of artists who do make art that is worthy of praise.

The Christian “leaders” trying to stir up support for Baldwin don’t seem to have thought this through very well. They’re too eager to make Baldwin rich again, so he can serve God in the media spotlight like he did before.

Do you remember how he behaved in the media spotlight before? Do you remember this interview with Radar a few years back:

RADAR: If you could choose just one politician to save, who would it be?

BALDWIN: Bill Clinton.

RADAR: I thought he believed in Jesus Christ?

BALDWIN: Difference between believing and following, my brother.

RADAR: How about a game: Say Armageddon happens today. Of the following, who would go to Heaven, who would go to hell?

BALDWIN: I can’t do this, you psycho!

RADAR: Pauly Shore.

BALDWIN: Ugh…. I don’t know. By the time I get my hands on him he will.

RADAR: Bono.

BALDWIN: That’s a no-brainer. All you have to do is profess with your tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord and mean it in your heart. I believe that he’s done that.

RADAR: George W. Bush.

BALDWIN: Oh, he’s going to have a nice room in Heaven, Georgie is.

RADAR: Mel Gibson.

BALDWIN: Another no-brainer, dude. They’re frying the guy, but everyone’s not considering one thing. He was wasted! Does that make it all right? No. But if he said it and he wasn’t drunk, then I would have little to no mercy for the guy.

RADAR: Alec Baldwin.

BALDWIN: Absolutely going to Heaven.

RADAR: And how’s that going to happen?

BALDWIN: He’s a Christian.

RADAR: But I thought he didn’t follow Jesus Christ?

BALDWIN: The people who are going to Heaven are the ones that truly love God and Jesus, and make Him their number one priority.

RADAR: Alec does that?

BALDWIN: Absolutely.

Do Christians really want Baldwin to be their representative on the subject of the arts? Here’s Baldwin again, quoted at QuoteLucy.com:

I don`t care what reviewers think. If somebody hates a performance of mine, I kind of get a kick out of it. It amuses me when critics take something so irrelevant as a movie so seriously. Movies are silly. They`re entertainment.

Wow.

So much for a Christian renaissance in the arts.

  • Facebook
About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X