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Tired of Robin Williams posts, tweets, tributes and honors yet? I’m not. I watch every video and read every post I come across. I thought about posting this last week, but it was too soon for me and I think for others.
I really believe that no one should care what I think on this. But I thought I’d share this publicly anyway.
I had been struggling with Robin Williams death when I heard and I didn’t understand why until three mornings after the news broke. I didn’t know him personally, I am not related to him and I haven’t actually even physically seen him. So why did I get upset? Why did I even care?
For me, here’s why:
Funny people put out a vibe for others that everything’s gonna be alright. That’s what Robin Williams’ career did for me. I don’t remember his stand-up comedy as much as I remember his characters that meant something to me. He was a Genie who gave amusing guidance and support to a young would-be prince. He was a therapist to me in being a therapist to young Will Hunting. He was the creator of crazy worlds that only seemed to exist within a two-foot radius of himself. That was the power of his unique craft.
I always stopped to watch news about him, always saw his movies and always enjoyed the performances he gave. (His Teddy Roosevelt floored me)
Yet, it’s so very selfish for me to feel anything in regard to Robin Williams’ death. I’m not his spouse, his child or his best friend. But still I feel cheated. I feel cheated because his life’s work strived to say, “you’re alright.” He was the possibility that nothing but laughter and entertaining could fill a life and make it seem consequential to any of us. Only why didn’t he find his own life consequential while so many others did? That question will linger for a long time.
It’s true that we only see our lives in a mirror, darkly. We see only a reflection and a poor one at that. Did he not know how valued he was? Aside from his fame, money and success; did he not know how much he meant to his family? I wish I could have convinced him.
That’s why I’m selfish here, that’s why I don’t feel my opinion matters on this. I’m some distant dude writing about an ultra-famous man, more than a week after his passing, who’s significant to me because he made me laugh, cry and think. But what about his significant ones? They are allowed to feel the full plunge into grief. They have the right to endure it all and I pray for them.
Literally every other post on my Facebook feed last Monday was in regard to Robin Williams passing. Yet I didn’t post; I didn’t comment. I didn’t feel it was any of my business. His passing was sacred ground and I respected it by not attempting to present any rhetoric.
Then, I began to feel loss. A feeling that confused and therefore led me to write here what Robin Williams meant to me; ultimately someone I will never know.
I really like the 80’s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It reminds me of me when I was a kid. I hated school and tried to find any reason not to go. Like Ferris, I even came up with reasons to stay home that technically weren’t true. (Something that cost me later in life.)
There’s a scene in the movie where he’s getting ready for his day off. It’s the kind of story where he often looks at the camera, as in conversation with the viewer, and share’s his thoughts. At one point he says this:
“Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, ‘I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.”
“-Isms in my opinion are not good”. Let’s think about this.
Do any of the following statements sound familiar?
- “All religions are one path to God.” (This is called Plural-ism)
- “All religions are true and valid for those involved in them.” (This is called Relativ-ism)
- “All religions exist to serve the needs of human-kind.” (This is called Human-ism)
Teachers and preachers in Churches have been called out repeatedly for their adherence to any of these three philosophies. Christians agree with Ferris; these -isms aren’t good.
Each “-ism” presents a problem. If all religions are one path to God, then we can’t say Jesus is the only way. If all religions are valid, then none of them are truly valid. If all religions exist to serve people, then it’s based on what we want, not on what we need or what’s right.
The thinking Christian community have accurately responded by stating, “Jesus Christ is the way to God, whether we believe in Him or not, and it is way more about Jesus than it is about us.” This statement is true. This statement is Biblical.
However, we sometimes fail to recognize how the “-isms” aren’t just abstract things floating around in the air. They are real thoughts, from real people who have real feelings attached to them.
The folks at www.rzim.org say that people ask four main questions in their lives: Origin (Where do I come from?), Meaning (What is the point of all this?), Morality (What is right and wrong?) and Destiny (Where will I go when I die?)
Let’s not forget how Ferris finishes his thought in the quote above, “A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, ‘I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.'”
Ferris’ answer to life’s questions, “Believe in yourself”.
Let’s walk through what Ferris might be thinking. To him, allowing others to believe in themselves means it’s disingenuous, disrespectful and disheartening when we don’t pay close attention to the journey and experiences of others. If we believe in ourselves, then everything and everyone is valid.
Ferris, and others like him, arrive at pluralism because if everyone were pursuing their own answer, every answer would have to be correct, right? He arrives at relativism because if someone finds their answer, it’s respectful to them to allow them their viewpoint. He arrives at humanism because if religious people do nothing while millions die needlessly, then religion is useless.
We must understand that beliefs outside of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (no matter how misleading or untrue) are human attempts at making sense of the world. In the Bible, wise Christians have thought to introduce Christ to people in ways they would most understand.
- Acts 17:22 (Paul preaching to the Athenians) “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.” (Pluralism)
- 1 Corinthians 9:22 (Paul teaching the Corinthians) “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (Relativism)
- James 1:27 (James to the Jewish Brothers)”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (Humanism)
So how would I communicate hope in Christ to Ferris Bueller? I would tell him that I have the same questions about life that he does. I would tell him that I respect the journey he’s taken to answer them.
Then I would tell him, “I’m a Christian and I don’t believe in -isms either, I believe in Jesus.”
Then I’d see where it goes from there.