Notable exceptions aside, actors aren’t known for their towering intellect. Having grown up in an actor’s family, and met dozens of his colleagues, I feel qualified to make this general observation.
I don’t know why that’s the case. Perhaps because an actor’s brain has to accommodate hundreds of personalities over a career, there’s no room left for his own. It’s conceivable that a certain vacuity just may be a job requirement.
Whenever they don’t have a script to follow, and a director screaming “Can’t you learn your bloody lines for crying out loud?!?”, they tend to mouth inanities on any subject that catches their fancy.
In that endeavour they’re encouraged by our comprehensively educated public that tends to issue celebrities a licence to kill all sound thought. Somehow the assumption is that, if a chap’s face appears on TV often enough, anything he has to say is the verity to end all verities.
That’s why I only tend to comment on actors’ pronouncements when they enunciate a thought shared widely enough to be considered typical. Suchet’s take on Christianity falls into that category.
In 1986 Suchet did an Archimedes by finding the truth in the bath. I don’t know if he shouted ‘Eureka!’, but he felt the urge to find a Bible. That he did, and was converted to Christianity by Romans 8: 12-15, with Verse 14 saying, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
Having thus found Christ, Suchet issued a disclaimer: “I’m not a great fan of organised religion.” That could mean either of two things: 1) he likes his religion to be disorganised or 2) more likely, his own Christianity needs no outside help, thank you very much.
Discounting 1) as facetious, we’re left with a man displaying a typical fideistic hubris, originally encouraged by all sorts of heresies that culminated in Protestantism and eventually turned into the sort of agnosticism prevalent in our own time.
At some point, a man so inspired often becomes either a downright atheist or, if his hubris is of megalomaniac proportions, a vague seeker trying to find God within himself and finding only himself there.
I’ve written a book about such a man (God and Man According to Tolstoy), who developed that tendency to the logical end of becoming not only his own priest, à la Luther, but indeed his own God.
Not being blessed with the vast scale of Tolstoy’s personality, Suchet hasn’t gone quite so far. But, like Tolstoy, he has developed his own Christianity without Christ by following a road… to where exactly?
“More spirituality: Christian spirituality because that’s where I was moved towards, but very much away now from doctrine and dogma, which I find very polemical,” Suchet said.
I’d suggest that, if he seeks the best manifestation of the spirit, he ought to try Lagavulin or some other decent single malt. An old Armagnac could also do the trick.
Being an actor, Suchet clearly doesn’t realise that “doctrine and dogma” contain all of Christianity. For Christianity isn’t so much the teaching by Christ as the teaching about Christ.
When Jesus himself speaks in the Gospels, it’s of course both. But everything Jesus is recorded to have said amounts to only about two hours’ worth of speech. Surely he must have said quite a bit more during a mission lasting between one and two years?
That’s why it has taken history’s best minds centuries to fill in the blanks. For example, it was only in 451 AD that the Council of Chalcedon determined that Jesus was neither just God nor just a man. He was both: “perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man.”
This organic synthesis of the physical and metaphysical created the greatest civilisation the world has ever seen. Its enemies have always tried to make one end of the delicately balanced seesaw shoot up skywards and the other hit the ground.
Reducing Christianity only to some ill-defined spirituality means having no Christianity left. It’s a sort of Docetism heavily tinged with nihilistic Eastern creeds, a heresy that isn’t a different view on Christianity, but its deadly enemy.
Having stepped on this eastward road, Suchet eventually landed on the doorstep of Kamal Khatib, whom the actor himself describes as “this hate preacher, really anti-West.”
Khatib definitely is that, but not only that. As befits a good Muslim he fanatically hates both Christians and Jews, especially the latter.
The Muslims, according to Khatib, must create a worldwide caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital, and in the process “eliminate the Jews from history”. Both desiderata strike me as a bit of a tall order, but Suchet doesn’t seem to mind.
When he met Khatib, says the actor, “He was a man with such conviction about Islam and the caliphate and what he took to be his vision of the Koran that I found myself leaning forward and going: ‘Really?’ I found myself empathising… The majority of Muslims that I’ve ever met are the most wonderful, spiritual people.”
Shame about the sizeable minority that tend to blow up public transport and drive vehicles through screaming crowds.
It’s that spirituality again, of the kind that would have destroyed our civilisation had the Albigensian Crusade not stopped it – but unfortunately not dead in its tracks. It pops up more and more, especially among deracinated Westerners who are neither humble enough to seek the Church’s help nor bright enough to work out the subtleties of Christianity on their own.
Eastern spirituality is attractive to those who don’t really understand Western civilisation, chaps like Suchet who seek some sort of disembodied spirit anywhere they can find it.
Few, however, ‘emphasise’ with merchants of hate who, unlike Suchet, do follow their own dogma and doctrine. Part of it is an entreaty to kill Jews and Christians, something for Suchet, who’s both, to ponder.
P.S. Much has been made of Meghan Markle’s baptism in the Anglican rite. Now as far as I know, Miss Markle was baptised in a different confession at birth, and different Christian denominations accept one another’s baptism as valid. Shouldn’t it be ‘converted to’ rather than ‘baptised in’?