Concerning Megan Fox and the Holy Spirit

Eagle Eye Los Angeles PremiereIn a recent Esquire interview, actress, model, and international sex symbol Megan Fox discussed her own Pentecostal experiences and orientation.  Her revelation was surprising and incongruous to many.  In her words:

“I have seen magical, crazy things happen. I’ve seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during Praise and Worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I’d have to shut it off because I don’t know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back.

“It feels like a lot of energy coming through the top of your head — I’m going to sound like such a lunatic — and then your whole body is filled with this electric current.”

I won’t comment on what I think of Fox’s sense of Christianity except to say that the Scripture speaks of spiritual fruit in the lives of believers AND removing planks from our own eyes before judging others AND the fact that God’s ways are not our ways.  There’s a mystery to things that I cannot fully understand, so I’m content to leave ultimate matters up to God.

foxWhat is interesting about Fox’s confession is that, quite honestly, she might actually check the box entitled “Pentecostal” on a faith survey.  She, in others words, may very well be “on my team.”  For Heaven’s sake, she’s even into that classic hobby of Pentecostals, end-times prophecy:

“I’ve read the Book of Revelation a million times,” Megan Fox says. “It does not make sense, obviously. It needs to be decoded. What is the dragon? What is the prostitute? What are these things? What is this imagery? What was John seeing? And I was just thinking, What is the Antichrist?

Now, other than the obvious benefits for recruitment, what does this mean for Pentecostal self-identity?

I have to chuckle when I hear that someone like Megan Fox has had such experiences, or that singer and fellow sex Katy-Perry_2012symbol Katy Perry grew up in a Pentecostal minister’s home.  I chuckle because despite how strange that seems (considering traditional Pentecostal ethics and Fox/Perry’s sexual provocations and ubiquity), it fits in a certain way.

Pentecostalism has always carried within it the seeds of a very un-Gnostic message: that the body is meant to be linked to the Spirit, and that our faith is experienced and lived out in very bodily ways.  Tongues.  Dancing.  Shouting.  Falling down under the power of God.  A friend of mine in seminary once said that Pentecostals “twitch.”  I don’t like the word, but it is true we are a very embodied faith…for better and for worse.

Despite Pentecostalism’s generally conservative moral and social stances, it has also had its share of scandals involving the complicated matters of the flesh.  At the turn of the 20th century early founder Charles Parham was once accused of committing “unnatural offenses” (i.e. homosexual acts).  Aimee Semple McPherson of Foursquare fame once disappeared for a season in the 1920s, claiming kidnapping but more likely running away for a lengthy tryst with her lover.  And then, of course, can we forget the infamous Pentecostal sex scandals of the 1980s with Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker?

Understand me: I’m not trying to Elmer Gantrify my fellow coreligionists here or say that we are necessarily worse on this count than others (though this would be an interesting research project).  Indeed, there are an overwhelming host of Pelmer gantry.1entecostal ministers and laypersons who are sexually faithful to their spouses and their chastity.  I just think  it is fascinating that Megan Fox, as a frequent object of popular sexual fascination, is also in some sense Pentecostal.  It is a strange development, no doubt.  But also one that fits a certain understanding of my own faith tradition.  The body–our God created, though now fallen flesh–gives us trouble, but we Pentecostals refuse to give it up because it is a part of who we are.  Though it can cause us trouble (see above) we believe that it is a part of how God made us, how God redeemed us, and how God continues to work through us.  Such a flesh-spirit faith is an earthy and risky one, but it is richly biblical.  It can and does often go “off the tracks” from time to time, but Pentecostals are not ones to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

If David, Samson, and Solomon are in some sense all heroes of the faith and the writer of Ecclesiastes a source of wisdom in Scripture…and if the history of my own movement involves such risky openness to the body, perhaps Megan Fox can be Pentecostal too.

In a time when global expressions of Christian faith are becoming increasingly Pentecostal, Fox’s life is testimony to the fact that the term may now very well “contain multitudes.”

What a world.

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4 comments on “Concerning Megan Fox and the Holy Spirit

  1. Jared Owen says:

    Dr. Ziefle,

    I really appreciate this post. I have found too many of the responses to Megan Fox’s statement to be overly judgment. Have you read the article Michael Brown wrote for Charisma? In that article he even states that Megan Fox serves as “a perfect illustration of American charismatic Christianity”. Somehow, Megan Fox claiming to speak in tongues illustrates something that is apparently rampant within Pentecostal circles – we are all evidently speaking in tongues on a whim and living like the devil throughout the week.

    Furthermore, the judgment that laces so many comments is terribly saddening. Instead of being happy for the fact that Megan still has an interest and perhaps a commitment to her faith, as well as the fact that it seems that the Holy Spirit is working within her life; we just want build our fences a little higher and say “She claims to be one of us?!? How dare she! She does look or act like one of us so obviously she (a) is a liar, (b) is faking, or (c) both.

    The thought that the Holy Spirit could actually be at work within this woman’s life seems to scare some Christians. It reminds me somewhat of the laborers in the vineyard. We become outraged that she seems to have access to the same Spirit that we enjoy, even though she did not come to it the same way we did. She hasn’t worked nearly as heard at holiness and sanctification and hasn’t come out looking like me, so there is no way that she is entitled to speak in tongues.

    For me, I think we should celebrate Megan Fox’s spiritual journey. She obviously has interest in the things of God and has some relationship/experience with the Holy Spirit. Why can we not just trust that the Holy Spirit she is seeking/experiencing, is the same Spirit that will convict her of anything in her life that should not be there just as I hope He continues to convict me of the many sins still present within me. Perhaps, instead of writing stinging rebukes of her, we should… wait for it… pray for her.

    Last comment – I can only say that I am very thankful that the Holy Spirit did not wait until I was perfect and had all of my crap together before I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Jared,

    Thanks so much for your thoughts here! I’m glad you found my reflection helpful.

  3. Mary Jo Sutton says:

    Many decades ago a college professor told me that the purpose of higher education was simply to learn how to THINK. Well, your past couple of blogs have certainly reinforced that message. Never did I realize comments on the Pope’s resignation and Megan Fox’s spiritual journey could coexist and stimulate such thought. You provide some out of the box topics that appeal to all, despite one’s age or faith background. Thank you for doing so.

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