I want to start by saying how sad I was to hear of the death of this beloved comedian and actor – his films were a part of my youth, and I have loved them, and him, for a lot of years. There is no desire here to speak ill of him, or to denigrate his memory, but I wanted to touch on a specific revelation about his faith which paints an interesting picture that those of us who believe in God, through His son Jesus, might find rather curious.
It is said that you should always listen to what people say. Believe them. It’s something which we often neglect to do – in fact how many times have we walked away from a situation thinking ‘he didn’t mean that!’ In affairs of the heart it’s particularly important to listen to what the other person is saying. If they are saying they don’t believe in marriage, for example, ladies, believe them. The guy who says he’s not into long term relationships really is speaking the truth. When Bill Gates says there are excess humans on the planet, he’s not making a slip of the tongue. He means what he says.
So when I read this snippet about Gene Wilder I was rather taken aback by it. I quote: [emphasis added]
The young Wilder felt that any feeling of happiness on his part was a betrayal not only of his mother but of anyone who was suffering. He found solace in religion, of a sort.
An aunt of his was a Theosophist — part of the quasi-religious, occult-obsessed movement set up by the Russian clairvoyant Madame Blavatsky — and she introduced him to fellow members.
They told him he was an angel and urged him, among other loopy beliefs, to avoid smoking as it interfered with the messages he was receiving from God.
His involvement with the Theosophists precipitated a sudden and intense obsession with praying which he developed when he was 17. The uncontrollable urge — which he dubbed ‘The Demon’ — gripped him for almost a decade and Wilder later diagnosed it as a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder.
He would spend hours at a time on his knees, pleading forgiveness and dredging up any offence, no matter how slight. He prayed out loud in parks, in crowded streets and on buses, murmuring so he would attract less attention. (source)
How many ‘devout’ New Agers would believe this is a sign of their piety? Yet his language gives away the cause, when he refers to this compulsion as ‘The Demon’ – demonic it certainly is when displayed like this. This man was not in control of himself – he was demonised in some way – hence his correct reference to it as ‘The Demon’.
Poor Gene was clearly a sensitive person – tender hearted. Yet his life was tormented with failed relationships and loss. It’s possible there is a link between those things and his faith (I can tell you that my time as a New Ager was fraught with problems, too). Yet it’s not for me to say that this faith he had was the cause of his woes – only God knows that.
I hope that Gene knew God – I pray that he was able to receive forgiveness for his sins, and that he is with Christ now. Who knows – only Jesus.
I just thought this was an interesting side of the late, great, Gene Wilder that we all ought to find interesting. May he rest in peace.
God Bless you