God Shows up at the Oscars!

81st Academy Awards¨ Press Kit Images

Give Matthew McConaughey a break!

When God is mentioned at the Oscars, the earth splits in two. He is frequently mentioned at the Grammy’s; less frequently at the Emmy’s – an analysis of the reasons would make a good Master’s thesis. But the Academy Awards ceremony is usually a God-free zone. In fact, only Denzel Washington, Jennifer Hudson, and Forest Whitaker have referenced God in over a decade of recent Oscar programs.

So when Matthew McConaughey thanked God in his acknowledgment speech, time seemed to stand s
till. There was a smattering of surprised applause (most likely from those who either weren’t listening or thought he said, “Bob”).


The twitter world went crazy criticizing or dismissing McConaughey for introducing religion into the celebration. For example,

OK, so you really deserved it McConaughey. Just stop the stupid god-talk

I thought we could get through the Oscars without someone thanking god but no he had to ruin it. *** you McConaughey!

From others, there was a burst of praise and congratulations for his courage in revealing this “private part of his life” (which is private no more). Some were wondering if McConaughey will become the new darling of the Christian demographic. Jamie Grace tweeted:

that one time Matthew McConaughey thanked God and every Christian girl started shoutin!

But it was hard not to notice the professing Christians who took McConaughey to task for what they perceived as his incomplete knowledge of God (“he never mentioned Jesus”), his choice of roles and movies (“R-rated trash”), and his future self as his hero (“self-righteous, self-absorbed”).

But we need to give Matthew McConaughey a break. Where is he in his journey with God? He has been seen reading Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ. He and his wife have been attending church regularly – even while on vacation in Cannes. But even without these “clues” we should never judge a person’s entire life by a snapshot. This is even more important for celebrities whose private life is a parody of their craft – one snapshot after another. As Delirious? sings: “My life’s a show on God’s TV; The world an audience watching me.”

I have a lengthy list of celebrities that I pray for every day. It helps me to see the idols of our time through the eyes of Christ. I ask our Lord to bring people into their lives today who will show them what a real child of God is like; to see the truth, grace and love of God through Christ in ways that are compelling and personal; to hear and understand the Good News of Christ.

And it may take a long time.

It is exciting when some of them begin to indicate an interest in spiritual things, like when Howard Stern starting reading the Bible (“I’m always afraid to say anything about God. What if there is a God?”).

Or, how about the recent news that Angelina Jolie is going to direct the film “Unbroken,” the epic story of Louis Zamperini told in the bestselling biography by Laura Hillenbrand.
His story as an Olympic athlete and WWII prisoner of war only makes sense because of his conversion and faith in Christ. How will Louie’s life and testimony affect Angelina Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt? Louie is one of the most passionate followers of Christ I have ever met. His faith infects everyone he meets.



Or, how about actor Shia LeBeouf who has made the news recently by rejecting the celebrity he has attained? He tweets regularly, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” and “#IAMSORRY” and has participated in several bizarre programs, interviews and art exhibits, frequently with a bag over his head. While the national press describes him as inexplicably odd, the angst seems real.


Maybe there was a hint of LeBeouf’s anxiety a couple of years ago. In a Parade magazine interview given at the height of his Transformers success, he said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m living a meaningless life and I get frightened. I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew, I’d fill it and I’d be on my way.”

Only God can fill a God-sized hole. It’s what He does best.

I read these news reports differently than many because I am praying for these dear people every day.
Matthew McConaughey has become one of the best and most substantive actors of our day. He spoke publicly of God in very personal terms. He did so intentionally and he knows he is on record for his commitment.

So let’s pray, believe and never forget that engaging the culture for Christ begins on our knees.

Who are you praying for?

8 thoughts on “God Shows up at the Oscars!

  1. So true, as you said, “we should never judge a person’s entire life by a snapshot.” Each of us know very few (celebrity or not) people intimately enough to truly distinguish where their heart (and soul) is before God.

  2. Stellar Bill. I have a unique perspective on such things as you know and cant tell you how much I appreciate your remarks. Your reference to always being mindful of individual in the spot light’s private journey is crucial. As well, the cost of faith for these individuals is difficult to quantify but absolutely real in both opportunity and financial reward. So to have even the slightest criticism from true Christ followers is frustrating. Theological analysis of personal remarks of thanksgiving is useless at best, damaging at worst. More often that not it creates an obstacle to their (the celebrity, athlete, politician) influencing those around them. Those theology police will never have personal influence with Tarantino, Scorsese, Spielberg and others who need Jesus’ blood to save them- regardless of how it may or may not change their art. Their comments and undue criticism will never let their “outreach” get passed the unlisted addresses, phone numbers, personal protective details- to a realm where God uses some remarkable people to help seek and save the lost. Cultural elites (the company of which I often keep for work purposes; and those with whom I rarely find agreement) are like and unreached people group. If we could view these folks as from a missions standpoint; and view people like McConnaughey, Tony Hale, and others as pioneering missionaries like those who went into Africa, China, 10-40 window etc….we would do them a huge favor, we would actual see lives redeemed, and Jesus would be pleased by our Love.

    • Brent, I wish every Christian could understand your message here. The celebrity world is filled with people whose personal life has become larger than life. The opportunity for someone to speak into the lives of celebrities is rare and fragile. When “insiders” go on record about their faith commitment, I believe a window of openness cracks open. The pressure, I imagine, to live up to their commitment is huge (a la Mel Gibson). So we pray for them to grow in faith, connect with others to walk with them, and have favor with those they speak with.

      Keep dreaming big!

  3. More wise words you Dr. Brown. Excellent point of view. We never know what is in someone’s heart. I hope Matthew was sincere and I hope he is searching. He has the capability to make big changes in Hollywood, especially if he is honest and real. Didn’t know any of the things you pointed out about him reading “A Case for Christ” or attending church. Thanks for cluing us in.

  4. It’s encouraging to read that I am not the only one who prays for celebrities. Over the past eight months God has been burdening my heart to pray for those in the arts. I am passionate about them loving Jesus right where they are, spreading His light into the darkness.

  5. Let’s continue to pray together, Emily. God has gifted so many in the arts. I pray they will use their gift as a praise to Him! Thanks for your encouragement.

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