'I can't separate the word 'God' from the man with the white beard' - Colin Farrell, April 2009
RTE has a genuinely fascinating interview with a man who seems to think beyond the surface of life; is grateful for what he has; and knows who he is: 'just a man, nothing more and nothing less'. Gay Byrne - the elder statesman of Irish television interviewers - has a knack for making subjects feel at ease, and in his new series 'The Meaning of Life' tries to go a little further into people's beliefs than we're used to seeing on TV. Colin Farrell's the same age as me, and we're from the same island; that's where the similarity ends, I suppose - but, if his self-presentation in the interview is anything to go by, it's easy to be impressed with how little he seems to care about fame, and how much he wants to be a decent man.
His comment about the image of the divine that we were almost all raised with also names something hugely important about our generation: we're convinced that institutional religion has been found wanting, and we heavily suspect too that God cannot possibly be reducible to being a slightly nicer (but scarier) large version of Santa Claus. Farrell suggests that a decade of fame nearly killed him, and that its trinkets are all ungraspable mist when placed alongside being a part of a family. I never expected that I'd take a lesson in spiritual discipline from Colin Farrell (and that's, I guess, a form of spiritual elitism that could compare with the trap of celebrities thinking they're more important than the rest of us. Please be patient with me; I'm sincerely trying to change.), but after watching this interview, here it is:
Today's challenge from a lapsed Irish Catholic, unsure of whether or not he believes in God, benefitting from being post-rehab, climbing the twelve steps, and suggesting that he might have learned the secret of life:
to transcend the limitations of anthropomorphised visions of God without ignoring the inevitable personal dimensions of an Ultimate Being, stop chasing other people's dreams for your own life, and, at least once in a while, shrink the scope of your activity to the small community around you of people whom you actually know and who know you. Thoughts?