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Rebecca Christian hopes that life after graduation for her means a career in film. The Loyola Marymount University student, who runs the blog Catholic in Film School, knows that it will also mean using film for the greater glory of God. She also discusses modesty and other ‘girly stuff’ on her other blog, Modestia.
BY Celeste Behe
Christian hopes that life after
graduation for her means a career in film.
she knows that it will also mean using film for the greater glory of God.
20-year-old screenwriting and theology student at Loyola Marymount University
in Los Angeles interns at two Catholic-based film production companies, Origin
Entertainment and Family Theater Productions. Rebecca chronicles her
experiences in the film industry on her blog Catholic in Film School and
discusses fashion, modesty and sundry “girly stuff” on her other blog,
spoke recently with Register correspondent Celeste Behe.
raised in the Catholic faith?
definitely grew up as a cultural Catholic. We attended Mass every Sunday; I
went to Catholic school; I received a rosary at my first Communion, etc. I
understood as a child that faith was at the center of a person. I knew that it
affected how we treated others. I watched my mother buy food for homeless
people and perform many random acts of kindness. As a black Catholic growing up
in a poor community, I also saw that the faith was something people truly
leaned on to help them through tough times.
I never really had a personal relationship with God. I don’t think there was
necessarily anything lacking in my formation. You just can’t really tell
someone to love God.
As a young
teenager you fell into agnosticism. What caused you to abandon the faith?
was in my sophomore year, at the age of 15, that I fully rejected
Christ. I’d been comparing the creation story in Genesis with the creation
accounts of other cultures, in addition to studying the “mistakes” of the Bible
and portions of Scripture that just did not seem to make sense. I began to view
Scripture as a historical text rather than as the inspired word of God. In my
mind, if the Bible could be negated, there was no proof that Christ was God.
In what way
did your rejection of the faith affect your conduct?
given that I no longer was a Christian, I did not need to pray, pay attention
at Mass, or abide by the “rules” that I had been taught at a young age. I had
my first boyfriend that year, engaged in a bit of partying, etc. I wasn’t
respectful of my body at all, and I thank the Blessed Mother now for watching
over me during that period of time, as I refrained from doing drugs and somehow
by the grace of God did not lose my virginity. But I mastered the art of lying
to keep up appearances, so no one in my family knew about any of this.
after a few months of being a pagan, I fell into a serious depression. This my
mother did notice, and some of my friends were really worried, so I quietly
backed away from some of my destructive behaviors.
that time, I was in confirmation class with a teacher who was incredibly
religious. I remember seeing him at Mass once with his wife. She was ill, and
he was very careful to tend to her and make sure that she was comfortable
during the entire liturgy. I was fascinated. I don’t think I had ever before
seen a husband care for his wife in such a public manner as that.
wasn’t ready to get back into a relationship with God just yet, but the seeds
were being planted.
Was there a
specific incident that triggered your renewed interest in the faith?
conversion came on an afternoon in the spring of my sophomore year [of high
school]. In short, I was just really tired — tired of being depressed, tired of
fighting my mother, tired of being apprehensive about the future, and tired of
doubting God. That afternoon I counted all the trophies and awards I had earned
playing basketball. I had over 40 of them, but broke down crying when I
realized that all those pieces of plastic, wood and embossed paper could not
fulfill me. On top of a pile of papers in my bedroom was a silver crucifix that
my mother had found in her room and given me a few days earlier. I had just
thrown it on my desk, but that afternoon I suddenly noticed it shining in the
light from my window. I started praying, asking God to come to me if he was
real. After that, I started reading everything I could about the Catholic
faith, and praying on a regular basis.
was the turning point in my journey. But, despite daily prayer and regular Mass
attendance, I still wasn’t 100% on board with the Church. I was pro-choice, and
I had a real problem with the all-male priesthood. The Eucharist made no sense
whatsoever, and I could not get past what seemed to me a lot of old white guys
trying to tell me what to do.
How did you overcome these obstacles?
during my junior year of high school, I started writing an opinion column for
one of the two black newspapers in my city. As my understanding of the world
and the needs of my community matured, I began to recognize the absence of
faith in the world and the need for Christ in the solutions to our social
problems. My fascination with Mary and the saints grew. I continued to study
the faith on my own and eventually was confirmed near the end of my junior
mother gave me a diamond ring for Valentine’s Day my senior year in high
school. I showed my gift to some new Catholic friends, and we talked about
what purity rings symbolized for us. With the support of those new
friends, plus continued study and a deeper grasp of social justice issues, I
reformed my views and became fully aligned with the Church.
you say has been the biggest challenge to your faith?
my incessant need for everything to make perfect sense. I used to go to
confession and confess the same sins repeatedly because I just couldn’t truly
fathom God’s love and forgiveness.
I have been challenged in more ways than one. Some of my professors — not
necessarily at LMU, as I have attended multiple junior colleges and summer programs
— have disputed the priesthood, the Scriptures, and Christianity in general.
That was hurtful when I first began at school because I had just come out of
the darkness of doubt.
the other hand, I’ve also had professors ask me what I’m really doing to serve
the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned about peace and justice and action since
beginning here at LMU. I can honestly say that the Jesuits have influenced me
to do something about a problem or injustice that I see, not just
look at it and hope that God will fix it. Our Protestant brethren would call
that a challenge to “dead faith.” But I think it’s more than a challenge; it’s
like an earthquake under the feet of spiritual complacency.
theme on your blog is your struggle to “stay Catholic in an industry that hates
religion.” So, what’s a nice Catholic girl like you doing in film school?
fact of the matter is that Catholic students are going to face ridicule no
matter what they study. But I almost think that students studying art are at an
advantage for defending and promoting the faith. Take for an example a biology
student trying to explain intelligent design versus a film student who can make
an animated short film about the subject. The filmmaker can use metaphors and
special effects in such a way that you don’t even know you just watched a film
made in honor of the Creator.
talked about the consequences of getting “out of whack with God.” Can you share
your own experience?
went through a string of romantic encounters my freshman year in college, not
in an unchaste way, but I definitely was not praying about and discerning these
relationships in a holy manner. I was out of step with God by not submitting my
will to his, and eventually those relationships were broken in a way I wish
they had not been.
I seriously cannot write if I don’t receive the sacraments on a regular basis.
I do believe that in some way God is guiding my work, given that I can’t accomplish
anything if I miss Mass.
Your Modestia blog is a wonderful resource for women who want to be
“modest and fab, too.” Have you always felt strongly about the importance of
Modesty became important to me a few years ago. As a young
adult in college, with one foot in the “real world,” I have come to realize
that from the moment I wake up in the morning I am representing Christ and his
Church. I’ve had non-Christians question me, and sometimes out-and-out grill
me, on why I behave and dress as I do. Encounters like these have taught me
that it is important to be a witness in every aspect of my life, even in my
physical appearance. Plus, my devotion to the Blessed Mother and saints like
Thérèse of Lisieux has grown over the years, and I cannot recall ever seeing a
statue of Mary in a miniskirt.
Do you have any advice for committed young Catholics who are considering
a career in the entertainment industry?
walk into a classroom and yell, “FYI everybody, I’m an orthodox Catholic. Viva il Papa!” It’s just not necessary if you live true to your
faith. Work hard; I can’t emphasize this enough. Make sure you take
care of yourself physically, and above all else, it is vital that you maintain
your spiritual health. Go to Mass, go to confession, and find yourself some
friends that will support you, because believe me, the road will get tough. I
am blessed to have fallen into a strong community of Spirit-filled Catholics
who work within the industry. I also hang out with the Franciscan Friars of the
Renewal every month. With companions like these, how could I not be profoundly
affected? My friends have been incredibly important to the constant deepening
of my faith. And my faith affects everything that I do.
Celeste Behe writes from