The Wisdom of Chris Pratt … Really

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Chris Pratt, a theologian? Who knew?

When Pratt accepted an award at the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards last week, he spoke about God and prayer, even mentioning the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He was not booed or ignored, but cheered.

Maybe it was because of Pratt’s delivery that combined his words with his trademark goofiness. You don’t feel like you’re being preached at when Pratt combines thoughts about God’s existence with advice on medicating your dog or not stinking up the bathroom.

Pratt comes across as normal, which makes him more effective, because talking about God should be normal.

And Pratt knew his audience – an MTV crowd.

This was different from fellow actor Jim Caviezel’s talk with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students six month ago. That audience was interested in serving Christ, and Caviezel helped point the way. Caviezel’s tone was serious, sprinkled with humility and some humor. (Side note:  Caviezel’s Paul, Apostle of Christ is now out on DVD.)

Pratt’s audience was not looking to evangelize. Maybe they didn’t even know what they were looking for … but Pratt gave them something worth searching for.

Now for the disclaimer:  Because Jim Caviezel and Chris Pratt speak of the joys of Christianity is no reason to take religion seriously. Isn’t this just another celebrity endorsement? What if Bill Maher followed Pratt onto the podium and espoused his atheistic manifesto? Do we give that credence because a celebrity says so?

I view Caviezel and Pratt as simply offering encouragement for the cause. I also give weight to their words because it is hardly the popular sentiment in Hollywood. What is the motivation for their words? It will not further their careers. Why do they believe?

In Pratt’s acceptance speech, he presents “Nine Rules from Chris Pratt.” 

When Pratt announced his first rule – “Breathe. If you don’t, you’ll suffocate” – you’re prepared for a whole bunch of silliness.

But then comes Rule Number 2:

“You have a soul. Be careful with it.”  Celebrities, with their fame and fortune, are envied. But maybe Pratt has read the Gospel of Matthew (16:26):  “What profit would a man show if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

In typical Pratt style, he begins his third rule: “Don’t be a turd.” But continues: “If you’re strong, be a protector, and if you’re smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons; do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that.”

Or, as the Psalms say, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (82: 3-4)”

Rule 4 speaks of giving medicine to a dog, using hamburger so “they won’t even know they’re eating medicine.”

I’m sure Pratt is just being goofy … then again, Christianity is seen as medicine for the soul. But people view religion as something distasteful, instead of realizing the everlasting joy it brings to life. Just saying.

Rule 5:  “Doesn’t matter what it is, earn it. A good deed – reach out to someone in pain, be of service. It feels good and it’s good for your soul.”

A two-part message about work ethic (earn it) and the necessity of good deeds. Proverbs:  “A generous soul will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (11:25).”

Rule 6: “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.”

Psalm 23 begins:  “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”

In Rule 7, Pratt goes back to silly, even sophomoric, when talking about not stinking up the bathroom “if you have to poop at a party.” So, Pratt is playing to his audience and keeping things light … then again, we all stink. We all have messes in our life we must deal with.

Rule 8: “Learn to pray. It’s easy and it’s so good for your soul.”

Paul said the same thing to the Philippians:  “Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus (4:6-7).”

Where Pratt really goes all St. Paul on us is his ninth rule:

“Nobody is perfect. People are going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are; you’re not. You are imperfect. You always will be. But there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget it. Don’t take it for granted.”

How many times has the gift of grace been explained on an MTV awards show?

And there is no doubt what “somebody else’s blood” refers to.

“It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven (Ephesians 1:7).”

Heavy stuff, delivered casually. The MTV crowd cheered. Maybe some understood. Maybe others will go searching. Hard to know how effective the speech was. But that is not the point. Chris Pratt did not deliver this speech to be effective, but to be faithful.

And that he was.


Kevin Thomas is a writer and former teacher living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.