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Welcome Home, Jane

Though she respects it, she says she was not attracted to Buddhism. Same for Islam and Judaism. “I’m attracted to Jesus,” she says.

She’d never before lived in an environment where people attended church or “had a living faith.” Then she found herself regularly in the company of people like Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, and she was “utterly fascinated because they were smart people.”

They and other Christians she met seemed to have something that might fill the emptiness she says she had felt since adolescence. When a hostile and aggressive stranger approached her and asked her if she was saved, she wasn’t sure what that meant, so she asked a friend, who encouraged her to read the Gospel of John.

As a result, she says, “I was saved.”

She began attending Bible study class, and unfortunately went away feeling that she’d somehow made a mistake. She could relate to the grace she’d experienced as she read John’s Gospel, but not the linear, hierarchal, fundamentalist dogma she encountered in the teachings of some churches.

She stayed away from Bible study for a while, although it left her feeling “bereft” and “really very sad.” She began reading some Christian writings on her own and discovered that “I am on the right path. Christianity is my spiritual home. This is where I’m meant to be.” And, she believes, “I have to discover for myself what that means.”

Reports of Jane Fonda’s conversion to Christianity began to surface several years ago, before she was ready for them to. “It was too new,” she says. It still is, but now, several years into the journey, she describes herself as “riveted.… I can’t get enough. This is a very real journey for me.”

Jane Fonda has a fascinating interview on Beliefnet.com, complete with audio that allows us to hear the passion with which she has embraced Christian faith.

Her comments are instructive on many levels for those involved in Christian education.

For one thing, the Bible can speak for itself. Our interpretations and explanations often don’t add a thing and sometimes do much more harm than good.

For another, each person’s Christian experience is unique, and each must take many small steps along the path of figuring out how to live out this faith. Sometimes what those older in the faith say (people like us) can knock them off the path and even scare them away.

Still, those who are new to the journey of faith can greatly benefit from those who’ve traveled it a bit longer: teachers, mentors, accountability partners, guides. What we generally find is that learning happens for both, not just the newest pilgrim.

Those who have the responsibility for leading others to understand and apply scripture would do well to remember what James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (Jas 3:1).

Welcome home, Jane. Glad you’re part of the family. I hope you find a local faith community that welcomes you warmly, encourages your questions, challenges your faith to grow, leads you to worship God and equips you to serve others.

We’ll try not to do anything to scare you away again.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Jan Turrentine is curriculum editor for Acacia Resources, publishing arm of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />BaptistCenter for Ethics. Her new Weblog, “Under the Acacia Tree,” appears at http://undertheacaciatree.blogspot.com/