Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Garner Files

A few observations about the late James Garner. 

He's a throwback to the kind of male actor you rarely see anymore. As I've often remarked, for some time now Hollywood has been picking actors and actresses who look like perpetual high school students. By contrast, Gardner was unmistakably a grown man.

A 6' 3" former high school football player, his hardscrabble childhood, working-class Southern background, experience as a manual laborer, and decorated Korean war vet, gave him a natural down-to-earth charm and manliness that's almost extinct in today's TV dramas and Hollywood movies. 

And that, in turn, accounts for his longevity. Nowadays, most male movie stars lack staying power. They are very successful in their 20s and 30s, but their career bottoms out after they hit 40 (give or take). They cast about for some new vehicle to recharge their stalled career. But, of course, you can only retain the boyish looks for so long. If that's what you made your career on, you will wash out half way through the lifecycle.  They grow old without growing up. They just look like over-the-hill teenagers. 

He's also a man who remained married to his first wife for over 50 years. No small achievement in Tinseltown. 

There's a somewhat random quality to his career. He's not the kind of guy who planned his life out. To a great extent he just let life happen to him. To be sure, he had a wily eye for opportunities. He made the most of lucky breaks. But had the timing been a bit different here and there, he would have ended the way he began: a drifter, never amounting to anything. 

He was enormously successful in TV and film, and perennially popular, yet there's something sad about his life and death, because it's ultimately so aimless and ephemeral. The lack of Christian purpose. Christian vision. 

From what I've read, he was a nominal Methodist. Unbelievers treat life like a lump sum payment. You only get so much. It's up to you how you spend it. Up to you how fast you spend it. Once it's gone it's gone. Don't look ahead. Live for the moment. He led a life that's simultaneously full and empty. 


  1. Hey.
    I've been looking through your site and a few queries about continuationism and cessationism, and it's all interesting, but I can't tell what you actually believe. Your bio says you're a semi-cessationist. I'm confused, could you spell out what you believe regarding the gifts of the Spirit and today, for me?
    Also, is it okay if I continue posting my questions on random posts, or do you want me to email you or something?

    1. Someone collected all of Steve's posts on cessationism:

      For the rest, I actually recommend going back and reading through the whole archives. There's ten years(!) worth of posts, but it's definitely edifying.

    2. He speaks with so little bias! I have no idea what he believes. I need it spelled out for a simpleton like me.

    3. Well it doesn't hurt to execise a little discipline and go through the articles one by one. Maybe make notes if need be. Nevertheless, my understanding of Steve's position is that God can and will still do miracles after the apostolic age. I don't think he believes in a continuing office of prophets or healers, etc. His main contention with cessationists is that they often strike out a position on miracles that's practically indistinguishable from those of atheists.

    4. Alex, you may find these helpful, both from Steve:

  2. The lead character on the TV series Longmire reminds me of Garner.

    1. I like the Longmire character a lot. (But he's got his shortcomings).

      Did you know that the actor who plays Longmire played "Agent Jones" opposite "Agent Smith" in the Matrix?

    2. It seems like every character has to have shortcomings these days. Not sure any come to mind though.

      I will have to go back and check Matrix. Does not remind of the taller agent.