If Liam Neeson converts, I’m going to have to think long and hard about watching the Narnia movies again. Sigh.

Liam Neeson’s flirting with converting to Islam, a religious quest made possible by the fact that the religion has great calls to prayer and everyone does it (at least in Muslim countries) — and, no, I’m not exaggerating when I belittle his expressed motive when he contemplates abandoning the Catholicism of his childhood in exchange for the religion of perpetual outrage:

On filming in Istanbul, Neeson told British rag The Sun: “The call to prayer happens five times a day, and for the first week, it drives you crazy, and then it just gets into your spirit, and it’s the most beautiful, beautiful thing… There are 4,000 mosques in the city. Some are just stunning, and it really makes me think about becoming a Muslim.”

Just to be clear, Neeson makes no mention of spiritual or doctrinal failings in his childhood faith, nor does he speak in any way of the profound procedural and moral changes he’d have to make to his life if he did indeed convert.

Thinking about it, Neeson may be on to something here, with his shallow belief that he can go on as before, just singing a slightly different song along with the muezzin.  As my cousin, who spent years ministering as a prison chaplain, wrote me in connection with prison conversions to Islam:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

Prisoners use conversion to justify their rage. Neeson’s admiring little speech indicates that at least one movie star type seems to being using it to justify just how shallow he really, truly is.

The only thing I find disheartening about this piece of idiocy is that it might affect my viewing habits.  For example, I never listen to Cat Stevens’ music.  It’s not conscious censorship on my part, as in “Everyone should boycott that man because he converted to Islam.”  It’s a more informal, visceral response.  Every time I hear one of his songs lovey-dovey 1970s pop songs, I get hacked off at the fact that he is now a vocal, proselytzing enthusiast for the whole Muslim package:  death to the Jews, death to America, women wrapped in tents, dead gays, etc.  My blood pressure shoots up, and then I turn the music off.  Fortunately, Snoop Doggs’ conversion doesn’t affect me because I wouldn’t have listened to his songs before conversion, and I’m certainly not going to listen to them now.

But Neeson . . . ummm.  You see, I like the Narnia movies.  I love the first, like the second, and am looking forward to watching the third (the delay is a Netflix thing, meaning that I put it on the list and Mr. Bookworm takes it off).  It was bad enough when Neeson foolishly denied that Aslan was an allegorical Christ.  It’s high blood pressure time, though, if the actor who voices the allegorical Christ has converted to a faith antithetical to everything C.S. Lewis intended to convey through those wonderful books.

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  • NancyB

    It only goes to show ya that God works in mysterious ways – maybe sometimes even through Liam Neeson.

  • http://elwin-ransomed.blogspot.com/ Elwin

    I have a hard time watching ANY modern film nowadays because I usually know that the actors are all hardcore progressives. But that’s the nature of Hollywood. Even in the Golden Age of Film, they were still there. They just didn’t spout the drivel that they believed in in public. They knew it would destroy their careers. Now they’re encouraged to do so.
    But don’t be discouraged by what Liam believes. Always judge the film on it’s own merits.
    ‘Taken’ was still a great little action flick, in spite of what Liam now thinks. (Besides, he cashed the check for starring in it, and I don’t hear him saying that he’s gonna give the money back.)
    And after all, he’s just an actor.
    And an actor is just someone who gets paid to be a LIAR.

  • http://furtheradventuresofindigored.blogspot.com/ Indigo Red

    I was in Istanbul for the week between Christmas and New Year’s back in 1978. My travel companion and I was frozen in place because of the largest snow storm that had hit since 1944 and Istanbul was covered in snow. In that week, I met and enjoyed the hospitality of many Muslim Turks who showed me and my companion the many sights of their ancient city. The Blue Mosque was being repaired and two of the artisan workmen showed us around the mosque including areas usually not seen in tours. The man at the pastry shop came out every day when we passed to give us fresh pastries free of charge and the leather apparel shop owner invited us in for tea each afternoon. A 12 yr old boy who spoke five languages took us to his family’s various restaurants far off the tourist paths for delicate foods including a fish restaurant under the  bridge connecting Europe and Asia for a wonderful candlelit dinner because the power failed. We saw the city’s oldest and smallest mosque in a neighborhood founded when the city was called Constantinople. When all transportation was at a standstill because of the snow and we needed to get back to Italy, but needed official signatures and stamps on our travel documents, the local black market boss got what was needed for just a few dollars and escorted us to the airport, leading us to the front of the line because a cousin worked there. 

    My time in Istanbul is one of the precious times in my life, but after all that and the five times a day call to prayer, I never thought converting to Islam was a good idea.

  • Ron19

    Just five times a day?  The book Christian Prayer, also known as the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours calls one to prayer seven times a day, with an optional eighth call.  It is used by most Catholic priests and religious and many many laity.  I use it now and have a number of laity friends that also use it.  It uses many Psalm and other Old and New Testament readings, a variety of standard and custom prayers, and intercessions.  It runs on a four week cycle, with variations for the seasons like Advent and Easter.

    It also includes a hymn for most of the hours and seasons, and has recommended times for each of the hours.  It can be prayed in large or small groups, or privately by an individual.

    Obviously Liam Neeson is not even as good a Catholic as the adulterous one he played in Schindler’s List.  Many outbound Catholics, including many that I have talked to and listened to, are mostly ignorant of their faith.  (Note: I used to be one, too.  I came back, and I’m not only glad to be back, I’m sorry that I ever left.)

    This is similar to what Bishop (then Monsignor) Fulton Sheen said, “There are millions of people who hate the Catholic Church for what they think it is.  There are only a few hundred who hate it for what it actually is.”

  • http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu Rhymes With Right

    But look at the bright side — if he does convert, we may see the next edition of The Phantom Menace include a scene of Qui-Gon using a light sabre to lop off Jar-Jar’s head because he’s so damn gay!

  • expat

    I guess Neeson never heard of the Angelus.

  • NancyB

    The Chronicles of Narnia books are my favorites and I love the movies – have watched all the versions of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” over the years.  And I used to love Liam Neeson. But it’s true after all – he is only a man and a LIAR, after all (as Elwin points out).  When he played Kinsey in the movie that hardly anyone saw, I knew he was a lost soul.  He obviously knows nothing about the Christian’s duty to pray unceasingly:

    “Let no one think, my Christian Brethren, that only persons in holy orders, or monks, are obliged to pray unceasingly and at all times, but not laymen. No, no! It is the duty of all us Christians to remain always in prayer. For see what His Beatitude the patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus, writes in the life of St. Gregory of Salonica. That saint had a beloved friend, Job by name, a most simple man, but extremely virtuous. Once, talking with him, the prelate said of prayer that every Christian in general ought always to labor in prayer, and to pray unceasingly, as is commanded by the Apostle Paul to all Christians in general: Pray without ceasing (I Thes. 5:17); and as the Prophet David says of himself, regardless of his being a king and having the care of all his kingdom: I behold the Lord always before me (Ps. 15:8), meaning I always mentally see the Lord before me in my prayer. And Gregory the Theologian teaches all Christians and tells them that we should more often remember the name of God in prayer than inhale air.”

    On the Necessity of Constant Prayer for all Christians in General
From The Life of St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, the Wonderworker by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain
Translation by St Gregory Palamas Monastery, Hayesville,Ohio: http://www.bright.net/~palamas/    

  • Ellen

    Ron19 is right.  The Divine Office is a wonderful source of Christian Prayer.  I try to pray at least the morning and evening prayers and the Angelus too.  If Neeson thinks Catholics don’t pray, he is vastly uninformed.  The Carthusian monks pray night office at midnight, and I have been on retreats at Benedictine monasteries where I got up at 5:00 am to pray Morning prayer.  It was wonderful.

    I wonder if Mr, Neeson realizes that the Hagia Sofia was once the largest Christian church in the world until the muslims took it over? 

  • excathedra

    In most societies in history, actors have had a social standing not very different from prostitutes. This is wise. One of the besetting idiocies of our modern culture is that we pay so much attention not only to the antics but to the ideas of people whose only talent lies in making us believe they are someone they are not.

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  • Rose

    I have never read such outrageously single-minded posts anywhere in my whole life. What do
    you all have against Islam?  If you are judging it by the media, then you are getting mostly
    all the wrong information. It is not Islam that is degrading but the people who misuse it and 
    spread the information in the name of Islam. Have you all ever researched into it yourselves?
    I mean anyone can say such negative things about other religions too based on what its believers
    say and do but the fact is that there are Good and Bad people everywhere, so stop judging! 

  • USMaleSF

    “Rose” is either invincibly naive or utterly uninformed. Or both.

    I have read the Koran, the life of Muhammad, the 1400 years of Muslim history, etc.

    Have you, Rose? 

  • Rose

    You sure have a habit of describing yourself quite well, “naive” and “utterly uninformed” Thanks.

    Yes, I actually have read both, more than once.
    You should read it once again, perhaps with a more open mind this time and with someone who actually 
    has real knowledge of it.

    I just don’t understand why you hate Islam so much. Explain, please, maybe I can understand you then. 

  • Ron19

    Rose 12 and 14:
    I have never read such outrageously single-minded posts anywhere in my whole life. What do
     you all have against Islam?
    I just don’t understand why you hate Islam so much. Explain, please, maybe I can understand you then.

    I’m sorry, Rose.  I missed the part in my comment above where, singlemindedly or even multiple-mindedly, I said that I hated Islam so much.  Was I trying to get Neelson to apostasize by suggesting that he needn’t apostasize just so he could say some prayers?
    With all that reading, have you ever read the Divine Office, a.k.a., Christian Prayer, every day for the full year?  It’s available at Catholic bookstores, Amazon, online, and as an ap for a phone or tablet.

  • Charles Martel

    Rose, I have kept a copy of the Koran by my bed for two years now and try to read at least three chapters a week to acquaint myself with the “religion of peace.” I dare say I am as familiar with Islam’s teachings as you. So how is it that we arrive at such opposite conclusions about it?
    The Koran is one of the most artless, arid, joyless religious books I have ever read. I have searched in vain in it for one sign that Allah is anything other than a vainglorious despot. The fact that among his 99 names is “the merciful” does nothing to counter the almost innumerable threats he makes against unbelievers. The obsessively repeated descriptions of the excruciating tortures and vengeance he relishes visiting on souls in Hell is horrifying. How is it that a supposedly utterly transcendent god keeps detailed accounts of every slight against him?
    When you also consider that Mohammed is held up among Muslims as “the perfect man,” then read about his attraction to young girls—he deflowered Aisha at 9!—his love of perfume, his slaughter of Jews, his almost incessant warfare, his uncanny ability to get Allah involved in his household affairs–especially when he needed godly permission to lay some new nookie—it is a very easy conclusion to reach: Islam is a vile, woman-hating, queer-hating, logic-hating, human-hating atrocity. 
    I hope this helps you understand why I and most here hold it in such low regard.

  • http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu Rhymes With Right

    I find it quite interesting that Rose shows up here, passes judgement upon commenters for peacefully expressing their views on the topic at hand, and then DEMANDS that everyone here cease passing judgement.  Rather hypocritical, don’t you think?
    Particularly amusing is her declaration that there are Good and bad people everywhere — I’m curious, what gives her the right to judge which are Good and which are Bad and upon what criteria she does she pass her judgement?

  • Mike Devx

    Rose says: It is not Islam that is degrading but the people who misuse it and spread the information in the name of Islam.

     To some extent I agree with you, Rose.  Every religion is capable of being “hijacked”, as you might put it.  But is it really being hijacked?  These are fervent believers whose interpretation of Islam allows them to commit unspeakably evil acts.

    Just as there are parts of the Old Testament that would appear to condone slavery and offer justification for it, there are definitely parts of the Koran and the Hadiths that justify every monstrous action of the jihadists who seek to destroy us or, failing that, subjugate us.

    I could accept your statements more easily if you used stronger words than “misuse”.  I hope you have complete contempt for these Wahabbi and Salafist Islamists who are engaging in a “misuse” of Islam.  You will not convert *them* to a more peaceful Islam.  They must be stopped, and they must be stopped by force.

  • USMaleSF

    Rose reminds me of people who wanted to defend Marxism despite the 70+ years of real  historical experience of Communist countries on the grounds that they did not really understand it.

    Believe me, they understood it.

    Anyone who cannot understand hostility to a religio-political system which has been at war with Christendom –and other religions to the east, wiping out Zoroastrianism in Persia and soaking Indian blood (ask a Hindu about Islam)– for 1400 years and whose “misunderstanders” are legion, is not worth talking to. In catechism class in the old days, we used to call it “invincible ignorance.”

    Enjoy your righteous dreamworld, Rose. 

  • Danny Lemieux

    MikeDevx: “Just as there are parts of the Old Testament that would appear to condone slavery and offer justification for it, there are definitely parts of the Koran and the Hadiths that justify every monstrous action of the jihadists who seek to destroy us or, failing that, subjugate us.”

    It isn’t that Islam justifies monstrous actions, it is that the Koran DEMANDS monstrous actions. As Jihadi prosecutor Andrew McCarthy pointed out, once he studied Islam in order to understand the Jihadis that he was prosecuting, he  was shocked to have to conclude that the Jihadis WERE the true Muslims. Islam DEMANDS the subjugation or eradication of all non-believers through violence. And, unlike Judaism or Christianity, Islam does not allow itself to be subject to interpretation as it is considered by (practicing) Muslims to be the written word of God (who used Mohammed as his instrument). It is no accident that the parts of the world riddled by violence are areas where Islam butts up against other faiths (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian). 

    As one (persecuted) Assyrian Christian told me about the Koran, the Koran is all about violence, murder and sex. By contrast, I challenge anybody to find any passage in the Christian New Testament that advocates committing violence against other people.

    That being said, I make a great distinction between Islam and Muslims. There are good people and bad people everywhere and, as a Christian, I believe that people who grew up in Islam are still God’s children and my brothers and sisters in Christ (Christ died for all of us, not just some of us). I have known many, many Muslims that are wonderful human beings and there are aspects of Muslim cultures that we could do very well to emulate. Indigo Red’s comments about Turkey certainly resonate with me and reflect my own family members’ experiences in Turkey.

    Finally, when people spout nonsense about Islam being a “religion of peace”, I sincerely doubt their word that they have read the Koran. If they have, it can only be via a very selective reading thereof that skips over the “dirty” parts. So, for a primer, here, once again, is Geert Wilder’s “Fitna”, a review that recites the Koran’s own words:


  • Danny Lemieux

    Whoops, the FITNA link did not work. Let’s try this one: http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DkIKCgRlwQUA 

  • HUN

    liam neeson did the right thing its his choice u guys shut up

  • MacG

    “It was bad enough when Neeson foolishly denied that Aslan was an allegorical Christ. ”

    I have heard this from others “THAT’S how YOU interpret it!” “Well what is it otherwise?” “Uh um it’s a nice story but NOTabout Jesus ok?” “What evs”. Let them still like the story and maybe one day they will re-read it and have an aha! moment but I continue the argument I just may push them away forever.