RELIGION AND MEDIA: Looking For TruthSoap opera star speaks about media influences
11/09/2007, 10:51 from STEPHANIE SZUDA
Jesus never said „Blessed are the rich,“ but that is the message portrayed by the entertainment media.
Actor Frank Runyeon gave a presentation Thursday night at St. Stephen’s Church in Streator titled „Hollywood vs. Faith: The struggle to live as a Christian in the age of media values.“
Runyeon has acted in more than 1,000 television shows, including „General Hospital,“ „As the World Turns“ and „L.A. Law“ and has worked for the past 14 years as a translator and performer of Biblical texts.
He also presented Jesus’s Biblical Sermon on the Mount Thursday, injecting his own sense of style and humor and, at times, using the audience to represent characters.
After the presentation, Runyeon — who once portrayed a priest on „Melrose Place“ — spoke about the media’s influence on society. He focused on women, men and children and how they find joy.
Children are taught to find joy from material possessions.
„We say (to them), ‚Sweetheart, what do you want?'“ he said.
„If a child were to respond with a will to walk in Jesus‘ path, we would say, „Oh, you must have been home schooled,“ he joked. „It’d be great if they talked out of their heart, but they don’t.“
It’s in their youth when people are most exposed to and influenced by the media.
Joy will be brought to people who are rich in spirit, he said.
Women find their joy in their physical appearance, he said. Runyeon said the three words women most want to hear are not „I love you,“ but „You lost weight.“
„Nothing sells as fast as something with a pretty girl on it,“ he said. „When was the last time you saw an unattractive, overweight woman on the nightly news?“
We are so accustomed to seeing these situations that we don’t even notice them, he said. The media sends women the message that it’s the outside that matters.
„When you know the love of God, that’s when you’re happy,“ he said.
He said he once lost 15 pounds and after his producer took notice of his slimming figure he told Runyeon he could be a leading man.
„I was miserable,“ he said. „There was no joy in that.“
Runyeon said he worked with „Desperate Housewives“ leading lady Marcia Cross on Melrose Place.
„She’s 15 pounds thinner in reality. She looks thin already, don’t you think?“ he said. „This is the world (children) are growing up in.“
His daughter had to drop out of high school because she had an eating disorder. She spent two months in the hospital and almost died.
Runyeon also said people shouldn’t look at celebrity couples as role models.
„Brangelina and Bennifer? These people are supposed to show us what love is?“ he asked rhetorically. „Look at your family, your local community. This is where love is supposed to be.“
And for the men — they find their joy in winning, he said. From the Bears‘ trip to the Super Bowl last season to driving fast cars, men find happiness in victory. Runyeon admitted he cannot stand someone passing him in the right lane when driving.
„I just slowly start to push on the accelerator,“ he said. „Don’t want to be too obvious.“
He said he pulls ahead and then he’s done it. He’s won.
„What is wrong with me?“ he asked. „Why am I doing this?“
In the end, Runyeon said people need to find joy in their relationships and Jesus.
„This is why we come to this place,“ he said. „In the end, you need to be told the truth.“