ATM sits down with Actor Kirk Taylor, co-star of the film musical Revival! as Cephas. Revival! is a mix media virtual experience of the gospel according to John the Apostle. Taylor talks about how society and religion influence one another. Also, God, scriptures of the Bible, religious stories, and theories about faith as seen in his production.
ATM: Did you pray this morning?
KT: Yes, I did. As a habit, I try to put God first. I pray before I speak or do anything. I always greet and thank the Lord.
ATM: What exactly did you pray for?
KT: I use the Lord’s prayer as a model. I start with worship. I ask for repentance and forgiveness. I know God can heal. In 1942, when my mother was seven years old, she was pronounced dead. My grandmother got on her knees and prayed. My mother lived. Toward the end of the Lord’s prayer, it says “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” So, it is all on God. It is his kingdom and his power. If it does or does not do it, then it is his glory.
ATM: Your story about your mother is fascinating to hear.
KT: Imagine me as a little boy hearing the story about how my mother almost died. “Son your mother almost died when she was seven. She had spinal meningitis.” “Die as in die?” “Yes, she was going to die.” “Then who would have dad married?” These are the types of questions you ask as a little kid. All of a sudden you think you are watching Back to the Future and you disappear from the picture. I am a part of a miracle. My life is a miracle. This is why I feel God has had a very strong hand on my life. My grandmother said, “God, if you heal my daughter, then I will honor you for the rest of my life.” People went nuts in my mother’s room. My mother ended up living for 75 more years. I am a covenant.
ATM: How would you describe life without faith?
KT: Even with faith life is difficult. We have to deal with hardship. How do you keep going if you do not have God there for you? He is watching over the believers and non-believers. He is showing kindness and love for everyone. But you still go through things. If you do not know he is there, then what do you do when you do not have the hope for eternal life? You say “My mother is dead we will never see her again.” How do you deal with this? How do you frame your life if you do not understand there is a creator and a purpose? There is a father who is making decisions and guiding you.
Solomon said, “Where there is life, there is hope.” The Lord told me a few years back I would go to California. I was not working much. I turned to my wife and said, “Pray for me, pray that God wants me to stay in acting.” I asked God to show me what to do. I can go back to teaching acting. I can focus on my composition and singing. The phone rang before getting my foot out the door.
Within a week Gabrielle, I am standing in front of Robin Williams, and Mila Kunis getting ready to arrest their characters. I worked with Robin Williams on one of his last projects called the Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
It breaks my heart to see people who have lost hope and do not have God. It broke my heart when Robin Williams killed himself. I wish I could have said something to him. We now know he was having actual medical problems that contributed to it.
ATM: Are you familiar with the social theorist Max Weber?
KT: No, I am not.
ATM: Weber had a lot of theories about faith. His main approach was to analyze the interaction of society and religion. Do you believe religion can influence society and vice versa?
KT: In the United States, as flawed as our Founding Fathers were, they included God. Democracy was a grand experiment. “Without a moral foundation for the people, democracy will not work. It will fail.” The government is of the people, by the people. We can influence the government by who we put in office. Society is becoming more corrupt. There is more persecution of Christians in the world now. Some sources talk about the martyr in the modern church.
There are people being slaughtered in Sudan. We see a rising tide of evil in society. Society has shifted away from God. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The Founding Fathers wrote a check and we have to cash it.” We are not living up to the ideas in the book. The brokenness of society pushes it to the side. It is to the point where in Canada if you preach certain scriptures you can get arrested. My pastor said, “When you see people are putting their hands up against God’s anointing, this is the sign of the end times.” This is the pattern. Society is broken, but there are people doing good. Think about people who do not understand that hospitals, institutions of higher learning, were formed by Christians. They were putting their faith into action.
There is a statement that says, “It does not take many to light a candle.” One light can make a difference and illuminate throughout. There is an interesting tug of war between society and the church. The church has become irrelevant. During the Latter days, there will be an outpouring of this spirit. There will be a time where God is going to judge the church first. There is going to be a lot of corruption and broken things in the Church. God is going to deal with those things and pour out his power.
In Scotland they called it, “The Great Awakening.” Not just a revival, but an awakening. The Lord spoke to a Scottish pastor and told him to go to a town. The Lord said, “Do not go to the town directly, you are not ready. Go to the hill overlooking the town.” The pastor went to the top of the hill and prayed on his face for hours over the town. The Holy Spirit fell on the town. The people were on their knees weeping in the street. They were trying to figure out what to do when convicted of their sins. The glory of the Latter Temple will exceed the Foreign Temple. I believe there will be an outpouring. In Canada, during the 1900s, the Holy Spirit fell on the church’s over-repented people. They were not praying for a blessing, but for forgiveness.
The roof of the church caught on fire. The firemen came and could not put it out. Pastor Bud at Evangel Temple in Canada said a pastor was inside and was elevated two feet off the ground preaching in the air. Canada had a great awakening, a revival, and a restoration. The next generation did not know about it. Things went back to business as usual. This is what society does. When we get an earthquake, a fire, or something terrible happens, people are in church on Sundays. After a while, people stop going. I pray God will penetrate our hearts as believers and penetrate the hearts of non-believers to bring us closer.
ATM: Another theorist Louis Althusser said this, (I am paraphrasing) “There are somethings we will never know because scientifically we do not possess the knowledge. Like the knowledge of a handshake but we inherently shake hands. So, the new generation will not mentally understand the history of what happened. This is how certain things get erased.”
KT: Do you think this is because parents are not doing their duties? It was said in Israel, “A generation rose up and did not know the Lord.” This is the generation that came after generations of miracles. People are knuckleheads. Think about how they saw the Red field, the Egyptians drown, and saw the 12 slaves fall. Moses was gone for longer than he was supposed to. They started to make fake Gods and a golden calf. This is the God that led us out of Egypt. Really? Are you kidding me? Do you see the miracles? They heard about God and idols. They saw the idols of the Egyptians could not help the Egyptians. It is interesting how forgettable we can be. There is lightness where there is darkness. We do have an enemy to our souls. Some people put too much focus on the end and do not get anything done because they are freaked out about the enemy. Some just ignore him thinking he does not exist. There is a power in the world and in the spirit realm that tries to draw you away to distract you while it happens slowly. If a plane is flying from New York to Chicago and it is off 2 degrees, then it is not that much of a deal at first. Over a thousand miles it becomes a much bigger deal. We start to do compromises, and it starts to go here. The parents do have to tell the kids.
ATM: Which one of the Ten Commandments in addition to the one you mentioned do you live by?
KT: There are hidden benefits that come from obeying God. I decided to honor my mom and dad. Of course, we had our problems here and there. I have been only loving, respectful, and obedient to them. This was one that paid the most dividends for me. You will live long on earth even when your parents are gone. We are talking about benefits from your childhood that influence you at an older age. This one has had the biggest influence. Also, “The Lord is wanted. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I have been seeking him in this way. I am trying to be renewed every day to seek him for his house, his people, and the world.
ATM: Which book of the bible gave you an internal rebirth or revival?
KT: I like this. There have been a few. There is one in Isaiah 41. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This has been a scripture that has helped me during difficult times. It has given me something to hold on to. Also, Jeremiah 29, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The New Testament in Matthew where it says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” This one lets you know God is waiting on us and that we have access to him. He has given a lot of parables about how God responds to his children. If he responds to the evil, then he will respond to you if you ask for bread, fish, or an egg. He is not going to give you a stone, syrup, or a scorpion. These have sustained me in a very difficult career. Entertainment can be rough. A lot of my colleagues and people who I started with in school have dropped out. It was long delays and trials. People celebrate you when you are in front of the camera.
When the tape goes off, they do not see what we go through behind the scenes. We are trying to live a life and keep ourselves open in the world. It is so easy to become jaded. It is a fight in this field and as a believer. Things are set up against you. I have a new manager in California. He gave me a list of things I did not want to do. I answered tactfully to stick with this and that. I played a villain in Death Wish 3. I was horrible in this film as a character. He was a monster. I was watching the film saying kill him already. There is something in his heart that knows right from wrong. There has to be a consequence and punishment. I die and this is my redemption.
This is the same something with Denzel in Training Day. Antoine Fuqua gave him the script and he read and loved it. He wrote on the front of the script “The wages of sin are death.” He said he would only play him if you kill him at the end. Fuqua did not plan on this. There was going to be a Training Day 1, 2, pre Training Day. Denzel said, “No, he has to die. I am not going to play a villain and have him live and glorify this life.” Even if you are doing wrong and get away from it for a long time consider this a blessing from God. God told the emirates to not take their land. Do not touch them. The sin of the emirates has not reached full measure. “Even in your sin I am patient.”