Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Still Growing: an Autobiography

by Kirk Cameron,
Regal, 2008

If you're familiar with the old television series, Growing Pains, you'll remember Kirk Cameron, who played likable goofball, Mike Seaver, during the show's seven-year run.

In Still Growing, Kirk shares his story of growing up in a pretty regular family, with three younger sisters and parents who loved and guided them well. He tells how he was introduced to the entertainment business at the age of 9 after his friend Adam Rich (Nicholas Bradford on Eight is Enough) put the Cameron family in touch with legendary Hollywood agent, Iris Burton. After learning the ropes of the audition process, Kirk landed several television commercials before being selected for his famous role on Growing Pains, which also starred Alan Thicke, Joanna Kerns, Tracey Gold, and Jeremy Miller as main characters.

Solid family grounding coupled with Kirk's own personality kept him miraculously away from the traps that snare many young celebrities  - drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, run-ins with the law. At age 18, as he began contemplating the larger questions of life, he started dating the sister of a "very pretty girl on the set," and was invited to attend their church. After listening to several sermons and doing a lot of independent reading, Kirk made the decision to follow Christ. It was a decision he took seriously and it gave him a new lens through which to view his television character and Mike Seaver's choices. Often enough it caused problems with the writers and directors of the show, who were accustomed to Kirk's previous willingness to go with the flow.

Much was made of Kirk's conversion to Christianity, and his conversion has informed and transformed  his life. Kirk admits that he made some mistakes early on in his faith as he was figuring things out. His stance on moral issues and on roles he is willing to play have certainly cost him work. He quotes one famous scriptwriter as saying "for an actor in Hollywood, you sure picked the one unacceptable religion, didn't you?" (p. 200). That must be the understatement of the century, and one has to give Kirk a lot of credit for standing firm in an industry where pretty well everyone is willing to compromise and it is difficult to see the difference between actors who self-identify as "Christian" and those who do not.

I admired Kirk before I started reading this book, and I admire him even more now. Here is a worthwhile role model for those who wish to live out their Christian faith, whatever their chosen profession. Here is a book worth reading.

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