In “My Jesus Year,” which I reviewed for both The Jewish Journal and Christianity Today, Benyamin Cohen makes several references to Stephen Baldwin—best known for his role in “Usual Suspects” and for being a born-again Christian.
Recently the two met in the green room of a Fox affiliate. In an hour, Baldwin—can anyone name the fourth Baldwin brother?—thought he could undue what for Cohen has been a lifetime of religious and cultural learning. If I wasn’t already a Christian, this is the kind of conversion I’d hope for.
The rabbi’s son writes:
Stephen Baldwin’s predilection for all things Christ was actually not news to me. I spent a year immersed in Christian pop culture and let’s just say his name came up a time or two. But I never imagined I would actually meet him. I guess it’s divine intervention that we are both here promoting books we wrote—mine, a memoir of my year living like a Christian and his a Moral Majority message masked in detective fiction.
As we were chatting about faith, the fact came up that I had visited 52 different Bible Belt churches and not once had someone tried to convert me. Stephen’s pupils went from their default half-mast glazed-over look to the wide-eyed look of a Baldwin on the prowl. Apparently, I had woken the beast.
“How much time do I have before my segment?” he asked his publicist.
“About an hour,” she called back from across the room.
“An hour,” Baldwin said, “should be enough time to convert you, Ben.”
He was taking this challenge as a badge of honor—that somehow he would be the first Christian to try and convert me—and actually succeed. My first thought? I’ve been an observant Jew for more than three decades and here was a guy who played Barney Rubble in the Flintstones sequel trying to undo it all in under an hour, like a twisted LensCrafters for the soul. Now that’s chutzpah.