Ghosts, Demons, Chris Farley, and Good
Guest post by Justin Marcel Condreay
For some unknown reason, it seems like everyone is jumping on the “GHOST” bandwagon. I can’t turn on the television without seeing a new Ghost-Hunters show. Likewise, I can’t go to the movie theater without seeing a new exorcism flick.
There are only two things that scare me. When I say scare, I mean cringe, scream and momentarily become as brave as a seven year old girl.
1- My mom.
I’m not about to write about my mother, so let’s take a minute to talk about the latter – Ghosts.
I don’t believe in your traditional Casper/Discovery Channel ghosts. However, I wholeheartedly believe in demons. Matthew 25:41 tells us that, just like good angels, there are fallen (bad) angels. These fallen angels have Satan as their leader and prowl the Earth searching for souls to destroy. The Bible has countless stories of humans that have been possessed. No story, to me, is scarier than the story in Mark.
In Mark 5:1-13, Jesus is approached by a man that was so possessed, so evil, so powerful, that no chain or shackle could hold him. The demon inside the man names himself, Legion, and begs Jesus not to torment him.
Like it or not, man is fallen. Yes, all things were created good…BUT THEN we went and messed it up. Thanks to us, not God, there is evil in this world, demons.
“Okay, Justin, You win. Demons do exist, but I’ve never seen one! I don’t need to worry. Let me watch ‘The Devil Inside in peace.”
If this is your line of thinking, you’re dead wrong.
Demons are everywhere. We all have demons. Maybe they’re not as evident as in Mark, but we all have them—we just don’t call them demons.
“I’m afraid!” The demon Fear.
“I don’t feel good enough!” The demon Doubt.
“The things I would do to her…” The demon Lust.
“One more won’t hurt me.” The demon Gluttony.
Personally? Yes. I have my demons. I fight them every single day.
I walk through life with fear. “Am I doing what God is calling me to do?”
I walk through life with doubt. “There is no way a loving God would put me through this.”
I walk through life with anxiety, confusion, and sadness. “What, God? What do you want from me? What’s it all mean, Lord?”
One man that fought to death – LITERALLY – with his demons was one Christopher Crosby Farley, better known as Chris Farley.
Chris Farley is known for his comedy. The fat Chippendale?! Matt Foley the “Motivational Speaker”?! Tommy Callahan in Tommy Boy?! The man was a genius, a legend.
From the outside, things looked great for Chris Farley. Money? Fame? Women? He had it all.
Inside? Inside, Chris was fighting a losing battle with his demons.
What most people don’t know about Chris Farley is that he was a devout Roman Catholic. Chris was a regular in the confessional. Even in the height of his drug addiction, he had a spiritual director he visited regularly. Chris volunteered at countless homeless shelters and nursing homes. He visited many children hospitals, making suffering kids smile.
My absolute favorite book is Chris Farley’s Biography, The Chris Farley Show: A Life in Three Acts. If you haven’t read it, you are missing out. This book makes everyone that reads it a better person.
Of course, I was amazed at Chris’s faith and charity work, but the thing that amazed me most about Chris Farley was his humility.
In the book, fellow actors like Tim Meadows, Connan O’Brien, Alec Baldwin, Al Franklen (and many others), state that before Chris’s death, they never knew of his charity and volunteer work. Only after fellow volunteers, elderly, homeless and clergy came forward was it finally discovered.
Tim Meadows: “He never talked about it. I was one of his best friends, and I didn’t know about it until after his death.”
Norm MacDonald: “It was amazing at the funeral to hear people talking. I was like, ‘My God, this is a person I never knew.'”
Like I said before, Chris Farley had everything. He had life at his finger tips. However, despite everything, Fr. Joe Kelly, Chris’s Priest, said that Chris would regularly tell him that without his volunteering – without the work he did outside acting – his life would have no meaning at all.
Are you kidding me? If that doesn’t hit home, I don’t know what will.
Al Franklen tells one story that always chokes me up (the whole book chokes me up). Al asked Chris to visit a kid he knew that had cancer. Al said that after visiting with the child, Chris visited every single kid in the hospital, cracking jokes and bringing smiles everywhere he went. As Chris and Al were leaving the hospital, Chris broke down sobbing. Al says: “I think it was all sort of wrapped up in his own issues that he was dealing with at the time. I said to him, ‘Don’t you see how much joy you bring to these people? Don’t you see what you just did, how valuable that is?'”
Chris Farley might have been making America – the whole world – laugh, but on the inside, Chris was weeping.
Sr. Peggy McGirl: “Chris used to visit a man named Willie. Willie was about seventy years old, and he had been homeless before coming to our residence. Chris took Willie out to dinner ever week, and to famous restaurants. Chris treated him as an equal, always. He would take him to Broadway shows, take him out to ball games. If Chris was walking down the street on the way home from work, he’d stop in to see how Willie was doing. Whenever he had to go far away for work, he’d send Willie postcards, and whenever he came back he always brought Willie a souvenir.”
Todd Green (At the one year memorial Mass for Chris): “There was this elderly black guy there with a Chicago Bulls hat on…He stood up to speak. He said his name was Willie, and he talked about Chris and about all the things he had done for him…The man spoke for a little longer. Then he started to break down crying. He said, ‘This hat, this was the last thing Chris ever gave me, and I really miss him.'”
Sr. Peggy McGirl: “After Chris passed, Willie became very quiet. Eventually, some time later, he moved back down south to be with his family, to let his family take care of him. Whatever problems put him on the street and made him homeless, he overcame them and went back home. When you receive love, it releases you from the things that trouble you. Just knowing that someone cares about you can give you strength and courage. And I always believed that it was Chris’s love for Willie, and the things he did for Willie, that finally set him free.”
A friend recently asked me, “If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? You can’t say Jesus Christ and there is no language barrier.”
Tough question, but I finally said Chris Farley. Why?
One, because I know he’d be hilarious. But secondly, and mostly, so I could tell Chris – show Chris – how great of a person he was. I’d tell him that any man that brings joy into the world is a man with value – great value.
Chris Farley made us all laugh. No matter how bad of a day, week, or year we were having, Chris made us happy. Despite our miserable situation, for that second Chris made us laugh, he gave us a glimpse of the joy yet to come. Chris showed us the good that is in everyone.
Some might look at Chris and see a wasted talent, and I could understand why. Another Hollywood star that died young. He had endless talent, endless money, an endless list of endless’s, and it was all for nothing.
Yes, I can understand why you’d think all those things.
But that doesn’t make them true.
Chris Farley’s life was not meaningless. No life, however insignificant it may seem, is meaningless.
In my opinion, the greatest speech mankind has ever been graced with was given by a man best known for his silence—Charlie Chaplin.
The film was “The Great Dictator.” It was made during WWII primarily to mock the Nazi Party. Charlie Chaplin plays a Jewish barber who, by certain events, becomes the next emperor of the world.
At one point during Chaplain’s epic final speech he states, “…Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural… in the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written ‘The kingdom of God is within man’, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people…”
Why is this section particularly important? Because all too often, we forget it. Heck, I forget it all the time.
What is the kingdom of God? I can’t say. However, I assume it’s pretty amazing. I assume it’s pretty happy. I assume it’s better than all the good things in my life combined.
I’m gonna wrap this up; it’s getting lengthy. I do have a point. Here it is:
No matter how glamorous or done up Hollywood makes them seem, demons are real.
Chris Farley, Charlie Chaplin, you, me, the entire world, everyone has demons. Our sadness, our questioning, our fear, our anxieties and our hate are all evidence of them.
Lemme tell you all something I hope you never forget.
No matter how bad of a day you’re having…
No matter how hard life hits you…
No matter how insignificant you feel…
No matter how rude and mean that guy or girl may seem…
There is good in everyone.
Don’t let your demons win.
Every day that you live, whether you know it or not, you matter.
“But I feel awful.”
“But I treat other people terrible.”
“But the world is such a miserable place to live.”
“But there is evil- demons- all around me.”
No big deal. No big deal at all. No matter how many “buts” you throw out there, it doesn’t diminish from the fact that there is good in you.
There is good in this world.
You have to silence- defeat- your demons.
You may have to dig deep.
You may have to look really, really hard.
It might seem impossible.
But find the good. Recognize that good, and bring it into the world. Your good, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, will make the world a better place.
What’s your good?