I wrote JANE FONDA, UP CLOSE a couple of weeks ago  after I had seen her on the Oprah show. I found her honesty appealing and was intrigued by the news that she had become a Christian. I asked her on her blog how she felt about abortion, now that she was a Christian, and also what had led to her becoming a Christian.   She replied that she was a pro-choice Christian and I should read her memoirs for the rest of the story.

I ordered a used  paperback of  My Life So Far by Jane and was surprised by the size and heft of what arrived.  No dinky paperback this, but a very good looking hardcover-size book of some 600 pages.  And, as a bonus, a DVD tucked in the back titled A Conversation with Jane Fonda:  Her book, her work, her life.   I had only to read the first pages of the introduction to know I was going to get my money’s worth.

One of Jane’s husbands  said that Jane had no mystery.   She is pretty forthright and a surprising amount of information is all laid out here. The lady has been around.  She has had a number of lovers and three husbands and made over forty films here and abroad.  Her famous father, Henry Fonda, had four wives and appeared in over 100 films.  Small wonder, then, that  it is only a slight exaggeration to say that Jane drops half a dozen famous names on every page!

Jane went swimming with the naked Greta Garbo.   Jane served a meal to one of her lover’s ex-wives who just happened to be Brigitte Bardot.  Jane was in an acting class with Marilyn Monroe.  Since Jane was in 9 to 5 and On Golden Pond, of course she knows Dolly Parton and Katharine Hepburn quite well.  And on and on.

The book is very well-written (she did it herself!) and provides great insight into the life of one famous actress, but that is not what I was looking for.  Hanoi Jane devotes most of eight chapters to her involvement in the Vietnam war.  As an activist myself I was curious about what would prompt a woman and a celebrity to get out there and put herself on the line, to risk reputation and livelihood.   What drives such a person?  I will let those with first hand knowledge of Vietnam  judge the accuracy of her statements.  As for me, I find her honest, courageous, and perhaps just a bit foolish.

What I really  bought  the book for was to learn what led Jane to become a Christian.   It wasn’t until page 466 that she, an atheist,  first wonders if there might be a God.  As she was approaching 60 it occurred to her that she might make a documentary of her life, seeking to find out who she was and where she was going.  When she invited her daughter, Vanessa, a documentary filmmaker to help with it, Vanessa said, “Why don’t you just get a chameleon and let it crawl across the screen?”  Touché!   She felt a need for spirituality but knew her husband (at the time, Ted Turner) would not be receptive to her seeking.

She writes:

I needed to be filled.  An inner life had been emerging for some time, and I needed to name it.  I named it “Christian” because that is my culture.  I began to pray every day, out loud, on my knees, and it was like being hooked up to the power of the Mystery that had been leading me for the past decade.  It wasn’t so much a learning about the existence of God, because learning implies use of the intellect.  It was more an experiencing of His presence, a psychic lucidity, that was allowing me access to something beyond consciousness.

There you have it.   That is about the extent of Jane’s  spiritual journey as described in her book.  She is a “cultural Christian” which does not necessarily mean that she thinks there actually once walked upon this earth a person named Jesus who came to teach us how to live.  Or maybe she does.  And if Jesus actually did live and teach, she does not take as seriously what he taught as do some “fundamentalist” types.   Hers is more of a ‘feeling’ religion than a ‘head’ religion.   After all, one is not  “saved” by saying certain words but by the  movement of the heart that accompanies those words.

In the years since her book was completed, Jane has written in her blog  more about the development of her spirituality which can be found here. She is still a seeker and God does not disappoint those who earnestly seek Him.  She knows that she is a work in progress.

All in all, My Life So Far is a remarkable,  engrossing, revealing story of a complicated, honest,  famous woman.  The book is also chock-full of  inside glimpses into lives of people that you never thought twice about before – Ted Turner, for example — an amazing man!    And I now know I need to see On Golden Pond again, since I’ve been filled in on  the dynamics of the Katharine Hepburn/Jane Fonda and the Henry Fonda/Jane Fonda relationships!

Come, Holy Spirit of God.   Fill us with  your light and your love.


Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. —  Bill Moyers (quoted by Jane Fonda)

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent; has he not said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good? — Numbers 23:19