Important Conversations

August 25, 2021

I’ve often enjoyed the work of John Travolta. He is a very capable actor and has seemed to be a loving and credible family man. I was intrigued and moved by a recent account I read of a conversation he had with his young son, reported in Yahoo Entertainment. Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, passed away in 2020 with metastatic breast cancer, and their son Ben expressed his concern to his dad that he would die too.

"He said to me once, 'Because mom passed away, I'm afraid you're going to,’ the 67-year-old star of Pulp Fiction and Grease recalled. "I said, 'Well, it's a very different thing.' And I went through the differences of my longevity and her limited life, as she had fought cancer for two years.”

Travolta continued, "I said, 'But you know, Ben—you always love the truth and I'm going to tell you the truth about life. Nobody knows when they're gonna go or when they're going to stay. Your brother [Jett] left at 16. Too young. Your mother left at 57. That was too young. But who's to say? I could die tomorrow. You could. Anybody can.’"

Travolta, who married Preston in 1991, ended by saying, "So let's look at it like it's part of life. You don't know exactly. You just do your best at trying to live the longest you can.'"

He also discussed his career, his love of flying, his finances and continued devotion to Scientology. He admitted to his son that he was surprised to find himself in his "last chapter" of life, being in his late 60s, when he feels "eternally 21" at heart. His 10-year-old son encouraged him to believe for 30 more years. Travolta said the conversation changed his viewpoint. In the years to come, his focus will be on his two children, Ben and Ella, forwarding them the gifts he has been given. “I want to leave this world with them doing great.”

This is a proud and loving dad, and his attitude and care for his children is very commendable. But Mr. Travolta is a Scientologist who does not believe in heaven or hell. At the time of Travolta’s son Jett’s death, Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, gave this explanation:

Scientologists do not believe in heaven or hell, although a central belief is the idea that individuals have lived before and will live again. A Scientologist is interested in the future and in future generations and making a world that is better. The person is not gone. There is the loss of the immediate presence of that person in that body and that lifetime, but they go on. The spirit (known in Scientology as the Thetan) does not die. At a memorial service, friends and family have the opportunity to say goodbye, to acknowledge and thank the person for what he or she has done in this lifetime, and to wish them well as they move on to their next lifetime.

The concept is similar to reincarnation, but Scientologists believe that one begins a new life with a new body, rather than returning as perhaps an animal or an object. The Thetan forgets the details of the former life, though painful and traumatic images remain rooted in its unconscious. In order to move up the path of spiritual progression—known as the Bridge to Total Freedom—one must eradicate these psychic scars, which cause a person to act fearfully and irrationally. Once a Scientologist has purged them through the counseling process known as auditing, he or she is said to be “clear.”

What a complicated and uncomforting belief! I wish Travolta had the confidence we have in Christ to share with his son. We have a confidence that this life is not the end and that the future is full of joy.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24

A Jesus-follower and eyewitness to His resurrection told us, “This is the true testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son. Whoever has the Son has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son does not possess eternal life. I’ve written this letter to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will be assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13

Paul assured us, “I do not want you to be ignorant or uniformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you grieve as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Those who know Christ, ultimately live forever, even if they die. Jesus told us when He raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:25, “Even though they die, they will live again.” Paul says they fall asleep. It’s a temporary condition, He says in another place, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”         2 Corinthians 5:8

We receive eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Savior. This life just continues when we take our last breath here on Earth. Eternal life means both quality and quantity. We begin it now with our forgiveness and the salvation of our souls. Eternal life begins with a blessed life with Christ’s continual presence as we live here, and then when we leave this life, we experience the eternal life that is our inheritance in all of its fullness.

What a wonderful truth! I wish John Travolta could confidently share this news with his son. I am praying they will discover Jesus for this life and the next.