The "kids" (ahem, my husband) gave me two books for Mother's Day this year. One was Hidden Figures, from which the recent space-race movie was made (fascinating and inspirational movie, pretty tough slog on the book, however). The second was a biography of Clark Gable, the heartthrob Rhett Butler from my favorite movie, Gone with the Wind.
I started the Gable book with such anticipation... and in many ways, it was justified. I learned all kinds of things not only about the actor's life, but fun behind-the-scenes stuff about the Depression, early Hollywood, the fall of silent movies and the rise of "talkies," the effects of the new technology called television on the movie industry, and much more. It really was interesting.
But it became harder and harder to read as I turned each page.
Gable was a nice enough man, well thought of by his co-workers and very gallant in manner, but there were so many sexual partners the author didn't even attempt to catalog them all. The book was full of marriages broken up not once or even twice but four and five times per partner. There were horrifying accounts of production schedules interrupted so the lead actress could take a week off to abort an inconvenient baby. There was at least one un-acknowleged "love" child. And so much alcohol fueling it all, it's not really a wonder where all that money went.
Disastrous personal choices made one right after the other, and the biggest of them all, to live a life completely absent of God.
I was actually depressed as I struggled to finish it. Mike kinda felt bad he'd bought it for me. Like so many paraded across our star-dazzled vision, Hollywood's "hero" was not worthy of worship.
I felt so sorry for the man. He filled his life with everything the world had to offer, and it didn't bring him happiness or contentment or fulfillment. It just kept him busy from cradle to grave, in a useless dance with no real meaning. Gable had the title "King of Hollywood," but standing before the King of Kings, the tawdry crown would dissolve in an instant.
One second after he left this earth, Gable would realize that everything he had wrapped his life around, every pleasure he had pursued, every amount of money or starring role he was ever offered was enough to make up for the fact that he ignored the unreconciled state of his soul to an almighty God. And then it was too late.
I was glad to get to the end of the book.
It's sobering to see corollations in my own life, of the pursuit of personal acclaim over His glory, of pleasures I chase without regard to His plan.
How bitterly they will all be regretted, one second after it is too late to change any of them. How fast the gilt of my pious actions will flake off to expose the wood, hay and stubble of my self-fueled motives.
Recently I read another biography of someone who lived during the same time period as Clark Gable. That's where the similarities end.
Evidence Not Seen is the personal story of Darlene Diebler Rose, a newlywed missionary who lost her husband and experienced unthinkable treatment and appalling deprivation in a Japanese prison camp in New Guinea for the entire duration of World War II. I am humbled to my knees at her simple account of faith sustained through terrible personal grief and hideous physical pain.
I could not more highly recommend any book to you than hers; it has profoundly changed me. I have already re-read it.
I'm glad I read the Gable book, in the end. And I'm really glad I read Darlene's incredible story.
Both make me glad I still have time to work on my own "biography."
For completely opposite reasons.