Actor Chris Pratt has come a very long way since playing lovable doofus (or secret genius?) Andy Dwyer on Parks and Rec. The movie mega-star of the Guardians of the Galaxy/Avengers universe, where he strides the universe as the wisecracking, swashbuckling hero Starlord, and dinosaur researcher Owen Grady of Jurassic World is one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men. Along the way he has also become one of the most loved figures in American culture today. He's also something else, a devout Christian hiding in plain sight.
Recently Pratt spoke at Disney’s Candlelight Processional, an invitation-only event that the entertainment behemoth has held for more than half a century at DisneyWorld. But in those decades, Christmas has gone from being “the most wonderful time of the year” to one of the most bitterly contested. Many public schools have converted it to a winter solstice break or a multicultural stew of secular nothingness. Lawsuits try to remove manger scenes from public view. “Happy Holidays” has all but replaced “Merry Christmas” in public, to avoid offending anyone by mentioning the birth of Christ. Would Disney let political correctness steal Christmas this year? Or would Chris Pratt rise in the east (coast) as the Starlord of Bethlehem?
The fictional captain of the Benatar, has not been shy about his Christian faith since he became a star. He spoke out about it while accepting the Generation Award at the MTV Movie and Music Awards this year, and the Associated Press asked him about it in September.
“At recent awards show appearances, you went out on stage and talked publicly about your faith. Is it an especially important time to do that?” the AP asked.
Pratt answered, “I don’t know that I am so much more motivated by where the world is or if it’s just what I’m feeling called to do right now. I think it’s a combination of both things. ... That kind of a message, it might not be for everybody. But there is a group of people for whom that message is designed. And nothing fills my soul more than to think that maybe some kid watching that would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about praying. Let me try that out.’ That’s like the only way I feel like I can repay what has essentially been a giant gift in my life.”
Mere mention of a “soul” is downright radical in 21st century America.
This year’s Candlelight Processional is taking place November 22 through December 30. Each night, the processional features celebrity narrators telling “the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem,” according to Disney’s website. Celebrity narrators include Gary Sinise, Cal Ripken Jr., Pat Sajak, Whoopi Goldberg, Blair Underwood, Helen Hunt and others.
Because Marvel Studios is owned by The Walt Disney Company, Pratt was selected to narrate the December 1 processional, delivering a powerful reading of the nativity story from Luke 1. You may watch video here. The beautiful ceremony includes choral and orchestral renditions of traditional Christmas hymns including “Away in a Manger.”
After the stirring performances, Pratt went off script and straight into the hearts of Christians everywhere.
Pratt, father of six-year-old Jack Pratt with actress Anna Faris, noted that his son was in the audience. Jack came into the world two months prematurely, and both Pratt and Faris have spoken candidly about their fears for him when he was born and had to remain in intensive care for a month. After thanking the audience and Disney for being included in the Christmas ceremony, Pratt spoke of his faith and family.
“For me, being a parent has really changed my life in so many ways. And one of those ways is to understand, truly, the love that a father could have for a child.
“When I stare at this precious little creation of mine here, and I watch the ways in which he tries to please me, I just fill with a love that I feel is so pure, and unending,” he said.
“The way we love our children, the more we love our children, the more we will understand the capacity for our Father in heaven to love us.” Pratt’s words sparked cheers from the audience.
Pratt continued, “Each and every one of us is a precious creation, and He just marvels in the ways that we can try to please Him. That should give us a great deal of comfort. I know it does for me.
“This holiday season, let us embrace every one of our tomorrows with hope and love. And through this holiday spirit may we continue to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world.”
Pratt then ended with a spirited, and very traditional, cheer: “Meeeeerry Christmas!” Reminding the world, that just like fellow macho superstar Mark Wahlberg, you can make hit movies, be a great father figure, and proclaim the New Testament without losing your swagger.