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Filmmaker Blocks Out Encounter with Christianity

Paul Verhoeven, a Dutch film director, screenwriter, and film producer (Robocop, Total Recall, Show Girls), was once asked about his short but intense encounter with Christianity. He replied:

My then-future wife Martine got pregnant in 1966, and we didn't want a child at the time. I was just starting my film career, and the prospect of an unplanned child might force me to abandon film at least temporarily. To a large degree, it was disturbing: during that period, I had a sense that I was losing my mind … My response was to become a member of a Pentecostal church, for a month. It was an existential need. This wasn't common in Holland in the '60s.

When asked what made him leave the church, Verhoeven said that a medical doctor provided a purely rational explanation for his experience. "[My encounter] with Christianity had an enormous impact on me," he said. But he also admitted that he made a conscious decision to renounce that experience. He said he had "to close the doors of perception" to the "subconscious elements" in his brain.

In other words, he couldn't deny the power of his encounter with supernatural reality—possibly with Christ or the Holy Spirit—but he chose to reject it. Christian author Rod Dreher had this to say about Verhoeven's explanation:

One cannot know … what was going through [his] head in those days, but it's not hard to imagine that a man who wishes to arrange his girlfriend's abortion to help save his film career would [want] to dismiss the possibility that he had [met] the living God, and instead had suffered from temporary insanity. [But] the key thing here is the role of Verhoeven's will in deciding what is real and what is not. He is up front about his choice to suppress that experience … What he is not up front about, maybe not even with himself, is his choice to deny the possibility that what he encountered in that [church] was objectively real. This too was a choice.

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