And the Emmy goes to…Mount Athos!
Five-time Emmy winner and convert to Orthodoxy, Jonathan Jackson, offered one of his Emmies to the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi.
It had always been a long-held dream of Jonathan Jackson to visit the Holy Mountain ever since his conversion in 2012. Jackson has always been overwhelmed and inspired by the lives, struggles and sacrifices of the Athonite monks. Who could forget his famous Emmy acceptance speech where he made the sign of the Cross and thanked the Holy Trinity and monks of Mount Athos? This dream finally came to fruition this August where he and his eight-year old son went on a 5-day pilgrimage to Xenophontos and Simonopetra Monasteries but spent most of his time at Vatopedi. However, such a momentous visit for the artist would not be complete without a grand, heartfelt gesture. In honour of the Dormition of Panagia, Jackson offered one of his golden Emmy Awards to Vatopedi Monastery.
At a reception, in the presence of fellow-pilgrims as well as monks, Jackson offered his Emmy Award to Metropolitan Bishop Atlantas Alexios and received the blessing of the Abbott of Vatopedi, Archimandrite Ephraim. The Abbott thanked Jackson for his offering and wished him every blessing in his life and career. Jackson described the Abbott as, “a man filled with the love of Christ”. Jackson has for many years maintained a close connection with Vatopedi. In an interview after the reception Jackson said:
These people (are) dedicating their lives to prayer, and not just praying for themselves, but truly praying for all of us. And then the thought crossed my mind: with all the destruction, chaos and insanity that goes on in this world, if their prayers weren’t happening, what would this world be like? I felt personally like I just wanted to thank them because I really believe that their prayers mean a lot.
Like all Orthodox-focussed artists Jackson strives to express himself in a variety of ways. Besides his role as Lucky Spencer in General Hospital and his many movie and TV roles – such as, The Deep End of the Ocean and Nashville – Jackson also fronts the indie rock band, Enation. Yet throughout his artistic pursuits his need to benefit from them spiritually has been explored through his writing. Since 2012, Jackson has published three books – ‘Book of Solace and Madness’, ‘Acting in the Spirit’ and ‘ The Mystery of Art: Becoming an Artist in the Image of God’ – that journey through the relationship between creativity and the spiritual life. He was also present via video-link at the recent Digital Media and Orthodox Pastoral Care Conference held in Crete in June 2018 where he added his support for more Orthodox stories in film.
However, despite Jackson’s busy Hollywood schedule he continues to make time to pursue spiritually creative works. According to skai.gr, Jackson is working on a film about Elder Joseph the Hesychast, the spiritual father of Elders Ephraim of Philotheou, Joseph of Vatopedi, Haralambos of Dionysiou and others. The film locations will include Mount Athos and the Greek island of Paros, where Elder Joseph was born.
It is without a doubt that Jonathan Jackson will continue his creative endeavours with spiritual awareness. Offering his Emmy (his artistic reward to God) is a good example of the humility and hard work all struggling Orthodox artists need to pursue throughout their lives.
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