Author Greg Laurie was asked to start a Bible study at the age of 19, two years after he became a Christian. The Bible study evolved into Harvest Christian Fellowship, where Laurie serves as Senior Pastor to more than 12,000 people.
Laurie’s June, 2017, book entitled: “Steve McQueen – Salvation of an American Icon” made me stop and think of the blessings provided me in my life. Laurie wrote the book in collaboration with Marshall Terrill, who has authored five books on Steve McQueen. Why did Laurie desire to also write a book about Steve McQueen? So much happened in this 302 page book, that I will only address several of the salient points.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S NOTES at the beginning of the book. It will make a huge difference in reading the book. Laurie did a masterful job in making me feel he was right at the location interviewing the subjects including: the driving route, what that particular part of the country was like, where he ate meals and the menu. He was so accomplished at this that I thought I had read about the way he was presenting his story, but partway through the book I had to return to the beginning of the book to verify what I thought I had read.
WHY ANOTHER BOOK ON McQUEEN? Laurie tracks McQueen’s life, which in several ways was similar to his own: Both of their fathers abandoned them, their stepfathers were abusive, their mothers married multiple times (as McQueen had), alcoholism played a large part in the instability of their parents, both Laurie and McQueen were sent to a type of reform school during their senior high school years. Both men also had a fascination with fast cars (each owned a 1967 Bullitt Mustang – although McQueen’s was the original from his movie “Bullitt”). Laurie admitted that the reason why a successful pastor, like him, would want to write a book on McQueen, the most prominent and highest paid actor in Hollywood of his time, was because they had so many similarities in growing up.
Largely because of McQueen’s poor upbringing, he also stole cars, was known for his drinking and drug use, ran away from home and jointed the circus, at 17 he enlisted in the Marines, was a womanizer and was demanding and hard to work with as he advanced into his movie career. Yet, there was a very positive side to McQueen. He made anonymous donations to charities and was a loyal friend. He returned to the reform school, Boys Republic in Chino, California, where he was sent for being incorrigible, on a frequent basis and counseled the boys there. He was a “sucker” to help young and old people.
McQueen’s disrespect for authority led to 41 days in the brig. The Marines then shipped him from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to Washington, DC, where he helped renovate ships’ engine rooms. McQueen was such a complex individual that Laurie uses a Winston Churchill quote to describe him: He was “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” (page xii).
“JESUS SPECIALIZES IN TURNING NOTORIOUS SINNERS INTO NORTORIOUS CHRISTIANS” (pg. 271). Why was it so important for Laurie to know that McQueen, who had died 37 years before the book was written, had such a horrible past and was the most prominent and highest paid actor in Hollywood during the 1960’s and 1970s and confessed in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ before he died at the age of 50 (in 1980)?
The saving truth was realized by Laurie at the age of 17 that he was a sinner and the only way he was going to heaven was to believe that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth to die on the cross so that His blood would blot out Laurie’s sins (and the sins of all others who professed a faith in Jesus Christ) forever and that Christ arose again and sits at the right hand of God, His Father. McQueen on the other hand, although told of the saving knowledge, did not believe until 1979, less than a year before his death.
God is patient. McQueen lived on the edge a good part of his life, driving fast cars and motorcycles. He was also spared an earlier death in 1969 when McQueen was scheduled to attend a party of Sharon Tate’s, where Sharon and four of her guests were killed by the Charles Mansion family. Fortunately for McQueen, he never made it to the party because he was on Mansion’s “hit list”.
McQueen died November 7, 1980 from Mesothelioma (a type of cancer) from asbestos exposure while working in the hull of ships years prior as a Marine. It is important to know that he accepted Christ a few months before he found out he had cancer (he did not accept Christ as “a fire insurance policy”).
Laurie’s final and preeminent reason for writing is explained at the end of the book: “McQueen’s great regret in life was that he was not able to use his massive platform as an internationally known personality to share the story of what Jesus did for him.” (page 298). Laurie emphasized that we should not compare ourselves to one another because: “God doesn’t grade on a curve.” The Bible tells us if we “offend in one point” of the law (given by God, in the Bible), we are “guilty of all of it.” (James 2:10).
READER’S NOTES: A point that was driven home in reading the book is it doesn’t matter how young or old you are OR how “good” or “bad” you are. Jesus is waiting for you. One should not delay in accepting His invitation because no one knows when his last breath will be.
I so liked this book that before I started to write this review of it, I watched two of McQueen’s movies – “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt”.
Columnist Jeff Hall resides in Honey Brook.