Uma Thurman, Hollywood and Buddhism



I heard this heartbreaking story from Hollywood. Almost every week, we have been hearing the sad news of sexual abuse from Hollywood. This time the victim is Uma Thurman. She is the daughter of Robert Thurman, a former Buddhist monk, now the Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University.  Uma Thurman recently said when she was just 16 years old, when  she just started her movie career, she was sexually assaulted by an actor 20 years older to her. We’ve been hearing these high profile stories of sexual violence from Hollywood elite these last few months. We naturally wonder, what is going on? Columnist Maureen Dowd wrote in New York Times,

Yes, Uma Thurman is mad.She has been raped. She has been sexually assaulted. She has been mangled in hot steel. She has been betrayed and gaslighted by those she trusted.And we’re not talking about her role as the blood-spattered bride in “Kill Bill.” We’re talking about a world that is just as cutthroat, amoral, vindictive and misogynistic as any Quentin Tarantino hellscape. We’re talking about Hollywood, where even an avenging angel has a hard time getting respect, much less bloody satisfaction.” 

Maureen Dowd has described Hollywood as ‘cutthroat, amoral, vindictive and misogynistic hellscape’.

When the movie industry was born in Hollywood, it was influenced by Christian worldview. There was some fear of God in the lives of directors, actors and actresses. Hollywood produced many great Christian movies like Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Ten Commandments, Chariots of Fire etc. A Hollywood which was influenced by Christian morality now became an amoral landscape with a quasi-Buddhist spirituality.

  Thurman made accusations on Harvey Weinstein and Quentin Tarantino. She acted in a movie titled Pulp Fiction in 1994, directed by Quentin Tarantino and produced by Harvey Weinstein. The movie made over 100 million dollars. At a fundraiser for President Barack Obama, Weinstein introduced Uma Thurman to President Obama as the reason he had his house. Modern Hollywood is making millions of dollars but at what cost?

     Let us talk about Pulp Fiction: I did not watch this movie, but read its storyline on wikipedia.  The movie Pulp Fiction introduces us to a world of cultural fragmentation and existentialism. The story is about the modern life broken into little subcultures that don’t make sense to one another. How can you save this world? This movie teaches, we can save this world – not through God, not through Bible –  but through friendship, existentialism, and surrealism. Existentialism is a philosophy that teaches that every individual determines his or her own destiny through acts of will. I don’t care about God, heaven or hell, I care about what I want. My thoughts, my feelings, my desires, my ambitions will determine my destiny, I don’t put much value or any value on things like God or the Bible. That is the kind of existentialism that took foothold in Hollywood. Then, surrealism is a movement in art and literature that sought to locate deep patterns of life in the unconscious mind. It tries to find meaning in something other than emotion and reason. You find meaning in your imagination. Unconscious imagination. In this movie Pulp Fiction, there are two friends, Vincent and Jules. In one scene they quote Bible verses like from the Book of Ezekiel, in the next scene they shoot people. The message is: we don’t care about what the Bible says, we go by our feelings and instincts. Their lives are marked by shock and chaos, moving from nihilism to surrealism. They throw their audience into mental fragmentation, chaos and disorientation.

      This is modern cinema: A melange of existentialism, surrealism, nihilism, cultural fragmentation, chaos and disorientation. To this mixture, they added mysticism and meditation from Eastern religions for those who crave for spirituality. In 1956, Cecil B. DeMille produced and directed the movie The Ten Commandments. It’s budge was 13 million dollars but it collected 122 million dollars at the Box Office. After watching the movie, you walk out thinking about God: A God who created us in his image, a God who interferes with the affairs of his creation, a God who remembers his covenants with his people, a God who comes down to liberate his people who were under bondage, a God who punishes Egyptians who enslaved his people, a God who leads his people towards a promised land, a God who takes care of his people, a God who communicated his morality in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments: it was not only a great movie and piece of art, but also a movie which conveyed Christian worldview to it’s audience.

    William Wyler directed the movie Ben-Hur in 1959. It was adapted from Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. It’s budget was 15 million dollars and it made 146 million dollars at the Box Office. When I was in high school, my mother took me to watch this movie. From the opening scene to the final scene, it kept me at the edge of my seat.  In Ben-Hur, we see a Jewish family touched by the grace and forgiveness of Lord Jesus Christ. The protagonist Judah Ben-Hur’s mother Miriam and his sister Tirzah contract leprosy. The Romans discover their leprosy and expel them from the city. Ben-Hur goes searching for his mother and sister in the Valley of Lepers. There you see the love of a son for his mother and sister. Then we see the crucifixion of Jesus, the blood from the cross flows through a rain stream and heals Miriam and Tirzah of their leprosy. Ben-Hur sees the healed Miriam and Tirzah and embraces them with joy and fulfillment. In the final scene, we see the sun shining over the cross, a new era for all of mankind. You walk out with a feeling of hope and meaning to your life.

       Why major studios in Hollywood no longer produce such great movies like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur ? Because it was taken over by individuals like Harvey Weinstein, George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino. The age of skepticism has taken over Hollywood like every other institution in our culture.

     After World War I and World War II, the West has lost its confidence in its traditions.  Then the modern cinema conceived nihilism, atheism and existentialism. Many turned to Eastern mysticism. Yes, war shakes our inner core. But we don’t have to give up our hope. You know, the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace, was a Union general in the American Civil War. As he fought through the bloody civil war, Wallace heard the cries for war, he saw his nation torn into two pieces,  he walked through battlefields littered with dead bodies, he experienced the despair and disunity brought by the war, he witnessed the amputations of limbs and the stench of abandoned dead soldiers. But he did not descend into existentialism, nihilism and atheism. He found hope for the mankind under the cross and showed it in the last scene of his novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. That is why Ben-Hur became one of the greatest novels and movies. It is about finding hope in Christ when you despair crushes you down. Surrealism cannot save us from nihilism, we need a Savior.

            So, the modern Hollywood took a different approach after World Wars. It’s movies are filled with nihilism, atheism, existentialism, surrealism, multiculturalism, moral relativism, pantheism, environmentalism, violence, nudity and profanity.  As Maureen Dowd wrote, it became a ‘cutthroat, amoral, vindictive, misogynistic hellscape’.  

How is the movie shooting going? Ms.Thurman told New York Times that Mr.Tarantino spit in her face and choked her while filming scenes in ‘Kill Bill’. Are you serious? The director spitting on her face and choking her while shooting the film! And he gets Academy award for best director!  In Ben-Hur, after meeting Jesus, Judah declares, ‘And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand’. He learned forgiveness after meeting Jesus. The de-Christianized Hollywood has been filling movies with mindless killings and violence.

How is the imagination working? Ms.Thurman herself suggested the idea of the blood bride, being spit upon and getting choked. It looks like she wanted to limit the violence to the movies not to the real life. But nothing stays just in our imagination. God told us in Genesis chapter 6 that our imagination is prone to evil and unchecked imagination leads us to wickedness. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagining of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Verse 11 says, ‘The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence’. Before the Flood, human beings abandoned God and followed their own imaginations. Then what happened? The earth became corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. We should learn that truth from Genesis chapter 6. When we abandon God, we reap corruption and violence.

   In an interview with Howard Stern, Tarantino defended the director Roman Polanski’s sexual abuse of a 13-year-old, Samantha Geimer. All of this abuse is happening under the guise of female empowerment. Ms.Thurman told New York Times, “I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of ‘Kill Bill,’ a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.”

    Lambs walking into the slaughter…young ladies, think twice before you plan to go to Hollywood. You can see what is going on under the guise of ‘female empowerment’. God has a better plan for your life. Let not Hollywood deceive you.

Then they talked about friendship in Pulp Fiction. Once upon a time, Uma, Quentin and Weinstein described Pulp Fiction as a product of their great friendship.  

How is the friendship working now? Ms.Thurman wrote on her Instagram page,

“Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! (Except you Harvey, and all your wicked conspirators – I’m glad it’s going slowly – you don’t deserve a bullet) -stay tuned” Uma Thurman

I’m glad it’s going slowly – You don’t deserve a bullet. We can hear so much anguish in those words. Why did you go through all this abuse for all these years? Ms.Thurman said, “Personally, it has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you ‘in love’ with you. It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.”

    Why did it take so long to realize that you are being abused? Because as a little girl I am conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection.

Cruelty and love have a connection? You can see Buddhist worldview here. In Christianity, God is the source of love while Satan is the source of cruelty. God is not the author of evil. But, in Buddhism, there is no personal God, there is no Satan, there is no evil. Everything is related in one universal consciousness.

    Uma Thurman was born in a Buddhist family. Her first name Uma means ‘splendour’ after a female Hindu goddess ‘Parvati’. Her father Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies.

There are very important differences between Christianity and Buddhism. Buddhism has no personal God, but Christianity introduces us to a personal God. A God who loved us and wants to have a relationship with us. Buddha never claimed to be a god, but today Buddhists worship him as a god. In reaching out to Buddha, you can see how human beings crave for a relationship with God. Christianity offers a personal relationship with God in Christ.

   Buddhism denies personhood. Christianity teaches you are a person made in the image of God. Buddhism teachers you are a temporary self, Christianity teaches you are an eternal soul. In the Bible, we have a God who calls everyone with their name.

In the Garden of Eden, God called Adam by his name, ‘Adam, where are you?’

God called Abraham by his name.

God called Moses by his name.

God called Samuel by his name.

God called David by his name.

Jesus called each of his disciples by his name. ‘Simon, do you love me?’

Jesus called Lazarus by his name, ‘Lazarus, come out’.

Jesus called Paul by his name, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’

One of the beautiful scenes in the New Testament happens after the resurrection of Christ. Mary runs to the tomb of Christ. She weeps because she could not find the body of Jesus. She thinks someone had stolen the body of Jesus. As she continues to weep, Jesus comes to her and calls her out, ‘Mary’. Mary leaps with joy when Jesus calls her by her name. That’s the beauty of Christianity. God calls you by your name. You are a person, God is a person. You start a beautiful personal relationship with God when you trust in Christ.

 Buddhism has no concept of holy God. Now, holiness scares lot of people, even Christians. I have a six year old son. When I take him in my car, I tell him to sit in the car seat, I put the seat belt on him. I tell him, ‘Son, keep the seat belt throughout the drive’. I put restrictions on my son’s movements for his own safety. Similarly, God puts restrictions on our lives for our own safety. When God commands us, ‘Don’t, he is telling us, ‘don’t hurt yourself’. So, holiness is for our safety. We don’t need to be scared of holiness. 

The Bible says, the wages of sin is death. No one is immune to this truth.  Uma Thurman herself promoted violence and sexual abuse, fornication and adultery in her movies. Now, having found herself a victim of such violence, she is crying.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. That is from Proverbs 14:12. 

Uma Thurman or any other Hollywood actor actress cannot ignore this precious truth. The wages of sin is death. How can we escape sin and its devastation? We need a Savior like Jesus, not a philosopher like Buddha.

May God help us see the deception of Buddhism in our society and turn to Lord Jesus Christ and His word. Let us pray:



PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our Savior. You are a Savior who calls us by our name. We pray for millions around the world who follow Buddha, a mere human being, and Buddhism, just another philosophy  of man. You are the way, the truth and the life. In your precious name, we pray. Amen.



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Buddhism in the Light of Christ: A Former Buddhist Nun’s Reflections, with …By Esther Baker

Buddhism in America By Richard Hughes Seager

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Buddhist Faith in America By Michael Burgan, J. Gordon Melton

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