Beliefnet

You've said John Paul II was one of few moral voices we can rely on, like Elie Weisel or the Dalai Lama. What, to you, makes a moral voice reliable?

You see the behavior of the person in public and private, and make your determinations. Usually they're exposed to challenges that require courage, and they have that courageous response.

They tell the truth as it is, but also leave us with hope. They're not looking to be cranks or critics; they're looking to uplift and point the way.

How would you describe you own spiritual journey?

Jon Voight on being Catholic
I was raised Catholic... I fell in love with certain ideals. The idea of right and wrong, being righteous, acknowledging when you make a mistake, repentance-all these important things I got from my Catholic background.

Do actors need to experience pain to portray suffering?
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  • I've read that you've explored other religions, too. Which ones?

    Many religions: the Eastern religions, the Hopi religion. The Hopi religion is a very elaborate, sophisticated religion. They have ceremonies and dances continuously. It's very social, but also full of beautiful symbolism born of the interaction with the natural world and prayers to the creator. It's not unlike the Hindu religion, the meditation.

    I had a friend, Thomas Banyacya. He was a representative of the Hopi prophecy, a testament that came down through word of mouth for the secret societies of the Hopi.

    Jon Voight on
    the Hopi "Bean Ceremony"
    He told me about the "bean ceremony," where the elderly Hopi take the young children into a kiva, a building with a ladder coming out of the top. It's like a holy room. They then plant a seed together in the soil in the kiva.

    Then they come back and chant and pray with that seed-the elder and the little child. My friend would say if there was something going on, some drama in the life of the elder, the tree would grow stunted or crooked. If the person was in right behavior, the bean plant would grow straight and healthy. That's amazing to me. It is about purity, character, how that affects our environment. It speaks so eloquently.

    I've read that you're interested in Judaism, too--you read Hasidic writings and seek out Chabad centers when you're on location in different places. Is that the case?

    That's true of native people too. When I'm near a native community, I visit it. If I hear there's a spiritual person in the neighborhood, I'll seek them out. No matter who it is, if I find someone who might be helping their community, if I'm working there I'll call them up and say, "Need any help? Can I put some focus on something? Can I visit the kids?"

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