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Politics

Five-Time Emmy-Winning Actor Jonathan Jackson Tells TNH Why He Became Orthodox

October 26, 2018

ATLANTA, GA – A young man with his hands crossed in a prayerful stance, his wife and their three children were waiting in line reverently to receive Holy Communion at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Atlanta a few weeks ago, during the visit of Mount Athos’ Vatopaidi Monastery’s Abbot Elder Ephraim and his entourage. The man, recognized by many in the congregation, was none other than Emmy Award-winning actor Jonathan Jackson, who won that honor five times, all in his most recognizable role, on General Hospital as Lucky Spencer, the son of the soap opera world’s most famous couple, Luke and Laura.

Jackson has appeared in numerous films, such as William Hurt, Sir Ben Kingsley, Al Pacino, and Michelle Pfeiffer, and is a singer/guitarist/songwriter in the rock band Enation. He was featured in People magazine’s lists of Most Beautiful People and Sexiest Men Alive. He is also a writer; his latest book, a collection of poems, is titled Book of Solace and Madness. The interview follows.

TNH: What attracted you to Orthodoxy?

JJ: So much. A lot of me began by reading Christian history and helped me start to understand where this tradition came from that it goes all the way back to Christ and to Apostles and the Orthodox Faith has remained the same for 2000 years, which was very impressive and it did something in my heart to see this. Also the worship, the prayers, the hymnography, the lives of the Saints, all of these things came into play and to me Orthodoxy was so beautiful and there is no other place I want to be. I was Protestant before. My whole family, thank God, were baptized Orthodox in 2012.

TNH: How did you get to know Abbot Elder Ephraim?

JJ: It has been a special honor and blessing for all of us, because we went to Greece on a pilgrimage and my family stayed in a Monastery on the mainland, and I took my older son, Caleb who was 11 years old at the time, with me to Mount Athos that is when I first met Geronta Ephraim.

TNH: What made you to dedicate your Emmy Award to the Vatopaidi Monastery?

JJ: I won the Emmy Award in 2012 and when I gave my acceptance speech, I thanked the Holy Trinity, my family of course, and at the end I thanked the monks on Mount Athos for continually praying for the world. And it was a mysterious thing for me because I had not been to Mount Athos yet, but I had read a lot about it and I felt their prayers were with me and I felt their prayers upholding the world in a sense. So I had 30 seconds to say something and I wanted to thank them for their prayers. And then some years later I went to the Holy Mountain and I wanted to dedicate the Emmy Award to Panagia and to her Garden. I went there specifically for the Vimatarissa Icon and Geronta Ephraim.

TNH: When you worshiped at Vatopaidi and all the Services were in Greek. How did you feel?

JJ: I loved it, although I didn’t understand. We go every Sunday to an English speaking- church, so when I visit churches whether is in Greek or Russian or Romanian or Serbian, I feel like I still experience it because it is not just about the mind, it is about the heart. And even if I don’t understand all the words at the moment the beauty of the music, the incense, the iconography, the prayers, and the presence is very moving.

TNH: How do you feel about Hellenism?

JJ: I have fallen in love with the Greek People, I fallen in love with Greece, with the Holy Mountain, this is family for us.

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