Carl Mays: ‘You got a friend, and that friend is you’

Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:20 PM

Best I remember, I’ve seen the Academy Awards or Oscars TV program one time. That was when I was in college and went by my fraternity house, where some members and their dates were heavily involved in discussing who or what should win each award. However, some follow-up news about the 2014 ceremony caught my attention this week. I’m referring in particular to the acceptance speech by Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey.

I didn’t know much about McConaughey, but I do remember him from “A Time to Kill,” the film based on John Grisham’s novel of the same name. I thought it was a good movie and that McConaughey did a good job portraying the lawyer who successfully defends the rural Mississippi black man on trial for murdering two white men who had raped his daughter.

That was back in 1996. This time around, the news report about McConaughey’s acceptance of the Oscar for the “Dallas Buyers Club” film caught my attention when he said: “First off, I want to thank God, because He’s the one I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities, which I know are not of my hand or any other humankind. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, ‘When you got God, you got a friend, and that friend is you.’”

On the news clip it sounded like he received some polite applause from the Oscar crowd, but the applause was deafened by the majority’s silence. Of course, his comments gave birth to a deluge of Twittering, both negative and positive. One tweet read: “OK, McConaughey, so you really deserved the award. Just stop the stupid god talk.” Another expressed: “I thought we could get through the Oscars without someone thanking god, but no, he had to ruin it; (expletive) you McConaughey.” Still another derogatory remark said: “I thought McConaughey should have won until he started with all that god (expletive).”

On the other hand, Twitterers applauded McConaughey with: “...Matthew McConaughey thanked God, and every Christian girl started shouting AMEN!” A second read: “The minimal applause that Matthew McConaughey received for thanking God is disgraceful. Hollywood needs God.” A third twitterer wrote: “Matthew McConaughey praises God in his acceptance speech and the ‘tolerant’ left freaked out! They demand tolerance for themselves but give hate if views differ.”

McConaughey followed up his thanks to God by expressing his appreciation for his wife, children, mother and late father. Born and reared in Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in media. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and published author. His father played in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers before becoming a gas-station owner. He became a Christian and a member of the Methodist denomination.

His parents took his name from the New Testament. For this reason, he never shortened it to “Matt.” His wife, Brazilian model Camila Alves, was raised as a Catholic and attended a Catholic university. As a result of her faith commitment, they were married in 2012 in a private Catholic ceremony.

With his name Matthew coming from the New Testament, McConaughey’s acceptance speech reflected words expressed by Jesus in the New Testament’s Luke 12:48, “ whom much is given, much is expected...” That is, if we are blessed with talents, abilities, knowledge, time, wealth or anything else, God expects us to use these blessings to bless others and to Glorify God.

Talking about movies – in “Spider-Man,” Ben Parker is Peter Parker’s uncle and father figure. His death was the main inspiration for Peter becoming Spider-Man. It was Uncle Ben who taught Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. Email or visit