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Truth in Fiction: The Reverend Paul Clark '73

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One can resist or embrace evil, endure or succumb to outside forces.

It's this inner turmoil within the fictional character Frank Black and its actor Lance Henriksen, from the television series "Millennium," that captivates Albright Chaplain Paul Clark, M.Div. '73. It's also why he chose to share his passion in an essay published in a new book, Back to Frank Black.

Clark's essay, "The Story of Lance Henriksen and the Fable of Frank Black," presents Clark's belief that "Frank Black is a reflection of his (Henriksen's) life. Henriksen was perfect for the role," Clark notes, "because both of them have a great internal struggle they are dealing with. Both refuse to give up in the midst of evil."

Published in September 2012 and edited by Adam Chamberlain and Brian Dixon with an introduction by "Millennium" creator Chris Carter, Back to Frank Black interprets the popular TV series, which ran from 1996 to 1999. It also serves as an appeal to Fox executives to get the show and its main character back on the air.

Clark says, "'Millennium' brought together many important human and spiritual issues in the context of a mystery." What made the show especially influential, he says, was "Black's hopeful voice that speaks hope in dark times."

Black is an FBI agent who has the gift to see within the mind of a killer that he is pursuing. Black quits the Bureau and starts working for Millennium, a group of ex-federal agents who fight the escalation of crime at the turn of the century.

Unfortunately, the show abruptly ended in 1999. Clark and many other fans from New Zealand to Australia to Europe are convinced that the series needs to be continued. "It's not over; the story is not finished," Clark says passionately. "There is a lot more we need to know about Frank Black."

Henriksen, who also feels the story isn't over, mentions he is willing to play Black again in his autobiography, Not Too Bad for a Human, co-written with Joseph Maddrey. Its release in 2011 was a catalyst that fueled the desire of fans to see the series return to television. It also affirmed for Clark that there is a deep correlation between the struggles of Henriksen and Black.

"They both are working to create an authentic life in a chaotic world," Clark says. "But, even more, they are both looking for a sense of true belonging and connection…real human community."

Clark's love of "Millennium" and Frank Black isn't just a hobby; he also uses Henriksen's autobiography as a case study in his interdisciplinary course,"Mad Men & Wild Men." The course focuses on how men's visions of identity, relationships and society are undergoing significant redefinition.

Clark also shows the television series in class and asks students to analyze Frank Black. "Student response to 'Millennium' has been great, especially to character Black," says Clark, who sent the papers that students wrote on Henriksen's autobiography to Maddrey. In return, Henriksen sent autographed books to the class. Clark is currently talking with Henriksen about a possible visit to Albright.

–Shanna Salmon '13

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