It's hard to explain why I have always liked Tom Cruise. His heartthrob years were a little before my time (not that the 50-year-old actor is unattractive now—have you seen Rock of Ages?), I had loved his ex-wife Nicole Kidman since I "discovered" her on Disney's Australian series Five Mile Creek, and around the time he started jumping on couches and scolding Brooke Shields for her use of antidepressants, practically all my friends were denouncing him. Loudly.

That same popular dislike has re-emerged in the past two weeks as an attitude of schadenfreude following the news that Katie Holmes has filed for divorce after a nearly six-year marriage to Cruise. Although neither has commented on the reasons for the split, Cruise was reportedly blindsided and devastated, and Holmes, moving quickly, has taken up residence in New York City. The popular narrative claims that she sought to "escape" him.

Most reports blame Cruise's Scientology for the split, citing previous clashes between Cruise and Holmes's Catholic family (even though she "embraced" Scientology when they married) as well as some of the odder aspects of Cruise's religion.

I don't have any insight into what went on in the union or eventual divorce. But I predict that in the weeks ahead, as intimate details begin to leak into public view, Cruise will have friends who advocate for his side, and Holmes for hers, as well as (unfortunately) those who testify against them. I can only hope that both Cruise and Holmes will have the grace to still advocate jointly for the well-being of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri; as a daughter of divorced-but-friendly parents, I know this makes all the difference. To me, the saddest aspect of the dissolution of a marriage is that it declares loudly—to the world and to each other but most painfully to the children—that two people are no longer committed to being the other's advocate.

Cruise, of course, is well known and much maligned for his advocacy of Scientology. In a series of tweets last week, News Corp president Rupert Murdoch called the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 "a very weird cult" and claimed that Cruise is the "number two or three" leader in the religion's hierarchy. As Christianity Today has noted, Christians have a number of reasons to be skeptical of the new religion that prioritizes self-help and has been accused of manipulating and financially defrauding its members. But I have long suspected that the public scourging of Cruise has more to do with the intensity of his beliefs than the content of them. And I see in Cruise's laser-like, all-in attitude toward Scientology the kind of attitude I am called to and ought to demonstrate toward my own—even while the contents of our respective faiths couldn't be more different. I don't know that much about Scientology, and most of what I do know I can't defend, but I find people who have the courage to state their unpopular beliefs endlessly fascinating and undeniably admirable.

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Cruise overcame a serious learning disability by applying the principles of Scientology that he discovered in 1986. Cruise explained the religion's role in his life thus: "What I believe in my own life is that it's a search for how I can do things better, whether it's being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve." Reading about his struggle, it's clear he was desperate for answers, and it makes sense that he remains loyal to something that apparently paid off on his commitment.

Scientology is a manmade quest for many of the same qualities that ought to be fruit of a life lived "abiding in the vine." I wish I could claim Cruise's testimony as a Christian one. But since I can't, I will only note that even Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was made in God's image, and I remain hesitant about calling its members "evil."

Most people in a pluralistic society like ours struggle with fear of public disapproval, whether on a small or large scale. Christians, like me, often check ourselves before we speak boldly about our beliefs. We are sometimes overly aware that our decisions weigh factors others consider irrelevant or mythical—such as the resurrection of Christ or the leading of the Holy Spirit—or that not everyone believes in the power of words and considers "Christ" and "Jesus" sacred. We sometimes choose not to "make a fuss" when we ought to.

Only God knows whether the loss of faith in this particular marriage is a matter of religious beliefs as well as individual vows. It is almost certainly an opportunity for both to reassess the roots of their faith, but that is a process those of us scanning the tabloids and clicking on headlines cannot truly observe.

Meanwhile, to those of us curious about the inner workings of Katie Holmes' decision and Cruise's mind in general: a gentle reminder that as Christians, we can help from afar through prayer. Because if there are rules against praying for celebrities or Scientologists, I am happy to say they are unenforceable.