'God's Available to All of Us'
Barbara Hall, creator of the new CBS drama 'Joan of Arcadia,' talks about her most dangerous idea
BY: Interview by Paul O'Donnell
What made you want to do this show?
My longtime interest in Joan of Arc is really the jumping-off point, but I've always been interested in metaphysics and physics. I wanted to create a show in which I use the fact that I spend all my free time reading about this stuff. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if that were just homework, research?"
From there it grew into this show about a family recovering from a tragedy and how it affects their spiritual lives, and this girl who is a modern day Joan of Arc, who hears from God in a time when that's the most unacceptable thing, when it can be used in court as evidence of insanity. I wanted to update that dilemma.
Yet on TV these days God seems more acceptable than ever.
But none of those shows identify God. If you want to do the supernatural, that's one thing, and I enjoy that genre, but we're trying to dramatize something that, from my vantage point, could be real. It's not some force, or energy, or the hellmouth-it's God.
Your Ten Commandments of "Joan of Arcadia" have become sort of famous. The first commandment is that God will never identify one religion as true.
Those rules are for my God on my show. I'm not trying to replace Moses. On our show, God can never identify a religion as being right. I don't have any more information about that than anyone else.
But you are thinking about monotheism.
Yes, monotheism indeed. It's God with a big "G," and singular.
Who are your spiritual influences?
I try to read a bit of everything, even stuff I think is illegitimate-the completely out-there stuff-and I read the serious theologians. I read St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Kathleen Norris, "The Parables of Peanuts"-which is quite a good book. I just finished "Under the Banner of Heaven," the Jon Krakauer book. I'm not trying to find a belief. I'm trying to identify the different languages in which people speak to God. So I read about reincarnation and I read Rumi, whom I love.
Did you grow up religious?
Yes, I was raised by very dogmatically religious parents. Not born again, but very strictly observed Methodist practice. My brother is a Methodist minister, and there's just clergy all over my family. Religion was part of the fabric. I went through a period of very loud, noisy rejection, and then a couple of years ago converted to Catholicism.