'Why Would The Anti-Christ Write Chorus Line?'
Is Bush as religious as he claims? These, and other questions addressed by liberal comedian-activist Al Franken
In another part of the book you had an interesting line about the alliance between evangelical Christians and Jews in support for Israel. You seem suspicious of the evangelical support for Israel.
If they believe what they say they believe, they believe that the Jews have to be in Israel in order for the apocalypse to occur. So it seems to me that they want the second coming to happen and it can only happen if the Jews are in Israel so that when the rapture happens and the apocalypse and all that shit, all the Jews will die in fiery hell. So that’s why I’m a little suspicious of it. Wouldn’t you be?
What about Democrats – Democrats lie sometimes too, right?
Never! Yeah, sure, I guess. I think everybody lies sometime in their life. What I was kind of documenting was the systematic lying on the right and complete disregard for the truth.
There’s a difference between lying about your sex life and lying about why sending men and women into battle. I think there’s a huge difference.
Do you think hell exists and if so, who is there?
I think hell exists on earth. It’s a psychological state or it can be a physical state. People who have severe mental illness are in hell. People who have lost a loved one are in hell. I think there are all kinds of different hells. It’s not a place you go to after you die.
I don’t know what happens to you after you die. I’m not banking on there being like a heaven.
How would you describe your spiritual life?
My spiritual life is… sometimes I have access to it and sometimes I don’t. When I do have access to it, it’s usually a sense of my understanding what the best course of action or the best thing for me to do. By best, I mean when I have a real sense of doing the right thing and doing good for people and the connected universe of everybody.
What do you mean "when you have access to it."
Means when I’m in a more spiritual place than when I’m… reacting maybe more out of non spiritual reasons-- either anger or ambition or lust, those kinds of things. None of those are necessarily bad. I wrote this book in large part out of anger.
I also think that writing is a big part of my spiritual life. Because when you write you basically have faith that something’s going to come out of you. There’s really no reason to think that! So when you sit down to write, it’s really an act of faith. I don’t consider myself an artist necessarily but craftsmen or people in the arts, their spiritualism is sort of when you’re writing well or performing well or doing whatever you do well, there’s an element of that that’s either God-given, a talent that you’re not necessarily responsible for…. There’s such a thing as gifts that people are given by virtue of nature, they’re born with it – it’s God given.
How do you get there?
I usually get there by remembering to think about it. Slowing down. Experiencing it. When you write something funny or that you really like, that’s good, experiencing the joy of that, is one way I’m accessing it. And another thing is when I do have decisions to make on the way to deal with something important in my life I try consciously to access my spirituality by saying, “ok what’s really the right thing to do, what’s really going on here.”
Do you ever try anything formal like meditation or prayer?
I have. I haven’t actually been that successful at it. [Laughter]
What do you mean?
I just can’t sit still and meditate, that doesn’t kind of work for me. I don’t even know exactly what it means. Also another part of spirituality for me is thinking about my dad who died in 1993 or thinking about my kids or the continuum of life—that gets me into that.
You were raised Jewish?
Not particularly devout. We were reform Jews and I didn’t even get bar mitzvahed. I was confirmed. I went to Saturday school. We were very reform.
You have any positive or negative memories of confirmation school?
Well confirmation process was about history of Judaism, learning about the Bible the spiritual aspects of all that. It wasn’t incredibly rigorous.. I’d have to go in on Saturday. it wasn’t that long. It was like 2 years, and I hated it.