Excerpts from Do You Believe? Conversations on God and Religion by Antonio Monda appeared in today’s Globe and Mail. Monda speaks with “leading cultural figures” on this topic. Some of the highlights (at least, of the excerpts in the paper):
Q: Is there a God?
Jane Fonda: I discovered the grandeur of the Christian universe quite recently and I’m still amazed at how much ignorance there is about it – an ignorance that until a few years ago I shared.
Martin Scorsese: I don’t think I can give a precise answer. I thnk that my faith in God lies in my constant searching. But I certainly call myself a Catholic.
Elie Wiesel: Yes, of course.
A few other choice items:
- Martin Scorsese on the appeal of Catholicism:
Apart from the iconography which is so powerful and evocative, the dramaturgical aspect of Mass and the religious services. But obviously I felt something more profound, beginning with the idea of suffering and redemption, which obsessed me, and which I saw in both the intimacy and externality of Catholicism. Maybe it’s no coincidence that in these years I was a fan of film noir, in which the same elements clash.
- Toni Morrison on George W. Bush, politics, and God in America:
I think what they’re doing is simply exploitative, if not blasphemous. The situation the president has got us into is desperate, and I’m terrified when I hear him speak of his God. Phrases are attributed to him like “I will never negotiate with myself,” but negotiating with oneself is normally called thinking. His religious absolutism is stupefying. I can’t understand with what moral authority he refers to the Heavenly Father and then calls himself a war president.
- Daniel Libeskind on “architects in whom a religious background or yearning is evident.”
The first name that comes to mind is obviously Antoni Gaudi. But in some ways it’s too obvious. I’ve always been fascinated by the inescapable spirituality of a person considered a heretic, like Le Corbusier, or a mystic, like Mies van der Rohe, who read St. Thomas and St. Augustine and kept their books beside his bed. I would conclude by saying that there hasn’t been a great architect who didn’t have a strong element of spirituality.
I’ve put this book on my Christmas wish list.