Catholic vs. Protestant - 2018-03-07 - John Faithful Hamer

Author Recorded Wednesday March 7th, 2018

There are 31 episodes in the Versus:Protestant series.

I met John on Facebook. He is a family man who teaches Philosophy at John Abbott College. He is a colorful character with a very open mind, but he chooses to identify as Christian. I enjoyed listening to him talk, and hope to have him back. Lots of fun. • Support the CVS Podcast: • Be a guest on a livestream:

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These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
hello this is John faithful Hamer and you're listening to Catholic versus Protestant so just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself if you would who you are what you believe and how you came to believe it all right well I teach at John Abbott College in the Department of humanities philosophy and religion and I've had a lifelong interest in religion I come from a very religious family what I believe has evolved over time but I haven't really made sense of it yes I'm wrestling with that all the way into my 40s still can you touch just briefly on some of your earliest recollections of God and religion and what you witnessed around you maybe in a grandparent or a parent or a sibling or someone that inspired you to think about the other world well I grew up in an environment which was kind of a mixture of Christianity and Buddhism and various kinds of Eastern MS you know that 1960s hippie hodgepodge you know everything like a salad containing all these different things and and so I have a lot of fond memories of that sort of thing from when I was young but the first time it became very serious for me was when I was 12 years old I was getting into a lot of trouble and I was kind of a pain and I was in a single-parent household my mom was raising the three of us by herself me and my two little sisters and I guess you know I I don't know what the it's hard to remember but I guess my hormones were raging as a testosterone pump teenager and my mom was didn't know what to do with me and so she sent me down to live with my uncle Peter for the summer right after school finished and he lived in a little town outside of Roanoke called Rocky Mount in Virginia and I went down there and I had a fantastic summer and one of the best summers of my life my Uncle Peter had just got a new house and he was doing all sorts of renovations and stripping the floors refinishing them painting you know building stuff and so the deal that we struck was that I would do a certain amount of work for him every day I can't remember what it was I think it was like I'd do some four hours of work every day and then the rest of the day was completely free I could do whatever I wanted and so for the most part I would go off and wander around in the forest and find like box turtles and snakes and lizards and salamanders and had all sorts of fun but while I was down there my my uncle Peter is a very devout Christian and Evangelical Protestant and he went to church a lot I mean he still does but he went to church a lot like not just Sunday morning it was like Sunday morning Sunday night Friday nights Wednesday nights you know a lot of church a lot of church and for talking marathon services I mean when the spirit would really move you could be there on a Sunday night until well after midnight and nobody was in any hurry to leave it was just like I don't know being I had like a rave or something you know like but I had never seen anything like that I had never heard singing like that it was just unbelievable and the the enthusiasm the excitement I mean it's been over 30 years and I can still remember it like it was yesterday and they were just phenomenal phenomenal church services I mean to explain to somebody who's never experienced something like that I guess the only comparison would be like Osheaga or like like a really fantastic concert you know when you're seeing your favorite band and you're high on ecstasy or something I don't know it's completely amazing but anyway while I was down at my uncle Peters in Virginia I got like saved right I became like a born-again Christian and I came back as like a full-on bible-thumping evangelical born-again Christian I've been converted I came back and bought a seat at a secondhand place and started going to church all the time so I immediately tried to find a spirit-filled the church when I got back to Montreal and through the grapevine I was told that the one that I would really like was to go to Trinity Pentecostal Church in LaSalle which was not very far away from where I lived in Verdun man so I started I joined Trinity Church as soon as I got back my mom was kind of shocked I think she was I think she was like a little bit ambivalent about it because I was a really preachy preachy kind of newly saved evangelical Christian where I was like putting Bible verses up on the walls all over the houses you know it's like Danny right if you're a teenager if you become a vegan if you become you know whatever you become when you're a teenager you become like really obnoxious so I was a you know like the you ever that show family ties where Alex pick Eden has these hippie parents and he becomes like a hardcore conservative who like has like Richard Nixon like portrait 'unless on his as well I sort of the my mom was a real well is you know a real kind of hippie very left-leaning hippie progressive type and incredibly sweet wonderful woman and so I think I think it was maybe the the worst thing that could have possibly happened to it anyway she was at the time she was a practicing Tibetan Buddhist and she went to a temple in Kok st. Paul just not far from where we lived and so she went to the the spiritual leader there the sort of the equivalent of the priest gala and she City she said I don't know what I'd like to do you know John faith okay back the United States that he's this bible-thumping evangelical Christian and I've kind of freaked out I don't know what this is engage less response was very wise he said your 12 year old is interested in spiritual things he's like rather than you know doing drugs and causing trouble with this he's interested in in you know transcendent things he's in in wisdom and knowledge you know this is a great thing you should be very very thankful and so she said that sort of allayed her fears and concerns that she was very very supportive actually I mean when I was baptized into the church she came and she was sitting right there in the front row and she was beaming with pride I a sermon one time they wanted somebody from the youth group to give the Sunday night sermon one time and so I volunteered view it and I gave the Sunday my night sermon and my mother even though she wasn't a member of the church and she wasn't a Christian in any sense she showed up you know as if it was my ballet recital and she she was there sitting in the front row beaming with pride so she was very supportive of it yeah so I guess that's that would be my my first really induction into Christianity do you remember hearing the story of your name who chose your name's John and faithful and who is the John that you were named for do you know the story so my grandfather was a very well-known pastor an evangelical who had like a radio show and a Christian camp in a huge Church on the west island and say my father grew up in an extremely religious household he was the son of a preacher man and he in his own way was also a preacher but I heat one of the books that he grew up on aside from the Bible was John Bunyan's the pilgrims progress and so he he was naming me partially for pilgrims progress partially the John Wright st. John and faithful was also because my mother's name is Penelope which means faithful wife her name is Penelope Jane and so the male version of Jane is John apparently and then Penelope means faithful wife and so you invert those and you get John faithful and that's my I got my name what was your first encounter with the idea that there's a Catholic Church that sort of stands separate from the Reformation what I was told was you know obviously in a very hardcore Evangelical Protestant Church was that the Catholic Church was horrible and satanic like with you know run by the oh yeah all these like really intense conspiracy theories and all that stuff right so yeah I guess that would be my my encounter with Catholicism if you're not Catholic I think you should be anti-catholic because if the real presence is not the case then it's the greatest blasphemy the doctrinal teaching of the real presence in the Eucharist how can you possibly stomach that unless it's the truth well there's various ways that you can interpret it I mean like when I participate in the Eucharist I feel a deep deep connection to thousands indeed you know over ten thousand years of history because that's something that goes right back to the Agricultural Revolution it is way way older than Christianity it's way older than you know these sort of Egyptian antecedents of that it goes far back I mean when we figured out how to grow things one of the first things they did was they would have these festivals where you would have the God that gives its life for you all right and then goes down into the ground and is reborn right and that's that's a very bad I I see Christianity as being essentially a very sort of pagan tradition which comes out of the Agricultural Revolution and so it's it's a new incarnation of a very ancient and powerful powerful tradition but do you believe that there's no difference between the real presence and your Joseph Campbell view of the Eucharist I think it's important to respect transcendence and I think if you if you get too dogmatic and to sort of obsessed with you know making an idol out of your own reason and your own logic and words and concepts I think that's you know one of the most amazing things or the great innovations of the ancient Hebrews I think was the idea that you should not have any graven images that you should not that I love the way Leonard Cohen you know to his dying day whenever he wrote God he always wrote G - D right and the idea that like saying the name of God is incredibly sacrilegious and that you should always allow God to remain beyond your words and beyond your capacity for images and beyond your logic and so when I very often would I when I encounter like a really sort of dogmatic Christian I find that to a large extent they're committing precisely the sins that Moses said you're not supposed to do you're sort of agreeing with me now that if you're not Catholic you should be anti-catholic because the Catholic Church is dogmatic I mean you can't separate the Catholic Church from dogma you just can't do it sure you can you know there's a very significant percentage of people who go to church all the time who say privately that they don't believe in God right that they don't believe in heaven that they don't believe in Hell so if you want to understand what a religious movement is about the worst people to talk to are the slick apologists who've like memorized all the Catechism and have their talking points and they sound like sort of high-functioning autistic debate club presidents and talking to those people is actually often the worst people talk to because they have an understanding of the faith which is usually not what you know regular Rhonda and Joe average their understanding of the movement it's much better to try and talk to sort of the rank and file and see what do you get out of this experience you know what are you feeling right and they may not have the answers that you like you know me very often they'll tell you well I come here because I love the community or I come here because I feel a special affinity for the virgin or for this particular saint and I'm really praying to Francis you know I'm not praying to Jesus kind of thing yeah speaking of the Saints you sort of talked about the uneducated masses on one end of the spectrum and then the slick apologists on the other end of the spectrum and you completely left out the Catholic saints the Saints are the ones who are proposed to us by the church as the ones to imitate we're never told to imitate the ignorant masses and we're never told to imitate the slick apologists were told to imitate always Jesus Christ and His Saints oh I'm not saying to imitate the masses right I'm just saying it's very interesting to see what people want what people get out of it the thing about the Catholic saints if you're if you're honest with yourself and you look at 2,000 years of Catholic saints you'll realize that a lot of men were very holy a lot of men were very Christian and a lot of men were very good and devout and they loved God and they loved the church but because they taught error because they were they were wrong about one point of doctrine they weren't canonized so this tells you something about the relationship between the saints that we celebrate and that we're told to imitate and Dogma because this is really what we're trying to discuss here is my claim is that you can't separate dogma from the Catholic Church yeah you can have a pro-choice Catholic but that's completely missing the point that's oxymoronic that's a contradiction in terms you know I mean we we cannot violate the fifth commandment right mm-hmm well I mean I've known very very devout Catholics who were wonderful people and did a lot of really fantastic works and you know as Jesus says by their fruits ye shall know them he didn't say by their dogmas he shall know them I and they did a lot of really fantastic things and they were also pro-choice yeah if you don't know that what you're doing is wrong then of course Jesus is very kind and merciful and if these people out of their own ignorance invincible ignorance they don't know that the fetus is a human being then they're not doing anything wrong well objectively speaking they're doing something wrong but subjectively speaking it's not wrong because they're not violating their conscience but I want to talk a little bit about your voyage from evangelical youth to where you are today what how do you how do you label your Christianity today I know it's a work in progress and that it's under development but what can you sort of paint a broad picture of how you got from where you were to here today okay well there is this and I you know as I said I really don't know how to make sense of this but after I was saved when I was 12 and raheem at Virginia I heard the voice of God when I prayed like I heard a voice speaking back I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit and it was fantastic but then one day God just stopped talking to me I you know when I was about I know like 14 14 15 it just suddenly it was like Holy Saturday right the day that God was dead right before the resurrection yeah it was horrible I mean I felt very like abandoned was like the you know it was like the worst breakup ever right like I got dumped by Jesus you know so I don't know it was like trying to stay in a relationship with somebody that you've fallen out of love with you're not you're just going through the motions but you there's no conviction behind it anymore and so finally I just I started to feel like more and more of a fraud and I also felt sort of in a sense embarrassed because you know there's that wonderful line when Jesus says to Steve and you know like all right no doubting Thomas races you know blessed are those who believe even though they don't see right like they would have faith I realized that I never really had faith in the sense that I think most Christians have faith like I didn't have to as an act of my will decide to believe and you know have faith it was very very real you know now I don't know how to make sense of that I maybe I was having like a little bit of a psychotic episode maybe it was it was like a brush with schizophrenia I really do not know how to make sense of the experiences I I had during that time but anyway so eventually after God stopped talking to me I left the church I stopped going and I was out of it for about 12 years then when my wife and I she grew up as a Lutheran Protestant and she taught Sunday School and you know all these things so we met we were living in Baltimore and she didn't she wasn't going to church at the time she was in grad school so was I then we we got married and then we moved to Montreal and we decided we had our first first son Tristan when he fixed the microphone actually he was born in Baltimore but we moved to Montreal like you know a week after he was born so but we had talked about religion a great deal and we wanted to raise our kids with sort of a spiritual foundation and talk to them about those kinds of things but our plan was to sort of homeschool them spiritually speaking that we weren't comfortable with any of the churches on offer and so we decided well we'll just teach them this stuff ourselves well of course they got to be three four years old five years old and it just never was happening like we're never getting around to it and so we realized wow it probably makes sense to actually be part of a religious community which sort of makes it part of your routine and so we started shopping around for a church the the ones that we agreed with intellectually impolitic we were really dead and the ones that were really fun were politically kind of scary so we that was the problem but we eventually found st. John's Lutheran which is not far from us on John moss and Prince Arthur and it was just a perfect perfect fit it was very sort of high church took the rituals very seriously but was also intellectually really engaging and fantastic fantastic music Mindy the organists they've had since we've been there than just you know world-class fantastic and the guy that's there right now is he's amazing Joel Peters okay so we started going there and the boys went through Sunday school and they were both baptized and then later on tristin went through confirmation class and was confirmed in Dee our younger son decided that he didn't want to so yeah so that's how we ended up in the Lutheran Church so I want to ask you what are the deal-breakers doctrinally for you personally is it necessary that your church that you attend believes in the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob is it necessary for you that they also believe that that God is a triune God what are the deal-breakers what are you not willing to compromise on in terms of Christian doctrine well I guess I would prefer the the more sort of traditional traditionalists approach just because I like classic coke like I don't like touchy-feely faddish Christianity where you're always pulling out your guitar and trying to be like some sort of hippie or something I I but I guess I prefer a more traditionalist approach but I would mainly prefer a Christianity that is not very obsessed with doctrine because what I find you know I must say like listening to your podcasts one thing that struck me about your podcast is that in terms of emphasis you seem at least the podcasts to be actually quite Protestant because it seems what to me one of the beautiful things about Catholicism I mean and I understand the counter-reformation was in a way kind of trying to fight fire with fire and like we will be more Protestant than the Protestants in terms of having all of our doctrine and rhetoric and Loyola like the Jesuits we will like teach you how to be like a debate club president and and I understand why that happened and I understand the necessity of that I get it but I think if you stress that you miss what is really beautiful about Orthodox Christianity about Catholic Christianity which is that it's much more focused on ritual rather than dogma and guys the beauty of and the mystery and the you know all that they going into I mean what I love about Catholic churches is the the grandeur you know you go inside and this just beauty and something that is you really feel like you're going into like a portal into a completely different world but if you get too mired down in doctrinal points maybe it's fun for debating but I think you're missing the biggest selling point of Christianity and specifically if Catholicism the reason I'm doing the podcast is because I came to God through philosophy I enjoy ideas and I I'm a true philosopher in the sense not that I'm bright but that I love the truth I really do love the truth and I'm also convinced that we need to learn the truth and that there are errors that can lead us away from Jesus Christ if we have a wrong idea about Jesus Christ then we aren't going to be able to get as close to Jesus Christ so when I'm at church I'm not debating I'm not fact-checking and I'm not the Grand Inquisitor but when I'm discussing my faith with someone that has a different point of view I want to bring that person in to unity with the Catholic Church because I believe it's the one true church so this brings me to the topic of unity what is Christian you for you it can't just be everyone be nice and get along and and don't worry about the doctrine right it can't just be come by uh otherwise you'd probably be a Unitarian Universalist or something like that that's one of the churches that we tried out and we were just like this is absolutely ridiculous I they have watered down the theology of the message so much that it just it lacks all of its power and all of its grandeur it's so what is unity for you what is Christian unity because Jesus Christ prayed that we shall be one right and yes they will know that we are one by our love for each other but we can't separate love from truth well I I don't know what would be the unity I guess probably a lot of it would be the the universalistic message of it which is really something that it comes from Paul not from Jesus as far as we can tell Jesus was a Jewish radical who believed that he was starting a reform movement within Judaism to get them back to what mattered and he was a Jew and it was a message for other Jews right and then it st. Paul who was responsible for inviting everybody into the party right every everybody to the club and he you can see in the book of Acts where he's he's arguing with people who are really not down with this and there were people in the in the early Jesus Movement who thought no this should remain a club that's exclusively for Jews and if people are going to become Christians they need to convert to Judaism then they have to keep kosher and they have to get circumcised and all that stuff so I think probably Christian unity would have something to do with agape with the concept of agape imagining a community that transcends tribal affiliations right that this is a generalized love of humanity and I think that message at its best is what eventually leads to the universalistic human rights message and I know very often there's this presented that there's this big opposition between Enlightenment values and Christian values I don't see that there actually is as much of an objection as much of a conflict between them as people very often say I think actually in many ways the Enlightenment was a realization of a number of essentially Christian ideas I mean the whole idea you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free the whole idea of like trying to imagine a community that encompasses everybody those are essentially Christian ideas right so yeah I guess I give you my best like stab at it well I don't agree with you about Jesus not wanting to bring the non-jews in because if you read the Old Testament it's prophesied time and time again that the non-jews will be God's people even though we know that the Jews are God's chosen people but we also know that the Jews were a stiff-necked people and we know that God wanted the entire race of Jews to be the priestly class but then with circumstances God cooperated with the rebellious Jews and he reduced it to the Levites and so on and so forth there's always this remnant as the Jews rebel and then the remnant passes along all the way down the lineage and then the Messiah comes and then everything's fulfilled and part of that fulfillment entails the coming in of the non-jews and Paul talks about that very eloquently about the reasons for that and how all the Jews will come back into the fold and how God has been cooperating with us throughout all of salvation history and it's a very complex and messy affair it doesn't negate the fact that the Jews are the chosen people but God's cooperating with this stiff-necked people in a way that is most beneficial so do you not see that or do you have a different perspective on that oh I think for the most part those those passages in the Old Testament that are said to sort of or shadow Jesus or foreshadow Christianity I I find them to be really implausible I think it's like it's much more likely that they that they refer to specific things that were happening at the time and I think it's I mean there's a wonderful line and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil where he talks about how how hysterical these Christian attempts to sort of go back into the prophets and anytime there's a mention of a piece of wood they automate all that for Charles across and like oh there's a all that first and it is it seems very much like like a wishful thinking you know like if you're if you're trying to understand what's going on it's much easier to explain that when the prophet joel or the prophet isaiah when when they talk about something they're talking specifically about babylon like they're talking specifically about present struggles that the jewish people at the time we're dealing with and i'd find it very implausible that those that those things foreshadow jesus and i also i don't see evidence that that jesus was saw himself as anything other than a jewish reformer i don't I think Christianity is as we know it is largely the brainchild of st. Paul right I don't think it's I mean obviously Jesus's the main character of the movie but the the screenplay was written by by st. Paul like if it wasn't for Paul Jesus would have been just another one of the dozens and dozens of Messianic Jewish reformers that came on the scene between the second century BCE and the first century so you don't believe he's the Messiah uh well I would I wouldn't say that all right I wouldn't say that I'm just saying that the the message has come to us because of Paul and so I think it's important to give him credit for that and to understand that like and a lot of what we we like and dislike about the movement is really about Paul do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah um I I don't know I mean like that's again this is like one of those doctrinal questions that's how should I put it it seems to me like there's there's some questions we're having any opinion on them should be a source of embarrassment like if somebody asked me like which bikini do you think looked better on Kim Kardashian I would say like if you've actually given that some serious thought and you have an answer to that question that's the problem well the Catholic Church teachers it's that pink one with the lace I just got a lot of doctrinal questions I I just think there's no way I don't have I don't have the the information the knowledge that I would need to have that's why I do the podcast because I want people to have the information maybe you have it maybe you've had some special revelation maybe you've but I don't have access to the kind of information like say definitively well I can say definitively that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the reason I can say that is because I paid in the infallibility of the church I have a passive infallibility so when I faithfully regurgitate the dogmas it's infallible it's a passive infallibility now the church is actively infallible meaning that it's protected by the Holy Spirit from teaching error concerning faith and morals and one of this dogmas is that the Bible is inerrant it's in errant there's no error in the Bible Old Testament and new there's 73 books in the Canon of Scripture do you believe that the Bible is inerrant and do you believe that there is a canon of Scripture no I believe with st. Thomas Aquinas and with the great reformer Martin Luther and with you know Augustine also believed this it what you're talking about is a very recent doctrine that does not have a lot of heavyweights behind it at all but the I believe that the Bible was written by imperfect men inspired by a perfect God that's what I believe so everything human ugly and beautiful is is in there but the point is that they didn't write anything that God didn't positively want them to write and st. Aquinas and st. Augustine are on the record as saying that there is no error in holy scripture so I don't know what you're talking about can you back up your statement that Aquinas and others don't have a particular that's the gist of it I just was talking about that in exes Jesus you have to try and the the process is you have to try and understand what was the the kernel of inspiration and truth that was there what was intended right and you have to to get to that you have to get through the dross of human language which is human languages by definition an imperfect instrument and so that's why you need to be reading with you have to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit because if you don't have that guidance if you're just going based on the language the language is imperfect and so you'll never be able to perfectly it's like when when Paul says in Corinthians you know now we see through a glass darkly right that we then we will see perfectly and the understanding was that this was very much a problem of of language and of expression the neoplatonist s-- were very good on this question like they said that the purpose of scripture which is very similar to the purpose of let's say a platonic dialogue is you point towards the Sun I mean you've heard this exemplary you point towards the Sun now if you see somebody pointing towards the Sun do you stare at the pointer or do you look at what they're pointing at and you look at the so obviously you turn around you look and see what they're pointing it so any kind of text whether it be something in the Bible or whether it be in a work of philosophy if it's really good stuff it's going to be like somebody standing there pointing at something right and it's you have to turn and look at that thing I just know if you just are fixating on the pointer you're never gonna be really understanding what's said right and it's it's similar to the example that I give to my students often as I say if you have somebody who was born blind how would you explain the color blue to somebody who's never seen anything blue it's actually impossible no matter how much I talk I cannot explain to you a blue is right likewise if you haven't seen the spiritual truths that are spoken about in in let's say you know in the Gospels this is why Jesus constantly says he who has hear ears let him hear right he is and again and again or there's these references to that only people who have the right kinds of ears will hear the message only people who are all right only if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven you must become like a child right well what do you mean by that is that you have to be looking at things in the right way right in the way that's a child would look at them all right with a certain kind of openness and Trust and faith and naivete the way when a kid looks at you know when it's snowing for the first time that look of complete wonder right so you have to be right so I would say likewise if you get if you get too obsessed with dogma and with words and look like playing with logic and reason and stuff like that you can trick yourself into believing that like I would say that you know you I don't want to sort of doubt what you say about how you came to your faith but I suspect that you coming to your faith was not just through deduction and logic I think you saw the beliefs of course of course of course and now you basically now that you've had that sort of York limps into something transcendent and completely beyond words you can try to put it into words um there's a really good book on this that sort of talks about the cutting it's called surfaces and essences my son Tristan I recommended it tonight I read it as a fantastic book but it it talks about how thinking works and he says thinking works by analogy so once you have seen a blue sky once you have that concept blue you can do all sorts of things with it all right once your as a little kid when you bump into a brick wall you now have the concept of hard right cold hot all these things but those experiences you absolutely have to have them in order to build onto that so for instance I teach a class at John Ovid college called love and friendship and I ask students in the first class I say like how many of you have been in love at least once in your life I say if you have not been in love thus far in your life you should drop this class now and take something else because we're going to be talking about this experience in trying to make sense of it and we're gonna be talking about but if you haven't had that the experience of it there's absolutely nothing that I can say there's no amount of like rhetoric there's no amount of like words that can convey to you what that is because that's a it's a very very powerful human experience and it's not analogous to the love that you feel for your mother or your siblings or your best friend or something like that it's something completely different and you have to have had that it's similar to the blue sky my tea if you haven't seen anything blue we can't have an intelligent conversation about blue things well you tried to filter your students but I think you missed an important nuance which is that a lot of people mistake infatuation for love and they'd they mistake their own selfish desires and their own self-love for something that is truly selfless especially if these are young adults right so I don't see the point in filtering when you're straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel but I don't think romantic love is selfless I don't think it's selfless at all okay just ask if anyone's seen porn then they're good to go they can begin your class yeah it's I think romantic love is a very initially at least is a very obsessive powerful thing it's it's all-encompassing you can't think about anything else you're totally you know drawn to the person it's the other thing I would say is I think we can inspire love through education we can inspire love this is the whole point of having religious education is to foster and nurture love love of God right but I wanted to talk about authority by what authority do you interpret these scriptures and why do you limit yourself to these religious texts or do you do you draw religious inspiration from other religious texts well I think you know I grew up with Joseph Campbell I read his book when I was 10 11 years old and I loved it I read the power of myth and then I went and read like a bunch of his other books the hero with a thousand faces and I was really obsessive just a Campbell for a little while but I came to the conclusion that that just doesn't feel genuine it doesn't feel real it feels very fake and phony like when you go to a wedding and they've got like a reading from Corinthians and then they've got like a Navajo prayer and they've got like they're aligned from kahlil Gibran's the Prophet and they go like so it just feels completely false and phony and I feel like I am for various reasons I have I have grown up within a a Christian like a judeo-christian tradition that is the even if you're an atheist in our society you are still powerfully powerfully affected by the judeo-christian tradition so I think it's the tradition that speaks to me most it feels most like home you know I've read I've read the sacred Hindu texts and I've even taught on them on the Bhagavad Gita Upanishad on you know various other works in Eastern religions and then also on the Koran and you know and I I see like a lot of beauty in some of those other traditions but none of them feel like home despite all of its Iron Age Gor eNOS and craziness and I find the the Bible is the tradition that feels most like home to me so I that's the one that speaks to me the most I'm not saying that it's necessarily the best or anything like that it's just it's the one it's like the English language or driving on the right side of it just feels like home to me yeah I am gonna let you go soon but I wanted to get your point of view about heaven hell purgatory the general judgment the particular judgment everything like that the sort of the end times what do you believe or what do you hope for what do you fear that's another one of those questions where I just think like Kim Kardashian's I spend a lot of time thinking about her bikinis don't you I think it's embarrassing if you have an answer to that gosh what do you think about the 10 commandments do you think that you should strive to keep the Ten Commandments um well some of them I those things apply to an Iron Age tribe that regularly engaged in ethnic cleansing and stoning people to death and doing some pretty terrible things so yeah I don't worry about having that as being an ethical compass but in terms of in terms of end times and all that stuff it seems to me that God as we understand God is a manifestation or a personification of life on earth so if that's true then then the God that I believe in was born whenever life emerged miraculously on earth and and will eventually die whenever the Sun destroys the earth beyond millions of years in the future I I don't know it seems to me like God is this force which which is life you know the life on earth and is constantly sort of like a shapeshifter you know one minute it's a dinosaur next when it's a fern next minutes a tree next minutes a groundhog and a person and there's all these different phases right so okay I know actually I did you know what seriously that's just really sort of imagining poetically what what this might mean the truth is when it comes to metaphysical matters I don't know and I I I don't understand unless you've had visions yourself and you've had you've seen the blue sky so to speak you've seen these things you've seen angels and demons you've gone up the stairway to heaven and had these wonderful experiences unless you've had direct access to this sort of thing I don't understand how anybody could have an opinion on those questions it's called faith what do you think about pantheism pantheism yeah are you comfortable labeling yourself as a pantheist or no no because it sounded very pantheistic what you were talking about life now I don't temperamentally I find I like the idea of monotheism God is transcendent in your opinion yeah I just like it to be a big sort of question mark right like something that that I don't understand and that I I can't understand and that's it's okay it's you know it's it's good for there to be things in your life that remain unsolvable X's right if someone came to you and said I want to be a better Christian what advice would you give just three bullet points bing-bang-boom treat other people the way you would want people to treat you all right and try very very hard to see the divine in other people and to see other people as beautiful creations you know beautiful that that have this spark of the Divine in them no matter how much they enrage you or how many horrible things that they've done to try and see some sort of spark of something beautiful within that and something valuable and something redeemable within them I think that's the the message of oneness and redemption is something that is extremely powerful you know you can even see this and like Marvel Comics you know this spider-man series where there's like Sandman and at the end he is redeemed I find that just absolutely beautiful plot twist in that story that it's not as if there's these people that are ultimately evil to the core it's that everybody has these good and evil tendencies within themselves and they make decisions which shape their character for good or ill and but even at the last minute you know like the thieves being crucified another side of Jesus like at the last minute right one of them repents and he says you know you'll be with me in paradise shortly like I love that idea that that nobody is beyond saving that nobody's beyond redemption I find that to be a very beautiful powerful idea you talked a little bit I'm gonna wrap things up now but early in the interview you talked a little bit about what might have been a psychosis in your early life mental illness is something that's always on my mind it runs in my family so I like to give a little positive message of hope at the end of all my interviews so what would you say to someone that might be out there listening now summer is coming if you're in the northern hemisphere yeah yeah I know but I mean it both literally and figuratively like you however bad things are at the moment like this will pass it won't be forever I mean they the thing that really can cause people to despair when you're in the grips of a really bad depression or in in the midst of a really bad psychotic episode or even you know even just when people bad trip on on drugs like on LSD or mushrooms or even weed if they do enough of it when people bad trip on drugs and when you talk to them about what is it about that experience that made it so terrible and unbearable they almost always tell you the same thing they say I suddenly thought oh my god I'm gonna be like this forever I've broken my brain and I'm gonna be stuck in this terrifying horrible place forever right and that is the exact thought that kills people when they're in the depths of depression they think oh god I'm gonna be in this pit forever this is never gonna change I remember my cousin was he died recently but he had schizophrenia and I remember talking to him about this and he said exactly the same thing he said the thing that's so depressing and causes me to despair so much when I'm in you know a really bad place is I think I'm gonna be here forever I'm stuck here so I think the best message you can tell somebody who's really depressed or feels like they're losing their mind or dad tripping is you're not gonna be like this forever this is gonna pass like this the way you're feeling right now the place you're in this is gonna pass all right so I would say that if you like it will do if you got some questions piano tell all you got to do is all you got to do got to do