And I think they take solidarity in that. They're seeing someone else sort of struggle with it. The reason I wrote the book was to try to restore some connection to religion , but not my belief system. To invite people as a comedian, someone who is a small part of pop culture, and say, "I don't think spirituality is embarrassing. My brain is critical, it's overthinking, but you can find ways to turn it down and realize that's not who you really are.
And I'm not saying we should all just like, melt and become indiscriminate and just like shine and everything. So do you put a label on your religious beliefs?
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I hear some elements of mystical Hinduism, like your relationship with Ram Dass, but also elements of Christianity and other traditions. It's the symbol system I was raised with, and it got into my brain and my blood, before my discernment or anything, my defenses or whatever had grown. It just got in, in the way that your parents get in. I'm grateful for that. I'm down with Jesus, sweet Jeez, sweet baby Jeez. But what we're talking about is symbol systems and labels. And those are good, those are helpful. But we're trying to get our inner reality to respond.
God is At Least as Nice as Jesus
So in the book, I'm trying to rescue some Bible verses, I'm trying to rescue some ideas of Christ. I'll always get a lot of juice out of rescuing something that Jesus said. It's healing to me, psychologically, to do that with words that were used to convince me that I was in danger of going to hell. It might be my favorite thing to do, is to go like, "Oh, my God, it was right there. We didn't have ears to hear.
We were listening wrong. We were listening with an agenda.
We were listening with our egos. We were listening with a deep desire for membership and identity and certainty. We weren't looking as the mystics are. And when you look at the Bible the way a mystic sees it, it opens like a flower and you're like, whoa. And then, yes, are there my great teachers, Maharaji and Ram Dass. These are Hindu mystics, so that's in there. Holmes stars in "Crashing," his HBO show based in part on his life.
You write about going on a retreat with Ram Dass and the two of you barely talked. What was that about? As Ram Dass says he gets older he doesn't really want to talk about a lot of things I like to talk about, which might be like "dorm-room, smoke-a-joint" conversations that I never got to have, so I have them now.
I saw him recently and just we just sat there. And it was the best. That's a great question. It's worth mentioning that there are countless, the majority of people maybe, that would sit and just be like, eh, seems like a sweet guy. But for me, it sort of feels like sitting next to a space heater. When I say he's a space heater, he's a space heater to the extent to which you're really feeling your own space heater heating up. You know what I mean? He's warming you up. So how do you take experiences like that and integrate them into your life? Do you meditate, take psychedelics, or something else?
Because it's hard to live in the world like that, no? Because the problem is you'll seem phony, right, and I don't want to seem disingenuous. The last time I did LSD, it wasn't deep. But all I kept thinking is that being nice is nice.
A good question? Is God nice? | Reform Magazine
And it felt like the most profound idea. It was like you don't have to grade it. You don't have to rank it.
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I'll take fake nice any day, if you're one of these people who's capable of torment and torture and horror and nastiness -- and you choose nice for any reason. Yeah, score. As for meditation, yeah, I feel like I'm meditating all the time. I never stop meditating. I'm so happy to share this practice, and that's what it is, a practice. And I literally just mean "practice. Francis said, "What you're looking for, is what you are looking with. That's the thing. That's the juice. That's what we're looking for. But it's not the cheese on the other side of the maze.
It's here. I mean, what I often find is that we don't have old people, we don't have elders, we just have old children. It's like, put the iPad down. Shouldn't you be telling me that? Why do you know what Netflix is? You should be telling me about books. You should tell me about apple trees. You should like, make me take you for a ride and then halfway through tell me that we're not going anywhere.
Because that's what old people do. But like, Ram Dass feels like an elder to me. Richard Rohr feels like an elder to me. And so much of what I'm doing here is quoting their wisdom. I'm trying to manufacture some of my own, but really, it's an amalgamation of other people's wisdom that I've ingested and gotten into my bones.
But like, when you're with Richard Rohr, you're like, this is wisdom. And people know it when they hear it, and they're floored. When you were an evangelical, did you ever convert anyone? A very good friend of mine in junior high.
We did the "Sinner's Prayer. I remember where we were. We were on this like sloping hill at night. And I just asked him if he wanted to do it. And you know, I think we were on vacation together. Growing up, you were taught that all of the Bible is God's word, inerrant and literally true. Ulrich Lehner is not the first to observe that the preaching of this nice gospel corresponds rather exactly to the collapse of Christianity in the global North and West.
We may instinctively like a nice God — and even go so far as to "like" him on social media. But will we make sacrifices for him and to him? Will we be willing to die for him? Will we make the effort to get out of bed early to praise his name? Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you won't find the nice, sweet God anywhere. In Genesis he appears with power, he judges with justice, and he promises mercy. His mercy is credible, however, only because his might and justice are manifest.