Synopses & Reviews
Some of the most well-known and well-respected cultural figures of our time enter into intimate and illuminating conversation about their personal beliefs, about belief itself, about religion, and about God.
Antonio Monda is a disarming, rigorous interviewer, asking the most difficult questions (he often begins an interview point blank: “Do you believe in God?”) that lead to the most wide-ranging conversations. An ardent believer himself, Monda talks both with atheists (asked what she feels when she meets a believer, Grace Paley replies: “I respect his thinking and his beliefs, but at the same time I think hes deluded”) and other believers, their discussion ranging from personal images of God (Michael Cunningham sees God as a black woman, Derek Walcott as a wise old white man with a beard) to religions place in American culture, from the afterlife to the concepts of good and evil, from fundamentalism to the Bible. And almost without fail, the conversations turn to questions of art and literature. Toni Morrison discusses Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, Richard Ford invokes Wallace Stevens, and David Lynch draws attention to the religious aspects of Bu-uel, Fellini...and Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day.
Informal, revealing, unexpected, Do You Believe? is a captivating and thought-provoking meditation how faith, in all its facets, remains profoundly relevant for and in our culture.
"Monda, a Catholic who teaches film at NYU, offers 18 interviews with renowned writers, thinkers, artists and film directors in this brief collection about God and faith. Though many subjects express skepticism about religion, some reveal a deep longing for faith: Novelist Michael Cunningham discusses his childhood fascination with religion, when he painted religious scenes and made communion wafers out of Wonder Bread, and Jonathan Franzen speaks of being influenced by the simultaneously terrifying and comforting character of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia. Most of the interviewees voice concern about religious absolutism and fundamentalism, particularly when connected to politics; when Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., states that 'there is nothing more dangerous than a person in politics who is certain that he is acting in the name of God,' he represents the group well. But there are also key differences here, from the Catholicism that infuses Martin Scorsese's films to the pantheism that Paula Fox espouses to Toni Morrison's idea of God as 'an infinite growing that discourages definitions but not knowledge.' As a collection, there are uneven moments; Monda refers throughout to his interview with poet Derek Walcott, but Walcott's interview doesn't appear until almost the end of the book. Overall, though, this is a thoughtful, provocative and concise volume." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Antonio Monda teaches in the Film and Television Department of New York University. An award winning filmmaker, he is author of A Journey into American Cinema, and editor/author of The Hidden God.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Evidence of Things Unseen
Paul Auster: A Mocking and Unfathomable Mystery
Saul Bellow: I Believe in God but I Don't Bug Him
Michael Cunningham: We Are All God's Children
Nathan Englander: Whoever Wrote the Bible Is God
Jane Fonda: Christ Was the First Feminist
Richard Ford: I Believe in the Redemptiveness of Art
Paula Fox: God Is the Name of Something I Don't Understand
Johnathan Frazen: Reality Is an Illusion
Spike Lee: I No Longer Felt Anything in Church
Daniel Libeskind: We Believe the Moment We See
David Lynch: Good and Evil Are Within Us
Toni Morrison: The Search is More Important Than the Conclusion
Grace Paley: Death Is the End of Everything
Salman Rushdie: I Believe in a Mortal Soul
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: I Am an Agnostic
Martin Scorsese: God Is Not a Torturer
Derek Walcott: I Believe That I Believe
Elie Wiesel: I Have a Wounded Faith