Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & Do You Believe? & r & by Antonio Monde & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & n Do You Believe?, an Italian Catholic film scholar conducts brief but pointed interviews with 18 luminaries -- novelists, mostly, but also filmmakers, intellectuals, and even Jane Fonda -- about belief and atheism, the afterlife and nothingness, religious fundamentalism and the destructiveness of organized religion.





Browsing through Antonio Monda's collection (subtitled Conversations on God and Religion) is like being at a structured, highbrow cocktail party: The conversations are intriguing, but you only hear snippets. And somebody keeps repeating the same questions: Does God exist? Do you agree with Dostoevsky's claim that "if God doesn't exist, then everything is permitted"? Aren't atheists simply worshipping a false idol like human reason?





Several respondents criticize fundamentalists (of all faiths) even as they praise religious writers like Flannery O'Connor. Richard Ford disdains "institutionalized" religion but worships the sanctity of art. Grace Paley respects believers but thinks they're deluded -- and yet she has started attending a synagogue again. Elie Wiesel promotes Christian activism, asserting that for believers, any victim of prejudice should become the "center of the universe." Derek Walcott envisions God as an old bearded white man; Michael Cunningham says that "she's black." Toni Morrison eloquently equates knowledge and compassion: God is "an infinite growing that discourages definitions but not knowledge," she says. "I believe in an intellectual experience that intensifies our perceptions and distances us from an egocentric and predatory life." Saul Bellow believes in offering prayers of gratitude but not in petitionary prayer; he refuses to "bug God" with his "trivial requirements."





Monda's vision is blinkered: Discussions keep reverting to the spiritual components of Italian cinema (as in the conversation with Martin Scorsese) and to defenses of Catholic liturgy in the face of extremism. Monda prides himself on being an "indiscreet ... and perhaps also impertinent" interrogator. But there's nothing overly aggressive about asking atheists if perhaps they're placing too much trust in human powers of perception. And then, just when things get interesting, the conversations end. Monda would have been better off by doubling the length of the interviews and halving the number of interviewees.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Campbell House Holidays

Campbell House Holidays @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation