Recently the prize-winning American journalist and commentator Bill Moyers has interviewed Clive James (see my blogroll) for his highly influential Bill Moyers Journal, the weekly interview and news programme that, after a twenty-five year hiatus, recently returned as part of PBS *programming.
The reaction of an avowedly Christian Pennsylvania dweller, who blogs on MySpace as Cindy C,* caught my eye this morning. It makes for interesting reading, I think.
The second guest on Bill Moyers Journal was just as interesting. I liked him a lot. Moyers spoke with Australian reviewer and writer Clive James. Like Ehrenreich, his interests were broadened in his life as he grew and experienced things in his own journey. He has a strong interest in politics, culture and the arts. His latest book is titled “Cultural Amnesia.” He said some interesting things about America and if you want to know the truth here…well, it was rather refreshing to not hear someone bash and beat up my country. I mean, it happens often..I hear it..but Clive James did not do this. He was, in fact, rather kind. And last night…and even today, even right now, you know, I appreciate that. It makes my heart smile a bit….sometimes I get a little tired and discouraged (not to mention a bit saddened) by the current “Let’s blame America” campaign. Sometimes it just hurts a bit more than I would like to even admit.
Clive James did say this one thing, though. He said that when something is going on in the world…like the atrocities and horror that is taking place in Darfur, people wonder when something will be done. He said that this means that people wonder when the Americans are going to do something. He said that “America is decisive” and that this makes others in other countries feel uncomfortable. I get that. I can see that.
He talked a little about terrorism and he suggested that society may be too strong to be taken down by terrorism. He did say several times that the war in Iraq really lasted just “a few days” and that he would never put Bush or Rumsfeld in charge of anything (his comment here made me laugh out loud). He said that when Bush got elected, Cheney and Rumsfeld made the world tremble (his comment here did not make me laugh..it made me numb for a few seconds).
He talked about the radical terrorists. He acknowledged them. He said the danger is not in the moderates..but it is in the radicals. The regular people are just too afraid to take them on….and they are afraid with good reason. Terrorists are scary. No kidding…ahh….ya think?.
Okay, now with Clive James, this is what got to me. He does not believe in God. He does not believe in a “Heavenly Father.” He said that if there was a Heavenly Father, then the 1.5 million children would not have been killed in the Holocaust. He said that if there was a “Heavenly force,” then His Dad would have been brought home to him. That was sad.
I felt bad for Mr. James for not believing in God. I was and am sad for him. I know he has the right to believe what he wants. That is fine. But it does not mean that I cannot feel badly for him. I do. I wish he would know God. You know, when I was listening to him talk about his, I thought of Elie Weisel**, the author of “Night” among numerous other books about the Holocaust. Someone once asked him if he would ever forgive the people who did this to him and to his family during the Holocaust, and he emphatically said that he would never forgive those people. And then I thought of Sylvia Salveson***, author of “Forgive. But Do Not Forget.” She forgave her captives—with such grace and without any hesitation…she truly forgave the people who were mean to her and she was a believer. So, here, you have three people with horrific and painful experiences from the Holocaust— and you have three very different responses. Hmm…
When I listened to Clive James, I was filled with such gratitude because I heard and accepted my “election” from God. At the same time, I also had a heavy heart for him. He seems like a nice person….I said a silent prayer for him, asking God to make His “election” (call) a bit louder and stronger.
This is the kind of writing that’s easy to dismiss, but if one reads it closely then one realises that it is actually is a heartfelt response to what someone has said, and that it has to be read as such. James may not have affected this individual in every way he might have wished – but he has affected her, and surely that is the business he is in.
*Link is available from top right corner of posting
**See Wikipedia for Elie Wiesel
***She means Forgive- but do not forget by Sylvia Salversen