Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unexceptional Suffering and Extravagance

Here is the difficulty that I have with usual the usual arguments that come up in (religious) people’s efforts to justify suffering in the world in the light of a good God. They tend to act as if suffering were the exception—a funny glitch in an otherwise calm and collected world—when it seems like suffering is the rule (at least to me). I cannot treat the reality of suffering as an outlier in the normal range of human experience. Yes, it is true that much suffering is caused by human mistakes; yes, it is true that a great deal of pain is also caused by natural and other events that God does not simply “cause.” But I believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God. And while I understand the distinction between a God who causes such things and one who simply allows them, that distinction is not so very great in my personal experience and reasoning. My omniscient God could choose to alleviate that suffering, and he does not. My God could change the pattern of the seas and of depressed people’s brainwaves, but he does not.  Perhaps most significantly, my God could have chosen to redeem the world through any means he wanted (he is God!) and the way he chose was by having his human son live 33 years on earth before suffering unimaginable torments and being brutally executed before rising again. This was the way he wanted things. That God—my God—may be a God I struggle to understand, but the evidence suggests that suffering is mysteriously essential to his plan. Avoiding that fact is to miss something central to the structure of the universe he created, and therefore prevents my understanding and knowing him better. 

I don’t mean that God’s a glutton for punishment. He also made a world that is undeniably, heart-breakingly beautiful and surprising, full of deep pleasures and enduring attractions. I have a (scientist) friend who once referred to the natural world as exhibiting signs of God’s extravagance. When I consider the varieties of things and people in the world—the sheer number of plants and animals (often of the same species!) it suggests to me that God really is extravagant; he made a world full of dramatically different kinds of things, because he likes it that way. Did we really need so many different colors and sounds and tastes and sights in the world? So many powerfully beautiful places?
Apparently, he thought we did, anyway, just as he and we (somehow) also need to suffer in order to rise again. This is the paradox that God-made-man recalls me to. A paradox that I ignore at my own peril, and whose truth is strangely, movingly, satisfying. Because suffering opens me to an experience of love---both giving and receiving—that somehow, I cannot have without it. The more I live, the more I begin (tentatively, in baby steps) to recognize the possibility of loving that way as something satisfying in itself. 

As the character, “El Gallo” says in The Fantasticks (an off, off-Broadway musical I grew up with),
There is a curious paradox that no one can explain. / Who understands the secrets of the reaping of the grain? / Who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain? / Or why we all must die a bit before we grow again? / I do not know the answer / I merely know it's true / I hurt them for that reason / And myself a little bit, too.

I leave you with the musical’s most beautiful song, “They Were You.” The lead couple sing it to each other at the conclusion, but it's more. Like the incarnation, it's much more than a metaphor could ever, ever be. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tender Mercies and Necessary Suffering

So....back to theodicy and making sense of God’s ways. One of the best known examples of the problem of suffering is that of Job. The book of Job is a rather exceptional case in the Hebrew tradition, because a good man is not rewarded for his goodness. Most of the books of what Christians call the Old Testament show people who are rewarded for following faithfully. Job, instead, is tested. He suffers—for no obvious reason—he’s clearly not being punished for any wrongdoing. He is, and was a very good man. After a scene late in the book where he rails against God, God challenges Job in a famous passage (Job 38):

Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
 I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

This can be seen as God putting Job in his place…which I suppose it is. But it’s also a reminder to Job that there are a great deal more things in heaven and earth than in his philosophy; there is so much more than his own suffering that is beyond his ability to understand. When Stephen Fry makes bitter statements about God and God’s injustice, he does so from a certain set of expectations (formed almost certainly by the Judeo-Christian tradition which underpins Western Civilization). The idea that God is good may be intuitive, but it isn’t inevitable. It is an idea which comes down to us most vigorously through a specific tradition. Nature, on the other hand, always seems both good and bad; rains come to both replenish and to flood; the wind is powerful in ways we appreciate and in ways we don’t. We would never complain that nature ‘wasn’t fair’ in the same (angry) way we say it about God—we don’t expect true goodness from Nature. Why? Not all people have believed in good gods either. Many people have had gods who were powerful; whom you needed to appease, but how you did so was not always easy to understand, or through “moral” ways. But we moderns—believers or not—expect our God to be up to our standards of goodness. We expect him to understand what we mean by right and wrong, and live up to our standards. But do *we* understand right and wrong?

It's obvious how idiosyncratic we humans are when it comes to ideas of justice. I remember joking with a colleague that the question on student evaluations (of professors) that read “Instructor grades fairly,” actually meant “Instructor did not give me or any close friends a lower grade than I/she/he deserved.” When my children complain that something isn’t fair, that means they wanted more and got less. I am the same way. We don’t judge something as unfair when we get more than we deserve—that is not so troubling. What troubles us is the pain of our longing for more. Is this really only about justice? Or is it an idea of justice that really suggests something greater? In Stephen Fry’s remarks, he spoke about sick children and other “unjust” afflictions--unjust in that they did nothing bad to bring on their suffering.* I am more selfish than Fry when I think about these things—I think about myself, rather than unnamed victims. I have not suffered so very greatly in my life in the global sense—I have not witnessed genocide, I have not been sexually abused, I have not experienced a lifetime deprived of basic necessities—and yet, I feel the suffering of injustice in my own ways, however petty they may be. I want so much more out of life than what I have. My longing is very real. To Fry, this disproportion between human desire and actual experience reality is unacceptable. I get that, believe me: it feels unacceptable. But it’s also, to me, deeply mysterious. Why should we feel this way? Why should we expect so much from the world and life and when it doesn’t seem to deliver? Why can’t we just resign ourselves to our lives being brutish, nasty, and way too short?

Fry’s answer to this suffering is that there must not be a God, because the world is too terrible. A God who wanted a world like this must be too evil a creature to be worth bothering with. But this seems a bit too neat to me. It’s a clean, cold, clinical answer to the rather messy reality that is human life. What would Fry say to any friends whose lives were riddled with unavoidable suffering (from disease, or heartbreak, or terrible depression)? Are their lives worth living? How long do you give suffering before it outweighs the possible future benefits of staying alive? A day? A week? An hour? A year? How much suffering is too much? Is the only answer to help those suffering to off themselves? What’s the point of living when you can’t avoid suffering?

I think, in the end, that Fry assumes way too many things. He assumes (without quite saying it) that he knows what life is for—or at least, that it can’t really be for something he doesn’t understand. In essence, like most of us moderns, he assumes that life is about pleasure and success. Suffering is unacceptable because it is an obstacle to that pleasure and success. But what if I turn the question on its head? What if I say that I don’t know what life is for, really? What if I admit that, like Job, I wasn’t there when the earth’s foundations were laid, and I don’t understand all the motion of the universe. That in my bones, I feel like life must be for a satisfaction that I don’t recognize fully as being a part of my life—but that I don’t really get it? What if I take life’s evidence a step further and say that suffering—however wrong, however “unnatural”—it seems to me, must be (in God’s view) something really important to what life is for, because life is riddled with it? Then what? Is the only option available to conclude that God is a sick old man who wants us to be miserable?

I don’t think so. There is another option. In the words of Léon Bloy (quoted by Graham Greene at the beginning of his novel The End of the Affair), “Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence.”  God knows us, and wants us to live and love in ways in which we are not yet capable. He gives us suffering so that our hearts may expand in ways that our essential to our happiness and our success. A happiness and success that we do not yet fully grasp but that is real. As a Christian, this seems absolutely necessary if we are to make any sense of Christ’s cross and resurrection. Only a God who saw suffering in a very different way than we usually do could give us Jesus as an answer, not as another problem.

I’m not saying I like it—or that I understand it the way I’d like. It’s not a pretty option. But it holds the hope of being a deeply beautiful one. There are moments when I see this; moments when I am suddenly, unexpectedly, able to love my enemies or see someone else change dramatically. Usually, that’s in the depths of terrible suffering—and an even greater love. But that is the God with whom my heart does battle, not the miserable man in whom Fry refuses to believe.

* The suffering of children figures prominently in Ivan Karamazov’s accusations as well in The Grand Inquisitor passage in The Brothers Karamazov. The portrait he paints of innocent and sweet victims is heartbreaking and his monk brother Alyosha has no answer that satisfied. Yet, it is clear from the story that Alyosha’s answer is, in the final sense, truer than Ivan’s. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

The provocation of Stephen Fry: The 21st century's (3- minute) Ivan Karamazov?

A little over a week ago, recently-married British comedian Stephen Fry appeared on the Irish program “The Meaning of Life” and spoke with Gay Byrne about his beliefs and what he would say to God should he meet him/her/it at the pearly gates. Fry’s passionate response created quite a buzz on the internet. 

Here is the video:

(I include the full transcript of the exchange at the end of this blog for those who cannot see the video--my thanks to John Cummings' blog for this.)
When the interview first came across my radar last week, I was in a mood to sympathize very strongly with Stephen Fry. Non-religious people sometimes suppose that faithful, practicing religious people like myself simply don’t think about these things, or that the conflict between God’s will and their own is not an issue to them. I cannot speak for all religious people, but I can say that the difficulty—even the anguish—is very real to me. It just so happens that when I first heard of the exchange, I was struggling with some dramatic questions in my own life; places where understanding God’s will was (and in many ways, still is), very painful to me. Fry’s video thus caught me by surprise. Watching Fry explain himself to Byrne, I thought “Yes!,” and then “Yet no, no, no, NO.….”

I want to be very clear about a few things as I attempt to respond to Fry’s critique (which I will do in several installments). First, the limitations of responding “to Fry.” I know very little about Fry the man. As a comedian, he is also a performer. I cannot judge what part of his response is fully felt and what part may be showmanship; his answer certainly seems very prepared.  I know that he has struggled with addiction (so he’s aware of his personal limitations and failings), and that he’s come out the other end. He’s gay and he recently married his boyfriend; he expressed great joy at both this event itself and the support of friends (so he’s not, as far as I can make out, an unhappy man).  But basically, my response is to the man at the other end of this video. I make no claims that he is Stephen Fry in the full sense. I need to explain why and how I disagree with him. But I don’t judge him; I understand where he’s coming from.
Second, I know how difficult it is to deal in theodicy (or justifying the ways of God). Better, smarter, more thorough people have been trying it for centuries. It isn’t easy, and I make no claims to succeeding where they have failed. I hope my attempts won’t be judged as arrogant.

Because, honestly, they don’t come from an arrogant place. They come from a deeply needy place. A place in my mind and heart that needs to make sense of life, even while I recognize the limits of my understanding.  What I do claim, is that –despite my great sense of kinship with Fry in his frustration—I can still dissent from his perspective and conclusions in the final analysis. And do so reasonably. Because the problem isn’t just a logical one; it isn’t just about who’s right. It’s about how you can actually live that way.

Gay Byrne: “Suppose what Oscar believed in when he died, despite your protestations, it’s all true and you walk up to the Pearly Gates and you are confronted by God, what will Stephen Fry say to him, her or it?”

Stephen Fry:
 “I will basically, that is the theodicy I think, I will say ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you, how dare you create a world in which there is such misery it’s not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly utterly evil, why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’ That’s what I’d say.”

“You think you’re going to get in?”
Fry: “No, but I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They’re wrong. Now if I died and it was Pluto, Hades and it were the twelve Greek Gods then I would have more truck with it because the Greeks were, they didn’t pretend not to be human in their appetites and in their capriciousness and in their unreasonableness.
They didn’t present themselves as being all seeing all-wise all-kind all beneficent, because the god who created this universe, if there is a god was quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish, totally, we have to spend our life on our knees thanking him, what kind of god would do that?.
Yes the world is very splendid but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind, they eat outwards from the eyes, why, why did you do that to us?
You could easily have made a creation in which that didn’t exist, it is simply not acceptable, so you know atheism is not just about not believing there is a god, but on the assumption that there is one what kind of god is it, it’s perfectly apparent he is monstrous, utterly monstrous, he deserves no respect whatsoever, the moment we banish him life becomes simple purer, cleaner, and more worth living in my view.”
Byrne: “That sure is the longest answer to that question that I ever got in this entire series.”
Original Interview: The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne, aired Sunday February 1, 2015 at 10.30pm

Monday, September 15, 2014

We’re making it way too hard, people! Cooking isn’t rocket science. Food is fun (no, really!!)

So I read this article the other day about how the ideal of the home-cooked meal is becoming a major burden for working mothers. 
And—even if I only work part time—I get it. I’ve been concerned about the difficulties facing low income families (especially with single-parent households) for a while. But I’m worried that the truly dramatic burdens facing some households are being used to justify a different kind of burden that other, more fortunate women are facing. In this piece, the phrase that stuck out was, “time pressures, tradeoffs to save money, and the burden of pleasing others make it difficult for mothers to enact the idealized vision of home-cooked meals advocated by foodies and public health officials.” Advocated by foodies? Say what?

Enter the real problem: the idealized version of the family meal. So it's a choice between fantasy and nada.

I try to keep some balance when it comes to food discussions. I am sort of a foodie (ugh). I really love trying new things—whether I’ve made them or someone else has. I love to cook. I love to eat. I love anything to do with food—consuming it, thinking about it, smelling it, planning it. But I also live in reality. A reality that includes 5 children under 12, a husband who hates anything very strong or pungent or spicy or any shellfish that requires work…and kids who change their minds about what they like. And I know not everyone is into food like I am.

I have many good friends who are stay-at-home moms but find the task of cooking meals for their family totally overwhelming. And it makes me unbelievably sad that, as a culture, we have time to teach our kids to play soccer and take dance and music lessons but learning how to cook and enjoy food is too hard. (It tempts me to go off on a rant on our Puritanical culture but I’m trying to stay off that soapbox….)

So, let’s forget about the foodie expectations. Let’s forget the idealized image and shoot for something that tastes good enough to eat, that doesn’t take forever (or can be done in advance in family-friendly way), and that doesn’t cost a fortune, and that’s generally good for you. If you look back to cookbooks from the 50’s and 60’s (and who does?—they rarely have enticing pictures), you’ll see that A LOT of the recipes include a can of this, or a can of that. Lots of those meals depended on basic ingredients and preserved items of various kinds. Not all the burden was on the mom to produce instant magnificence—even if she was the stay at home sort. Growing up, my mother always cooked, even though she had a full-time job throughout my childhood. I am very grateful that my mom was always a good cook, but never a gourmet cook. It made it clear that making food was something we could all do.

One of the real problem facing moms today (unlike our own mothers) is that we’re competing for our families’ attention when it comes to food (since outside food is so readily available to them) and that we have raised our own expectations too high. But, trust me, if you cut off that access to other food, kids still get hungry just like they used to. (In my family, there is some sort of dessert every night—absurd as that is. But it’s amazing what most kids will eat if they understand that not finishing their regular food means no dessert). And they will eat the food we make—especially if we make some effort to make it good. Which is much, much easier than we tend to think.
Lest anybody think I’m all talk, here are a few ideas:

--Marinade your meat. It works wonders. If you have no ideas, try ranch dressing. Or teriyaki. Grill  your meat after you’ve marinated it. If that’s too hard, get one of those George Foreman indoor grills. You can get them used really cheap, too.
--Try a slow cooker. Not expensive, and you can cook something so it gets all saucy all day long. Pulled pork is great in, as are a ton of other things
--Cook your quinoa/rice/other grains in chicken broth. Or add some Parmesan cheese to it.  Or some nuts.
--Roast your vegetables: broccoli, potatoes, carrots, whatever. My children starting loving cauliflower (!!) after I started roasting it with a little oil and salt. Or if buying fresh veggies is too tough, buy them frozen and steam them. Then add breadcrumbs.
--Explore pasta options that include protein. Sausage with broccoli (or broccoli rabe if anyone will eat it. My brother was even willing to eat kale this way) is great. Salmon and peas (try it with a pink sauce—get jar marinara, heat and add a little cream. If you can cook a little garlic in oil before you start, that’s even better. Or add a little wine. Or a little parmesan. But even just tomato+ cream is a winner even by itself).
If cooking at home still seems too hard, start small and slow. Make dinner once a week. Or make some part of dinner once a week. See if you can find a way to actually enjoy it- find something you know how to make that your family likes. Try making things you know someone loves, and let it grow from there. Because, as I have seen time and time again with my family, people learn to like things if we’re bold enough to keep trying them.

Yes, we can!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

In the unlikely event that you're wondering where I've been....(*hint* it's not JUST laziness)

(What do these people have in common? I interviewed them recently. (From Left to right: Lisa Brenninkmeyer, John Waters, and Frank Simmonds)

So I realized the other day that should say something about what appears to be my radio silence on my blog. Especially because it is a radio silence. Lately, I've been focusing my creative energy on a show I'm doing for RadioMaria. It's called Conversion Keeps Happening, and basically, I interview converts and cajole them into telling their stories and try to ask them questions that show how their lives are relevant to ours.

I'm linking to it here in case you're interested.

And if you're not, I'm sure it won't last forever and I'll be back to blogging when I can't help myself.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Deep and Lasting Mother’s Day Wisdom On Fashion

I was just trying to get your attention with that title
you didn’t really think I was going to share something wise and deep with you, did you? And about fashion? C’mon, now.

I tried to develop this post into something truly useful—you know, like the Top Ten List of Clothing Every Mom Should Own and so forth. But I had to let it go because I was too busy and too uncreative and didn’t want to waste your precious time with “filler” clothing items. But I thus have reduced it to easy reading so you can enjoy those Mother’s Day more mimosas without the distractions of lengthy reading.

The Single-Most Overrated Wardrobe Item for Moms:

The crisp white shirt. Apologies to Anna Wintour. I love the idea of the crisp white shirt. Hell, I even have several “white” shirts hanging up in my closet (though none were purchased recently—my learning curve is finally kicking in). The problem is generally to be found in the whole “crisp” and “white” juxtaposition. For a white shirt to look that good, it needs to be really white. And keep a white shirt really white is not so easy in mom life.  There are so many things that can happen—spit up, drool, baby food, Italian or Indian food, spilling the long-awaited glass of red wine on yourself in sleep-deprived sloppiness. Keeping that shirt white just can’t be a priority item for most moms. And then there is the whole crisp part. Even when you’ve done your damnedest and the shirt is actually, miraculously, white, there is this crisp thing. That involves an iron, and your using said iron--a very hot object inevitably plugged into a socket with some level of precariousness--to continuously press said white shirt until it is crisp.

Need I say more?

The Single Most Underappreciated Wardrobe Item for Moms:

The patterned jersey dress. Hell, the patterned anything, really.

Being from New York City, black has always been the go-to color for wardrobe staples (though, truth be told, I’m a color girl at heart and never fully embraced black the way most of my friends did).  But when I became a mother I discovered the deep dark side of black. As in, it shows an awful lot. Especially spit up. And lint. And dog hair. But lighter colors have their downside, too (see my comments on the crisp white shirt. Light, non-white, colors can be even worse since you cannot bleach them). Enter the patterned article of clothing. When there’s a pattern, it is *way* more difficult to notice spots of any sort. Especially if it’s a pattern that involves both light and dark colors. But the patterned jersey dress is like heaven on earth. If you don’t usually wear dresses, let me recommend them. Amazingly, they look like you’ve made more effort when you’ve actually made less. As in: no coordinating top and bottom. No figuring out appropriate what underwear looks appropriate with the bottom you’ve chosen. It’s true that nursing moms will need a wrap option.  But the jersey dress is really a very happy-making choice when it comes to the style + comfort equation. It feels like you’re wearing sweatpants, but it’s a dress. And if it’s patterned, it will forgive a seemingly endless number of mishaps.  What more can you ask for? (OK, telepathy is not yet available through clothing).

 You’re welcome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jimmy Fallon: from altar boy to priest (Picking up where Teri Gross left off….)

If you have any interest in late-night TV or comedy or SNL or just good (mostly) clean fun,  you probably know that Jimmy Fallon took over the Tonight Show from Jay Leno recently (February 17, to be exact). There was some fanfare and, for a few days after his opening night, there was some particular interest in Catholic circles, stemming from the fact that Jimmy Fallon was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools (included his college experience at St. Rose where he majored in Communications before dropping out), and (at least according to his interview with Teri Gross), tried going back to church while he was out in LA but got discouraged by what he saw there.

(no this video has nothing to do with post. I just like it.)

Teri Gross is a great interviewer and has a wonderfully wide repertoire and rapport with her guests. But I felt like she couldn’t quite get what Jimmy Fallon was saying in his interview—there is a real (albeit surprising) connection between what he does and being a priest. If you look at Fallon’s comments, he is letting Teri lead him to calling himself the priest-performer at church, but what he relates most to is the altar boy role. He loved the way people felt at the end of mass. Either way, what it gets at (and which Teri, understandably, didn’t seem to get) is the unusual nature of the priest’s role: he’s central to the mass, he is the principal agent, but the mass is not really about him: it’s about Someone Else. Fallon is very much like this as the Tonight Show’s host: he’s funny, but he doesn’t really make the show about him. This was particularly obvious on his opening night of the Tonight Show, where there was a lot of very sincere thanking on Fallon’s part and a sort of glad surprise that he had gotten to this place. Fallon is funny, but he’s not that witty. He’s a great comic actor and imitator, but he’s not a verbal jabber.  There is a gentleness, a charity in his dealings that makes the show fun: he wants people to feel good at the end of a show, just like he saw people feeling good after going to church. If I were a celebrity, that would be very appealing to me: a show where I get to have fun and look good to boot. What’s not to like?  Jimmy’s years spent as an altar boy must serve him well: years mirroring the priest at mass, even imitating him, but not really mocking him. That’s obvious in the funny but somewhat wistful nature of Fallon’s remarks to Teri Gross, and it’s exactly what makes him such a great host: he seems to genuinely like and be excited by the people on his show. There is a warmth and humility and generosity of spirit that in his approach that might seem just naïve if he weren’t such a natural. He’s not there to bring them down, he’s there to lift them up. And if he gets to go along for the ride, that’s even better.  No wonder he is so good at it.

Here is the “Catholic” portion of Fallon’s interview on NPR in 2010 with Teri Gross. The entire transcript is available at:

GROSS: So you went to Catholic school when you were young.
Mr. FALLON: Oh yeah.
GROSS: Did you have..
Mr. FALLON: I wanted to be a priest.
GROSS: Did you really?
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. I loved it.
Mr. FALLON: I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was, I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning serve mass and then you made money too if you did weddings and funerals. They'd give you, you'd get like five bucks. And so I go okay, I can make money too. I go this could be a good deal for me. I thought I had the calling.
GROSS: Do you think part of that calling was really show business? 'Cause like the priest is the performer at church.
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. You know what - I really Terry, I'm, I recently thought about this. Again, I've never been to therapy but I guess that would be, it's being on stage. It's my first experience on stage is as an altar boy. You're on stage next to the priest, I'm a co-star.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: I'm, I've got...
GROSS: Also starring Jimmy Fallon.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: Yeah, I have no lines but I ring bells. I ring bells and I swing the incense around. But it was my - and you know, you are performing. You enter through a curtain, you exit through the, I mean you're backstage. I mean have you ever seen backstage behind an altar? It's kind of fascinating.
GROSS: Right.
Mr. FALLON: So I think it was, I think it was my first taste of show business and I think - or acting or something.
GROSS: And there are comparisons, I think, between a theater and a church. There are just kind of places that are separated from outside reality.
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. And I remember I had a hard time keeping a straight face at church as well.
GROSS: Did you?
Mr. FALLON: Which - yeah...
GROSS: Did you do imitations of the priest?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: Oh, of course. Yeah. I used to do Father McFadden all the time. He's the fastest talking priest ever. He's be like...
(Soundbite of mumbling)
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: And then you leave and you go, that - what was that?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: That guy's the best. I mean that was church? Sign me up. I'll do church I'll do it 10 times a day if that's church. He was great.
GROSS: Do you still go to church?
Mr. FALLON: I don't go to - I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was like kind of struggling for a bit I went to church for a while, but it's kind of, it's gotten gigantic now for me. It's like too, there's a band. There's a band there now and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole mass now, and I don't like doing that. You know, I mean it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.
GROSS: Mm-hmm.
Mr. FALLON: Now I'm holding now I'm lifting people. Like Simba.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. FALLON: I'm holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.
(Speaking) I'm I'm doing too much. I don't want - there's Frisbees being thrown, there's beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go this is too much for me. I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of mass, and the Grotto and just like straight up, just mass-mass.