Terry Gross on God

Off and on I listen to Terry Gross’s “Fresh Air” on NPR. What else is there to do in traffic? Not much.

Even if it’s years between listenings, two things stay the same: 1) Terry Gross’s suave and soothing voice; and 2) her blunt way of blowing a not so suave and soothing horn to further salute a culture of glossy nothingness.

For this reason my listening becomes increasingly more off than on. Ten minutes of tonight’s show was enough to remind me that while I don’t know exactly what the air is like in Terry’s studio, I’m going to guess it’s hot. Here’s why:

Terry was interviewing Nathan Englander, a former orthodox Jew who in addition writing a new collection of short stories entitled What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, also has a new translation of the Haggadah (the traditional story of Passover) out.

So after a bit Terry starts to talk, ask questions and make statements about the Haggadah.

[TERRY: You know, when you read something like that – when I read something like that, part of me wonders does God need to be praised that much? Like, why is there so much praise for God? Is it just a kind of thanksgiving for life, thanksgiving for, you know, whatever it is, that animating force that we call God?


GROSS: Or is God like this egotist and we need to say, hey, man, you’re number one. You are great. You are the God of all – do you know what I mean?]

I’ve heard Terry say intelligent things. However, it seems the rising tide of religious criticism has distanced itself from what religion is so much–what faith is–that commentary like Terry’s is commonplace. It is also akin to someone who has visited a pharmacy a few times snapping on a fresh pair of latex gloves and asking for the scalpel.

Oh, how far have we wandered from the shinning tents on the Red Sea shore. Mock on, Terry! Mock on! And while you are at it, tell us who the real egotist is. Should God apologize?

To his credit, Englander handled the “question” pretty well.

A transcript of the full interview can be found below.


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