I really appreciate your comments about how I should shoot the movie version of Letting Go Of God. It’s really having an impact on me and I am thinking about each of your ideas.
This summer, I got the chance to do about thirty minutes of my second monologue, “In the Family Way” accompanied by the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, with a new score written by the same composer who did the music for “God Said, Ha!” It was really fun to perform with an orchestra. I mean, duh.
And afterwards I kept thinking about orchestras, and chamber orchestras and choirs and the music I used for the stage version of “Letting Go of God” which is Vivaldi’s Mass in D major. And I kept thinking about – perhaps – doing a shoot with the orchestra on stage with me, almost like I’m giving the Church it’s voice back, and it’s the music that accompanies me.
Anyway, I was just thinking about that…
So anyway, I guess I just want to say that I really appreciate your opinions and ideas about how to shoot this. Right now I am favoring shooting it in my own home, but also with an audience. It would be very surreal. My house is small, but I have a backyard – a little backyard, but a backyard – and I could put in seats, on little risers, and I figured today I could probably get about sixty people back there. And so I would start the show there – and the way it would be shot, you might not really understand if it was in a theater or not. And at some point I would walk out of the backyard and into the house and the rest of the show would be a transition between areas of my house and times when I am performing in front of an audience and other times when I am clearly all alone.
And I could even have a small chamber orchestra in, say my dining room and maybe a small choir too (although I would still use the music from a full orchestra, it would be just suggested by the few musicians and singers) and they would just sort of be there, and then maybe when I walk back through the house, not be there. And I could make a makeshift church in the garage (I like that idea, that the church is in the garage!) and I could go there when I talk about being in the church and the Bible study classes and so forth. And I have a big map of the world that I used to have on the big front door of my garage that I could re-put-up, and I could go there when I talk about traveling through the east, and going to South America.
My mind is just exploding with this. I don’t know if it’s too hokey or not. And I don’t know if it’s because my daughter, Mulan, watches Pee Wee’s Playhouse incessantly and that’s inspiring me too. But I don’t know. I think I can do both, the audience and the house, surreal and real. Maybe, possibly? And all for under a million dollars?
I was thinking I could shoot a test of this with just a camera operator walking with me through the house, cut that together and see how it really looks.
We will see. It’s true that an audience in a theater adds a certain amount of energy that cannot be caught in a house all by myself. And that thought makes me want to just do it the same way I did “God Said, Ha!” Hmmm… But I have to say, that I like the idea that I invite the audience into my home, just the same way I did the Mormon boys. And it feels the most organic and right from an artistic standpoint – I mean, when I did the stage version, I created a set that basically was my living room.
When I discussed this with my friend Jim Emerson (see his blog, it is fantastic, it’s at http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/) he liked this idea and he said that he loves when movies have that sense of space and you know where you are and you can feel comfortable there. Okay, just writing that last sentence makes me think that this idea sounds obvious, but Jim was much more eloquent about it (as usual) and I agreed with him!
Anyway, I was so glad to see that the creative idea I was evolving into is shared by so many of you. I really want to try to make this surreal both-in-the-theater, and-at-home shooting thing work.
OK. Enough of that.
All day I thought about science being anti-God or not. And I think I have to revise my answer. Because I came at it from a different point of view. I put on my belief-hat and I asked myself that question from the person I was before, when I was a believer. And I would have answered sort of like Anonymous suggested: that there was a God, but it wasn’t a super-natural force, it was natural. But it was an intelligence and had consciousness and was able to know about us, human beings. And THIS is what I would think that science was biased against.
Of course, at that time, I really didn’t understand science. But, if I did, that’s what I would have thought. And then when I read the blog posts I saw that Anonymous wrote (see I have no idea which Anonymous is which) basically the same thing I was getting back to. Anonymous wrote and suggested that God could be a schoolteacher watching his class, dispassionately, play around and try to learn about the world.
And yes. I think that when believers think that science is anti-God, they aren’t thinking of God as supernatural, they are thinking God is natural, a natural Something that instigated the Universe and watches over us.
And that is sort of Deism. And I remember, that was my last great hope – I was going to be a Deist. It made sense to me that some intelligence started this whole thing, and then set back and since it was clear to me that this intelligence didn’t intervene in our affairs or affected anything, I just saw It as this passive presence. And I mentioned this idea to Vic Stenger – this physicist who has written extensively, and he said. “Yes, that could be true. But it sure doesn’t have to be. And why would it be? And wouldn’t it be much more likely that we would, as narcissistic as us humans are, come up with that idea because that idea is so agreeable to us?”
And then I thought about evolution, how cruel and horrifying evolution really is. And then I thought, what is the difference between no-god and a god that does nothing? And why would I elevate consciousness above anything other than an adaptation that our species inherited that allows us some advantage in our reproduction and survival problems.
And then I just had to let go of the whole thing. I guess I am only slightly revising my answer. Science is not anti-God, unless God is defined as a Supernatural power that can change the laws of nature. This does not seem to be a very helpful idea in science. It basically just says, "Anything is possible." But I think most people think that God is a part of nature. Not supernatural. I mean, I didn't think of God as supernatural. But then, I didn't understand what supernatural was any more than I understood what nature was.
I mean, I think for me, the problem is – that even though, as Pontifica wrote (which I am so thankful by the way) and quoted the Salon article, “The God that people like Dawkins reject is a God very few people believe in.” And yes, I would say that is true. I think most people were like the way I was. And that means I didn’t really define who God was, and I just had this vague sense of love and direction and fate and the world seemed, on the surface, to be designed.
But when you start to define God, that’s when it gets tricky. That’s when God disappears, because he is impossible to define. Now, my old self would think that was a compliment. Yes, yes, God is so elusive, he is beyond description. But now I think that is just a cop-out. And that people who believe in God like that (which is, in my world, everyone!) just haven’t sat down and thought about it deeply. Because when you think about it deeply, it is very hard to keep God alive in any sense.
Okay, I’ve already written too much and I have to get off to the grocery store to buy Thanksgiving supplies! But I wanted to write to Pontifica about the ghosts – there are lots of books about this, but the bottom line is that it is amazing what people can “imagine” together. People are naturally coerced into a collective agreement over experience, especially families. It seems to me, much more likely than there actually being a ghost, that the family conjured this idea of a ghost up for themselves and then agreed on the sounds and feelings. This isn’t really conscious on their part. I think it’s just something we all naturally do.
I did the CNN interview. It was really short. I wanted to make a point that Atheism is not a faith (that was a really good comment by the way, and I really wanted to say that) but I didn’t get a chance. He asked me, like, three questions. How can I be moral without God? How could a good Catholic girl like me become an atheist? And I forget the last question – oh yeah. What do I want people to get out of my show, am I trying to proselytize?
I always get that last question. As if they are saying, “You are as bad as all the rest!” And I have such mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I am simply telling my story. On the other hand, I am actually making my case. I dunno.