Pardon me for being so reactionary, but religion itself was never as shaming nor as degrading as this society we’ve built for ourselves. At least the Christian religion (in its original form) had a mechanism to cope with these pressures; you speak to a priest, you confess your sins, you do penance and are forgiven of those sins so that you may live your life. But nowadays we’re not just asked to be our own priests; we’re told implicitly by society that if we do anything wrong whatsoever, we’d better damned well keep it a secret, because if the public finds out, we will be forced into a kind of shame and self-loathing that will make life so unbearable that death will seem preferable. And every single person we know, everyone we meet, everyone we see will encourage this perception of ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’ve freed ourselves from morality and moralism, that we’re no longer held hostage by those ideas from the past; what we’ve really freed ourselves from is mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love. And disturbs me in a way that I have trouble adequately expressing.
Interviews with writers I love in The Paris Review
Not necessarily in any order of preference:
Tom Wolfe (Somehow I can still say this even after reading that 700-page bowel movement called A Man in Full)
Honorable mention (because he was interviewed by Ron Hansen, not because I’ve knowingly read a word he’s written): John Irving