Jerry Lee Lewis: “I worry about whether I’m going to heaven or hell”

David McClister for the Guardian

By Simon Hattenstone

Guardian, August 8, 2015

Lewis almost became a preacher himself, enrolling at the Southwestern Bible Institute in Texas. But rock’n’roll got the better of him. When he turned from hymns to boogie-woogie, he was expelled. Ever since, this has been the dichotomy in Lewis’s life: a man raised on the threat of hell, fire, damnation, who could not resist the lure of the devil’s own music.

When I mention this today, he’s not having any of it. Say something’s white to Lewis, and he’ll swear it’s black. “How can it be the devil’s music? Satan didn’t give me the talent. God gave me the talent, and I’ve always told people that.”

Yet listen to an early recording made at Sun Studios, and he’s railing at boss Sam Phillips, half crazed with the notion that he has the devil inside him. There is also a famous story that he asked Presley if he believed a rock’n’roller could go to heaven.

Lewis smiles when I mention this. “I said, ‘Elvis, I’m going to ask you one thing before we part company here. If you die, do you think you’d go to heaven or hell?’ And he got real red in the face, and then he got real white in the face, and he said, ‘Jerry Lee, don’t you ever say that to me agin.’ I said, ‘Well, I won’t even say it to you again.’ Hahahaha!” He laughs, mockingly, at Elvis’s country accent. “He was very frightened.”

But Elvis wasn’t the only one who thought about hell? Lewis nods. “I was always worried whether I was going to heaven or hell,” he concedes. “I still am. I worry about it before I go to bed; it’s a very serious situation. I mean you worry, when you breathe your last breath, where are you going to go?”
How many times a day does he pray? “Just about as many hours as there are in the day, I pray. I pray all the time.”

“He talks to God like he’s just talking to you, it’s amazing,” Judith says.

Is death something he fears? “No, I’m not too much on fear. Well, I love God, I love Jesus Christ, and I worship the precious, precious, precious Holy Ghost. But I love living, breathing, I thank God for that all the time.”

To read entire article, click HERE




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Church leaders praise Hawking for contribution to science, dialogue

By Carol Glatz
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who said he did not believe in God, was still an esteemed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and fostered a fruitful dialogue between science and faith. The academy, which Pope Pius IX established in 1847, tweeted, “We are deeply saddened about the passing of our remarkable Academician Stephen #Hawking who was so faithful to our Academy.”
Pope St. John Paul named Hawking a member of the papal academy in 1986. The academy’s members are chosen on the basis of their academic credentials and professional expertise – not religious beliefs.

Blessed Paul VI, the first of four popes to meet Hawking, gave the then 33-year-old scientist the prestigious Pius XI gold medal in 1975 after a unanimous vote by the academy in recognition of his great work, exceptional promise and “important contribution of his research to scientific progress.”
In interviews and his writings, Hawking asserted that God had no role in creating the universe. Yet his avowed atheism did not keep him from engaging in dialogue and debate with the Church as his work and contribution to the papal academy showed….

Vatican astronomer, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, who has studied both physics and philosophy, told Catholic News Service in 2010 that “the ‘god’ that Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in is one I don’t believe in either.”

“God is not just another force in the universe, alongside gravity or electricity,” he added. “God is the reason why existence itself exists. God is the reason why space and time and the laws of nature can be present for the forces to operate that Stephen Hawking is talking about.”

Read entire article HERE.

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Can former journalist Lee Strobel make a convincing case for miracles?

Lee Strobel

Do you believe in miracles? “Half of Americans (51 percent) said they believe the miracles of the Bible happened as they are described,” Lee Strobel argues. “Two out of three (67 percent) said miracles are possible today…. Nearly two out of five US adults (38 percent) said they have had an experience that they can only explain as being a miracle of God.”

Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service provides an informative interview with Strobel, a journalist-turned-minister and author of the new book “The Case for Miracles: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for the Supernatural,” Here is one segment that caught my eye.

RNS: I’ve heard skeptics often say that to believe in “miracles” would be to deny science because, after all, miracles violate the established and observed laws of nature. How do you respond?

LS: Scottish skeptic David Hume called a miracle “a violation of the laws of nature” – and you can’t violate the laws of nature, right? Hume’s critique is still touted by skeptics today, but my book demonstrates that Hume’s approach is fatally flawed. In fact, philosophers have decimated Hume in recent years, as illustrated by the title of a recent book by a non-Christian scholar published by Oxford University Press: Hume’s Abject Failure.

Actually, miracles are not a violation of the laws of nature. For example, if I drop an apple, the law of gravity tells me it will hit the floor. But if I drop the apple and you reach in and grab it before it hits the floor, you haven’t violated the law of gravity – you’ve merely intervened. And that’s what God does in performing a miracle – he intervenes in the world that he created.

As philosopher William Lane Craig told me, natural laws have implicit ceteris paribus conditions, which is Latin for “all other things being equal.” In other words, natural laws assume that no other natural or supernatural factors are interfering with the operation that the law generally describes.

Craig explained that if there’s a supernatural agent that’s working in the natural world, then the idealized conditions described by the law are no longer in effect. The law isn’t violated because the law has this implicit provision that no outside forces are messing around with the conditions.

Read entire interview HERE.


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Can Jack White Change His Stripes?

By Brian Hiatt

Jack White believes in making things difficult for himself. The artistic reasons behind this ethos are clear (“You have to have a problem/ If you want to invent a contraption,” he once sang), the psychological origins of it less so. Catholicism? There is a picture, somewhere, of a little Jack White, at that point still Jack Gillis, meeting Pope John Paul II. White certainly has a self-flagellatory bent: “I’m bleeding before the Lord,” he sings on “Seven Nation Army.” Is it related to being the seventh of seven sons, and 10th child overall, with parents who were a little too worn out from parenting to set too many restrictions for their youngest kid? Probably. He considered, as a teenager, both the military and the priesthood, and ended up starting a company where employees wear uniforms – which no one seems to mind much, other than dry-cleaning fees.
Last year, White purchased a musical manuscript written by Al Capone in Alcatraz (in the 1920s, even gangsters could read and write music) for a song called “Humoresque”: “You thrill and fill this heart of mine/With gladness like a soothing symphony.” Capone, it seems, played tenor banjo in a prison band with Machine Gun Kelly on drums. The song, a take on a Dvorák work, turns out to have been recollected, not composed, by Capone, but White still ended up recording it as the closing track on his new album. He’s moved by the idea that a famous murderer had a weakness for such “a gentle, beautiful song.” “It shows you, like, what we were talking about earlier,” he adds. “Human beings are complicated creatures with lots of emotions going on.”
White is hardly the first successful white bluesman, and his thoughts on the idea of cultural appropriation are careful and nuanced. “There’s definitely a family of musicians,” he says, “and when you play with people of different cultures, nobody cares what anyone’s skin is. Are there people who have taken advantage of other people’s culture and made money off it? Oh, yeah. Black people invented everything. They invented jazz, blues, rock & roll, hip-hop, on and on and on. Every cool thing in music comes from them. And from the American South, their spread went global, which is absolutely one of the most incredible Cinderella stories of all time – this music being played on front porches in the Delta went global. Incredible. It makes you want to cry, it’s so beautiful. And were there portions of people who wouldn’t buy a Little Richard record but would buy the Pat Boone version? Of course.” What really bugs him, though, is fake Jamaican patois. “The rhythm I’ll let you get away with,” he says, “but the fake accent? I can’t stomach it.”
He recently saw a Bruno Mars live clip that made him think. “He said something a lot of artists say: ‘I hope you guys are having fun tonight.’ It’s the simplest thing in the world! I’ve never said that and I don’t know how to say that and I don’t know what that would mean.” He blinks. “Is that really why we’re here?”

Instead, White thinks it’s all about “the truth . . . trying to get somewhere real,” he says, stretching in his chair. “Your ideas were pure and you were trying to sculpt sound, trying to make something beautiful.”

Read the entire Rolling Stone article HERE

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Alice Cooper on playing King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar

“I get the villain part again. I’m always the villain. Nobody’s ever going to cast me as the hero. I’m always going to be the villain — which is fine, I like that.” First-rate interview with Alice Cooper conducted by BroadwayWorld’s Richard Ridge regarding his upcoming role as the flamboyant King Herod in NBC’s staged rock concert of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR LIVE! to be aired Easter Sunday, April 1. Check it out HERE.

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Tag-teaming Bob Dylan and Thomas Merton

Eerdmans: What led you to write The Monk’s Record Player?

Robert Hudson: As a Dylan fan since my teens and a Merton fan since my twenties, I was astounded to learn in my forties that Merton himself had been a huge Dylan fan. Once I started investigating, this fascinating story nearly wrote itself. Merton viewed Dylan as one of the most important and prophetic voices in American poetry, and not only that, but Dylan’s music helped Merton recover from one of the most serious crises in his adult life. Curiously, at the same time, Dylan’s life paralleled Merton’s in many unexpected ways even though the two never met. Since no other book about Merton has explored this soul-to-soul connection, I knew I had to write about it.

Looking forward to this book HERE

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Life is mystery, not black comedy

Frederick Buechner was asked by his mother whether he believes in life after death. This is his response: “I said that if the victims and the victimizers, the wise and the foolish, the good-hearted and the heartless all end up alike in the grave and that is the end of it, then life would be a black comedy, and to me, even at its worst, life doesn’t feel like a black comedy. It feels like a mystery. It feels as though, at the innermost heart of it, there is Holiness, and that we experience all the horrors that go on both around us and within as horrors rather than as just the way the cookie crumbles because, in our own innermost hearts, we belong to Holiness, which they are a tragic departure from. And lastly, I wrote her, I believe that what happens to us after we die is that we aren’t dead forever because Jesus said so.”

To order his book, A Crazy, Holy Grace, click HERE.

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Watchful Dragons: Neil Gaiman’s Brush with Narnia Lingers

By Russell Moore, Touchstone

Last year, Neil Gaiman published his long-awaited work, Norse Mythology, a collection of the ancient stories of the Nordic gods. This is not a translation, but a retelling. As Eugene Peterson’s The Message is to the Bible, Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is to Norse mythology. The book was widely anticipated not so much because it collects mythic tales as because of the author himself. For many of his readers, Gaiman awakened an interest in the old gods in the first place. And for Gaiman himself, something of this longing for Valhalla started in the wardrobe of a spare room.

At first glance, Gaiman would seem to be of little interest to those Christians who are unfamiliar with his work. Why should they pay attention to him any more than they would to the latest young adult werewolf romance? Gaiman is important, though, because he is not just a bubble on the surface of popular culture but a tidal current within it. We also should give him some attention because he is raising the sorts of questions we will want raised if we are to bear witness to Christian orthodoxy in a “post-Christian” Western culture.
The connection between C. S. Lewis and Neil Gaiman isn’t as obvious as Gaiman’s imaginative debt to, say, Ray Bradbury. After all, Lewis is best remembered as a committed Christian apologist, while Gaiman is decidedly, well, not. But Gaiman is not anti-Lewis, like, say, Phillip Pullman, whose Golden Compass books set out to dethrone Aslan with a bleak, atheistic universe. Gaiman’s relationship to Lewis is more complicated. Continue reading

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Songs of Experience: A Liturgy for Existentialists

By Timothy Neufeld (ATU2.Com)

Existentialists ask the kind of big questions about our existence that are addressed on U2’s latest. Questions such as, “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” and “What is my place in the universe?” The architects of existentialism, including Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Sartre and Nietzsche, were dissatisfied with rationalism and reacted against a “science will save us” attitude that dominated the Age of Enlightenment. Rationalists ask, “How does this work?” In contrast, existentialists ask, “Why do we exist?”

Bono has quoted Nietzsche numerous times over the years. On the Vertigo tour we heard a paraphrase of the philosopher’s famous aphorism, “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” Nietzsche also said, “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering,” and “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
Songs Of Experience could have easily been titled Songs Of Existence. The search for purpose is seen throughout. Undoubtedly, Bono’s “brush with mortality” colored his own experience. In the liner notes for SOE, he says it left him “clinging on to my own life like a raft.” He continues, “…it would feel dishonest not to admit the turbulence I was feeling at the time of writing.” This kind of here-and-now honesty about mortality is paramount for existentialists.

The flow of U2’s latest album is rhythmic chaos, like a liturgy exploring existence, moving through experiences of doubt, anger, confession and ultimately resolving in hope.

Read entire article HERE.

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John Legend and Jesus Christ Superstar

R&B superstar John Legend will be playing the role of Jesus in the Easter night NBC musical Jesus Christ Superstar written by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Raised in the church, Legend is no longer involved in the Church, he told Relevant Magazine, and doesn’t consider himself “religious,” but insists, “All of that is still with me.”

“Gospel music, particularly – and the black church – have been a part of black music culture for so long,” Legend said. “If you just go back and look at Aretha Franklin, she grew up in a church and made gospel albums. If you look at Marvin Gaye, he grew up in the Church and made songs that talked about his faith and Jesus and his views on spirituality. Stevie Wonder has done it. I think all the great artists we grew up listening to, they grew up in the black Church and that tradition doesn’t just go away even though you’re making secular music.”

“Jesus was kind of revolutionary in his own way,” Legend said. “He was fighting the power and speaking out for the underdog almost all the time throughout His life. That’s why He was so dangerous, and that’s why the powers that be wanted Him to not be around anymore. I think there’s been more of a conversation about that lately too. I think that’s a good thing.”

Legend goes on to say, “I think it’s important that we continue to examine [Jesus’] words and not to project what our own political motivations are onto Him, but to actually pay attention too what he actually said,” he says. “What He said about the poor, what he said about loving one another and all the things He preached, I think sometimes we lost sight of that.”

(Relevant Magazine, Mar-Apr 20018)

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