Bruce Springsteen and Martin Scorsese discuss faith, O’Connor

Readers may find these tidbits fascinating from Chris Willman’s full reporting in Variety:

In their conversation Sunday night at a privateNetflix event honoring “Springsteen on Broadway,” Bruce Springsteen and Martin Scorsese spent close to a third of the 45-minute chat discussing their mutual roots in east coast Catholicism and how they’ve both come to terms with a kind of faith. “I think as you get older, what you grow comfortable with is that faith is faith,” Springsteen said. “It’s about all of the mysteries and the answers that you’re never gonna come up with. And I think trying to build it around these concrete answers is vain and humanistic. But if you let it be, that’s where you find a little bit of peace in it. That’s what I’ve found, anyway.”


They bonded over their share love for Catholic literary great Flannery O’Connor, with Springsteen saying that his 1982 album “Nebraska” “was very influenced by Flannery O’Connor stories, and her stories were always filled with the unknowability of God.” Scorsese seemed surprised that Springsteen had not read her collected letters, and urged Springsteen, “Oh, just a few pages a night, every few nights. … I have a quote here from [a letter]…  She said, ‘You arrive at enough certainty to be able to make your way, but it is making it in darkness. Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It’s trust, not certainty.’”

“If you’re an artist,” responded Springsteen, “that darkness is always more interesting than the light. It’s nice when you let the light in at the end of something. But I was always interested in, what were the things that didn’t go right? I had a habit: I would drive back through my hometown, and I would do this over and over and over again. And I used to ask myself, why am I coming back here? And I still do. Seventy years old, I still do it. I don’t know if you’re going back to fix things, but there’s so much there that informed your work and your life that it still remains just a rich location. But I always wanted to base the heart of my work in the dark side of things and then find my way. Then you had to earn the light.”

Springsteen wasn’t kidding when he said he still drives back through his hometown. That’s evident in his closing monolog in “Springsteen on Broadway,” when he come back late at night and laments the cutting down of his favorite tree, then comes to spiritual terms with it. He reinforced the truth of those homecomings with an anecdote in Sunday’s discussion.

“The faith you had as a child was very fear-based,” he said. “My initial recollection of my experience in the church was: it was dark. Now, if I go back to my hometown church, it’s been painted entirely white. And it’s bright and it’s supposed to be happy, I guess.”

“Oh, no, no, that’s not good!” protested Scorsese.

“Occasionally I get drawn back to my church,” Springsteen continued. “I was at my church — I attended some stranger’s funeral about a month ago.” The audience laughed. “I was driving by and I saw the door was open, and I said, ‘I’ve got to go in. I’ve got to go back.’ And I went in and there was some nice man’s funeral going on, and I sat in the back. And,” he admitted, “it was completely bizarre.”

Readers are encouraged to read the entire report HERE

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