GROSS: You know, you write in your book, you know, again, about how you don't believe in an interventionist God, and you say, once you start praying to God to cure your cancer or asking God why he didn't answer you prayers, the questions never stop. And then you refer to, like, a bishop who said his faith was shaken by the tsunami.
Rev. CHURCH: Yes.
GROSS: And then you say, you don't like it when people say about a tragedy or about, you know, an illness or death, well, God has his reasons. It's just part of God's plan.
Rev. CHURCH: This is God's plan.
GROSS: What do you object to about that? Why isn't that the...
Rev. CHURCH: Well, I can see how it can give comfort. But God doesn't throw a three-year-old child out of a third story window or allow a drunken driver to kill a family crossing the street. This is not part of God's plan. These are the accidents of life and death. And if God, for instance, is responsible for a tsunami, that obliterates the lives of a hundred thousand people and leaves their families in tatters, then God's a bastard.
I cannot believe in such a God. For me, God is the life force, that which is greater than all and yet present in each. But God is not micromanaging this world. That is a presumption that we are naturally drawn to because of our sense of centrality and self importance, but there are 1,500 stars for every living human being. And the God that I believe in is an absolute magnificent mystery....
GROSS: I want to get back to mortality. How much time would you say, in your typical day, you spend thinking about death?
Rev. CHURCH: At this point, Terry, I probably spend almost no time thinking about death. For the first time in my life, I am living completely in the present. I have, as I said about a terminal illness where you have time, in a sense, it allows you to sort of co-script your final act. To be able to write "Love and Death" was to be able to put a code on my life. I have been able to conclude my active life, as opposed to it just ending.
I am not yet at the point of being on my deathbed, so I am into sort of an in-between place. Each day is - I read. I chat with my friends who are ever more attentive. We take our friends for granted, as well. And when there is a short amount of time, they come out of the woodwork, old, old, old friends. And we spend lots of time together. And I am just in the present.
When the time comes, when I am closer to my deathbed or on it, I am certain that I'll begin probably even fearing, to some degree, the passage, but there is not fear in my mind now, and there is no preoccupation by death. It doesn't - I don't push my nose up against that dark pane in my window. I stand back and let the light shine on me.