tv After Words with David Gregory CSPAN October 11, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT
to the title of your book, "how's your faith." >> guest: it was posed to me by president bush who asked the question numerous times and i wrote about it before i got the job at meet the press. he heard through a mutual friend that i was studying with someone we both know, the locals caller in our area and that i was generally trying to deepen my face and so i was meeting with him in the oval office and we were talking about the economy and he was giving advice on how to weather public scrutiny. every time he asked that question i found to be such a penetrating question. he might be startled people were asking that but i never found it inappropriate. it was the context that he heard i was studying and i said to him i'm studying the bible and i'm trying to deepen my faith.
he talked about being in the bible every day and he relied on the strength and belief to the darkest days of the presidency. his own journey into path of faith. >> as we both know for the secular elite liberal is to talk about their faith. you talk about it very openly. those that are atheist or agnostic's. how have you found the reaction to your talking so openly.
>> guest: do not accept the liberal label. >> host: i am talking about a journalist. i am not at nbc anymore but even when i was people were respectful of it and i think that you are right to talk about it very openly as something that takes people back. it's kind of culturally an anathema to speak of faith so openly and i'm still a journalist and i understand what that means. i am not arguing the point that it seems a bit unusual.
when i talk about my years in the bush years it is about the journey of life which is asking the question who am i trying to become and being on the path of strengthening the relationship with god so it feels good and it's who i am and who i've been comfortable becoming and so far that reaction it that reaction has been pretty comforting and supportive. >> host: did you know that you were going to do this book, do you feel like you were called to do this book? >> guest: the book was in the works before meet the press. when i was covering president bush and began thinking about this aspect of my life since my kids were young i think one of the things leaving nbc did for
the buck has allowed me to become even more grounded in faith to spend more time on it anyway that i don't know i could have been opened to spend on it before whether it was doing additional interviews are going down the road of the reflection to add to it. my leaving nbc is a small portion of the book. i have no interest in settling the score were do anything else like that so this is something that happened before. i think it's getting stronger. i think i've grown in spirit and i understand what it is to know god. he said it's like asking someone if you believe in love.
i feel like i have a stronger relationship with god and i feel more grounded in faith through prayer and study and learning that allows me to try to be more humble tuesday night as -- and to see my weaknesses. i put some important things before me. there are expectations seeking meaning and purpose in my life and those are things that are present every peso in those ways it isn't just a project for me. it was told in new york it should be an act of love and i think i'm well into that realm.
>> host: you said you felt it was a little bit of a project that you would be sort of going at it to be the best that you could possibly be. that's what they have to cast away and that's what it is. for me on a dalia basis its discovery. i was reading something this morning in solemn 23 which is so well known the lord is my shepherd i shall not want and there is a line and that to me is the headline of the day. i'm looking for a clean slate and that's what it is to me
almost a dalia discovery and that is the truth that seems to me. it's another to know the kind of reality around the truth like that but i think is comforting. >> when you say to you say you shouldn't ask a question do you believe in god what but is the question that you should ask? who are what is god to you. >> guest: let me start by saying i think the question for me because one of the things i want to talk about is this is my own path. where is god in this situation
opening your heart to the presence of god is the question for me to do so through prayer to listen to the scripture as well as to listen to the scripture and listen to god. it's always seeking to be close to god and to see gods faith as a president who bears witness. whether a joy and pain or personal failure.
>> host: do you have an identification with a personal? do you think there is a god that says david here's what i think you should do or shouldn't do this. do you pray? who do you pray to and what do you pray? >> the question is interesting to ideal even a personal god? personal in that i feel like beginning to know god i don't know the answer you're the one that gave me this great line on the bumper sticker which i used is there a person, i don't know
yet i'm very inspired by the teachings to study christianity first. i think that he reveals things through. it's through the bible and through the new testament so there is a lot that is revealed in that. i prayed for forgiveness and patience. to renew my life and to become better and to sort of hold me
accountable. >> host: do you pray for things? >> i pray that he will watch and protect my children and the present for them and to bless us and our coming and going. i don't know that i'd arrived at a full understanding of whether i believe in free will and they say as i said before. if there's evil in the world people make all kinds of wrong choices whether there is still the possibility of choosing life and the possibility of reduction. >> host: when you pray for the safety of your children and the well-being of your children, do
you expect that in some way your prayers might help to keep them safe? >> guest: i don't know i guess i hope so. i just think again the question for me and my family is where is god and i think that god is the love that surrounds us and is in friendship and pain and the idea that we can feel that god is close is to me very important and i wanted for my children and i guess it just helps my soul that i can express the vulnerability with my children out in the world that i ask is for them to be watched with a loving hand. >> host: you talk about the question of suffering in hell
does anyone explain and all loving god and an all powerful god how do you explain that and have you wrestled with that? >> guest: i don't pretend to have those answers. why they don't like to talk about god very much be they used to be an intoxicated people and the holocaust changed that and it's a titanic struggle.
it is refrained of who will live and who shall die. who should have good fortune and who should be tranquil and troubled and we are all of those things is an interpretation that would basically i will live and i will die and i will be troubled and anxious. god is present through all of these things and it is a kind of inanimate world of just molecule
things happen. it's for the world that makes things okay. >> your father was jewish, your mother was catholic. your mother was an alcoholic and you chose judaism over catholicism. >> guest: they believe none of us choose it. it's also a path my parents decided on. were they involved in the religious life more than anything? >> guest: the difficulty was
catholicism and raised a catholic and that's kind of what she was and all she knew. my mother had for her and unfortunate experience and insisted on naming the child and found difficult to handle. she describes what occurred face along with it. the first child might be christian and catholic and the second born jewish and so on and that's ultimately how they were planning to do it with us but my mother she had lost her faith.
that's still the case for her in the recovering program that gives a great and a deep spiritual life today stronger than it ever was in the very deep belief in god but it's through the prism. >> host: so then you married to somebody that wasn't jewish or protestant. although she was religious herself and you've written about how you felt in some ways that you were selfish and insisting the children be raised jewish and that the religion was sort of pushed aside and that later you begin to realize how much of a sacrifice she had made. why did she do that and say i
agree when she was a religious person herself? >> guest: she asks herself that question still. i think at the time it is interesting that wasn't even more of a negotiation i think she was very gracious about it and thought of a this is important for him and he has a very strong sense of identity and felt at the time i still have my traditions and i will be able to walk onto them and be able to manage it. and it wasn't until we went along having kids when they realized this is a lot that i've given up and she describes is now having really thought about it and you are familiar with the temple it's such a beautiful thing where he blesses all on the entire congregation that rises and he thanks them for us and then his voice for making the sacrifice as does everybody.
she felt i needed it and was a gift to me and that it would be good for our children and she made the decision to do it but it accompanied the challenge in this question which i know what you are but what do you believe and she inspired me to go down this path of learning and how to live with meaning and purpose and what it meant to be a person of faith. she inspired me more than anybody else to go down that path and take that step because she said if you're going to lead the family and faith and lead us in faith and know what you're doing make that commitment horse also understanding more as a deeper person of faith is how
they get the sacrifice that is. i encourage us to try to go to church together and we have taken our kids as well and try to speak about the tradition and i think despite the sense of sacrifice she feels i think she would also agree part of what we try to create is a religious practice and identity within our home as something that very much reflects christian tradition as well. >> host: do you think it's been good for the children and for the family and your marriage that she made the sacrifice or do you think it might have been better if you have incorporated both? there are so many now i think something like one half of all
our varying outside of the faith. so this is becoming war and more of an issue. >> guest: i would have liked from the get go a respect and inclusion of the christian tradition. i grew up celebrating having a christmas tree that's anathema to a lot of jews that will hear this and we do that as a family as well. if i look at the grandparents except for my father, everybody else is christian so that's important both for the rest of the family but also for our children. i think we both felt that it's important to have an identity and not to try a dual identity but i think what we try to do is to understand how interwoven they are fully aware of the major differences and those can be sources of tension that are
not readily available in our home. so i think what could have been better if all along i had tried to get outside of myself to realize this is a big deal how can we pay tribute and honor her in a way that makes her feel welcome being part as a jewish family as opposed to making her feel excluded if there were times that it was very painful where our children might innocently say that you're not jewish and make her feel excluded and that is a very painful thing and i can understand that and regret that and it can be exclusive in that way to outsiders. as we've come through this to this with the trials but also the joys and a commitment within
the jewish identity. >> host: you have christmas trees and easter egg hunts. >> guest: you can't get more secular. [laughter] and by the way, i go out of my way to talk to the kids about the religious significance of christmas and easter and why as a family we do not deserve them or celebrate them in that way but that we should respect these are not commercial holidays or more secular. we may celebrate them in a way yet what's the deeply respectful with the deeply respectful of what it means to celebrate the birth and resurrection of jesus even if we have a different view about italian understand it. so i try my best in that regard
he >> host: you were the moderator of meet the press and then all of these terrible weeks started happening that you are going to comic were going to, you know you're going to get fired or maybe not in the back and forth. then you were let go work with or whatever happened. >> guest: i like to remind people i was number one in the ratings which wasn't easy to do and i enjoyed my time on meet the press and i'm very grateful for it. nbc was going through a difficult time into the nightly news ratings trouble and meet the press had trouble and i think we were trying to figure out not only the rating issue and how to evolve the program to
make it my own especially when his shadow was so long over the program and frankly the genre of the sunday morning shows so all of those were challenges and i was trying to work through it and doing my best. it came to the place there was a lot of public scrutiny and there were a lot of internal leaks that could have only come from within nbc and they finally got to the point where i said what i understand washington and when there's there is blood in the water you have to be -- you have to shore up because it becomes a neat attracting from a pr trying to do and so i need the support or i have to go. it felt like i was being fired if they wouldn't support me it over the long term so i wasn't fired but it felt like i was going to.
so i felt like it was best for me to call. >> host: why did that happen though blacks you were still doing very well. it was a business decision i didn't agree with but it wasn't my decision to make and what you know this town better than i do. it can be tough and i was disappointed about how it ended and i felt it was unnecessary and people at the highest level felt that it didn't go as well and that's it. >> host: you talk about how you wish now looking back maybe you could have had more friends to be more friendly to people.
is that true and how do you feel your personality was and how do you feel it's changed since then? >> guest: i started early in the business into the vision when i was 18, 19 and nbc x.25 so i was just progressing rapidly and was very ambitious and i think that people felt i was out for myself and some people thought i was arrogant or maybe just a aloof. my wife is very successful and i was focused at home with our kids and that meant a lot to me and i didn't socialize as much to people that knew me may know me enough to be connected to the
family and and may have thought i was aloof and not working hard enough in the social scene or the washington scene. i always felt that i was doing a lot of work and trying very hard that i could have done a better job having more community around me shoving people are finding well, you're doing well and we are in this together so i blame myself for that and i felt again i don't mean to sound naïve and i know washington can be tough. it was any different when i left and the didn't feel good and i tried to internalize that and realize well yes people may be jealous but what can i take away from it that's a little more constructive and i just have to own the fact that i think it turns some people off or alienated some people along the way and i would do that
differently. i think whatever the next chapter is it's been different and again on tv at 18 and then 44 to have a step back like this i didn't have any professional setbacks ahead of time so i had a humbling experience and i have to think a lot about who am i and who am am i. if i'm not this guy on tv does anybody care about me in this town or beyond. >> host: one night i was sitting next to you and we were talking about erika brown who is your spiritual adviser and a very good friend of mine and who is a brilliant woman and we were discussing her and you and your role as the moderator of meet the press and you were saying that one of the things you are talking to eric about either of
them this stratosphere and it didn't feel real to you and you were trying to sort out how you handled the situation and still have a real life and be a real person because of the way that people perceive you. i covered washington for 47 years and i see this happens so often that people are in power and have power and lose power.
i think that she was asking a question i hadn't thought deeply enough and couldn't think until i never thought i was losing at all. i had a sense of perspective even when i got the meet the press job i talk about this in the book. my wife said you're so much more talented and better looking now. it's what comes with the platform. so much was wound up in that i have a standing because of what i was on television and in
television news as opposed to who i am in the world and that was something i was trying to balance it if you have a public life have you conduct yourself there it's all one life how you treat people and deal with the toxic nature of your business and how you use the influence you have and handle diversity these are all things that come together. >> host: when you say toxic nature of our business what do you mean? >> guest: there's a lot of backstabbing and gossip and you
cannot be thought about again. i think it's the nature of the business in television news which i know best. for the people that are on television and catering to them and making them bigger and more influential and there is a lot of difference to people in our culture that are in television generally and in television news so that creates a lot of competition and it doesn't always bring out the best in people. again people in me can bring out the best in them but doesn't always and so i think there is that toxicity. i tell a story i wrote about and about one day that was a very tough piece in the "washington post" about the challenges i was facing and it was a tough piece.
>> host: they brought in a psychologist or psychiatrist. >> guest: which wasn't true and we brought in a marketing specialist who was trying to take my best attributes and make that part of a marketing campaign. unfortunately it was reported in that way but this was the part of the landscape and anyway, as i was dealing with that i asked if she would come and study with me for some guidance and when you call by the spiritual adviser -- slime on the phone
and i say i'm bloodied and bruised but still standing and we are trying to get help with the enemy seat and she said i'm listening to you and if you're not talking about love at all you know what's going on, and no i'm not talking about love. i do think that and she said to me we study the different proverbs that say if you you established a path all of your ways will be true and as she taught me that lesson she said imagine that you are walking through a maze.
who are you and who is it that you want to be because these are the spiritual tests are you going to get into this anger and resentment or is this the moment will be the person god expects you to be and as usual i was just dumbfounded. >> host: you mentioned you have been trying to work on that and there was one that the decorators showhouse. what happened there? >> guest: i came home in the middle of the day and i was stressed out about stuff.
benefiting the children's hospital to make it more embarrassing and i said i'm going to go and i'm walking up there and that voice inside of me whether it's god or someone else says that is a bad idea. but i'm so right about this i'm going to keep on going so i go up and it was just complained more loudly than i thought and all the rest. the "washington post" reliable source and they heard about the incident. the worst part is don't do something you don't want to see on the "washington post" readers
>> host: do you think the anger comes from your parents divorce and mother's alcoholism? >> guest: it's just how god made me. my dad struggles with his temper and i was afraid of my dad and he had a bad temper and i don't think i've replicated all that but i certainly have aspects of it and so whether it comes from insecurity or a lack of self-control i don't pin it on anyone episode it's just kind of who i am and if you like that is another great line of the book about character and being humble is to realize you were always an underdog against your own weaknesses for me and a lot of
people that it's one thing i struggle with. >> host: did you ever see a shrink during this time? and >> guest: no. it was the council was psychological and spiritual. what happened after nbc you said you had this position and you obviously were invited everywhere and did that change, how much did things change for you? >> guest: i think it's changed a lot. you fall out of that kind of public position and what comes with the trappings of a job.
it was painfully clear that it was no moderated against meet the press in certain relationships fade away so i certainly experienced that and one of the things is people that still thankfully a lot of people come up and say i love your show -- [laughter] at a certain point i would say you don't love me that much because you don't realize. so a lot of people would come up to me which i appreciated and people in particular were angry about what happened or don't like the change. i'm trying to be classy about this but you don't have to be. [laughter] >> host: washington is a killer town and it is really. i remember when bill clinton first came here he said washington is a town you are up
or down. that is official washington. that is a triangle between politics and law in the media and i was in that world and so was my wife but we also have kids we raised here and who play sports and there's lots of aspects in town and we've been very blessed with really good friends. >> host: was there in the last year's it's now i guess then your site for you since that happened was there a point in time you just thought i can't once the shock wore off? >> guest: it's more that a bad feeling evil old as i got deeper into it and i realized it's great to be gracious about this
and classy about this model is for my kids and all that but then it just kind of sound and i lost sunk in that i lost something i cared about and i had insecurities about whether that was it for my career people have setbacks and go to the next chapter and i was eager for that but just kind of wondering what fills the space and what if something doesn't so i think that is natural to feel that way and it's bad enough respect for the law and period of time. >> host: you have moments of depression now about that? >> guest: i am still disappointed about what happened but i feel truthfully i remember
thinking this is difficult to deal with but i don't want to be back where i was. it had become a situation that wasn't right for me anymore it was time for me to go and so now i really do view it as a great gift for me to really understand that is what kinds of new possibilities and opportunities for me both personally and professionally and to learn from having a setback in life it was good for me. i'm very blessed there are so many people that lose their job and struggle financially and it becomes an issue of stress but it's not the path i'm walking and i am blessed on the disc were. so yes i may feel bad but i feel like it is a great blessing that i've gone through and have kind of ground more grounded and deeply in faith as a result. >> host: one of the things i was interested in is the people you talked to in the book.
you were talking about being in the crowd with this mega- preacher and you were sort of overcome with emotion now these are all christian. why did you go to them for counsel or to interview them? >> host: >> guest: i'm interested in reaching out to others for inspiration and guidance and i think he is a really charismatic figure and someone that is a really accessible by on a massive stage and it was incredibly emotional and powerful to be in his church and to experience how his congregants experienced him and experienced the church of lakewood. there is such a sense and there is so much as to a surrender and love in the room and it is
incredibly powerful and i think that what surprised me a little bit about the pastor that i had a little bit more of the skepticism that he might see the answers to accept christ and if you do that everything is going to be okay and he said what i was raised a certain way and be even a second-half about the trick is to let god in a little bit more. when i was coming to the pastor was a question of what do you do when you encounter people like me who are saying how do i defend my faith and what counsel do you provide and what is your experience with people like that is to get their perspective on my path is why i thought fought them in the first place and in each case the discussion evolved into what it means to develop a stronger faith and what it looks like and feels like and how one
opens your heart to do it and in each of those conversations i felt it really fortified. i remember going to him for an interview on a bad day there was a lot of speculation and he said the question is who you are whether you are a public person or the manager of the hardware store or you define yourself by work or someone that thinks they are created in the image of god and it got me to a deeper place and perspective of in perspective of what it means to be a person of faith. >> host: there's still a lot of anti-semitism in this country there are country clubs in la that are restricted and places that they are not accepted and the anti-semitism is growing in
europe to an alarming degree. have you ever felt discriminated against or anti-semitism towards you a little bit here and there over social media but really not very much not like friends that experience these issues a lot more so i worry about it tomorrow because i think -- i used to think a little bit more about it now that that's time was over but you see this engine to revise i think you see a lot of sentiment that morphs into the anti-semitism of people but think of this criticizing that can quickly jump.
and i do take very seriously the responsibility of individuals to do and how we are part of the jewish community and we hope that to koresh. >> host: but you don't get involved in those issues do you? >> guest: as a journalist i try to steer clear of that in terms of the policy questions and ibb and its right to exist and its safety but i also think
that israel is a complicated policy and it's not the center of my jewish identity or belief but as someone that has deepened my faith i don't put israel at the center of my jewish. >> host: when you talk about starting to go to church and getting more involved in your wife's faith, sometimes you sound more like a christian then you do like a jew and it seems that you've been drawn a little bit more towards christianity and i wonder if he would ever consider becoming a christian would you ever consider maybe
not converting but accepting christianity? >> guest: not as i sit here today i don't think so. i feel rooted in my judaism. there is something of a misnomer sometimes. tim keller said i'm not giving credit enough for my spiritual journey and maybe he's right. he gives them plenty of credit. >> host: why did he say that? >> guest: he thinks i am moved by christian teachings and christianity in a way that may be more powerful than i recognized. i don't know the answer to that. i know that to me some of what they might think as more kind of is more kind of christian language and vocabulary is a more spiritual vocabulary and i think that my view is that to speak of god and god's presence
is so jewish and also very christian because they are reading the psalms and i look for from the mountains where does my overcome these are from the psalms. i don't think it's christianity. i think i find that the more i learn about christianity and the more i find it incredibly moving and it doesn't mean that i'm accepting all of the endpoints or that i feel that i have to therefore decide. i know in the cardinal world that i've spoken to says as a christian we love your path and we would love you to make the rest of the journey into to get
to our truth my truth as much as i understand and i don't even think i understand the fundamental truth is kind of where it ends so my heart is open and i have no intention of converting but as i say i don't claim to know all the answers and i do i try to have some rootedness because that's important for me and i would like to draw inspiration. >> guest: we've discussed this and certainly she understand the attraction.
it's very powerful and i think the example in the jewish life before he started the church incredibly powerful about forgiveness about understanding faith as well and this is the thing i render having the discussion that said god forgives us and god loves us not for who we are but for who he is and erica says in the book that's depending a lot on god and that is the jewish belief but here's the thing when i read deuteronomy the charge is i should love god with all of my heart and soul and with my head and my heart and my hands and how i interact and one of the things in the world i think that's something that jews and christians share so yes there's questions of the eternal salvation's and the holy spirit and all the rest.
i don't have all the answers about these things. it's incredibly interesting and moving and i don't claim to have those answers i'm just moving along in the path. >> host: you would have to be the jesus was the son of god and you don't believe that. >> guest: i haven't worked all that out. >> host: there are a lot of people that haven't worked things out. when you look ahead to the next ten years, i want to say where do you want to be that the question is who do you want to be? >> guest: i want to be a journalist that feels i'm thriving and i want to be the best father and friend i can be and an even deeper person of
faith somebody that is humbled in the world who is mindful of god's teachings in the world and i just want to be flourishing in the way that i've come to understand the great chapter of my life and my subsequent chapters where i'm grounded in faith and i'm just the best person i can be and what i've learned from every step of the way and that i feel like i'm enjoying what i'm doing and that i am pursuing something that feels meaningful to me and being as good as i can be every step along the way. >> host: david, thank you that
>> >> [inaudible conversations] >> i am the branch manager here at the woodrow wilson library is a jury and with the night so they gave for braving know whether it is part of the 17th annual fall for the book's literary festival that runs through saturday october 3rd. picked up a program for more information. if not yet