Ray Bradbury on God

Ray Bradbury is not just a great science fiction writer.  He is a great writer, period.  And he is a man of some-kind-of faith:

The 89-year-old science fiction author watches Fox News Channel by day, Turner Classic Movies by night. He spends the rest of his time summoning “the monsters and angels” of his imagination for his enchanting tales.

Bradbury’s imagination has yielded classic books such as “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and 600 short stories that predicted everything from the emergence of ATMs to live broadcasts of fugitive car chases.

Bradbury, who turns 90 this month, says he will sometimes open one of his books late at night and cry out thanks to God.

“I sit there and cry because I haven’t done any of this,” he told Sam Weller, his biographer and friend. “It’s a God-given thing, and I’m so grateful, so, so grateful. The best description of my career as a writer is, ‘At play in the fields of the Lord.’ ”

Bradbury’s stories are filled with references to God and faith, but he’s rarely talked at length about his religious beliefs, until now.

He describes himself as a “delicatessen religionist.” He’s inspired by Eastern and Western religions.

The center of his faith, though, is love. Everything — the reason he decided to write his first short story at 12; his 56-year marriage to his muse and late wife, Maggie; his friendships with everyone from Walt Disney to Alfred Hitchcock — is based on love.

Bradbury is in love with love.

Once, when he saw Walt Disney, architect of the Magic Kingdom, Christmas shopping in Los Angeles, Bradbury approached him and said: “Mr. Disney, my name is Ray Bradbury and I love you.”

Bradbury’s favorite book in the Bible is the Gospel of John, which is filled with references to love.

“At the center of religion is love,” Bradbury says from his home, which is painted dandelion yellow in honor of his favorite book, “Dandelion Wine.”

“I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. … Everything in our life should be based on love.”

Bradbury’s voice booms with enthusiasm over the phone. He now uses a wheelchair. His hearing has deteriorated. But he talks like an excitable kid with an old man’s voice. (Each Christmas, Bradbury asked his wife to give him toys in place of any other gifts.)

Weller, author of “Listen to The Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews,” says Bradbury ends many conversations with “God bless.” Weller’s book devotes an entire chapter to Bradbury’s faith.

“I once asked him if he prayed, and he said, ‘Joy is the grace we say to God,’ ” Weller says.

Bradbury was raised as a Baptist in Waukegan, Illinois, by his father, a utility lineman, and his mother, a housewife. Both were infrequent churchgoers.

His family moved to Los Angeles during the Great Depression to look for work. When he turned 14, Bradbury began visiting Catholic churches, synagogues and charismatic churches on his own to figure out his faith.

Bradbury has been called a Unitarian, but he rejects that term. He dislikes labels of any kind.

“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself,” he says. “I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”

via Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury on God, ‘monsters and angels’ – CNN.com.

But. . .but. . .Ray. . . Zen Buddhists don’t really believe in God.  And love is surely the kind of attachment that Buddhists believe we must detach ourselves from.  I know Thomas Merton formulated a kind of Christian Zen.  Your worldview sounds (and from your writings has always sounded) specifically Christian.  The story goes on to say how often you write about Jesus.  Keep going in that direction.  (Let’s pray for him, as well as for Anne Rice.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    I’m not so naive as to believe that Bradbury is a Christian, but his deism comes as no surprise to me, considering that his stories contain a generally positive reference to God. The man certainly is gifted: he uses word-pictures that are original and vivid, and are a great source of inspiration for other authors like me-and I’m nowhere near the caliber of wordcrafting that Mr. Bradbury is.

    Everybody should read Bradbury at least once. Dandelion Wine has to be one of the best novels ever written, and it really does take you back to summer, even in the cold of December. It will be a sad day when Ray Bradbury passes away.

  • http://enterthevein.blogspot.com J. Dean

    I’m not so naive as to believe that Bradbury is a Christian, but his deism comes as no surprise to me, considering that his stories contain a generally positive reference to God. The man certainly is gifted: he uses word-pictures that are original and vivid, and are a great source of inspiration for other authors like me-and I’m nowhere near the caliber of wordcrafting that Mr. Bradbury is.

    Everybody should read Bradbury at least once. Dandelion Wine has to be one of the best novels ever written, and it really does take you back to summer, even in the cold of December. It will be a sad day when Ray Bradbury passes away.

  • Richard

    And “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is one of my favorites. He is an insightful writer into the futility of evil. Yes, let us pray that God would regenerate him.

  • Richard

    And “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is one of my favorites. He is an insightful writer into the futility of evil. Yes, let us pray that God would regenerate him.

  • Lance

    Bradbury is one of the best. As a teacher of literature I appreciate how Bradbury’s writings still make an impact in the lives of my students today. His work and references to God also provide me with a door to speaking gospel truth into the lives of students as well. I will join in praying for Mr. Bradbury that he comes to a full knowledge of Christ’s love for him and his need to be saved.

  • Lance

    Bradbury is one of the best. As a teacher of literature I appreciate how Bradbury’s writings still make an impact in the lives of my students today. His work and references to God also provide me with a door to speaking gospel truth into the lives of students as well. I will join in praying for Mr. Bradbury that he comes to a full knowledge of Christ’s love for him and his need to be saved.

  • Joe

    I have enjoyed Bradbury and I am happy to know that he has even a glimmer of faith – based on his writing – I think he is more Christian than he realizes. He just seems to be afraid to call it what it is.

  • Joe

    I have enjoyed Bradbury and I am happy to know that he has even a glimmer of faith – based on his writing – I think he is more Christian than he realizes. He just seems to be afraid to call it what it is.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    We lutherans often miss an opportunity to connect with men and women like bradbury because we mix up law and gospel in the same way that secular folk do. why? the law makes reasonable sense. it has a practical value that is tangible and sense-ible.

    In contrast: The gospel is meaningless and useless here on earth except to God and troubled consciences. so when we try to evangelize we often try to “market or product” by thinking we need to prove some earthly and tangible value in regards to our christian faith. Usually this value is indentified as being that christianity improves people morally.

    The fulfillment (intended result) of the Law is love. Love is defined biblically as any act that improves the creaturely live of others. Think here of the list Lutheran provides for what is all included in “daily bread” in the 4th petition of the Our Father, and the lists of 7 things (completeness) that are listed in the first article of the small catechism here. This is the only and complete aim of the true earthly righteousness that God demands of us here on earth. If we do not love willingly this way, God will force us to do it. and he promises earthly blessings for those who do love. Law is both carrot and stick. Note that carrots are veiled threats. If you dont do something, then you will get no carrot. santa clause theology..

    lutherans call mortification + love “god pleasing righteousness”

    the religious imagine that God demands mortification (aka self sacrifice) and that this mortification is its own purpose and is a righteousness God demands. this view is presented as “righteousness is obeying Gods laws found in the bible, done with a correct gospel/faith motive”. This is wrong.

    The confessions point out that this is no God pleasing earthly righteousness if there is no evidence of acts that look like the betterment of others in a creaturely sense (aka love). They call mortification without love “sacrifice” that is “useless” to others. that useless is not merely a commentary aside. it is THE point they are making.

    so then how do we present this to pagans and other christians? here is how Luther does it (I will paraphrase here):

    “the internalization of the article of the forgiveness of sins by faith alone is the lifelong and most difficult task of a christian and is alone what makes him a christian. But a christian will not successfully retain this faith without understanding that there are two kinds of righteousness, or two kingdoms, and that both kinds of righteousness are truly pleasing to God. earthy righteousness and then heavenly Righteousness.

    and what is earthly righteousness? it is ANYTHING one can do in his body here on earth. The sole aim of this righteousness is for each person to attend to his own business, and not meddle in the personal life, business or property of others, so that men can enjoy the good things that God has given them on earth. in other words, Gods purpose on earth for earthly morality, is to allow both pagan and christian alike to have happy lives here on earth. It is to make the old adam do acts of love for others. Period.

    Then there is that other righteousness that is useless and meaningless to anyone but God and troubled consciences. It is alone trust in christ. It does not include anything that is included in that other earthly righteousness. How can it?! those things are ALL already included in earthly righteousness which fully excludes any need for faith to be done. that earthly righteousness is fully accomplished only by the Law as conscience that all men have, both pagan and christian.

    Man can understand Love. Men seek to find eternal life and life in Love. fallen reason can fully grasp this concept. there are poems and songs and philosophies to confirm that this view is pervasive and self evident.

    Christianity teachs this in contrast:

    God wants and demands us all to practice earthly love. it is his will that we do it. If we do not he will force us, and he promises blessings if we do love. But…..

    This earthly love will all perish with the earth along with all who imagine that love=life. The just shall live by faith in that One who IS Love incarnate. since that Love will endure forever, so who all who trust in that Love alone for life.

    This believe is not something that is self evident or can be argued. On its face it makes no sense. this is why the Holy spirit alone can work out this trusting reorientation within us.

    Bradbury sounds like he was a truly righteous man. God would be pleased with that righteousness he had. we should praise it. But then we need to know that that righteousness really leads only to death and not life, which God the Holy spirit is also working in pagans and also in that pagan part of all christian believers called the Old Adam

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    We lutherans often miss an opportunity to connect with men and women like bradbury because we mix up law and gospel in the same way that secular folk do. why? the law makes reasonable sense. it has a practical value that is tangible and sense-ible.

    In contrast: The gospel is meaningless and useless here on earth except to God and troubled consciences. so when we try to evangelize we often try to “market or product” by thinking we need to prove some earthly and tangible value in regards to our christian faith. Usually this value is indentified as being that christianity improves people morally.

    The fulfillment (intended result) of the Law is love. Love is defined biblically as any act that improves the creaturely live of others. Think here of the list Lutheran provides for what is all included in “daily bread” in the 4th petition of the Our Father, and the lists of 7 things (completeness) that are listed in the first article of the small catechism here. This is the only and complete aim of the true earthly righteousness that God demands of us here on earth. If we do not love willingly this way, God will force us to do it. and he promises earthly blessings for those who do love. Law is both carrot and stick. Note that carrots are veiled threats. If you dont do something, then you will get no carrot. santa clause theology..

    lutherans call mortification + love “god pleasing righteousness”

    the religious imagine that God demands mortification (aka self sacrifice) and that this mortification is its own purpose and is a righteousness God demands. this view is presented as “righteousness is obeying Gods laws found in the bible, done with a correct gospel/faith motive”. This is wrong.

    The confessions point out that this is no God pleasing earthly righteousness if there is no evidence of acts that look like the betterment of others in a creaturely sense (aka love). They call mortification without love “sacrifice” that is “useless” to others. that useless is not merely a commentary aside. it is THE point they are making.

    so then how do we present this to pagans and other christians? here is how Luther does it (I will paraphrase here):

    “the internalization of the article of the forgiveness of sins by faith alone is the lifelong and most difficult task of a christian and is alone what makes him a christian. But a christian will not successfully retain this faith without understanding that there are two kinds of righteousness, or two kingdoms, and that both kinds of righteousness are truly pleasing to God. earthy righteousness and then heavenly Righteousness.

    and what is earthly righteousness? it is ANYTHING one can do in his body here on earth. The sole aim of this righteousness is for each person to attend to his own business, and not meddle in the personal life, business or property of others, so that men can enjoy the good things that God has given them on earth. in other words, Gods purpose on earth for earthly morality, is to allow both pagan and christian alike to have happy lives here on earth. It is to make the old adam do acts of love for others. Period.

    Then there is that other righteousness that is useless and meaningless to anyone but God and troubled consciences. It is alone trust in christ. It does not include anything that is included in that other earthly righteousness. How can it?! those things are ALL already included in earthly righteousness which fully excludes any need for faith to be done. that earthly righteousness is fully accomplished only by the Law as conscience that all men have, both pagan and christian.

    Man can understand Love. Men seek to find eternal life and life in Love. fallen reason can fully grasp this concept. there are poems and songs and philosophies to confirm that this view is pervasive and self evident.

    Christianity teachs this in contrast:

    God wants and demands us all to practice earthly love. it is his will that we do it. If we do not he will force us, and he promises blessings if we do love. But…..

    This earthly love will all perish with the earth along with all who imagine that love=life. The just shall live by faith in that One who IS Love incarnate. since that Love will endure forever, so who all who trust in that Love alone for life.

    This believe is not something that is self evident or can be argued. On its face it makes no sense. this is why the Holy spirit alone can work out this trusting reorientation within us.

    Bradbury sounds like he was a truly righteous man. God would be pleased with that righteousness he had. we should praise it. But then we need to know that that righteousness really leads only to death and not life, which God the Holy spirit is also working in pagans and also in that pagan part of all christian believers called the Old Adam


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