Q: Why Jeremy Lott’s Diary?
A: So my readers will have something interesting to read on the train.
Q: People still take the train?
A: I did recently, all the way from Bellingham to DC.
Q: What were you doing in DC?
A: I went to cover the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, and I went there to help launch the latest website for my company, Real Clear Policy.
Q: How many Real Clear websites do you edit?
Q: How do you sleep?
A: Deputies, colleagues, and co-editors help me do most of this. Joseph “Joe” Lawler handles the day-to-day with Real Clear Policy and Real Clear Religion is a thorough collaboration with Nicholas “Nick” Hahn. Alex Berezow is the insomniac mad scientist behind Real Clear Science. I mention them here because they are sure to get name-checked from time to time.
Q: Sounds like a busy schedule. Why are you making time for a blog?
A: It is busy, but I’ve always done a lot of writing for Real Clear and other outlets. Writing is a way of thinking. Forcing oneself to write regularly is a way of staying sharp. It is thus a good way of giving readers the best “intelligent aggregation” possible, because the product we are really selling is our best judgment.
Q: You mentioned you went to CPAC. Are you a conservative?
A: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party, but party membership doesn’t mean much in the great state of Washington. Rush Limbaugh one day repeatedly called me a “liberal” on air. My Baptist minister father was flooded with calls from parishioners telling him he ought to call up Rush and set him straight. Dad wrote an e-mail and called Rush a liberal. I found the whole thing highly amusing.
Q: Why amusing?
A: It’s consistent with my general outlook. One stock question that I will ask old friends and new enemies alike is: “Why do you get out of bed in the morning?” Their off-the-cuff answers can tell you a lot about what animates them. I’ve gotten answers from a general sense of duty to “hatred of the left” to fear of being deported to Canada.
Q: OK then, why do you get out of bed in the morning?
A: Because I find life so very amusing.
Q: You wrote “my Baptist minister father.” Was that a way of drawing a distinction?
A: Yes. He’s Baptist, I’m Catholic.
Q: What’s the story there?
A: It’s a long one. The shortest way of getting at it is to say when I was 13 the Baptist congregation we were at went through a very painful “church split.” Some of the pastors and about half of the members walked away to start a new church. I thought that was clearly a bad thing, but that presented a logic problem to my young mind. I was aware there had been this little thing called the Reformation. So I thought: this could be OK now and OK then or wrong now and wrong back then, but it didn’t seem possible it could be a bad thing now but A-OK back in the day.
Q: So you, a pastor’s kid, joined a church that requires clerical celibacy?
A: There always have and always will be PKs, of varying shades of legitimacy, but we’re not the greatest idea. I often tell people that PKs know where all the bodies are buried. I could add “literally.” We’re too close and see too much too early. It becomes pretty hard to shock us with church scandals.
Q: So why not just chuck God, religion, the whole metaphysical ball of wax?
A: Tried that. It didn’t take.
Q: You were an atheist?
A: No, I wanted to be an atheist. I just never could find a way to pretend God doesn’t exist or that what we do here and now has no greater significance. Francis Schaeffer put it memorably. God is there and — in the long run, anyway — he is not silent.
Q: What do you do for fun, when you’re not being ponderous?
A: Too many things. I bowl and go for long, meandering walks. Dirt races are fun. Just got a set of golf clubs and a ridiculously high powered bb gun. All the neighborhood crows are suddenly giving the house wide berth. Of course I read, for fun as well as profit, and go to a ridiculous number of movies.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: It’s a tie between Tombstone and My Fair Lady. Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday and Rex Harrison’s Henry Higgins are both immortal fictional characters.
Q: Real Clear Religion has been described as a “Mormon-interested website.” What’s your own take on Mormons?
A: They’re great!
A: No I really have liked most of the Mormons I’ve met and corresponded with and I find their religion deeply fascinating. It’s the most ambitious religion I’ve ever encountered.
Q: So when are you going to convert?
A: Oh, probably never. I think you get one conversion in life before you start to court absurdity and I’ve already did that. Besides, my religious notions are pretty well fixed at this point — basically a Baptist-flavored Catholicism, a degree in Biblical Studies and an Irish temperament, and the Jeremy Lott prayer thrown in for good measure.
Q: What in the world is the Jeremy Lott prayer?
A: It goes like this: Dear God: I’m wrong, you’re right, I’m going to bed.