Angry Conversations with God: An Interview with the Author
By john pattison
August 11, 2009
Comedian and writer Susan E. Isaacs was 40 years old, loveless, jobless and living above a garage when she did what any of us would do: She took God to couple’s counseling. “Either God isn’t personal and I’ve wasted my time, or he is personal and he hates me,” Isaacs tells her therapist. “There’s a third option,” her therapist counters. “God loves you. But crappy things still happen.” Based on her one-woman show, the book is an unusual, hilarious and sometimes scandalous domestic drama.
The sports journalist Red Smith said that writing is easy—just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. That may be especially true of a book as honest as yours. Was writing with such candor difficult? Cathartic? Both?
Isaacs: I had gotten over that searing pain by the time I wrote the book, so I had some distance from it. It was difficult to relive some of those things. I often felt a huge burden of regret over the mistakes I made, the time I wasted in my life; but it also gave me fresh gratitude for God that He got me through all of that. Writing was like a sacrament. I was honoring God by telling the truth about my life. I was honoring Him.
How did the stage performances, where you got to experience your audience’s reactions first-hand (and immediately), affect the final voice and content of the book?
Isaacs: The stage show prompted me to be as honest and raw as I could be; it gave me the confidence to write boldly, because I saw how hungry audiences were for honest, brutal, funny talk about faith. It also showed me how I had to take an audience on a journey with me: not to preach to them about how things should be, but take them with me. For example, I couldn’t just be snarky about what went wrong in church. I had to show them all what went right with those churches, and why I went there in the first place. I did this show in front of a lot of secular people, so I had to be snarky and funny; but I wove in the thread of God’s unrelenting love. That way, the insanity was bearable. So they weren’t given a sermon about the love of God, but shown a story of the love of God.