Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury on God, 'monsters and angels'

By John Blake, CNN
Editor's note: This profile of Ray Bradbury was published in 2010. Bradbury died June 5, 2012.

Ray Bradbury lives in a rambling Los Angeles home full of stuffed dinosaurs, a tin robot pushing an ice cream cart, and a life-sized Bullwinkle the Moose doll lounging in a cushioned chair.

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 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. 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.

I once asked him if he prayed, and he said, 'Joy is the grace we say to God.'
--Sam Weller, Ray Bradbury biographer

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…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 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."

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