Religion will play no part in Philip Roth’s funeral tomorrow
The prolific Jewish-American author, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, will be buried in New York tomorrow (Monday) without a hint of religious flim-flam.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Roth’s biographer, Blake Bailey, said the Pulitzer Prize winner “expressly forbade” any religious rituals from being part of his funeral.
“There was no metaphysical dimension to Philip. He just flatly refused to believe in it. He thought it was fairy tales,” Bailey said.
Though Roth “was bored out of his mind when he had to attend Hebrew school as a boy,” he was happy to be Jewish, Bailey said.
“He liked Jews as human beings. He liked their warmth, he liked his male friends’ filial piety, which he made a lot of fun of too, in ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ especially,” Bailey said, referencing Roth’s 1969 novel that depicts the therapy sessions of a sexually frustrated Jewish man.
Portnoy’s Complaint sold three million copies. And it blew open the taboo about masturbation.
In a Guardian interview with Martin Krasnik in 2005, Roth, when asked whether he was religious, replied:
I’m exactly the opposite of religious. I’m anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It’s all a big lie.
Are you religious yourself?” he asks.
“No,” I say, “but I’m sure that life would be easier if I was.”
“Oh,” he says. “I don’t think so. I have such a huge dislike. It’s not a neurotic thing, but the miserable record of religion. I don’t even want to talk about it, it’s not interesting to talk about the sheep referred to as believers. When I write, I’m alone. It’s filled with fear and loneliness and anxiety – and I never needed religion to save me.”
In 2010 CBS News’s Rita Brava asked Roth whether he considered himself a religious person
“No, I don’t have a religious bone in my body,” Roth said.
“So, do you feel like there’s a God out there?” Braver asked.
“I’m afraid there isn’t, no,” Roth said.
“You know that telling the whole world that you don’t believe in God is going to, you know, have people say, ‘Oh my goodness, you know, that’s a terrible thing for him to say,” Braver said.
Roth replied, “When the whole world doesn’t believe in God, it’ll be a great place.
Of Trump, Roth said in The New Yorker:
I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.