I was struck by this interview between Anderson Cooper and Stephen Colbert on Grief. Youtube gave this to me because of the J.R.R. Tolkien link, I think, after watching a lecture by Tom Shippey. Weird link, but the Youtube algorithm has become terrible. Still, I was curious, because I knew that Colbert had lost his father and a couple of brothers when he was ten (in a plane crash), and I lost my father and brother at fourteen (in a fire). What I didn’t know was that Anderson Cooper also lost his father at that age (I don’t really know anything about him, but he is clearly a great dresser).
While the interview was a sidebar as I was organizing a folder, I was soon drawn in. I don’t know Cooper’s work, but I was moved by his openness and willingness to share his pain and grief at the recent loss of his mother. What was particularly intriguing, to me, was Colbert sharing his framework of pain, suffering, loss, and the gifts of God from his Catholic perspective. “What Punishments of God Are Not Gifts?” Colbert asks–a quotation that clearly rocked Cooper and a truly counter-cultural thing to say. But Colbert presses the point, offering some measure of hope to listeners. He also, readers will be pleased to hear, links this perspective to Tolkien’s Christian faith and embedded ideas in The Lord of the Rings and the Middle-earth legendarium. Reading Tolkien and SciFi brought him through his teenage years after his father died.
In sharing this interview, I also want to share a mini-lecture I did on C.S. Lewis‘ A Grief Observed, offered as I was working through my mother’s premature death. What Colbert offers (with Tolkien) in general hope and pain, I hope I can give some structure to (with Lewis) in response and recovery.
Oh, and this just because it’s funny!