CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND
September 11: Where Was God?
Aired September 29, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Seeking meaning; in the aftermath of September 11, can faith heal shattered hearts and lives? Joining us from Ottawa, Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien. He visited ground zero just a few hours ago. From Chicago, the governor of Florida, the president's brother, Jeb Bush.
Then in San Diego Deepak Chopra, spiritual adviser, best-selling author of "How to Know God." In at Boston, Rabbi Harold Kushner, best-selling author of "Living a Life That Matters." In Atlanta, Bruce Wilkinson, best-selling author of "The Prayer of Jabez" and founder of the Walk Through the Bible Ministries.
In Los Angeles Dr. Hathout, a scholar of Islam and senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council. And with him the pastor of the Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, also president of the Masters College and Ceremony.
All that, your calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. First the headlines: On this Saturday night President Bush has condemned the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden. Taliban officials hold meetings around Afghanistan to prepare for defense of the country in case of an American attack, and thousands of anti-war demonstrators staged peaceful demonstrations in Washington.
By the way, we'll be heading to Washington and New York next week, spending one week on the East Coast. And among our guests on Monday night will be former Senator Bob Dole; Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia; General Shelton, the outgoing chair of the joint chiefs; and Karen Hughes, special assistant to the president.
We'll also be in New York later in the week with some outstanding guests as well. Tomorrow night, a retrospective of the last three weeks.
We begin tonight with the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. He's on the road the past few days, selling tourism and the fact that it's OK to travel on commercial aircraft. We spoke with him a little while ago this afternoon, and I asked him where he was now.
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I'm at the Old Orchard shopping mall in a Disney store in northwest Chicago. And this is the finalization -- finishing off a day of travel to Boston and Chicago, where the airports were safe and people were getting around pretty good.
KING: So the purpose of this is to show people it's OK to travel, and the Disney being "come to Florida"?
BUSH: That's exactly right. As you know, Larry, our state is dependent upon visitors -- principally visitors by air. Without them Floridians suffer. And there are a lot of layoffs now taking place, a lot of small businesses that are being hurt. And it's important for people not to be paralyzed by the horrific acts of September 11, but return to normalcy. And in doing so, go out and take your family out to a restaurant or go to a movie, but also continue to travel, because it is a key ingredient to our economic success.
KING: How about those who say, yes, the governor can say that, he flies with protection, the plane is double checked, it ain't like me?
BUSH: The planes are doubled checked a lot more, Larry, now. The security that I saw today was significantly increased from what it was prior to September 11. And each day it will be become even more so.
In our state, for example, by midweek we'll have National Guard men and women in every checkpoint of 19 airports. And the federal government is committed to upgrading security, and our state is as well; and I know that other states will do the same thing.
KING: You are in a more secure position than the average traveler, aren't you, governor?
BUSH: Well, I've got one FDLE agent with me.
KING: Is that all?
BUSH: Yes. But the point is that right now I think there is -- nothing is going to be the same after September 11. I'm not trying to be Polyannish here, to suggest that security isn't on the minds of Americans. But the terrorists win if we are paralyzed. If people get laid off and stay laid off for a long period of time and our economy heads south for an extended period of time, they win, we lose.
And a lot of Americans have the choice. They can get back to normal, which is what the president has suggested is the best thing to do. And when they do -- when they travel, they'll find that there is much better security than what existed before. Or they can continue to be paralyzed in a way that is understandable because, I mean, I feel the same hurt for the family members and the -- of the victims of what happened on September 11, and I feel anger for our country being attacked.
But I think we need to have a resolve, both as Americans in support of our government in their efforts to eradicate terrorism, and a resolve to provide for our families and get back to work.
KING: How is your brother doing?
BUSH: He's doing great; he is. I'm so proud of him. I think he has reflected the feelings of emotion, of grief and of anger, and of resolve, as I described that the American people have felt. And he's also, I think, explained to us what will happen here going forward -- that this is going to be a tough fight, but there's a lot at stake. Our freedoms are at stake.
And you know, there are certain things that are a lot more important now than they were prior to September 11. I know in our state, Larry, it's a wonderful place, it's a hospitable place; but people are more loving and more caring and more generous now, and more understanding, more patient. And that spirit, I think, has been the positive side of this, and I hope we can keep it captured. I think my brother has helped make that happen.
KING: Did you know -- I mean, you can know a brother as well as anyone, when you know your brother. But no one had ever had to deal with anything like this. Has anything about how he's acted surprised you?
BUSH: No. You know, my brother has an inner confidence, an inner strength that I think is founded on his faith first and foremost. He's not self-absorbed and, therefore, I think he can stay focused on the important things and not worry about the implications for him. A lot of stuff just goes right off his back. And in times like this, that's important.
And I know he's strengthened by the millions of people that are praying for him and all other leaders in Washington. I -- you know, I never realized it when he was 18 and I was 14 that he'd be president and that he would have this opportunity, under tremendous pressure, to respond. But I am incredibly proud of him.
KING: How are our parents handling it all?
BUSH: Great. Again, they're -- my mother sent me an e-mail, I probably shouldn't blab this over television...
KING: Go ahead.
BUSH: What the heck. She said that after watching her son, my older brother, give his speech in Congress, which I think was probably the finest oratory in modern times, that she felt like she had lost her son a little bit; that he was now part of the American people. That he was really of the 260 or 270 million Americans. He was more president than son, was the points she was making.
And I kind of feel the same thing. You know, we love him, and our family is very close, and we're very proud of him. But now he's not just part of the Bush family, I think he's part of the American family; and an important part of it
KING: A couple of other things. Florida economically: Are they going to be able to bounce back? They were in trouble before this. BUSH: Well, Florida was leading the nation in job growth through July. More jobs created in Florida than California or even Texas. But since September 11, because travel is so important to our state, my guess is that that's no longer the state, that we're dragging the economy a bit.
But we're a resilient people, and very entrepreneurial. And if air travel continues to rebound, as indications are that it is, we'll be back on track pretty quick.
KING: You did say, I think earlier today, that the budget is going to have to be cut, right?
BUSH: Absolutely. Our budget was to have grown by about 6.8 percent. Now it will probably grow by half of that. And we'll have to make those touch choices probably in October.
KING: It is a source of just concern for your state that some of these guys apparently trained at Florida training places for airplanes?
BUSH: Yes. You know, I mean, if Floridians are fearful of losing their jobs, I feel it. And if Floridians are fearful of the lack of security, I feel it as well.
And so we are redoubling, we're tripling, we're doing everything we can to make sure that people know that there is a comprehensive strategy related to security in our state. Part of that will be an advocacy of tightening our immigration laws a bit. People getting -- coming here on business visas can't have extended stays.
Part of it, I think, needs to be to have background checks for people that are trying to get pilot's licenses...
KING: One other thing -- I'm sorry, governor.
BUSH: I was going to say we're going to make a series of recommendations to the legislature and to policymakers next week on a wide array of subjects that will improve security in our state.
KING: One other thing: Where were you that terrible morning?
BUSH: I was at a Cabinet meeting. And at first, my first reaction was disbelief. It was just impossible to image that it happened. But when we realized that it was serious, the second plane had crashed into the World Trade tower, I immediately went to the emergency operation center and started to work.
KING: How soon after did you talk to your brother?
BUSH: I spoke to him, I believe, the next day. And I've spoken to him a couple time since then.
KING: Always good seeing you, governor. Thanks so much for being with us.
BUSH: Thank you Larry.
KING: When we come back, five prominent gentlemen will discuss a question being asked by a lot of people: Where was God? Don't go away.
KING: Still to come later, the prime minister of Canada -- Prime Minister John Chretien. But first let's assemble our panel.
In San Diego, Deepak Chopra, the best-selling author. His books include, "How to Know God"; CEO and founder of the Chopra Center for Well-Being.
In Boston, the famed Rabbi Harold Kushner, the best-selling author. His newest is "Living a Life That Matters"; and his famous book, of course, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People."
In Atlanta, Bruce Wilkinson, best-selling author of "The Prayer of Jabez." It's been the No. 1 best-seller for months. He also wrote "Secrets of the Vine." He's founder and president of Walk Through the Bible Ministries.
Here in Los Angeles is Dr. Maher Hathout, scholar of Islam, senior adviser at the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
And John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, president of the Masters College and Seminary; best-selling author, and syndicated radio broadcaster.
All right, if the overall topic of this group being is: Where was God, where was he Deepak?
DEEPAK CHOPRA, "HOW TO KNOW GOD": God is infinity creativity, infinite love, infinite compassion. In fact, those are the qualities attribute to him in the holy Koran and in Islam also.
God is not the problem, Larry. It's our ignorance about our inseparability with each other and our tribal instinct. We've sacrificed God. We've made a brand name out of God, and we've gone to war. All the racism, all the hatred, all the prejudice, all the bigotry, all the ethnocentrism, all the plundering of the world is in the name of God, but the name of God is not "God."
That's our essential problem.
KING: Rabbi, if God is omnipotent, he could have prevented this, could he not?
RABBI HAROLD KUSHNER, "LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS": No, because I think at the very outset God gave human beings the freedom to chose between being good people and being bad people. And at tremendous risk to God's creatures and God's creation, he will not take that power away from us, that freedom, because we stop being human beings if he does.
I don't find God in that terrible accident -- in that act of cruelty. I find God in the courage of firemen and police. I will continue to find God in the willingness of the survivors to rebuild their lives.
Remember, Larry, God's promise was not that life would be fair, God's promise was that even if life is unfair we would not have to face it alone, for he will be with us in the valley of the shadow.
KING: Bruce, didn't you at least for a moment say to yourself: I question my faith?
BRUCE WILKINSON, "THE PRAYER OF JABEZ": I did not find myself questioning my faith. I began to put myself in God's shoes and thought to myself, how would I feel if I was up there next to God with the people that are there, the angels that are there; what would I see on God's -- you know, his personality. You remember in the Old Testament when the great flood occurred, according to the Torah of Scriptures, it says that God was grieved in his heart because violence filled the earth.
And I really believe what God felt at that moment is tremendous grief. It was so bad at the beginning that he said I'm sorry that I made man; this isn't what I had to mind for man.
I can't imagine the grief that he must have felt.
KING: Doctor Hathout, when we read and learn of those letters yesterday -- the letter written by one of the people who caused this horror -- and he's a Muslim -- and he proclaims a love -- that he was going to God. How do you balance that?
DR. MAHER HATHOUT, SCHOLAR OF ISLAM: Well, everybody can proclaim whatever he or she might want. But the reality of the matter is God does not condone or accept that his creature could be destroyed in this way, and does not accept cruelty. God is mercy and is love.
KING: So where were they getting that from?
HATHOUT: Well, look at how many people kill and get killed in the name of democracy or liberty or...
KING: Or Christianity.
HATHOUT: Or Christianity or patriotism, or what have you.
So people have that twisted behavior sometimes.
KING: Nowhere in the Koran does it say: You should kill to go to heaven?
HATHOUT: Absolutely not.
KING: John, do you question it? I mean, do you question whether there is a God? JOHN MACARTHUR, PASTOR, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: I don't question whether there is a God. I don't even question what God chooses to allow. It's not a matter of my opinion. As a Bible teacher and one who believes that the Bible is the authoritative word of God, Scripture tells us that God is absolutely sovereign; that everything that occurs occurs within the framework of his purpose.
That is not to say that God creates evil. The Bible says He does not, nor doing He do evil, nor does he tempt anybody to do evil. But evil exists. It's everywhere. And God can overrule that for his own purpose. The question is, what is his purpose in this? And that's a big question.
KING: And I want to pick up on that. We understand the prime minister is ready.
So I'm going to take a break, come back. We'll talk with the prime minister from Ottawa and then resume our panel. And they'll be with us the rest of the program; and we will include your phone calls.
We'll be back with Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada right after this. Don't go away.
KING: We're back on our 20th consecutive night of live programming on this edition of Larry KING LIVE. Joining us from Ottawa now is Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada. He was in New York earlier today indeed with Mayor Giuliani, visited ground zero. Mr. Prime Minister, what was that like for you?
JEAN CHRETIEN, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Oh, it was an extremely difficult moment in many ways, because to see the devastation and to see the stupidity of the terrorists is unbelievable. You know, to attack people like that who are just going to work, and 7,000 of them lost their lives there, so it was a very emotional moment.
But I'm hoping that out of it, you know, we might have something good coming out of it, because I've been involved, talking with the other leaders and with the President Bush. There is a big coalition developing in the world, and there was a great resolution passed in the United Nations last night that might bring about a new order in the world that would be better for all of us.
KING: Mr. Prime Minister, how secure are the borders? I know that you're pro-immigration, you're a nation, as America is, of immigrants. You want people to come to Canada.
KING: Yet, are you concerned? You have got 3,100 miles of border with the United States.
CHRETIEN: Yes, but I think that the problem for us is that, you know, in United States and in Canada, nobody can come but arrive by plane. You don't arrive in Canada walking. You know, you have to come by plane, and we have a certain number of airports to protect, and we'll protect them better.
But I think we have to keep welcoming new Canadians. And you know, we have built a nation where 50 percent of the Canadians today are neither from French or English or native background, they have come from all over the world. And it is a great value of Canada that we have an example to the world, having people of different languages, different religions, different color of the skin, and we're all brothers and sisters in Canada.
KING: Are you concerned that Canada may be a haven for some terrorists? There were reports that the country cannot trace over 27,000 people who were served with deportation papers.
CHRETIEN: You know, it's a problem around the world, that people who are rejected we don't know exactly where they are going. For example, we have to turn back 24,000 people at the border from the United States coming from Canada, coming from United States, who are illegal trying to come to Canada. So it is a problem that we have to work together.
We -- you know, these terrorists are all over the world. They are not -- you know, those who committed the atrocities of the 11th of this month, the 19 of them had a legal reason to be in the United States. And you know, these terrorists are very ordinary citizens. Sometimes they will live four, five years in one area to be ready for the great moment.
So it is a very tough problem, and we should not mix immigration with that.
KING: Concerning security in the airports, every country in the world, I'm told, except three control their own policing of their airports. The only three that leave the security up to the airlines themselves are Bermuda, the United States and Canada. Should you rethink that?
CHRETIEN: Perhaps it will be needed. I cannot say yes or no. We are looking into that at this moment. But as I say, we have to look objectively at the problem. We have reinforced the security at the airport since the 11th of September, and we'll do what is needed.
Of course, we went through a period of privatization of a lot of things. That was the most economical way to do things. Perhaps government ought to come back into that. I really don't know, but we'll do what is needed.
KING: Concerning the alliance, how committed is Canada to it, and would Canada go so far if troops were involved to send its people?
CHRETIEN: Of course. We have always been there. Look at the last campaign that we had a few -- last year in Yugoslavia we were, you know -- we were with the Americans and the Brits. We did 15 percent of all the sorties to go to destabilize Milosevic. So we were out everywhere; we will be there. The Second World War we were in the war long before the Americans. And the first -- you know, so we always been there, and we'll always be there. But at this moment, I praise the president, who has been very calm; and I met him last Monday. And, you know, he has to look at this problem very seriously. And it is a campaign against terrorism; it's not a war where there will be a D-Day. There will be no such a thing. And if they ask us to play a military role, of course Canada will be happy to do our share. We always have done it.
But we want to help them, too, diplomatically. I've been on the phone with a lot of leaders. You know, and I'm amazed by the solidarity that is developing in the world at this moment. Because terrorism is there to destabilize not only Western country, but these radicals are trying to destabilize either their president of Egypt, in Jordan they are involved in Saudi Arabia; and we have to keep the moderate Muslim nations part of the coalition. And they want to be with us; I've talked with many of them.
KING: Mr. Prime Minister, there are reports that your country may offer your C-18 jets to help the United States jets patrol the skies, is that true?
CHRETIEN: If the American government needs our jets, we will be certainly be willing to help. I don't know if it is the type of operation that they're planning at this moment. We will know when they decide to have an operation.
But as the president said, and Mr. Powell said, you know it's going to be a long, long struggle, a long fight. And very often the success that we will manage to get will not be very visible. It will not be the type of campaign that will be produce a lot of good news, good minute on CNN, for example.
KING: There ain't going to be a bulletin: "The war is over"?
CHRETIEN: Excuse me?
KING: There will not be a bulletin: "The war is over"?
CHRETIEN: No. you know, it will never be over. It's going to be a continuing fight across -- around the world to make sure that these people cannot operate anymore. But it will be very difficult. But if we -- we have to freeze their assets. We have to try to push them back, if we can identify them.
And we -- I'm sure that all of it, as I said this afternoon, after talking with Secretary-General Annan with the United Nations, the resolution that was passed yesterday is extremely important because all the nations of the world now will be obliged under this resolution to meet some very strict requirements in terms of movement of money, the movement of people, returning collaboration between different government, obligation to give information, and not helping anybody -- not giving asylum to anybody. All these things will probably give a big stroke against this scourge of terrorism.
KING: Thank you for sharing this time with us. Be well, Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you. CHRETIEN: Thank you very much, Mr. King.
KING: Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada.
Our panel resumes. We'll reduce them and they'll be our discussion the rest of the way on this program. We'll include some phone calls. We're discussing God and June 11 -- and September 11. I'm Larry King; don't go away.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE, we will reintroduce the panel. We'll include a lot of your phone calls. So many people are interested in this, and questioning it probably. In San Diego is Deepak Chopra, in Boston is Rabbi Harold Kushner, in Atlanta is Bruce Wilkinson, in Los Angeles is Dr. Maher Hathout, and in Los Angeles is John MacArthur. And we go to Tucson, Arizona. Hello.
CALLER: Larry, I wanted to ask your panel, if these hijackers are in heaven or hell right now?
KING: Where do you think they are, Dr. Hathout?
HATHOUT: Well, we never second-guess God. What we can say is God told us in the Koran that those who kill innocent people will be punished.
KING: What do you believe, John?
MACARTHUR: Well, I believe there's only one way to go to heaven, and that's through faith in Jesus Christ. And obviously, their faith was not in Christ, and that's evident not because I know their religious background, but because if you know Christ your life is transformed and you don't do things like that.
KING: Rabbi Kushner, where are they?
KUSHNER: Well, I feel a little bit excluded by that last statement, but you know, I have got problems with hell. I have trouble believing in a God who would send people to eternal damnation. I might be prepared to do it, I rather think God is beyond that.
I think they're not in heaven, I think heaven is reserved for people who have lived a good life. I think they have simply disappeared. They had dreams of an afterlife, they had dreams of pleasure and praise and being welcomed and all that, and I don't think they are anywhere. They are nonexistent, and that's the best thing that can happen to them.
KING: Bruce? Bruce Wilkinson, what do you think?
WILKINSON: I feel that they stand before the Lord, God himself, and they have to answer to Him personally about what they've done in their life, number one; and number two, how they had planned on handling the problem of their sin, of their disobedience to Him.
The whole Bible is very clear, that there's a penalty to sin, and it's not by them dying for their sin, but it is the death penalty, the death penalty for their sin. And Jesus Christ is the one person that came up to the bat and said, "I will take care of dying for men's sin." Therefore, the question is, how are they going to deal with the issue of their own personal sin when they stand before God and face the death penalty for their choices.
KING: Deepak Chopra, where do you think they are?
CHOPRA: Larry, I don't know where they are, only God knows where they are. But I have a problem with some of your panelists, because I don't think Christ was a Christian, I don't think Buddha was a Buddhist, and I don't think that Mohammed was a Mohammedan. I think it's just that kind of thing that says only the way of Jesus is right, then the others say only the way of Mohammed is right, only the way of Buddha is right, only the way of Krishna is right. We have sacrificed a universal being and created a tribal chief with our gods, and that's the problem.
KING: Would you like to counter that, John?
MACARTHUR: Yeah, I just don't think, all due respect, that Deepak is the authority on that. I don't think Rabbi Kushner is the authority either.
KING: Nor are you.
MACARTHUR: I don't think I'm the authority. Where are you going to go? You have to go to an authoritative book.
KING: And that is?
MACARTHUR: The Bible.
KING: Which Bible? The Koran?
MACARTHUR: The Holy Bible.
KING: The Koran is a bible. He believes in the Koran as much as...
MACARTHUR: I know he does. I know he believes in the Koran. I don't believe in the Koran. I don't believe that is this the holy book written by God.
KING: So, why is your belief better than his belief? It's different, but why...
MACARTHUR: It's not a question of comparing people's beliefs. It's a question of what is the authority, and the word of God has -- the Bible has stood the test of time and been affirmed ever since Moses as a divine word from God. KING: So, any person who doesn't believe in Christ is doomed to hell, whether he has lived a wonderful life?
MACARTHUR: This is what the Bible teaches.
KING: Anaheim, hello.
CALLER: Good evening.
CALLER: I've been a follower of Deepak Chopra's teachings for many years, and I've woven a lot of them into my own life. One of them is practicing forgiveness. And I've heard very little about actually people practicing forgiveness at this time from our spiritual leaders, and I wondered if you could comment about that.
KING: OK, I know Deepak preaches it. Let's go around the horn. First, with Rabbi Kushner, does your religion -- do you forgive these terrorists?
KUSHNER: It's not my job to forgive, because I was not injured by them. Only the people who have been hurt by them can forgive.
Yes, I can contemplate forgiving those hijackers if you understand forgiveness not to mean excusing or condoning, but to mean transcending and letting go, saying what you did was so despicable I'm not going to rent you space in my head anymore, I'm not going permit you to scare me into changing my life's ways, get out of my mind. That is the only kind of forgiveness I can hold out for them.
KING: Dr. Hathout, what does your faith say?
HATHOUT: I agree very much with what the rabbi said, but there is a concept of justice. Justice has to be ratified. Life without justice is intolerable, and it opens all the ways for extremes and for taking the revenge and taking the law in your hands, et cetera. There must be a just retribution. If God wants to forgive people, of course he can. He is the merciful and forgiving.
KING: Bruce, as a Christian, do you forgive?
WILKINSON: Yes. We are commanded to forgive, because Christ forgave us for our sins. Forgiveness is a gift that you give someone else. They don't have to deserve it. They don't even have to ask for it, and they don't even have to change their behavior. I can give another person a gift of forgiveness and not hold them against that act, but release it. And to forgive them means not to hold that against them.
That doesn't mean, however, that there's no justice that is a consequence for the negative behavior in their life, and I would agree with the previous comments about the difference of forgiving and just penalty.
KING: John. MACARTHUR: I -- Christianity is forgiveness. I mean, that's the essence of the Christian faith.
KING: So, you do forgive them?
MACARTHUR: Oh, absolutely, and I can do that because I need forgiveness. But God is on another level. God, who is perfectly holy, will bring about a holy justice in the case of those individuals.
KING: He doesn't have to forgive, you do.
MACARTHUR: Well, he has given a condition by which he will forgive.
KING: And Deepak, what do you believe about forgiveness?
CHOPRA: I think I agree with the rabbi. I think also that justice and forgiveness are ultimately God's prerogative, and I keep listening to everybody referring to God as a he, which gives him a male sexist orientation, and I think God is the absolute power of the universe and is neither a he nor a she.
The best we can do in this situation is to have -- make sure that every thought of ours, every word of ours, every act of ours has a nurturing effect on our loved ones, and that we extend that love to our extended family, and ultimately all of humanity.
KING: You don't agree with that?
MACARTHUR: I just -- I just want to go back to your original question and clear the air on something. Seven thousand people died that day in that Holocaust. I did a little checking this last week, 7,000 people die every day in America. That's like having 366 days this year, that's all.
If you're going to ask, why didn't God stop that, you have a huge question. Is God going to stop all dying? We feel more comfortable when people die one at a time than when they die in groups of hundreds or thousands, obviously. The bigger question is, why do people die? And if you're going to die, how can you be prepared for the inevitability of that death?
And Jesus said -- Jesus was asked by some people one day, they said, "a tower in Silom (ph) fell on 17 people and killed them," and they said to Jesus, "were they worse than everybody else?" And he said, "you better repent, or you'll likewise perish."
It was a severe mercy. It was God's way of saying, look, you have grace, you enjoy life, but in the end there's death, and you need to be ready for that.
KING: Burlington, Vermont, hello.
CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry.
CALLER: With all due respect to the question posed here, it troubles me, because it seems somewhat self-absorbed or maybe even arrogant -- just following up with what the person just said, is that, you know, millions of people have died, and we are not an island here in the United States. We need to become part of the world community and make our contributions to make things better.
KING: So, what's your question?
CALLER: My question is, is it an arrogant question to ask now, 7,000 people is horrific, but as the previous man stated, you know, people are dying every day in terrible injustices all over the world.
KING: Well, all right, Rabbi Kushner, is all death wrong?
KUSHNER: Death is inevitable. The question is, was death preventable? These were people who didn't have to die, these were people who had a lot to look forward to, who should have lived many more years.
I would say if the hijackers ended up killing only one person, if somehow they had been stopped after they murdered the flight attendant on American Airlines flight 11, still what they did was absolutely inexcusable and absolutely unforgivable at that level. So the death of any individual is a tragedy.
KING: Let me get a break and we will come back with more. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Dr. Hathout wanted to add something to what the rabbi said.
HATHOUT: I'd like to build on what the rabbi said, because the concept in the Jewish tradition is like in Islam, like in the Koran: If you waste one life like you wasted the life of humanity, if you save one life like you save all humanity.
I don't like to see the trivialization of what happened by saying people die every day. And we are not talking about death. We are talking about a crime committed against innocent people. This is what we are talking about.
KING: Deepak, we learned that two women hijacking victims on different planes -- Ralph -- Ruth McCourt on United Airlines 175, Page Hackel on American flight 11 were going to California from Boston for a vacation. They were planning to spend time at your center. Any reaction to that?
CHOPRA: They were coming to spend time at the center and do a course with Debby Ford (ph), and I felt deep anguish when I heard that, and it was really a very personal thing for me after that. And I could sense the anguish that the family, the mother was feeling, and I believe they're still in touch with their grief right now and don't want to talk too anyone. And I think...
KING: Do you know them? Did you know them?
CHOPRA: I don't know them personally. I didn't know them personally, only I found out through the news that they were coming to the center.
KING: Savannah, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, Larry. The Bush administration is engaged in a diplomatic response to terrorism, perhaps a military response. What about the idea of a spiritual response, what about trying to get to the terrorists by reeducating them? What about a worldwide congregation of all faiths to try to seek common ground among the faiths and ways to propose peace among all the different religions?
KING: Rabbi Kushner, what do you make of that idea?
KUSHNER: It's hard to disagree with, and it sounds a little bit visionary. Worth a try. I would be immensely gratified if it did some good.
What worries me is that these are people who think they have a strong religious faith, and they believe, erroneously I'm sure, that their religious faith gives them permission to do what they did two and a half weeks ago. I don't know how you're going to talk them out of that.
MACARTHUR: Well, I think what happened, again, was such a horrible thing, and I don't want to minimize that at all. But the solution is not superficial. It's not political and it's not social, it's the heart. There has to be a transformation in the heart.
KING: So, what about a conference of clerics, maybe going to Afghanistan?
MACARTHUR: Well, if the right people go preaching the right message.
KING: Then who chooses? Who decides what's right?
MACARTHUR: Well, you know, again, I'm back to the source that I believe, you know, that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior. There's no salvation in any other, and he's the answer.
KING: Bruce, what do you make of the idea?
WILKINSON: I think it's a great idea, and if people would come together and talk to each other and understand each other, there could perhaps be a starting place for some peace. But as I evaluate the terrorists and their agenda, I think that's the last thing they want to do is to sit down and talk about peace.
KING: Deepak, you think -- we are able to talk to them? CHOPRA: I think, Larry, in the long term, the spiritual solution is the only solution. I think what we need to do as a nation, we have to recognize that as Americans we are the most loving, compassionate people in the world and the most giving, but we are also unaware, we do not know the problems of the world. We do not feel the anguish and suffering of the world.
And it's partly because of our lack of awareness. Until this major catastrophe occurred, our whole nation was obsessed with Gary Condit's behavior or Anne Heche's childhood. And as long as we are a nation that's caught up in the melodrama of triviality and do not feel the anguish of the world, then there will be a deep rift in our collective soul.
KING: Dr. Hathout, you want to...
HATHOUT: I'd like also to -- I like the idea, but practically if you want to build a coalition of faiths, I think we will have a big trouble if part of the coalition says, "unless you accept my Bible and my Jesus Christ and you take this way, you are discounted." What kind of coalition is this? I mean, we have to transcend that to the oneness of God, the sanctity of life, the oneness of the human family and to try to deal on that basis.
KING: Very hard for the deep believer to give up his belief, though.
HATHOUT: No, he doesn't have to give it up, but we have to understand that when God created us, deliberately he made us different, and we seek different ways to him, and everybody is entitled and is glorified enough to try to find God.
KING: Let me get another break, and we will come back with some more moments of this august panel. Don't go away.
KING: Got another call. Tucson, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: I'd like to tell that I really like your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: You got these guests on tonight, and they're all of different faiths, I guess, and they talk about the extremists having problems. We all talk about it, they can't agree on anything. But these fellows can't agree on who the authority is. The authority's name is God, and I think we have to look at it in a more broad sense, who God is. He's God, you know.
KING: Well, that's what Deepak said, but we all have different versions. What -- the Jews see God as what, rabbi? KUSHNER: Well, the first thing I want to say, Larry, is that I hope that you and your viewers have noticed the amount of agreement and overlap between your Jewish and your Muslim panelists. For me, that's the most encouraging thing I have heard in the last 18 days.
Who is God? God is the spirit that created the world and has been communicating with human beings to teach us how to live and how to use our freedom in the world, And if we don't listen to him and if we don't learn from our experience, we are all in trouble.
KING: Bruce, who is he?
WILKINSON: He's a supreme being and the creator of all living beings. And...
KING: He's not Christian, is he?
WILKINSON: No, he's the creator of all people.
KING: So he created the agnostic and he created the atheist?
WILKINSON: He created all people, and people have to choose, Larry, what they're going to believe about God and how they're going to behave. And I think that's one of the most exciting parts of what's taking place as a result of the tragedy. I just came back from Washington and had a number of meetings, and I find people everywhere asking the deeper questions, asking questions about their own purpose, about why they're here, what they're trying to accomplish, what they're giving their life to. And even deeper questions about God and what happens to me if I was in the bottom of that Trade Center and it fell, what would have happened to me?
And people I think have been shaken up, not only from the tragedy but the results of their thoughts after the tragedy, and I think there's a wonderful window here for our country to perhaps take a deeper look at the purpose of life.
KING: John, couldn't you agree with that?
MACARTHUR: Yes. Back to the question about God -- again, I hear all these responses, but we have to go back to some authority outside of ourselves. I mean, I can't define God for the universe from starting with me. God in the scripture is the creator and sustainer of the universe, he's the sovereign over everything...
MACARTHUR: ... who was incarnated in Jesus Christ, came down and died on a cross to provide atonement, so that the sins of those who repent were paid for in full, and therefore heaven was open to them. That is God revealed in scripture.
KING: A 2-year-old baby at the bottom of the center, the World Trade Center?
MACARTHUR: Instant heaven. KING: Wasn't a sinner.
MACARTHUR: Instant heaven.
KING: And how do you see him, Dr. Hathout?
HATHOUT: Everything John said, except for the incarnation part, because we don't believe in that. We believe that God is way beyond being imprisoned in space or in place. He is beyond perception, beyond concretization.
KING: Is Mohammed to you what Christ is to him?
HATHOUT: No. To him, Christ is God. To me, Christ is a messenger of God.
KING: As was Mohammed.
HATHOUT: Like Mohammed.
KING: A messenger.
HATHOUT: A messenger of God.
KING: And Deepak, you began the program by saying God is everything?
CHOPRA: God is love.
KING: ... mathematically, I could say everything is nothing.
CHOPRA: God is love, God is the source of all that was, all that is, all that will be. Let's not give God a brand name.
KING: Mobile, Alabama, quickly, hello.
CALLER: My question is this: How can we ask as Americans where is God when we have taken him out of our schools, we have taken him out of the courtroom, we are not allowed to pray in school. How can we as Americans in our justice system and America say, where is God when we have thrown God out?
MACARTHUR: Oh, he's there. Believe me, he is there. God is omnipresent. He's there. We may not want to acknowledge him, but he is the unseen power in the universe. Everything fits within his ultimate purpose, and his ultimate purpose is as a Savior.
And these things happen -- I think death happens as a wakeup call for us to prepare for that, and then we see the weeping God through Jeremiah, the weeping God through Jesus, who says, "why don't you come to me so that your sins can be forgiven?" When you see a thing like this happen, that's the wakeup call.
KING: There's no one on this panel who questions his faith, his own faith? None?
HATHOUT: No, I don't.
KING: No. Rabbi?
KUSHNER: No, I don't. By the way, in response to the Mobile question, I would say that as long as schools are dedicated to the life of the mind and as long as courts are dedicated to justice without fear or favor, God is in the schools and God is in the courts.
KING: We are out of time. Deepak Chopra, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Bruce Wilkinson, Dr. Maher Hathout and John MacArthur, we thank you all very much for an illuminated hour.
We'll be back with more, but let's take a break by leaving you with powerful images and a soaring voice of a French Canadian superstar. Listen to Celine Dion with "God Bless America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CELINE DION, MUSICIAN: (SINGING "GOD BLESS AMERICA")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tomorrow night, a retrospective of the last three weeks. Monday night -- and by the way, included in that retrospective will be my wife's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Monday night, we'll be in Washington with Bob Dole, Prince Bandar, General Shelton, Karen Hughes, among others.
This has been another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
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