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Spiritual and Religious Leaders Discuss Tsunami Tragedy; Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys Searches for Missing Cellist

Aired January 7, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: How do we find God after losing so much in a historic tragedy? How much is our faith and a higher power tested by the tsunami killing more than 150,000 people in a matter of moments? We'll ask spiritual and religious leaders of faiths from around the world. Deepak Chopra, spiritual adviser, best selling author, now back in his native India, one of the nations impacted by the tsunami. Also R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Father Michael Manning, host of the internationally syndicated program The Word and the World. Dr. Maher Hathout, senior adviser to the Muslim public affairs counsel. Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of "Tikkun" magazine, where he wrote the article where was god in the tsunami? And the venerable Henepola Gunaratana, a Buddhist monk in New York City who's from Sri Lanka one of the hardest-hit areas. And he's got family there.
And then later, the music legend Brian Wilson. One of thousands desperately seeking a person missing since the killer waves struck. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Let's ask the obvious. We'll begin with Deepak Chopra and go around. Same question for everyone on our panel. Deepak, how can you have a belief in a higher power when you see something like this?

Deepak doesn't hear me? OK.

I'll ask of you Dr. Mohler. How can we have faith in a higher power when you see something like this?

ALBERT MOHLER, JR: PRESIDENT SOUTHERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: Well, this God who has created this incredible universe has disclosed himself in his written word, the Bible. He tells us that he loves us, he reveals himself as all powerful. And it's clear that in this incredible universe that is affected by sin, there are these natural laws that operate. Gravity can save us and gravity can kill us. And unfortunately, we must now weep with those who weep because they're in South Asia.

This enormous wave was caused by the moving of tectonic plates. There's not one atom or molecule that is outside of God's control. God is love. He loves his creatures. But these laws operate. And unfortunately, it rains on the just and the unjust, Larry. Sometimes there's no way you can give an explanation that we know why this has happened. But we know what we have to do now that it has happened.

KING: But he is omnipotent. He could have stopped it. MOHLER: He is omnipotent and he can do anything. But if God stopped all death there would be no death. And we're told that death is a part of his judgment. If God intervened in every natural law, we wouldn't have any confidence that gravity or any other principle would be always operating.


The horrible tragedy of this is that we must now weep with those who are weeping and experiencing just untold grief. That's why there's such an outpouring of Christian concern and from concerned people all over the world. And we must now do what is right in the aftermath of this.

And a part of this is assuring people that God does love them, even and especially in the midst of this incredible suffering.

KING: Hard to accept. But I want to get into all of this.

This program came about tonight largely through the suggestion of a guest. Here's what Bill Clinton had to say Monday night.


WILLIAM CLINTON, FRM. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that you could have a profoundly positive program if you would get representatives of the faiths of the people who have been affected by this tragedy. Bring a Buddhist, bring a Hindu, bring a Muslim, bring a Christian on your program from Sri Lanka or the other countries affected and ask them how their faith teaches them to deal with this kind of tragedy. Ask them.

I'll bet you'd have a huge audience of people who would like to know how the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Muslims, Christians deal with this differently and come to the same place. You could do a great service for the world if you did that.


KING: By the way the interviews with Presidents Bush and Clinton will be repeated tomorrow night. Deepak Chopra, we have you connected now. How can you have faith when you see something like this?

DEEKAPK CHOPRA, AUTHOR: Hi, Larry. In fact, your faith increases, Larry. Because faith is trusting that God is all the forces, the forces of creation, the forces of protection and the forces of destruction. This is an opportunity for us to transcend our religious differences, our ethnic boundaries, and create a new humanity which is based on love, sharing, compassion, giving.

And we are seeing that. The militaries of the world are getting together to bring relief. People are losing their differences in Sri Lanka. The Buddhists and the Hindus and the Muslims are getting together. This is our opportunity.

You know in historical traditions, in religious traditions, God rained on the earth for 40 days. And from that came Noah's Ark and the creation of a new humanity. Can we create a new humanity that is not based on militarism ethnocentrism, racism, bigotry, hatred, and predjudice. 23 million people have -- go ahead. Sorry.

KING: I want to get -- we're going to be going on. But I want to stay on this. Dr. Hathout, a Muslim. How do you keep your faith when so many of your own perish?

DR. MAHER HATHOUT, MUSLIM SCHOLAR: One, I agree with Chopra that this increases the faith and it shows.

KING: Increases the faith?

HATHOUT: Sure. And I need the faith more than even before.

However, from Islamic perspective, this place, planet Earth, is not a place for accomplishment or for settling accounts. This is a place for testing. And it is a physical, fiery globe covered with a crust, rotating across another ball of fire. It is a physical system that carries within itself the possibility of tornadoes, earthquakes, et cetera. And the question is not to God. The question is to us, how can we deal with the faults in this system?

KING: In order to accept that, you have to believe in something else after this.

HATHOUT: Oh, I do.

KING: Or else what is it all for?

HATHOUT: Absolutely. This is not the place of ultimate justice. The ultimate justice is in the hereafter, after death. Based on how we react to such a calamity and the dealing with victims.

KING: Bante Jee in New York, one of the senior monks at the Buddhist Vihara Temple in Queens, a scholar and author. His most recent book is "Journey to Mindfulness: the Autobiography of Bante Jee." How do you explain this, how do you accept a higher being?

HANEPOLA GUNARATANA, BUDDHIST VIHARA TEMPLE: This we believe is a very natural phenomenon that can happen any time, anywhere in the world. This is not something was done or created or caused by any supernatural, superhuman being. This happened, because of the natural causes.

And now, what we are to do is to accept what has happened. And then deal with the situation with the way that is most important, most beneficial to all those who have -- those who have lost their properties, relatives, friends, children and so forth. And those who are suffering from enormous catastrophe. We support them to overcome their psychological problems, emotional problems, loss of relatives, friends and so forth.

KING: But Father Manning, how could this be? The term loving God


KING: He is omnipotent, or she.

MANNING: My only understanding is in Jesus Christ, who is God. He came into the Earth. He came as a battler. He came as a battler against sickness. He came in and battled against Satan. He came in and battled even against the control of nature when we see him calming the sea, or when we see him walking on the sea.

There was a force that he was driving at. But, but he was overcome. He was overcome. He was killed. And he died. He experienced the anguish that the people are experiencing now. The anguish that I have when I have a funeral of a little 3-year-old girl that dies of cancer. It's all there. But, and this is the faith of a Christian, we believe that from that death, he came to life. And that becomes then a foundation.

KING: This is all belief?

MANNING: Precisely. But all this thing is happening. But with that faith in that life I can start to move with hope and victory and life.

KING: Now, let's turn to our Jewish friend, Rabbi Michael Learner in San Francisco. The editor of "Tikkun" magazine. How do you explain this?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, EDITOR TIKKUN MAGAZINE: I think that we have to start with the recognition that human beings get a conception of God that evolves as human beings' consciousness evolves. And for many liberal and progressive people in the Jewish world and for many of us in the interfaith organization, the Tikkun community, we don't see God anymore as a big guy in heaven who's throwing down punishments and judgments and decides which people are going to get into a tsunami, and which people are going to get into a beautiful sunset.

So, I think that the older conception of God as a big guy up in heaven shaping and controlling everything has to be replaced. And over the course of the past several thousand years, as Jewish suffering has been so intense, we've been asking this question and evolving a conception of God as the force of healing and transformation in the universe. The force that moves the universe towards greater love, towards greater kindness, towards greater caring.

KING: And how do you deal with natural disaster?

LERNER: We see the universe as evolving towards this higher level of God consciousness. But God not being the source of and the author of every specific thing that happens in the universe. There is a lot that God is the source of. Because there's -- because there's a relationship between a lot of what happens in nature and what's happening in human life. And the degree to which we are embodiments of love and kindness and generosity does in fact affect nature at very many levels. Whether it affects it at the tsunami level, I wouldn't want to have the arrogance to say, to say that it does. KING: Let me get a break. And we'll come back with lots more with our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.



GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My faith is not questioned -- doesn't come into question or I wonder about it at all. God does act in mysterious ways. And you can't tell what's going to happen. But faith sustains the people. Whatever their faith, whatever denominational faith there is, it is keeping a lot of those devastated, broken homes together. Keeping people -- giving them hope.


KING: Dr. Hathout, you wanted to quote something from the Koran?

HATHOUT: Yes, because it answers to that issue of why God will punish people who didn't do anything. And the Koran says, "if God takes people to task for wrongdoing, there would be no living creature on the face of the earth." So it's not punishment. It is an accident.

KING: But there are some Christians today or in the world calling it punishment. Do you see it that way?

MOHLER: No, there are certainly no biblical permission for saying that we know that the specific sins of these specific victims caused this tsunami. We do know according to the account in the Bible in Genesis Chapter 3, that it was sin originally in the fall that caused all these cataclysmic events, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes to enter the world picture. We do know that God is sovereign over all of this. But we need to be very careful. I'm speaking as a Christian, to my fellow Christians. We need to be very careful not to speak where the scripture does not tell us we have any particular insight to know why God has allowed this to happen in this particular place to these particular people. Jesus himself warned his disciples they ought not to ask the wrong question.

At the same time we need to understand that God is sovereign. He loves us. He loves his creation. He knows exactly every single human being. He knows all the hairs upon our heads. And beyond all that we know that we know that he loves us because while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And so the Christian response to this is to affirm that we know the character of God. And we know that God is even now working through his people in the midst of this. And we have a Christian responsibility. That's why so many people are going to south Asia and giving in order to help the people who are there.

KING: Deepak, if he loves us why does he bring us such pain that could be prevented?

CHOPRA: I think, Larry, one of the problems right now is we keep referring to God as him and his. We have a very sexist, male identity that we've given to God. I agree with Michael Lerner, that our idea of God, our concept of God, our experience of God, changes as we evolve. I think the idea of sin and punishment is very, very primitive. And we have to ask ourselves right now, are we going to choose between sin and compassion? Compassion is the way to go right now.

And you know, there's lots of evidence, even scientific, that the earth is a living organism. The gaia (ph) hypothesis. Is it possible that our consciousness and the turbulence in our consciousness has anything to do with the turbulence in nature? Michael Lerner just referred to that. One of the very interesting things that happened with the tsunami was, no animal died. The elephants. The hares. The rabbits. The birds. They were so tuned in to the forces of nature, that they escaped. They ran. Some of the elephants broke their chains and ran to the high level mountainous area where the tidal waves could not reach. We have lost that connection. Is there a way that we can collectively transcend to a level of consciousness where we see that the turbulence in our collective mind, possibly, is inseparable from the turbulence in nature? Because we are part of nature.

KING: Bontaje (ph), our Buddhist monk in New York who -- by the way the Clintons, both Senator Hillary Clinton and former president Clinton visited his temple in Queens -- what do you believe? Does the Buddhist believe in a good and loving God?

GUNARATANA: Buddhists believe that there is a universal force, universal nature. This is called eternal law. And this is -- part of that nature, that things come into existence and they are going out of existence in one way or another. And this is one of those ways that things went out of existence. And here is an opportunity for us to generate more compassion, living friendliness, generosity, and helping each other. So here we have great, deep faith in humanity and human beings' support and help.

KING: Dr. Lerner, does the Jew believe in going somewhere? Are all those people, are they in heaven now?

LERNER: I have no idea. And I don't -- I do not know God's nature so well as to be able to arrogantly assert that this is part of God's intention. Nor do I know what's going to happen after death. What I do -- the Psalms say, "the dead shall not praise God, neither those who go down in silence." So it is, let us praise God right now. Let's do it with our works. Unfortunately, we're not doing it with our works. The United Nations reported two weeks ago that 29,000 children die every single day because of diseases that could be healed or because of inadequate nutrition that could be dealt with by human beings.

Now, that's over 10 million children a year. And yet the media gives no attention to that. Instead, we're all so excited to blame God for this particular, without looking at and asking the other question. Not where is God, but where is humanity?

Today's "New York Times" reported that the Clinton administration had produced legislation to provide for early warning systems that could have averted over 50,000 of the 150,000 deaths had they been in place. And because we didn't fund those plans, people didn't get the early warning. So let's ask, where is humanity? Not just, where is God?

KING: Do you believe those people are in heaven?

MANNING: I can believe that.

KING: Do you believe that?

MANNING: I don't know. I think I have to believe with the Rabbi. I believe in God's great, great love and the overpowering love even in that tragedy, that he's allowing them perhaps to feel.

KING: You're not going to say where they are? Don't the Catholics say they are in heaven?

MANNING; I can't say that for sure. It depends on where their soul was in relationship to God. We don't know.

KING: It's an individual matter?

MANNING: No, it's a relationship with God. Not knowing where God is -- I don't know who's in hell either, I don't know who's in heaven.

KING: We'll be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll also include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.


CLINTON: First of all, it reminds us that we are not fully in control in this life. It's a humbling experience. When I was governor of Arkansas we suffered from tornadoes more than any other state in the country. I've seen a lot of people who lost everything, including their loved ones.

And then when I was president, we had that 500 year flood in the Mississippi River valley. And terrible hurricanes in Florida. And then of course around the world we've seen these things. But this is of a magnitude that we haven't seen in decades. And it reminds us that we're not in control.


KING: Is it hard, Deepak Chopra, to stay up? In other words, is it hard to ground that feeling of good will when you see a tragedy like this?

CHOPRA: No, it in fact helps you ground that feeling of good will, Larry. You have to remember, as again, Rabbi Lerner said something very profound. The actual figure is 40,000 children are dying every day of preventable causes. 23 million people have died since World War I due to war and related violence. Right now there are 35 wars going on in our world. This is an opportunity for us to say, the cataclysmic events in nature are so big, but the inhumanity of man to man is even bigger. And can we learn from this, that at least there are certain things that we can do to make this a better world? What can we do? This is our opportunity to go beyond our religious differences because of what's happening. It brings out the essential goodness of man.

KING: Dr. Hathout, because of the cleavage of the Muslim community and westerners, has this breached it, boosted it a little by the scenes of so many of the Americans helping Muslim nations?

HATHOUT: I think it is a sharp reminder of our human beingness. And how vulnerable we all are. And how much we need each other. I hate to reduce the issue to politics now and whether America did enough, should have done more, whether it as show-off by Mr. Bush or not. I think this is great injustice to the victims.

I think all human beings need each other. We should stand by each other. We should show the compassion that God instilled in our hearts. And be constructive about it rather than doing exactly business as usual. Starting blaming each other, even now, at a time like that.

KING: What does the priest say to the mother whose daughter or son, 3 or 4-years-old, went into the water and didn't come out? what do you say?

MANNING: I reach out to them and speak to them of Jesus, and speak to them of the cry and the tears that Jesus shed as I see in front of the tomb of Lazarus. And that he is with you. And that he takes your daughter into his arms and he gives that daughter everlasting life. I believe in that.

KING: So, you believe that. But you don't know where she is.

MANNING: When you come to a childlike that, I'm very confident that they're in heaven. Very confident.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll include your phone calls.

Later Brian Wilson will be with us. He has lost a friend. Still fighting to find out where he is. Don't go away.


KING: Don't forget following this program tonight, a special edition of "People in the News" hosted by Paula Zahn. It deals with survivors.

Our panel, in Louisville, Kentucky, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, ordained minister/theologian, hosts a daily radio show. In New Delhi, India, Deepak Chopra. He's home. "New York Times" bestselling author, spiritual leader, his new book, "The Way of Peace." Here in Los Angeles, Father Michael Manning, Roman Catholic priest, Society of the Divine Word, host of "The Word & The World" and pastor of St. Anthony's Church, San Bernadino. Dr. Maher Hathout, the Muslim scholar and retired physician, senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In San Francisco, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of "Tikkun" magazine, rabbi of Beer Tikkun Synagogue (ph) in San Francisco. And in New York, the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana known as Bontaje one of the senior monks at the Buddhist Vihara Temple in Queens, New York, scholar and author. His most recent book is "Journey to Mindfulness, The Autobiography of Bontaje."

Let's get a call. Moncton, New Brunswick. Hello.

CALLER: Thanks for taking my call. My question is for Deepak. Deepak, you had spoke earlier about that this type of disaster perhaps could be a reflection of the consciousness of the masses, that it may be a reflection of the turbulence.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: The question is, do you have any advice as to the masses, exactly how to keep this a little more balanced?

KING: Good question.

CHOPRA: It's a very good question. You know, the idea here is that if we quieten the turbulence in our collective mind and heal the rift in our collective soul, could that have an effect on nature's mind, if nature has a mind? The gaia hypothesis says nature does have a mind, that the globe is conscious. So a critical mass of people praying or a critical mass of people collectively engaging in meditation could conceivably, even from modern physics point of view, through non-local interactions, actually simmer down the turbulence in nature. And there are precedents for this in all the religions. That when you pray, that you quieten your mind, that you go into deep silence, you change the way nature behaves. That it's not a cause/effect relationship, it's the inseparability of one consciousness that manifests itself in the diversity of creation. I think one of the things we need to do is just like we say that religions have to -- sorry, go ahead.

KING: Go ahead, I'm trying to get everybody in and it's hard. In a limited amount of time.

CHOPRA: I know, I can't see you, sorry.

KING: I understand. Dr. Hathout, what does the Muslim faith say of charity?

It is the right of the needy. So it is not only a charitable part on your side to whether give it or not. It is the right of the needy. The needy and the destitute and disadvantaged have an inalienable right in getting their portion that will make them maintain their dignity and their livelihood.

KING: What's the Christian view, Albert Mohler?

MOHLER: We are to do good things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that means we have to tell people we're doing this because God has sent his son who died on Calvary's cross and was raised by the power of God as the only way of bringing life out of death. And thus we take the good news of Christianity as we do these acts in Christ's name. Mr. King, as you look at this program today, you have two very different understandings of God. Christians don't believe that God is some cosmic principle. We believe that he is the triune personal God who has revealed himself in his word, he has told us who he is, and he has told us how we can come to have peace with him. And we act in Christ's name. Christians don't do this -- we're all united on this program in brokenhearted concern for the people of south Asia. But for the Christian, that concern is not only for this life, but even more urgently, for the life that is to come. That's what drives us in our concern.

KING: Dr. Lerner, isn't charity an insatiable part of the Jewish faith?

LERNER: Absolutely. In fact, the very notion of Tikkun is a notion that the -- that comes out of the Jewish tradition that says that God needs human beings to be partners with God in the healing and transformation of the world. And there's some very specific things. Once you recognize the unity of all human beings, as we must, and the unity of us with all other beings, then we have specific and concrete ways to heal this world. And one such is that we at Tikkun are calling for a global marshal plan not only to deal with the tsunami but for all the suffering and pain that is humanly caused and can be humanly transformed.

We're asking the United States to take the lead in creating a global marshal plan in which each of the advanced industrial societies of the world would dedicate 5 percent of their gross national product for the next 20 years to eliminate poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, and inadequate health care. That's a way for us to be partners with God in Tikkun, in the healing and transformation of the planet.

KING: What does the Buddhist believe with regard to charity?

GUNARATANA: Charity is very natural, spontaneous offering, giving things just like in this situation, everybody's heart open. Americans, non-Americans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Christians. Everybody began to make generous donations because it is a human nature that giving things -- that they want to do, to support everybody. It comes naturally, automatically, spontaneously. That is what certainly happened this moment. Everybody came forward in many different ways. Billions of dollars have been raised. And all kinds of material things have been donated. All came spontaneously from their own heart. Just purely because of that human nature. Although this situation instigated this -- aroused this nature. But it is all human beings.

KING: Do your scriptures require it? Bontaje, do your scriptures require giving?

GUNARATANA: Yes. It is actually the most important thing in order to unite us, get rid of our agreed, get rid of our hatred, to bring us together, be friendly, and support each other. This is the most fundamental thing. Because we is suffer because of our greed. And when we learn to give away, then we learn to reduce our greed, our suffering, and the suffering of the world. And these people are millions of people in the world. Suffering, especially here, more than almost 160,000 people suffer, in order to eliminate pain, suffering, grief, and despair. People began to donate things, give away things. This is the very basic...

KING: This is part of your creed? That's what I want to establish.

HATHOUT: I want to clarify a point which I think is very important in this panel. This is a magnitude of disaster that we -- unprecedented maybe. We cannot be exclusive here. I'm disturbed to say I offer the charity if it's only in the name of Jesus. And offer that. Because I can see down the road, some problematic tone to go to, for example, a Buddhist area, say I'm giving you that in the name of Jesus. Or to a Muslim area and say the same. I think this is the time now..

KING: Atheists...

HATHOUT: It is time now to say, if you believe in God, serve his creatures. Express your devotion to God in whatever way you believe in God. But now to express that, it should be in helping those people.

KING: What does the Catholic say?

MANNING: The motivation of charity is the simple -- dual commandment of Jesus. You've got to love God with all your heart and soul, and you've got to love your neighbor as yourself. When I look at the people -- I'm not looking at a Muslim, I'm not looking at a Hindu, I'm looking at a person that needs help. I reflect on my own life and I'm saying, look at the comfort of my room and the security I live in. Look at the terror. And that motivates me to say, I've got to love you as much as I love myself.

KING: Is this one of the reasons communism grew in the world, because capitalists and others and people of faith used to promise people, be good and you will eat. Communists gave them food.

MANNING: Forget about the fact that you've got to be able to have food. I believe strongly that if you really love your neighbor as yourself, it's not just going to be pious platitudes, it's going to be working with everything you have. With money, with the army. This is another fact. Isn't it marvelous to see our army now moving with what I think is the greatest strength it has. Not dropping bombs. But building bridges and schools and bringing in food. That's the power of the United States in the world.

KING: We'll be back with more. Don't go away.


KING: Albert Mohler, do you never doubt your faith? MOHLER: No. A question like this, a tragedy like this, certainly causes us to give our deepest thoughts to all of this. But Larry, I would have no hope for this life, much less for the life to come, if I was not sure that God exists and that he has shown his love to us in sending Jesus Christ his son to save us. And I would not be able to wake up in the morning and go through the day if I did not believe that he was sovereignly in control of the entire universe and if he did not have a purpose for all of this.

And so yes, I find my faith -- I never doubt. I want to be honest here. I know sometimes I have to struggle to know exactly how best to understand as God has revealed himself. How we should understand what he's doing. And then what we should do. But no, I never doubt.

And, you know, that doubt comes out of a lack of confidence in God's character. And the God who has sent Jesus Christ to save us, who has shown his love to the world in Jesus Christ, is not a God whose character can be doubted.

KING: Rabbi Lerner -- Rabbi Lerner, by the way, has a new book out called "Spirit Matters." Do you doubt?

LERNER: Not at all. I know that...

KING: No doubt?

LERNER: God is the evolving force of love and kindness and generosity in the world, that we are part of God, part of God's product. And that doesn't mean every specific thing that happens is God's choice. It does mean that God is the tremendous power of love and kindness and generosity, that we have this tremendous capacity to manifest the God energy of the universe.

And I've seen God's energy manifested in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, in millions of people reaccessing the loving parts of themselves and the highest idealism that the media and everyone else tries to convince them is not there. But it really is, because people are basically, fundamentally desiring of caring of other human beings. Because we are all manifestations of the God love of the universe.

KING: Dr. Hathout, do you doubt?

HATHOUT: No, I don't. I see God give promises that he is keeping. The part of the promise is to be on this planet to be tested in different ways. And I see it unfolding and happening. And this confirms my faith in God.

KING: Deepak, do you doubt?

CHOPRA: No, Larry, I don't doubt. But I do feel sorry sometimes that we have allowed God to be hijacked by religious dogma. For example, right now on the show there aren't any women. You know, why is that? Every time we do a show on God, religion, it's always us males representing these different traditions. We need to realize that when we share our suffering, out of that comes compassion. And out of compassion comes love and understanding. And from that comes healing. As long as we stick to my version of God, we're going to have problems. I say that right on the show.

KING: Good point. Bante G., do you doubt?

GUNARATANA: I don't have any doubt with compassion, people's generosity, their faith. They are coming forward to support in situations like this. We always have very deep faith in all these beings. That we have deepest faith in the truth, the reality. That will never fail us. It always is there. It always manifests itself in the true way. And therefore we have deepest faith in the truth.

KING: Father Manning, do you doubt?

MANNING: Sometimes I find myself struggling with an image of God that I have, my understanding of who God is, and then some tragedy happens and I find myself doubting the image of God that I have. And it becomes very uncomfortable. And I struggle in my life to understand the fullness of who God is. And that means when difficulties arise, I might say, oh, my. That can't be God. And in that struggle, I'm evolving to what I believe is the deeper understanding of who God is.

KING: Dr. Hathout, is Deepak right? If we say, tomorrow night there's a religious show on television, you do not expect to see a woman?

HATHOUT: Unfortunately he is right. Unfortunately, there is some kind of male bias in our culture, cultures. And this is unfair and ought to be corrected.

MANNING: Very much so.

KING: The Catholic church guilty of it?

MANNING: Very much so in terms of priesthood. At the same time a deep humility in the openness to women and the understanding that they're integral to the understanding of God, by all means.

KING: Albert Mohler, do you agree?

MOHLER: There's no doubt all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are commissioned to be witnesses in his name, men and women. And men and women are gifted by God to do many things. But in the Christian understanding of the Bible, it is men who are commissioned to be those who are the teachers and pastors of the church. That's something that both Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians understand together.

And so it's not an accident that we're here. We believe that there is a reason why. That there would be men here today. Obviously, there are going to be many women who could speak with great spiritual insight. But at least as a pastor of the church, that's something different. KING: You just signaled another program. We'll do another show on this. We thank you all very much. Albert Mohler Jr., Deepak Chopra, Father Michael Manning, Dr. Maher Hathout, Rabbi Michael Learner, and Bante G. for appearing on this program tonight at the good suggestion of a former president.

We'll repeat that interview with Presidents Clinton and Bush tomorrow night. Don't forget a special edition of "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" with Paula Zahn follows this show. But when we come back, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Don't go away.


KING: Return visit now with Brian Wilson, one of our favorite people, legendary member of the Beach Boys, acclaimed songwriter, producer, arranger, composer. His album "Smile" finally released more than 37 years after it was conceived. Nominated for three Grammys. He's here tonight for another reason though. One of the musicians who performed on that album "Smile" is missing in the tsunami. He's the cellist Marcus Sandlund. Tell me about him.

BRIAN WILSON, MUSIC LEGEND: Marcus joined my group with a group of his called the Stockholm Strings and Horns. He's been with me about a year and a half. He's the cello player in the string section. He's a great guy, great sense of humor and everything. And...

KING: What was he doing there? Vacationing?

WILSON: He was in phuket.

KING: That's a resort.

WILSON: Phuket, thailand. And he and his girlfriend Sophie Peterson (ph) were sitting by a pool. And when the tsunami hit, they were swept away. She was swept up into a tree. She was there for three hours in the tree with two broken legs. Then they treated her in Phuket. Then they transferred her to Singapore. Then they sent her home to Stockholm.

KING: And he?

WILSON: He's missing. And if there's anybody anywhere who sees a picture of him and recognizes him, please get in touch with us right away.

KING: What does the girlfriend say? What did she see happen to him?

WILSON: She doesn't know. Nobody knows. Me and my band have been suffering over this for a couple of weeks now.

KING: So they were together, the girlfriend. The girlfriend gets tossed into a tree. He disappears into the water?

WILSON: He disappeared. No one knows where he is. And a friend of mine, Lance Fried (ph), is down there talking with officials trying to find him.

KING: You sent him to see what could be found out. You can e- mail to, right? If you have any information. Tell me about the kind of guy he is.

WILSON: Marcus Sandlund was a very, very excellent cello player. Is an excellent cello player. Has a great sense of humor. He made people laugh a lot at our concerts. He has a great sense of humor. He's quite the guy. We all suffer his loss.

KING: The Beach Boys combined with this group?

WILSON: My group, my own band, called the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), part of the band that I have, six other players plus nine Stockholm String and Horn players.

KING: So you must be going through real torment.

WILSON: It is tormenting to see him missing like that. It really is. Me and my wife and everybody, our friends and our band, are all trying our best to get over it.

KING: You're a beach boy. You must have knowledge that the ocean can be fierce.

WILSON: The ocean can be fierce, Larry, yes.

KING: It's sad.

WILSON: Yes. It's a terrible act of nature.

KING: We just heard this program on religion. Do you pray?

WILSON: I do pray. I pray for Marcus. I pray a lot in my personal life yes.

KING: Do you think it works?

WILSON: Prayer does work. It has worked for me in my life. I'm praying for Marcus Sandlund. I hope someone will recognize him and find him.

KING: Do you ever question why this happens?

WILSON: Like I say, it's an act of nature that no one can do anything about. It's an act of nature.

KING: You accept that?

WILSON: Yes, I do.

KING: Now, if people -- we're seen all around the world. What's the best hope for Marcus? That he's where? Unidentified in a hospital?

WILSON: On an island somewhere, in a hospital somewhere. We think he might be on an island, could be in a hospital somewhere.

KING: Have you been to that part of the world?

WILSON: No, I haven't. I've been to Japan but not that part of the world.

KING: There are a lot of islands there.

WILSON: Are there really?

KING: He could be somewhere.


KING: There's always hope.


KING: What do the authorities say to you?

WILSON: The authorities? What do you mean?

KING: The people there, hospital people, police. Have you been in touch with anybody?

WILSON: No, I haven't.

KING: All you're doing is you've got someone over there looking?

WILSON: We've got a friend of ours down there looking for him, yes.

KING: Tell me about this album. We've got a few minutes left. You're nominated for three grammys. This album took 37 years. Briefly explain why it took 37 years.

WILSON: When we first created it in 1967, me and my collaborator Parks figured we were way too ahead of our time and too advanced. So we put it on the shelf. It wound up on the shelf for 38 years. My wife told me, Brian, I think the world is ready for "Smile." So we took the Stockholm Strings and Horns in February to London and premiered it. We got standing ovations six nights in a row.

KING: What's special about it?

WILSON: We call it a happy teenage symphony to God. It's a three movement rock opera. It's jovial and goes from one thing to the other real fast. It's quite a stretch of music.

KING: Did Marcus have anything to do with it?

WILSON: With the making of it? He played on it. He played cello on it.

KING: So on this album, nominated for three Grammys, one of the people playing on it is missing in the tsunami. WILSON: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: What an ironic tragedy. There he is, his picture. If you have any information about Marcus, know anything about him, can help us at all, they were at the Orchard Beach Resort at Khao Lak when the tsunami hit. He and his girlfriend both at the pool. She is now OK. You can click in to your website. Thank you, Brian.

WILSON: Thank you very much.

KING: Let's hope you find your friend.

WILSON: I hope so. I hope so.

KING: Stay tuned now for a special edition of Paula Zahn's "People in the News" dealing with survivors and tomorrow night we'll repeat our interview with presidents Clinton and Bush. Good night.



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