Jean Houston Commits Blashphemy!


Jean Houston

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jean Houston one on one to interview her for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is a hilarious excerpt from her story:

Since my father had promised to send me to a Catholic school, I went to St. Ephraim’s in Brooklyn. Everything was fine except that my father would “gag up” my catechism and give me the most interesting questions to ask the poor little nun in the morning. Like, “Sister Theresa, I counted my ribs and I counted Joey Mangiabella’s ribs, and we’ve got the same number of ribs. And I wonder, if God created Eve out of Adam’s ribs, how come we all have the same number of ribs?” Before the startled nun could respond, I added, “I’ll prove it! One, two, three, go!” And, right on cue, thirty little children lifted their undershirts.

Then there were the Jesus questions. “Sister Theresa, how do you know that Jesus wasn’t walking on rocks below the surface when he seemed to be walking on water?” And, “Sister Theresa, when Jesus rose, was that because God filled him full of helium?” Then finally, one day, the great question, the one that is in the mind of every little Catholic child at one time or another. This was such a great question, I checked it out beforehand with Denise Canzineri, who said, “Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that,” and Joey Mangiabella, who said, “Yeah, you’ve gotta ask that.”

Well, the mother superior was in the room that day. I raised my hand and Sister Theresa, who by the way lisped a great deal, said, “Yesh?” I said, “Sister Theresa”— I looked around and everyone was encouraging me—“did Jesus ever have to go to the bathroom?” Well, that did it. The mother superior went flying out of the room. And Sister Theresa, in this huge torrent of rage, leaped up and yelled in her lisping fashion, “Blashphemy, Blashphemy! Sacrilish and blashphemy!” She strode over to her desk, pulled out a sheet of oak peg, tacked it up on the wall, and in India ink, wrote in big letters, JEAN HOUSTON’S YEARS IN PURGATORY. From then on, every time I asked a question I shouldn’t have, I’d hear, “Blashphemy, blashphemy!” and she’d mark a big X on the board. Each X equaled one hundred thousand years. At the end of first grade, when I turned six, she added it all up: three hundred million years in Purgatory.

I went home sobbing. There was my father, typing away on his jokes. He said, “What’s the matter, kiddo?” I said, “Daddy, I have to go to Purgatory for three hundred million years and it’s all your fault.” And he began to howl with laughter. He picked me up, put me on his shoulder, made the sound of a choo-choo train with his feet, and went, “Purgatory, Purgatory, Purgatory, Purgatory, toot, toot! Make way for the Purgatory Special!” He ran downstairs, out into the street, and past our Sicilian neighbors, shouting, “Purgatory, Purgatory, Purgatory, Purgatory, toot, toot!” The neighbors threw open their windows, called out, “Eh, there goes that Crazy Jack,” and yelled out some choice words in Sicilian.

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Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.

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Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one.
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to.
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Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.

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In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
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Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.

SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.

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