BILL MOYERS: But it does not lead you to do what Osama Bin Laden did, to kill.
MARY GORDON: And I think that I have to go back to a religious position, which is that if reading the Gospel means anything, if Jesus means anything, it’s about seeing everybody, every human being as Jesus. That’s what makes sense. That— therefore, every human being is of enormous value. Every human being is sacred. So it seems to me the only thing that stops me from going out and shooting people in Hummers is a religious belief that, even though I don’t like them, they are sacred and valuable in the eyes of God. And that does stop me. Because I could really, you know, go out on quite a spree.
BILL MOYERS: I remember on our series we did on Genesis, you said, I’m surprised I’m not a murderer.
MARY GORDON: I still have time as you pointed out.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah, you do. Did you ever want to be a martyr?
MARY GORDON: Oh, my God. When I was little — I was about twelve — I used to walk around with thorns in my shoes, so that I would prepare myself for martyrdom. And so, my feet would bleed, so I’d be ready for martyrdom.
BILL MOYERS: What was the appeal of martyrdom?
MARY GORDON: Because you went straight to heaven. No purgatory. You didn’t pass go. And I was brought up literally, literally, to pray for a martyr’s death. This was 1950’s, early 1960’s New York. I was praying for a martyr’s death. And I would have all these scenarios where it was the Russian communists then. Somebody, you know, in a fur hat and a brown uniform would put a gun to my head and say, say you don’t believe in Christ. And I would say, I will not say thee. Blow my head off. And I would be in heaven. And then, little girls like me would be praying to me. And have pictures of me in their rooms for all eternity. I mean, so what was my alternative? I was going to grow up and marry a cop? I mean, it didn’t seem like that was a very good bet. Maybe I could be a teacher. Or I could go straight to heaven and be prayed to. I literally lived that as a young child and a teenager. And then at one point, I thought, you know, I really don’t think I want to die a painful death. So I knew I wasn’t really a good Catholic. And it made me rethink a lot of stuff. And I said, I don’t think I want to die. I wasn’t quite willing to die. And it was a religious crisis for me."