Life Inspired: Roger Ebert

By Cathleen Falsani 9-14-2011

Roger Ebert (Photo courtesy of Mr. Ebert)

Roger Ebert, perhaps the preeminent film critic in the United States, recently published a 500-page memoir titled, Life Itself, that chronicles his journey from childhood to his most recent years, adjusting (nay, embracing) to new realities after a lengthy battle with cancer that robbed him of his ability to speak and eat. Toward the end of the fascinating, compellingly-written autobiography, Ebert, a cradle Catholic, speaks explicitly about his religious beliefs (or lack thereof), his ideas about God, faith, and the hereafter. It really is a must-read.

Ebert, a longtime colleague of mine at the Chicago Sun-Times, is a marvelous fellow and mighty soul, a fact that he demonstrated eloquently during an interview (yes, interview -- he uses a computerized text-to-speech program, which he's named "Alex," to vocalize his thoughts) that aired Tuesday with Melissa Block of National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" program:

Since his cancer and his surgeries, Ebert has found a powerful new voice online. He tweets constantly. He's a prolific blogger, with tens of thousands of regular readers.

Many of his posts are deeply personal. Recently he wrote about the humiliation of falling out of bed and being unable to get up. At first, he didn't want to disclose that. But, he wrote, "this blog has become a venue for my truths."

One of those truths was posting a photograph of his disfigured face. He leans toward me, his hands gesturing toward his face for emphasis as he talks about it.

"I was advised not to be photographed looking like this," he says. "Well, it's how I look. And there's nothing I can do about it. We spend too much time as a society denying illness. It's a fact of life."

Listen to the entire NPR interview with Ebert HERE.

To read Ebert's movie reviews and his blog, click HERE.

Or follow Ebert's prolific tweeting on Twitter: @ebertchicago

Cathleen Falsani is Web editor and director of new media for Sojourners. She is author of the new book BELIEBER!: Fame, Faith and the Heart of Justin Bieber.

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