Listening In: James Brown and Victoria Jackson

WARREN SMITH: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’ll be listening in on two conversations I had recently from people prominent in the world of sports and entertainment: that’s sportscaster and entrepreneur James Brown, and Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.

VICTORIA JACKSON: I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and I asked Jesus into my heart when I was six years old by my bed. And so I’ve known Jesus for a long time. And I remember one sermon when I was a child. I went forward at that sermon and I really meant it. And I said, Lord, I want to be a missionary. I said, but please don’t send me to Africa because I’m scared of snakes and bugs. But then I ended up on TV shows or Saturday Night Live. And I remember walking down the halls one day and thinking, hey, this must be my mission field, you know?

SMITH: That’s comedian and actor Victoria Jackson, and we’ll hear more from her later in the program. But let’s get started today with James Brown. Sportscaster and journalist James Brown – often known by his initials JB – has been a fixture on sports television since he was a basketball star himself at Harvard in the 1970s. After failing to make an NBA team, he went to work with Eastman Kodak and Xerox, but found his way back into sports, this time though as a broadcaster, by the mid 1980s. He spent most of the last 30 years at CBS, helping to anchor that network’s coverage of everything from the National Football League to the Olympics. His work has also spread beyond sports and entertainment into hard news. He has done work for 60 Minutes and served as a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports. He has also served as a fill-in anchor for CBS’ flagship news program, The CBS Evening News. James Brown, I was also pleased to discover, is also a committed Christian who, after facing some health challenges, became the subject of news reports himself when he lost nearly 100 pounds, following a diet that he says is based at least in part on the Bible. I recently spoke with James Brown about his Christian faith and his career, but we started out by talking about that famous weight loss.

SMITH: James Brown, JB, welcome to the program. You know I’ve been a big fan for many, many years, and one of the things that I’ve noticed in recent years is that you’re not half the man you used to be. You’ve lost a whole lot of weight.

JAMES BROWN: Well, first of all, believe it or not, I’m actually doing the interview within a stone’s throw of where 200 years ago I went to high school. And when I was in high school, I weighed between 195 and about 205. When I started in broadcasting, people teased me because once I got involved with football, I really immersed myself in it to the point that I figured I had to look like a football player. Didn’t mean to look like a nose tackle, but I got up to nose tackle weight at about 295 pounds. So I thank the good Lord very much that I’m down to about 220 right now. So I needed to lose that weight, Warren, absolutely.

SMITH: Well, you did lose a lot of weight and you did it with a particular diet that was designed by a man who is also a Christian, I understand, and used some Biblical principles to help come up with that diet. Do I have that right?

BROWN: Hey Warren and thank you so very much. And the good thing about talking on this program, yes, as one who is actively involved in the faith arena. It wasn’t until I gave it over to wanting to please the Lord, consistent with the principle that’s in Matthew 6:33 where it says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” I’ve been trying for a number of years with various programs in my own strength thinking that, hey, as an ex-athlete, I know what I have to do, it’s a matter of discipline. And discipline is important, but it wasn’t until I dedicated it to the Lord to want to be a good, strong, healthy servant for His use, and then everything else would be benefiting from that, whether it’s my wife, my grandkids, and certainly in terms of doing the ministry work, and it’s been just wonderful. So now it’s just a matter of just maintaining. And it’s not a diet where you can’t wait to get off of it and go back to eating, making poor food choices. Dr. Ray Wisniewski is a Christian doctor who developed the program, and he tied it to Biblical principles. There’s a 40 day reduction period which is tied to, of course, the 40 days in the wilderness, the number of transformation. There is a three-day reset period, obviously consistent with the three days before the resurrection, and then you just maintain it. But it’s all healthy food choices. It’s all medically, pharmaceutically clean. There are no side effects and I think it’s important to note so that people won’t think that I’m just acting as a shill for this company: I rarely engage in ambassadorial work for a company unless there is a distinct benefit to the public. And it’s important to note that I paid for this program myself, simply as a client patient to lose the weight. And once I did and I felt better, my metabolism was higher, my metabolic age was lower. I was out of the prediabetic range. My blood pressure was down lower. With all of those benefits, I was anxious and desirous of sharing it with the public. So that’s the way it all came about.

SMITH: Well, JB, you mentioned that you don’t shill often for products—your words, not mine—and in fact I wanted to use that comment if I could to sort of transition, pivot in our conversation to talk a little bit about your journalistic career. Because in fact, you are one of the few sportscasters that in fact has made a pretty strong reputation for himself as a journalist. You contribute to 60 Minutes, you contribute to Real Sports. You’ve asked some tough questions of some well-known people. I think for example of Michael Vick and the 60 Minutes interview that you did with him. Can you talk a little bit about that part of your career, both as a sportscaster but also what your philosophy is towards journalism generally?

BROWN: Well, first of all, I try to make sure that I adhere to journalistic principles, Warren, and that is to be, as best as anyone can be, to ask the questions to elicit answers so that the public can make up its mind. I am not in the business of trying to make a reputation for myself, nor am I trying to engage in hyperbole or where I’m trying to make myself the star, you know. I want to ask tough questions. And you mentioned Michael Vick. I went to visit him when he was in prison. And the reason I went after the interview—and I know everybody was going after him—I asked the question, Michael, I heard you say that you wanted, that you realized you made a terrible mistake, that you wanted to get back to your faith foundation. If that’s what you’re looking to do, then I’m interested in doing the interview. Now I know you’re in debt, and he was looking to get paid for his interviews so that he can retire the debt. And I said, that’s the worst thing that you can do because anybody hearing your answers will hear the answers through the lens of “I’ve got a debt to pay.” Your best bet—and excuse that reference because that’s not a very good one—your best opportunity is to be honest; I have hard questions to ask you. And he cut me off and said, “I have some answers to the hard questions, and I owe answers to those hard questions.” And that’s how it came about because I said, “You know what, if you’re doing it for all the right reasons, the good Lord will take care of you. If you’re serious and genuinely remorseful, things work out.” And I’m so very happy to say, Warren, that they did. Now there are those who will never forgive him, and I understand that that’s human nature, but I told him, “There are the intractable few who will never forgive you, but if you’re genuinely remorseful and make amends, God will forgive you. And those who are looking to give you a second chance based on whether or not you’re being honest, they will.” And so he’s been very determined. Look, for the two years that he was working with the Humane Society to go into urban areas, to try to steer kids away from dog fighting, he had a two-year commitment with them to do that. He’s been doing it ever since. So however many years that’s been—eight, nine years—he’s been doing it ever since because he is genuinely committed to steering people away from that. So that speaks volumes about him from my humble perspective.

SMITH: Well, and some of the things that you’ve said already, speak a good bit, JB, about you and your perspective, which is of course coming from a distinctly Christian perspective. You know, a couple of years ago, Terry Bradshaw, the great Steelers quarterback, was doing a movie and you know they made him available to press like me to interview and I was asking him about his Christian faith. And he just, he said, “Oh man, I’m not much of a Christian, but you should talk to JB. That dude is a real Christian.” That was Terry Bradshaw’s word. Seriously. I’m dead serious about that.

BROWN: Wow, how humbling is that to hear!

SMITH: Yeah. Well, all that to say, you know, your reputation precedes you in terms of, you know, your Christian witness in the public square, in the public arena, on television and elsewhere. Can you talk a little bit about your faith roots? Were you raised in a Christian home? When did you become a Christian believer?

BROWN: My mother and father, God bless them, were very ethically sound people of character and integrity. We weren’t big church-goers, but I remember distinctly when I was in elementary school, there was a broadcast that definitely had a Biblical overtone to it. And the guy’s name was David Eaton, if I recall correctly, when I was in elementary school. It’s amazing how that seed was planted way back then. But it wasn’t until my mother had to go in for a triple bypass surgery that she really embraced the Bible and its tenets. And like most kids, you follow the example. My father, he reminds me of Joseph in the Bible. He was a hardworking guy who worked two and three jobs. My mother always wanted to stay home to be an excellent homemaker. And she was. But when she got firmly rooted in the Word, we followed suit. We called my mother, lovingly, we called her the sergeant. My mom was only five feet, five inches tall, but we did not argue with Mom. What she said, that was the law in the house. So we followed her and she was the one that led us to a better understanding of the Word. Look, I mentioned that I’m doing this interview a few blocks away from the high school where I went. My high school basketball coach, Morgan Wootten, was a very strong influence on me because he carried on the principles that were underscored in household. In order to play for Morgan Wootten, he said, here are the four priorities that you had to have in life. God first, family second, school third, then basketball. And Morgan Wootten, he kind of reminds me, for people of a certain age who can remember the program, Dennis the Menace, Mr. Wilson back in our days, or Father Knows Best—Morgan Wootten was kind of like that. He was from that era, but he modeled what he taught us. He never once engaged in a profanity-laced tirade if he was upset with what we did on the basketball floor or to encourage us to better performance. He modeled Christian behavior and has been such a strong influence on everybody who’s ever played for him over all those years. And I’m glad to say that I’ve got a friend like that now in coach Tony Dungy, of course the Super Bowl winning coach from the Indianapolis Colts. Coach Tony Dungy is exactly cut from that same mold as Morgan Wootten. So those kinds of examples certainly from my parents, then with Morgan Wootten had me on a 12-year search to understand the word, and I got planted in a good Bible-teaching church, Rhema Christian Center Church, over in northeast D.C. And when I realized what the truth is for me, Warren, I’ve been governing my life accordingly. Yes sir.

SMITH: Well, you mentioned the coach Tony Dungy, who I’m sure many of our listeners will know, but you mentioned of course he’s a Super Bowl-winning coach and has been very active in the Christian community. You’ve been active with Tony Dungy. You speak at events with him. What do you tell the kids? Whenever you’re with coach and you’re out sort of in the hinterlands talking to at-risk kids.

BROWN: You know, one of the things that grieves me the most, Warren, is I’ve been traveling the country, whether it’s doing men’s conferences with Coach Dungy, speaking at churches, CYO organizations, wherever it is, I continue to underscore, quite frankly, what my parents first taught me in terms of standing on a good firm faith foundation. What role models like Morgan Wootten and Tony Dungy and others have shown me is that there’s—Coach Wootten—you know, I believe that all truth is parallel. What’s true in the natural world is true in the supernatural. Coach Wootten used to tell us there’s no such thing as new fundamentals. If you want to be an excellent player in whatever sport, here are the fundamentals that you need to internalize and you need to master, and there’s no such thing as a new fundamental. So you work on these. Well, you know what? It’s the same thing in a game of life. There’s no such thing—people have itching ears. Folks get pulled off track because of, you know, they want to hear something new. They want to hear something—please excuse the reference—you know, because sex is used to sell so many things on commercials and all, they want to hear something that sounds sexy. And you know what? It’s the tried-and-true principles in the Bible. In the book of Ecclesiastes, God says there’s nothing new under the sun. So it’s the tried-and-true principles. So I tell the kids that, to focus on that. And if they see successful role models who are winners, not only in the world of sports, but most importantly in the game of life, that’s what’s going to ensure the kind of long-term success that you want and my definition of success is that which is found in the Bible. In the book of Joshua, Joshua 1:8, which says, “this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night to observe, to do according to all that is written within, that you may make your way prosperous and then you shall have good success.” And good success is the kind of success that God denotes in the Bible is success. Not what the world tells you is success. Because the world will tell you that it’s in the abundance of things or stepping over people to reach up higher on the ladder. That’s contrary to what the Word of God says.

SMITH: One of the things I can’t resist asking you about is Cornel West. I was surprised to discover that you were a college roommate with Cornel West. Is that accurate?

BROWN: Yes. Dr. West is one of the most brilliant people that I know. He’s got a genius IQ. He’s a member of Mensa. He’s a brilliant individual who really is rooted and grounded as a man of character and integrity. One of the things—we’re doing a story on CBS Sunday Morning and it’s about Cornel West, African-American Christian, and Dr. Robert George, a very conservative white professor, strong Christian as well. And I mention those details because they are all about going on tour on college campuses, talking with people about how you can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. And how many times are we seeing that in the public square right now where there’s so many wedges that people drive between each other where they’re yelling and screaming, yelling profane language at each other, and they can’t hear each other. And one of the expressions that I’ll never forget, Dr. Robert George taught me, he says, it’s important not to wrap your emotions so much around your convictions that you are unwilling to hear what the other person is saying. You may still disagree with them, but the point is to hear what that other person is saying so that you can hopefully reach a middle ground that’s truly reflective of what the truth is. And that’s certainly hopefully about being unified in the direction that we’re going and not separate as so many things are in society today. Divisive.

SMITH: Well, in fact, we’ve had Dr. Robbie George on this program before, so I know a great deal about his life and Christian commitment and character, and it’s gratifying to hear from both—from Dr. Robert George and from you about Cornel West, who doesn’t always share Robbie George’s political convictions, though they’re both very clear that they are brothers in Christ, so I guess that’s where their common bond is.

BROWN: And they both are. However, I would like it one day, believe it or not Warren, if I could moderate a discussion with them as well, too, because it would seem to me—and this is, look, I am nowhere near the intellect that the two of them are, but this is beyond intellectual prowess or mental assent on certain topics. The key is the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. The Word of God is what the judgment is by which all of us ought to be governing our lives. I’d like to try to see where there are differences in terms of interpretation because the Word of God is not subject to any private interpretation. It is what it is, and I would love to be able to have a conversation with the two of them along those lines. Yes sir.

SMITH: Well, a couple of final questions for you go. And that is, if you’ll allow me to pivot once again to talk about another area of your life, you’ve had a tremendous amount of success in lots of arenas, including, I guess most publicly as a journalist sportscaster, and yet you’re also an entrepreneur. I was in doing some of my research for this conversation. I discovered that you have a technology company that does a lot of work with government—as a government contractor—and you also are a minority owner of the Washington Nationals baseball team. First of all, do I have those facts accurate, and what is it about the appeal of entrepreneurship that is, I mean, wouldn’t being a world-class sportscaster and, you know, sort of a member of the—Roselle Award winner from the pro football Hall of Fame. That’d be enough for most guys.

BROWN: You know, I’m just trying to follow the path that whatever the Lord has for me. Warren, you mentioned about the entrepreneurial pursuit. When I got cut by the Atlanta Hawks, cried and hid in the house because I didn’t get a chance to realize my dream of playing professional basketball and even the following year when Red Auerbach, God bless him, invited me to try out for the Boston Celtics and I was one of the last guys cut. I said, you know what? I gave it my best. One of the lessons I learned there though is that while at DeMassa High School where I went, I worked extremely hard to become the best basketball player that I could. When I got to college, I got complacent, rested on my laurels and Morgan Wootten’s, one of his favorite expressions, he says there’s no such thing as standing still. You’re either getting better or you’re regressing. And clearly I didn’t get better as a player because I didn’t work as hard to stay on top as I did to get to the top. That’s been my mantra, Warren, from this point forward, from that point forward, that I will never let an opportunity pass me by in life that I didn’t work hard for if I really wanted it. Entrepreneurially, I worked at Xerox, worked at Eastman Kodak, and so a number of people who branched off and did things entrepreneurially and were successful at it. So we’re not a fledgling company because we’ve been at it for about 10 years, but we’ve got an opportunity to really grow. We’re partnering with IBM in pursuit of—actually we’ve won a major contract and we’re hoping that this would be the significant contract that will springboard us to the kind of success that we’re hoping for. So that is an outgrowth of my experience in corporate America, why I’m doing that. Baseball with the Washington Nationals, I grew up in the neighborhood where the baseball stadium is now located. And the owners of the team, the Learners, are friends of mine that I met through some other builder friends who are neighbors and they knew of my love for baseball, which was my first love. And so it’s great that I’m involved with them, but I have no involvement—and that’s the way we structured things—with the day-to-day operations. It is strictly as a minority investor to try to hopefully bring baseball and its popularity back to the community as well. So I’m extremely excited about it. Just can only hope that our Nationals will go further this year than they have in years past.

SMITH: Well, JB, I’ve got to tell you, I wish you all the best with Brown Technology Group, your technology company. But being a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan, and since we’re in the same division as the Washington Nationals, I hope you have only limited success as an owner of the Washington Nationals.

BROWN: I receive that because we went down to have a conversation with Schierholtz, obviously an iconic name. And then Bobby Cox was there, of course I have great respect for them. As a matter of fact, we did a story for 60 Minutes Sports on the number of great baseball players produced by the, in the island of Curacao, which per capita, they produce more players in the major league baseball ranks than those in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico because they’ve got such a great operation down there. So believe me, I understand what you’re saying, but I have great respect for some people who’ve been lifers in the game of baseball who’ve been doing it right for a long period of time.

SMITH: Well, JB, I could talk to you all day because, as a baseball fan and of course as a follower of Christ, that alone gives me enough to talk about with somebody for a long, long time, but I want to honor your time and just say thank you so much for taking a few minutes to visit with us on the program. God bless you. Wish you all the best.

BROWN: Hey Warren, thank you so very much, God bless you as well and you guys have a great day.

SMITH: That was sportscaster and entrepreneur James Brown. Among his many awards, Brown was the first recipient of the Pat Summerall Award for broadcasting excellence in 2006, and in 2010 Sports Illustrated named him “Best Studio Host of the Decade.” 

SMITH: Up next, we have Victoria Jackson. Victoria Jackson is best known for her six seasons on Saturday Night Live, from 1986 to 1992. During two of those seasons, SNL was nominated for Emmy Awards for the best musical, variety, or comedy show on television. She is a breast cancer survivor, and the author of two books, including her latest: Lavender Hair: 21 Devotions for Women with Breast Cancer. I had this conversation at the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in Nashville.

Victoria Jackson, it’s so great to chat with you. I’ve known who you are for many, many years, from your years on Saturday Night Live, way back. Was that in the 1970s or early 80s?

JACKSON: ’86 to ’92.

SMITH: Okay, so 80s and 90s then. It was a long time ago and I can’t resist asking you: Do you still do handstands?


SMITH: You really can? I’m not going to ask you to do it, but you really still do handstands?

JACKSON: 58 years old! Yes, I do.

SMITH: Well, that’s great. In fact, I think that the handstand was what brought you to national and international attention even before Saturday Night Live. You were on the Johnny Carson Show, right?

JACKSON: Yes, I did it my first six minutes on Johnny Carson, my standup act. I did a handstand and said poetry and played the Ukulele. And he gave me the okay sign and he said, that’s my kind of act. So, thank the Lord, I got a career. And then my agent at the time was William Morris. It was sweet revenge because earlier, the year before, he had screamed at me and said, stop doing handstands, I can’t sell you as a serious actress if you’re doing handstands. Because he heard that I went to a Happy Days audition and did a handstand on a chair. And I sort of agree with him, but on the other hand, it did help me stand out from the millions of other blondes who were auditioning. One time I got a car commercial because I did the copy upside down. So, you know, it was the only thing I could do that was different because my dad was a gymnastics coach and I’d spent my whole first 18 years of life upside down. I thought, well, I can do that, and probably not other, you know.

SMITH: So that first handstand, I guess on the Johnny Carson Show, you ended up being on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, what, 20 times?

JACKSON: Yeah, about 18 with him. And then once with Garry Shandling and once with Jay Leno I think, and then Letterman and stuff. But Johnny Carson was my big break.

SMITH: Well, in having Johnny Carson, you know, kind of give you the okay, that was kind of what every standup comic wanted during that era, right?

JACKSON: Yeah, it was very exciting. You know, when I was a teenager, my dad said, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I said, I don’t know. He goes, well, you better decide quick. And I go, I want to be Maria in the Sound of Music and have my children in matching outfits and play my ukulele on the top of a hill and marry the captain. And my dad said, oh well, that sounds like an actress. I’d never thought of the concept that you can actually be that because we didn’t have a TV when I grew up. And he said, Christianity and show business don’t mix very well, so I don’t recommend it. But if that’s what you want to do, give it 100 percent. So I’ve been trying ever since to balance the two and they don’t go together all the time, acting and Christianity. But the good thing is, Christians are getting, they’re taking the movies back. Because the devil took the movies away. I saw a Shirley Temple movie and they had a Bible verse at the end, the whole verse written out. And that’s how movies used to be, you know. So thanks to Pure Flix and other great people around here at the NRB, we’re making Christian films and taking it back.

SMITH: So when did you become a Christian? Have you been a Christian since you were a little girl or was that something that came later in life?

JACKSON: I was raised in a Southern Baptist church and home, and I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 6 years old by my bed with my dad next to me. I got baptized and I went to a Bible college, went to a private Christian school. And so I’ve known Jesus for a long time. And I remember one sermon when I was a child, and it was from Isaiah when God said whom shall I send? And he said, send me. And I went forward at that sermon, and I really meant it. And I said, Lord, I want to be a missionary. I said, but please don’t send me to Africa because I’m scared of snakes and bugs and arrows. But then I ended up on TV shows or Saturday Night Live. And I remember walking down the halls one day and thinking, hey, this must be my mission field, you know? My dad was a good example of that because he was a gymnastics coach, but he took the Bible into the gym. And I remember him asking me to come over one day by the balance beam and he said, tell Maureen Fowler, John 3:16, because he could never remember things. I could remember everything, verses, really well. I still do remember a lot of Bible verses, which is one of the greatest things I have, is Bible verses in my mind. I quoted John 3:16 to her, and I think maybe he was also teaching me how to witness to people. But I remember being really awkward and embarrassed because I was in a sweaty leotard, and in a gym in public, not in church talking about Jesus and the Bible, but at the same time feeling the power of the Holy Spirit and feeling honored and humbled that I got to say God’s word to someone. And then, long story short, Maureen Fowler looks me up when she’s about 36 or 35. I’m in a North Carolina comedy club, going to do my standup act, try to earn money to bring home, send my kids to Christian school because my husband was a cop; he didn’t make a lot of money. And the waitress goes, there’s a girl here, woman here who said she knows you from childhood. She has a hat on. So Maureen comes up to me, we go in the closet, she takes her wig and her hat off. She had breast cancer. She said, your dad was the first person who ever told me about Jesus when I was 12. And she said, I want to look him up and thank him. I just asked Jesus to be my savior and all my kids did this year. And then she contacted my dad and we sort of sent her Bible verses through her last year of life. I didn’t know I was going to get breast cancer, you know, 20 years later, but one in eight women gets it. And Julia Louis Dreyfus just got it. My community Bible study leader just called me yesterday, she got it. And I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s sugar, or what we’re doing wrong, chemicals in our food, I don’t know. But a lot of people are getting it.

SMITH: Well, and you got breast cancer, yeah, and this new book that you’ve written is, I don’t know, it’s a lot of things. It’s funny, among other things, which I guess you should expect from Victoria Jackson, but in some ways, it’s a book of devotions designed for breast cancer survivors. Is that fair?

JACKSON: Yeah, I just kind of, I overshared, which is one of my flaws. My family’s a little mad at me. You know, your husband has to go through it too, and it’s not fun for him either. And we made it through. I actually wrote a love song to him called Lavender Hair, and that’s what I named the book after. You want to hear a little of it?

SMITH: First of all, I just want to stipulate for the record that I’m really sorry, Victoria, that I do not have a ukulele for you to play, but you can still sing.

JACKSON: Sorry if I have spinach in my teeth. I just ate my healthy spinach. Excuse me, everybody. “He sees me as zaftig not heavy. He hears me as wise and not dull. He thinks that I am super terrific. When others think nothing at all. He sees me as funny, not silly, and graceful as Fred Astaire and he doesn’t notice the gray. He said, I have lavender hair.” I forgot to set it up. The reason I wrote it is because at my birthday, my hair was starting to—hey, you’re bald, but you’re a man, so it’s okay. So the hardest thing of cancer was being bald. So when my hair started growing back in, it was growing in gray. And my friend said, it’s not gray, Vicky, it looks lavender! And out of the corner of my eye, I saw my husband going, yeah, it looks lavender, it looks lavender! And I thought that was so sweet that he was trying to make me feel pretty, so that inspired the song, and that’s why I named the book then.

SMITH: Well, the book is funny. It’s poignant. It does—I wouldn’t say overshare, I’ll let you and your family decide that, but it is very vulnerable and very transparent. I would say that must be by design.

JACKSON: Well, thank you. It’s just that I love reading books where I feel like I’m in the person’s mind. I don’t want to read a book that says, “I met Jesus and my life was perfect,” because that’s not true. I don’t want to read when it says, “I met Jesus and I became perfect and my husband became perfect and we never had problems again.” That’s not true. I like to read books that are really, really real, but have redemption and hope at the end. And Jesus is hope. And I thought, what does it mean when people say, you know, “Jesus is the answer,” or, “Jesus saved my life,” or “Jesus—” I know what it means. Jesus is hope. He rose from the dead so we can rise from the dead. The Holy Spirit gives us power to go through anything. When I went through cancer, me and my husband, Jesus carried us through it. His Word. His Word gave us peace and joy, something to look forward to. That’s what they mean when they say Jesus is the answer. He forgives your sins. He makes you righteous in His eyes. He gives you a purpose, a future, you know, so that’s what they mean. But cancer tested my faith, and I was kinda surprised that Jesus was, is really real to me. And it also made me more passionate about spreading the gospel, because it made me realize my mortality and that each day, you know, I don’t want to waste any minutes. I want to tell people about the Lord, and I don’t want to waste my last few days on frivolous stupid things.

SMITH: That brings to a close my conversation with Victoria Jackson. Victoria Jackson is active in conservative politics, still performs stand-up comedy. She lives in Nashville.

Listening In is brought to you by World News Group, and this podcast is just one of the many benefits of WORLD membership. To find out more about becoming a member of WORLD, go to

The technical producer for today’s program is Rich Roszel. He gets strong assistance from Alan Brooks. Our executive producer is Nick Eicher. I’m your host Warren Smith. And you’ve been Listening In.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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