You've written several best sellers about faith and family, but you're not a conventional Christian author. How do you feel about being the bad girl of the born-again set?
Well, I don't really see myself as a born-again. I did convert at 31 from being a kind of nondenominational, kitchen-sink believer and seeker, but to my born-again brother, I'm Abbie Hoffman.
You like to call God Phil. Why?
It's because of this bracelet a Mexican vendor made. He was supposed to write Philippians 4:4-7, which is my favorite passage in the Bible, but his shop got closed down when he got to Phil. It got me thinking, Well, Phil's a great name for God.
Your new book, Help, Thanks, Wow, is about prayer. Is there anything you think we shouldn't pray for?
Arthur Ashe said he never prayed for victory when he played tennis and he wasn't going to pray for healing from AIDS or heart disease, that God's will alone matters. I try to be like that. Some days go better than others. You know, you pray for your family to get a break. You pray that it's not the [auto] transmission.
You write about being raised in San Francisco to believe that people who prayed were ignorant. Isn't this still the prevailing view among urban elites?
I'm not sure that people think people who pray are delusional, power-pyramid types so much anymore. Partly, I think, that's because 12-step recovery has taught a couple million non-Christians to pray.
Prayer has become, what, respectable?
I read a review of your book that noted the "stale, career-ending quality of the work." It's a review you wrote. Are you not a fan?
I'm always very worried that the jig is up and my career's about to be over. People liked my Plan B because it was from such an angry, hostile Christian, and that's pretty hard to resist. With this book, it's kind of scary because it's very vulnerable material.
In the book, you keep referring to a meth-head cousin. Don't your family members mind that you write about them?
The thing that I've discovered is that very, very rarely do people recognize themselves if you change their hair color or their name or their height. That meth head is not going to remember that he or she had a conviction that there were snakes in the car radio. What he or she will do is think, Snakes in the car radio God, what a nut.
You've compared yourself to Honey Boo Boo. Do you watch her show and think, Well, the apocalypse must be soon?
I've never actually seen the show, I've only seen her in my magazines. They're my bad little secret. Badder than my candy corn. Don't get me started on those. I'll have them for breakfast.
As a political liberal and a Christian, what did you feel when Billy Graham came out for Mitt Romney?
Quelle surprise, as the French say. Everybody knows who they're going to vote for. The people who insist they're undecided it's like with smoking. What evidence exactly are you waiting on to know that smoking will kill you? What evidence are you exactly waiting on to vote? You know who calls to you.
You're a grandma now, so the inevitable question arises, Can you still pull off the dreadlocks?
I've always had a policy with my family: You get to have your hair, I get to have my hair. No questions asked.