RELIGION 'Faith & Reason' - Bill & Judith Moyers INTERVIEW 06-22-06

Sent: July 04, 2006

A discussion of their latest PBS show (7 episodes) – about 30 minutes – fascinating


NOTE: My comments below will have context only after you see the video.

Bill’s deep sense of a questioning faith – evident in everything he does – is constantly tested whenever it bumps up against his equally abiding belief in civil liberties. Bill & Judith’s show examines that conflict, as well as the general disconnect between how well-meaning folks from every religious corner square their “irrational” belief systems with a reality-based and scientific world; not to mention the conflicts among the more didactic branches of religion.

While I have no use for religion in my own life, I respect those who do; including Atheists.

And I am living proof that the religious zealots are right: to guard against creating Atheists or Anglicans (though I have long since moved on to freethinking), don’t let the little buggers read books. To me Mum’s everlasting credit, I was allowed – gasp, encouraged even – to read whatever I bloody well liked as my pliable mind was ringing that bell never to be unrung (Playboy and Lady Chatterley festooned my bedroom, openly flaunting their not-so forbidden fruit). I have to admit that the snatch of Jeannette Winterson’s schtick about growing up absurd with a fundamentalist mom is way funnier than the tension in my live-and-let-live, Libertarian upbringing – SAMPLE: “My mother only allowed 5 books in the house; the Bible, and 4 books about the Bible!”

I am also living proof that we are not all “wired for God,” as Bill puts it. My self-examined self can detect no current connection to a supernatural big girl; and who else should know better? I have also felt no need of her counsel or ministrations for at least the past few decades. While I’m not sure if I can remain in Bill’s otherwise tolerant good graces with such a heretical POV, I am also fairly certain I have never heard my “molecules” (of faith and reason) chattering away to one another. For me, the answer to all this noise is “go away and don’t bother me on this subject again until you come up with some new data. If your data is compelling enough, I will change my mind.” While I am not foolish enough to affirm or dismiss “god’s” existence, I suspect s/he is a man-made construct (which is why he is always a guy, right?) and as such, deserves all the caution one human should employ when entertaining the certitude of any other human’s philo/theosophy. This caution should begin with “What’s in it for them if I buy into this?”

Salman Rushdie’s observation about Atheists being obsessed with religion is right on the money. If you want to see religious passion, just question the belief system of your local Atheist (or Islamist); that, or tell them that it is impossible for an Atheist and a Freethinker to inhabit the same mind simultaneously. Methinks they doth protest too much.

As a freethinker, I have simply concluded that it is not my place to decide that the thoughts of others are worthy of my time and energy to prevent or guard against. The actions wrought by some notions are something else entirely. This in no way implies that I am disinterested in many of those same ideas; including religious ones (the “God told me to _____” tropes are irresistible to the curious mind).

You may also be interested in Charlie’s return to his interviewer’s perch. He ponders and confronts his brush with death, the meaning of life and friends, and displaying his all-encompassing humanity and ferocious curiosity. As he has been a fixture in my home forever, I was surprised to learn that The Charlie Rose Show (PBS, weeknights at midnight) has only been going since 1991; his friendship with Bill Moyers dates to the mid-Seventies and Ms. Vega has been with him since the show’s very early days.

On a personal note, Ms. Vega, now the show’s Executive Producer, reassures me that our species will never die out due to lack of interest in the fair sex.

Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers & Yvette Vega discuss his two-month time-out to deal with heart problems – what a mensch!



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