Friday, March 17, 2006

Well, last night I had one of my favorite performing experiences ever. Really. Like it’s got to be in the top ten. I had the most amazing time. I still feel giddy and shocked and blinking, did that happen?

I have been a fan of Jill Sobule for years. I love her. My friend Wendy turned me on to her music when we were writing a pilot for me to star in about ten years ago for Fox Television. Anyway, if the TV show went, we wanted Jill to do the music, maybe the opening song or something. I think representatives were even called. But the pilot wasn’t picked up and so it never happened. Later, after a terrible romantic break up, I listened to the song, “Now That I Don’t Have You” about a zillion times in my car.

Anyway, I met her at TED, which was a thrill in and of itself – just getting to meet her. Then, Jill invited me to perform with her at Largo. Largo is a club that I’ve performed at many, many times. It’s a small, intimate little club, nearby, that mostly hosts comedy and music. Jill and I got together on Monday for an afternoon of listening to songs and of talking about the topics and stories the songs brought up for me. It was great – having Jill in my own living room playing songs on her guitar! Awesome. (My nanny came in while we were talking and Jill was playing her guitar and later she said, “Was that JILL SOBULE!?!”)

So, last night we did our gig. Jill played songs and I told stories in between some of her songs. I was worried at first – I had never seen her live before and she is such a force, so commanding, so vulnerable, so funny – I didn’t want to horn in on her thang she had going on stage. I suddenly felt so unprepared and I was sure it wasn’t going to be good chemistry. But it turned out to really work, I think. The audience was so into it. I had a blast. It was really fun to be onstage with a band. Jill was great – what a wonderful night. I am still high from it. Jill thought it went really well too – we are already planning more nights. I am so thrilled. I think we should write a musical together!

The music did something. It was different than just doing straight comedy. I didn’t have to make it always so funny – sometimes it could just be sad, and then, it would be funny anyway. I think our sensibilities are really similar. I feel so good – to have met her, to get to have had this wonderful experience. Jill is so amazing to see live that I was shocked I was even a fan before I ever saw her on stage. She has such a way – such a strength and quirkiness. She’s mesmerizing to me.

Today I am wiped out, just wiped out. I don’t have much to give, even to this blog. I worked out and have been wandering around in a daze since then. I got my receipts done for the first three months of the year, that was my big accomplishment. I started to think I was getting sick. Mulan has been sickish for a few days. We stayed in tonight and I read her a kid’s book about electricity. I realized as I started it that I didn’t know a damn thing about electricity. Honestly, nothing. I would read a page out loud and then go into a deep silence, reading the next page. I actually had no idea how they would explain it. Mulan said several times, “Why aren’t you reading out loud?!? Are you reading to YOURSELF?!??? You are supposed to be reading it TO me.” But I was so shocked. I didn’t know that electrons formed a current and jumped out of their atoms and all that. We wandered around the house tonight before I put her to bed looking at all the things that required electricity. I am astonished, amazed. Dear GOD, my science education is ridiculously lacking. I have so much to learn. We learned about turbines and alternative ways to generate electricity. We just saw all the windmills in Palm Springs. Mulan said, “Yeah. Yeah. I knew that they made electricity.” But the thing is, I never knew exactly how they did it! I am dumbfounded at my lack of knowledge.

If I was the last living human and another species came and asked me how things were done, I would have almost nothing to say that was useful. I would be able to tell them the story of how I became the last living human and I might make them laugh, but other than that – nothing. How did our cars work? I dunno. How did we light our houses? I have no idea. How did we communicate between computers? Sorry, no clue. I know you have to have this and that happen in the first two pages of a sit-com. I know how to blur your eyes so you don’t see the camera in front of your face when you act. I know how to use Final Draft for scripts. I know how to tell a joke.

Wait, I don’t even know jokes.

I may be taking a blogging break. I just feel beat and I need to be working on my book. I won’t make any declarations, but I think I need to concentrate and force myself to write the big long thing that’s standing between me and peace of mind.

But before I close, I wanted to say that I have just read all the comments to my last blog. And yes, to me mediation has nothing to do with religion. It’s a technique for focusing the mind and blasting through the din of all those blabbery mouth concerns that compete for prominence in my head. I don’t see it as anything other than that. I certainly don’t think I’m connecting to the universe – except that I can appreciate the universe a whole lot more than I would if I weren’t meditating.

And I thought about the idea that I’m trying to convert others to atheism in my show. That’s a good question. I am certainly arguing my point. But then, it’s not like I care about winning someone over as much as I care about taking someone on a dramatic journey that I experienced. Did I write “God Said Ha!” to make people more sympathetic to those battling cancer and their families and me? Maybe. But mostly, I just wanted to tell this story that means a lot to me. So, it’s a mix, I suppose. When I first wrote it, one of the reasons I wanted to tell my story was just so my family understood where I was coming from. They thought I had lost my mind. They couldn’t understand how anyone could come to the conclusions I had. But I figured I had spent thousands of hours in church, listening to people on TV and on radio, telling me all about God. And I just wanted a couple of hours to tell them what I experienced.

O Sheldon, how I love your comments. And Dejan2, I will remember you if I need a meditation person in New York. And as far as the “Jesus has a really bad weekend for our sins” line – remember I didn’t write that line, I heard it. I tried to find out who said it, but I couldn’t find out. That’s why I say, “I heard someone say once…” But in any case: yes, I suppose I want to get a laugh out of that line. I mean, it’s not even a hilarious line. But I guess that for me, it was also meaningful. I had been raised to always think that Jesus suffered more than anyone else could have EVER suffered. I just accepted that automatically without stopping and questioning Jesus’ suffering. But then, it occurred to me that not only did Jesus not physically suffer more than a lot of people, but what difference did that make anyway? Adding more suffering to the experience of a person or even a God doesn’t seem to make any difference to anything besides adding more suffering to the big pot of suffering that has been experienced. I guess that was when I really stopped and thought about the fundamental idea of atonement – that suffering can make up for other suffering.

Oh, and yes. It wasn’t exactly snowing in Palm Springs proper. But it was snowing just up the hill from the hotel we were staying at, just up a few feet. We could touch it. And so, that meant snow to me.

In any case. I am beat and headed for sleep. Thanks everyone for writing, I really enjoy hearing people’s comments. If I don’t write a blog entry for a while, please understand!

P.S. for some reason, my blog wouldn't accept my latest entry last night. So, I am now trying to publish it. Top of the morning to you! Next year, I think I'm going to do a special St. Patrick's Day show at Largo, the club I just did the show with Jill Sobule at. Irish poetry, songs, and stories. I have been speaking to the owner of that club for years about doing something like this. Next year St. Patrick's Day is on a Saturday, so it could be pretty great.

97 comments:

Diana said...

Yeah, I know exactly what you mean about the not having a clue how the world really works. My kids are old enough (10 and 11) to recognize the sarcasm in my pat answer to how something works: "It's magic. Little fairies live inside the wires/engine/console." They have their own pat answer: "When's Dad getting home?"

corey said...

nothing related to your post in particular...just felt driven to say that reading your blog makes me happy and always gives me interesting things to think about. Thank you!!!

Susan Sawatzky said...

Julia,

You must be an all or nothing kind a gal? You could still blog only in small bits rather than long sililoquies. Ever read Rosie O'Donnell's blog? www.rosie.com. Small bits would work for awhile.

I really like reading your thoughts and a dry spell without anything might be more than I could handle - LOL

Susan in Spokane

Lydia said...

I am a great fan of Jill Sobule's and of you too, so I would love if you and Jill continued your performing collaboration, at least until you did NYC and I could get to a show.

I appreciate your awe about the way things work. I haven't anything to add or words of consolation, or snarky pretension, or anything, but I am sure that curiousity is what makes a person interesting, and keeps me awake, and it's probably a big part of why I am a fan of both you, and Jill Sobule.

Rest well.

shannon said...

I like Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Tired of Idiots said...

A lot of people may have already found this site, but it's worth bringing up. For an incredible site dedicated to how things work, without the mysticism, check out The Skeptic's Dictionary

There is SO much information it takes days to read everything, but in the end, you will know about science, chemistry, psychology, history, and all with natural explanations.

His post on atheism sums up my views exactly.

Thank you, Julia, for making time to share so much with all of us! If you need to concentrate on other areas for awhile, I'm sure we'll all understand!

Just pop in every so often to let us know you're ok, though?

Sheldon said...

Oh, please gawd! Do NOT start blogging like Rosie O'Donnell! I visited her web site once after listening to an interview on AirAmericaRadio.com, and it's appalling! I don't mean to be insulting, but the woman sounds like she's an immigrant from another planet. No punctuation, no capital letters, constant misspellings, and grammar that would make a grade school teacher's head implode.

In contrast, we have Julia who actually reads educational books to her daughter and then WALKS HER AROUND THE HOUSE TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT THEY'VE LEARNED TOGETHER! Unbelievably cool! That kid is going to be the smartest, best adjusted person in L.A. (or where ever you end up). Kudos to your child rearing practices!

Corey Klemow said...

I was lucky enough to be at the Largo show on Wednesday. It was wonderful, and the friend I brought with me who had never heard Jill's music before - she came 'cause she loved "Letting Go of God" - had a blast (as did my other friend who had seen both of you before). Our little table of atheists had a faboo time. More double-J.S.-shows ASAP, please!

collegavanerik said...

Just a note from a dutch - former catholic - atheist. I can so recognise your quest.

Brian C said...

The Largo show on Wednesday was fabulous. I felt like I was watching entertainment history in the making. It was like a beat-jazz-poetry reading, except instead of filling the room with lonely angst, Jill and Julia filled the room with empathetic laughter.

There is a nice write-up of the performance on the ted.com Blog.

Fans of Julia Sweeney and/or Jill Sobule should not miss a chance to see this music and comedy duo perform (if and when they team up again). What a wonderful and fun match. Underdog Victorious.

Thanks again Julia.

dominic said...

I truly, truly, and deeply, appreciate you sharing your life's journey, and your gift of humor. Your blog and monologues have provided some good jumping off spots for conversations at the "Theology on Tap" group I meet with at a local Irish pub.

You have helped many see and experience that 'theology' is not some brainy thing that only an elite few are only allowed to do, but something we all are called to live, and that anytime we serve a bowl of soup at a homeless shelter, listen attentively to someone in pain, we are doing theology in a realistic way. . . a way that will not only shape our life but also the lives of others

As a thirty-something Presbyterian pastor, who has been profoundly influenced by his Benedictine nun mother, I hope Friedrich Nietzsche's quote is true: that the God of the modern era is dead. I hope this is true so we may begin to truly journey together as companions, learning from each other and finding hope in the common mystery called life (I'm sorry, I do believe we need mystery in our lives. Without it, even if we know the scientific reasons for things, where else could we experience awe and be inspired except while being in the midst of Mystery). For some in the greater "Christian" ideological bastions, this would be atheism (as the Skeptics Dictionary lifts up, I believe). Yet, in other ways, it is also the beginning of authenticity, a owning the faith we have while seeking understanding of it while in community.

Thank you.

Sheldon said...

Dominic:

Why do theists always seem to think that atheists are against "mystery"? Of COURSE humans need mystery. The only difference between the two groups is in how they approach it, the former attributing it to some "god" or "higher power," and requesting no further answers and no examination, and the latter using the mystery as a motivation to learn more about the Universe and how it works.

I think I heard once that, by definition, a "mystery" is something that CANNOT be solved, though. So maybe we're using imprecise terminology, or maybe that's the whole point. Theists seem to believe that there are god-driven events that can never be solved, while non-theists believe that there are simply events that we have YET to solve.

Gawd, now I'M starting to sound like a Philosopher. Heaven forbid!

Bob Merrick said...

Julia,

You sat at my table in between the songs at the end and when you were trying to stretch for time, I asked if you had ever dated a gay man. It was truly a spectacular night (I wrote about it in my own blog at www.planetbaub.com). I have been a fan of yours forever and that night was my introduction to Jill. All I can say is more, more, more!!!!

xo

dominic said...

Sheldon -

We agree, especially after doing some reading on philosophical naturalism.

As a fellow psych person, you may be interested in the work of Adrian van Kaam and his system of Formational Science, which includes an a-traditional and wholistic approach to human formation that includes spirituality, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

I think your show is a great support for people struggling with these issues in their own lives. I know it took me a long time to come to terms with leaving the church I was raised in and that most of my family is still in (and they still expect me back any day now).

Some people seem to think that there's a "light switch" activity to leaving the church (On/off, "Christian"/"Atheist") but in reality it's a process that occurs in stages, and in a way it's like falling off the world, when so much of our culture, discourse, government, and increasingly the law is based on religion.

I guess it probably sounds silly but I am happy anytime there is some portrayal of an atheist that isn't evil, crazy, or irresponsible in some way. So thank you.

Sheldon said...

Dominic:

I'm sure you and I agree on many things, but on the work of van Kaam, we'll have to part ways.

The key word you left out of your description of him was "Father." He's a chaplain at the so-called "Ephiphany Association." That automatically makes any "scientific" investigation on his part suspect in my book.

If you'd like evidence of this, just look at their charter description: "The heart of the overall art and discipline of formative spirituality is the distinctively human or spiritual formation of our Christian character and personality rooted in those pathways of wise and balanced, moral and spiritual living to be found in Holy Scripture, in Church doctrine and in the literature of spirituality..." Obviously, it's a religious man, working in a religious organization, attempting to veil his beliefs in scientific principles. Smacks of "Intelligent Design" to me.

Even trying to understand their basic principles is like reading a poorly translated fortune cookie:
"The human goes through a process of transcendence by appreciatively apprehending form and by appraising directives to form reception and donation that may arise out of that appreciative apprehension." What the hell is THAT supposed to tell me? I mean, I have a doctorate in education, and I can't make heads or tails of it. In fact, I read four full web pages of his stuff, and had to stop when my brain started to hurt as much as my eyes did.

For a much more comprehensive (and comprehensible) theory of "scientific spirituality," check out Michael Shermer's new booklette "The Soul of Science." It's a tiny tome (about the size of a cell phone), and just 35 pages long...plus it's only $5.
Check it out at www.skeptic.com

I'm still not comfortable with Shermer's use of the words "soul" or "spiritual," but he makes some good points about taking those terms away from the theists.

Anonymous said...

..the other thing about Jesus' suffeering that I just don't get is what about the really human type of suffering that comes from a romantic relationship gone bad...."broken heart" if you will...the guy was celibate, if he was here to fell what we feel and learn what we learn I would say he skipped a really important lesson in suffering by not falling in love...I am sure the believers wave all that away with how he loved everyone etc...but sorry that is not the same thing.

Jerry Patrick said...

About a year ago I was on line, when a chat buddy instant messaged me with the question,
"Do you believe in God?"
I told him that I did but I was reconstructing him again, and before i could finish he shot me back with a link to NPR's snippet of ''Letting Go of God.''
I listened to it over and over again, and finally on March 21st this last Tuesday I was able to experience the whole show, and you were just wonderful. all of you all of it just plain perfect.

Thank you so much

jerry patrick

Anonymous said...

Julia,

I just wanted to tell you how profoundly changed I have been since hearing you on This American Life last year. I've been wavering on the edge for the last few years about whether or not I believe in a God. I am a musician who is really into choral music, so I get the appeal of the hymns and liturgy. But I feel so shallow singing in church choirs, when I'm not believing what everyone might. (Although oddly I don't have a problem getting paid for it). My father believes that there was a God that created the world and then let it be (evolve?); essentially what many Founding Fathers did: deism. For me that's like having your cake and eating it too. This is starting to ramble, so I just wanted to say how touched I am by your story and your struggle. You are not alone.

Thomas

angela said...

Hi Julia,

My girlfriend and I went to a screening of "The God Who Wasn't There" last night. Before the film began, we heard a 30 minute segnent of your show "Letting Go of God." We both loved it!! It resonated SO MUCH for us both. Thank you for such a thoughtful and entertaining piece.

shannon said...

I listen to pro-choice activists go on and on but never acknowledge pro-life concerns thereby appearing callous... And similarly I hear atheists sort of celebrate their world-view as if it's a good thing just because it makes sense.... I'm just saying let's not pretend that all's well just because we're right.... And what's more: evolution is a brutal way to create organisms. Sometimes scientists go on like it's some beautiful process.

Sheldon said...

I think the larger point is that we're not talking about "good and bad," we're talking about "true and untrue." These are very different things, and something that Theists like to interchange to muddy the argument (or perhaps because of how their brains work).

To me, truth is always preferable, regardless of how bloody it may be. It beats the hell out of lies, regardless of who is telling them, and that includes the anti-abortionists, priests, politicians, and the whole lot.

shannon said...

It's very reasonable and worthwhile to discuss the good and bad of reality - especially when the news is not comforting.

Isn't contemplating the meaning of reality a larger question than realizing and accepting reality?

No one with a caring bone in their body should actually *want* to accept evolution, atheism, pro-choice and the like... and anyone who has accepted such probably should at least acknowledge and maybe even emphasize the negative emotional aspects.

Also, obviously, there are positive aspects of so-called "evil"... Assume the Neanderthal were killed off - that's genocide. But who among us today would want to run around with a huge brow-ridge?

RADAtheist said...

Something else theists tend to confuse are "facts" and "beliefs"

Atheism is considered a religion by many theist who argue that *not* believing is a belief system, which is a religion.

What they don't accept is that using natural explanations with empirical evidence and scientific proof is not belief. Whether or not you *believe* in gravity doesn't change that it exists.

And while the theists could say the same holds for gods, that they exist regardless of belief, there is no empirical, testable evidence for their existence, and therefore do not fit into a naturalistic view of the universe.

It's not that I *believe* there is no god. It's that there is no real scientific evidence or way to prove that there is.

Sheldon said...

Shannon said: "No one with a caring bone in their body should actually *want* to accept evolution, atheism, pro-choice and the like..."


Are you kidding me?! Athiests are uncaring? Evolutionists are uncaring? People who fight for a woman's right to medical privacy are uncaring?

Seems to me that picture is very much backward, my friend.

First of all Atheists are MORE caring about people because, when they perform a benevolent act, they are doing so because it's the right thing to do, not because they think it's a chance to win a heavenly lottery payoff.

Second, Evolution isn't about being caring or uncaring, but its ramifications (understanding how species develop) can give us copius information about how to prevent or cure disease (e.g., stem cell research, gene therapy, etc.).

And lastly, anyone who believes that abortions are the acts of the "uncaring" must be deluded into believing that a) "personhood" begins at conception, and b) that back-alley abortions are more humane and acceptable.

All in all, it would seem to me, given the information above, that the Theists have a very strange way of looking at the world.

shannon said...

Sheldon, you're not getting my drift. The key word is "want". That's why I put it in astericks.

I was just pointing out that evolution, atheism and abortion are not necessarily pleasant realities. So, in a way I'm simply saying that the truth hurts and it's insincere to pretend otherwise.

I never said or implied in any way that those who accept such ideas or practices are "uncaring" - but maybe a little too positive.

Just Some Guy said...

Sheldon: just as there've been evil theists and great atheists, there've been plenty of evil atheists (Mao, Stalin) and great theists (Gandhi, Schwietzer). Our morality as actually lived often bears little relation to our professed moral beliefs. Hypocrisy slices through races, cultures, and yes, theists and even atheists, alike.

I write this because your contempt for theism oozes from your every post, and it's as disturbing as the contempt that some theists have for atheists.

shannon said...

Yeah, "just some guy said", but simply perpetuating superstition is in itself somewhat immoral. Just being stupid and/or emotionally weak seems immoral to some degree even if you save the world.

Theists frustrate me because they kiss-up to a "higher power" that they themselves admit allows evil. That ain't moral.

Justin Kreutzmann said...

a great read (as always) your blog

Sheldon said...

I don't, and will never, apologize for my contemt for Theism. It's ridiculous, illogical, and a danger to all life on the planet. Every war is a religious war (details upon request), and the lack of critical thinking that is required to believe in a god or other mystical force ("some things are just beyond explanation," or "the Lord works in mysterious ways," or "Let go, and let God") have ripple effects that cause people to question stem cell research, vote for war mongers, refute evolutionary theory, and otherwise hold back humans from progressing. If it were up to the Theists, we'd all be praying over the injured, watching them die, rather then giving life-saving antibiotics and medical procedures. It was the non-Theists (atheists) who balked at convention, cut up cadavers, thought beyond their religious teachings, and informed us that germs exist, Earth revolves around the sun, and praying does NO GOOD AT ALL...and yes, we've studied it: http://tinyurl.com/gx22w

Just Some Guy said...

Sheldon,

Abu al-Qasim, the "father of surgery", was a believing Muslim. Louis Pasteur was a believing Christian. So was Isaac Newton. There are plenty of other examples. This isn't to say that most advances aren't made by atheists, but it's counter to the truth to exclude all theists from the pantheon of those who have advanced the human race.

You wrote that all wars are religious wars. This isn't an uncommon description of Maoism and the Khmer Rouge, for example - but only if religious is used as meaning an extreme form of secular dogmatism. In these two cases, and a few others, religious has nothing to do with theistic, and using religious in that context isn't playing fair.

I know plenty of atheists who voted for Bush and plenty of theists who voted against him and hate everything about this war he's taken us into. Even Christians. If you don't know anyone in these two categories, you're not looking very hard - these people are very easy to find.

The prayer study you point to, while interesting and well-researched, has absolutely no bearing on the discussion at hand, which is about whether or not theists and atheists are equally capable of good and evil.

Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of Theists to trash and plenty about Theism to be angry about. But after your last post, it seems like you truly believe that Theism is the root of all evil. Is this really the case?

kristy said...

You're taking a break? But..but...I just got here! Please come back...

Sheldon said...

NONSENSE and NON-CRITICAL THINKING are the root of all evil, and Theism fits into those categories.

With all due respect, your reasoning in this matter shows examples of each. Just because you can find Christians who didn't vote for Bush does nothing to negate the fact that his stronghold was the Religious Right, for instance. And the REASONS they gave were directly related to nonsense (e.g., God put him in office).

And just because you find Theists who do "good" in the world doesn't mean that THEISM does good in the world. In fact, it's the degree to which the Theists you cited had the ability to think OUTSIDE their religious teachings that gave them the ability to contribute their scientific findings. Many went to their graves making statements that went against ridiculous claims of Clerics, Popes, etc.

It's ironic that you'd mention Sir Isaac Newton, a man who flew in the face of "The Church" on many occasions. For instance, the unifying and deterministic power of his laws was integral to the scientific revolution and the advancement of heliocentrism. Consider how many lives were lost in THAT struggle, and then try and argue that Theists are not dangerous to Science.

Even today, we're dealing with Evangelicals who are teaching against Evolution, stem cell research, and the like...and it's the same illogic that Newton had to deal with that fuels these arguments.

Victor said...

Just wanted to comment and say I really enjoyed listening to "God said 'Ha!'"

I felt like the way you incorporated your humor into this emotional story was really refreshing, and I went searching tonight for quotes, or even a transcript of the original, but I found this instead! :-)

Anyway, I hope you continue your blog soon, as I will be back to read more.
Thank you for sharing your story!

Victor

Just Some Guy said...

Hey, Sheldon. I agree with most of what you wrote in your latest post. But with all due respect to you, you're misinterpreting my previous post. I wasn't saying that Theism does good in the world; I was responding to your seemingly absolutist statements about what Theists are or aren't capable of. You had written it was the non-Theists (atheists) who balked at convention, cut up cadavers, thought beyond their religious teachings, and informed us that germs exist. So my references to Newton et al were meant to demonstrate that Theists can do science, a fact you seemed to be denying. It's true that your latest post is about Theism, but the second half of your previous post was all about Theists.

My beef isn't with either theism or atheism - what riles me up is when people define evil by associating it solely with groups that they're not members of, and define good by associating it solely with their own group or belief system. Falwell and Bush and their ilk do that by associating evil with non-christians only, and by associating good only with Christians. And in some of your recent posts here, it's almost seemed like you're taking the exact same position for the Atheist side by associating evil entirely with Theists and good only with Atheists. If that's not what you believe, then I have no beef with you.

shannon said...

Obviously, plenty of evil can be thrown around with some very sensible and logical thinking.

geoffrobinson said...

People who point to the superiority of atheism by pointing out wonderful things that irreligious people have done or advance they helped bring to society...

They are assuming conceptions of what is good and bad. And that cannot have any ultimate meaning in an atheistic system.

In other words, the point can only have any meaning unless I assume theism.

Sheldon said...

Uh....what?

Erin, Denver CO said...

I emailed you months ago, relating to you my loss of faith. I was wrong. I have my faith again.
Best wishes to you.

geoffrobinson said...

To clarify: atheists have theistic presuppositions. They believe in immaterial things like greenness, the laws of logic, math. Atheists believe in right and wrong. When they critique the existence of God, they, like everyone else, will utilize theistic beliefs.

So "so and so got cancer and that's bad, so a good God can't exist" is a critque that only makes sense if God exists.

Sheldon said...

Dear Erin in Denver:

Congratulations!

That happens to me with socks all the time. Just when you think you've lost it, you find it between the washer and dryer, or wrapped in a sheet or something.

Best wishes,

-- Sheldon

Just Some Guy said...

Sheldon, you are a bully.

Sheldon said...

Or am I a guy with an evolved sense of humor? Hmmmm...

Anonymous said...

Just some guy said:

"what riles me up is when people define evil by associating it solely with groups that they're not members of, and define good by associating it solely with their own group or belief system."

How else have humans defined good and evil throughout history. Is there another definition?!?

This has been a great discussion to read. Thanks, Julia for inspiring it. Still looking forward to the LGoG CD!

shannon said...

Yeah, it's weird that "good and evil" are simply what people determine out their own brains. Nothing more or less.

We all know that - don't we?

Just Some Guy said...

Anonymous: you wrote How else have humans defined good and evil throughout history. Is there another definition?!? Sure! Lots of people define evil in such a way that it includes their own capacity for evil. Some sects of Buddhism do; Naikan practitioners do; some atheists do; even some practitioners of Christianity do (those who understand the reality that just because they're Christians doesn't mean that everything they do is automatically good!).

Shannon: if people define good and evil (quote) only by what they determine out of their own brains, then wouldn't it be totally meaningless to have any discussion about good and evil? Don't we have to agree on a definition of good and evil first? Can we agree that good is what makes the situation better, and admit that what everyone disagrees on is a) what it takes to make the situation better, and b) what exactly the situation even is?!?

(I'm thinking out loud here a bit. Sorry. I keep meaning to read Shermer's Science of Good and Evil - maybe it's time!)

Sheldon: well, you definitely have a great sense of humor! Evolved or bullying? I don't know... but maybe I'm just not evolved enough to see how evolved your humor is yet. ;)

Just Some Guy said...

Julia, I just realized that we're not talking about your blog anymore, which doesn't seem fair because, well, that's where we are! So:

You said you don't know jokes. Here's one you can share even with Mulan.

Q: What did the fish say when he swam into the wall?
A: Dam!

Sheldon said...

True to form, the Catholics have laid an Easter "egg" for us:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060416/ap_en_mo/da_vinci_code

It seems that cult-spokesperson, Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, is up in arms over his organization (Opus Dei) being portrayed as evil in Dan Brown's new film adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code."

The best, and most ironic, part is that Cantalamessa made the following statement in St. Peter's Basilica, "Christ is still sold, but not any more for 30 coins, but to publishers and booksellers for billions of coins."

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't St. Peter's built in exactly the same way? "Indulgences" were paid to the Church which allowed people to literally PAY FOR THEIR SINS, and this money was used, among other things, to build St. Peters.

And, isn't the Vatian still making shit loads of money from their followers? So, who is "selling Jesus"?

shannon said...

My sins don't go cheap at all.

Brian C said...

Sorry to interrupt, but if anyone is interested, Julia is performing with Jill Sobule again at Largo this Tuesday, April 25th.

Just Some Guy said...

Brian C, we're probably all interested, but few of us live near there. ;)

Have fun, Julia.

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dejan said...

Hey, Julia! Your last blog was posted well over a month ago...I mean, come on...pretty please?

Simon said...

Hope to catch the show sometime.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Julia -- off subject but fyi, I just blogged about last month's article about you in the L.A. times. Keep up the great work!

mudkitty said...

Is this the most recent post?

April said...

I like your honesty in saying that you never intended to become a spokesperson for athiesm, you just wanted to be a spokesperson for yourself and to tell a story that is important to you.

When I heard the NPR broadcast that you did on "This I Believe" I stopped everything that I was doing and just sat down to listen. I felt like I had told you my story and that you were telling me your story in return. It didn't feel like proselytizing, it felt like sharing.

Rhoda said...

I'm here reading your blog after Googling you after reading an article about your latest show (excerpts of which you are performing tomorrow night, just up the road, in Seattle) after having heard your ad spots on Air America Radio about FFRF.org, which I just went to this morning. I am very grateful for your willingness to go public with your views and experiences. I have my own story, of course, that brought me to this atheistic place of IPU and FSM, but I can relate to parts of your experience as you share it and know that there have to be so many more who believe in logic, science, and the responsibility of humans to treat each other and this planet the best that we know how without a (holy) smokescreen of blind faith and an end of the world to hide within.

I do have one book recommendation that is great for meditation--it was part of my reading for a Zen & Taoism course over winter quarter. It is called Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and it's Big Mind (and I am pretty damn tired of the small mind fad).

Shawn said...

Just saw the show in Seattle w/ Ira Glass. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Mary said...

Dear Julia,
while reading 'The Seattle Times' last Friday morning I came across the article about your play "Letting Go of God", which immediately caught my attention. You see, I have been going through the same thing these past few months, having come to the realization that the teachings I'd
cont'd...

Mary said...

...been brought up to believe, that is, the traditional Christian doctrine, is really just one of many such mythological tales. Like everyone I too asked the questions "Why does God allow such suffering?" "Why are we here?" "Where the heck did Cain's wife come from?" etc. but always seeking the answers from the same source which never truly cont'd...

mary said...

satisfied my queries. It wasn't until 3 years ago when I read 'The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read' by Tim C. Leedom that I realized another point of view was possible, and probable. I recently read 'Bertrand Russell on God & Religion' and am now eager to read his work 'What I Have Lived For' as discussed in your blog as well as 'Deconstructing Jesus' by Robert Price.
Julia, I know this entry is long and I apologize; it's just that I was(am) so excited to read about your experience because it is just what I've been going through and I don't have anyone really, with whom I can discuss it. I wanted so badly to see you perform in Seattle on Saturday, May 6th but I had just learned the day before about it and could not get tickets. Please come back to Seattle soon! Thanks for the laughs and everything else.

grayforester said...

mudkitty said...

Is this the most recent post?

7:58 AM

- - - - - - - - - - -

People, she's got a book deadline. Amazon's taking pre-orders and it's due in Spring of '07. Maybe it's up to us to dialogue here until she's free to join us.

:^)

DTfromNYC said...

Julia, when's your birthday? I'd like to buy you a large, framed calendar...
It's been two months since your last blog!
We MISS YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, anyone hear Julia on This American Life a couple of weeks ago. I must admit the topic and the story left me shaking my head. She spoke about stealing from her employer earlier in her adult life.

Very odd. I'm a big fan but I thought this rather odd.

Abracadab said...

Anony, that Julia Sweeney stealing segment was a rebroadcast of a show they originally did back in 1999. Sometime before she lost God... ;)

Interestingly, the TAL website lists the upcoming June 9 show as being called just Julia Sweeney. First time I think they've had a show named for a single person. Or maybe the second...

Anyway, Julia - what's up with that? You going to tell us (probably not), or let us be surprised?

TJ said...

Julia,

I'm so excited to read this, I'm going to see Jill Sobule here in Denver in just 2 weeks!

Also, I enjoyed seeing you at TAM4, even though we didn't talk. My wife and I were in front at the Jamy Ian Swiss show with you; he did the final card-on-the-ceiling trick with her. Hearing you giggling with glee behind us every time he did one of those really cool tricks added a whole new level of enjoyment for me.

I'll introduce myself at TAM5.

shannon said...

Here's one of my new "poem"s:

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the spirit of existentialism

grapes of wrath

sick dog

1966
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Pretty cool, huh?

Anonymous said...

Julia,

Please come perform in Spokane soon! I just can't quite make it to Reykjavik this year...or even next year...and probably even the year after that. (I'm from a small town about 70 miles south of Spokavegas--go Cougs!)

In any case I'm websurfing today and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your book "God Said Ha!". I have laughed and cried myself through it a couple of times.

take care!
m.

The Sophist said...

The Christian: Julia Sweeney used to be here, and there will be a second coming.

The Jew: Julia Sweeney used to be here, and has left us her writings. They are all we have and will ever have of her.

The Atheist: Julia Sweeney does not exist.

Just Some Guy said...

Hey, sophist. Nice sophistry!

Stumbled across this recently and thought of Julia's weblog, of course: Atheists For Jesus at http://www.atheists-for-jesus.com/ .

Anonymous said...

Julia,

How about a quarterly report before the 17th of June? A lot of us would like to know about the CD version of LGOG. Is it going to be released soon? It seemed so close in February.

I hope you're getting a lot done on the book, and I'm still hopeful for a LGOG DVD someday.

Best of luck with everything.

bookboy said...

What day are we on. I've got June 1st 2006. I'm going to work so I'll check on Julia's book LGOG, see if there is a new release date. Mean while I've been working on a new book it goes something like this "Letting go of Julia" has ring to it.

mnuez said...

Hey Jules, the cliped coice guy in chicagel really likes you. Gave you his whole show! Not to mention all that god stuff way back when. Which - by the way is when I first heard of you and looked up your site (the old one) and wrote you a long and brilliantly worded letter AND YOU NEVER WROTE BACK! You broke my heart Jules, just broke it to pieces.

Anyway, I'm really a fan, that god thing was great and the cancer thing was amazing. minues the cancer i suppose.

anyway Jules, maybe some day under my license name we'll get in touch, ey?

love ya,

nueez

*some details may have been changed to protect my identity, your identity or the identity of that freaky guy who keeps "bumping" into me lately. What the fuck, btw? never seen shaved legs before? fuck that...

Anne said...

June 14th, 2006
I wish I could help. "Julia", I want to whisper, hold your face in my hands...."It's all OK, and good enough"
Thanks, Julia, for crossing my path...I am better for it. Anything I can do to help just let me know. I'll bet there are many others out there who would be honored to do anything for you, and it's only honest payback.

Anonymous said...

Who would Jesus bomb?

Jab @ BZT said...

This American Life ran some older monologues that Julia did in the mid 90's a couple weeks ago. Setting aside the less than ideal audio quality, I really dug that. I think the performances were at the Un-Cabaret? That sound right?

It's always good to hear her on T.A.L. How anyone can laugh so much while telling such a saddening story as Julia did is beyond me.

You're missed here.

shannon said...

It's got to be good therapy to get on stage and laugh like hell at your own jokes.

Lindsey said...

Julia--

I just love reading this blog so much. I found it recently, I finally caught up to your latest post. I'm so sad now that there is nothing left to read. I know you're super busy; can't wait to hear from you when you have time again! Thank you for sharing with us. You are wonderful and inspiring.

anne said...

June 22,2006
The tomatoes are setting on the vine, and I am setting on my bottom avoiding cutting the grass, hoping that my diversion at the computer would bring news of you.
Aaa, the tomatoes are still green, I have time...
Thinking of you and hope all is well...enough.

Donita said...

Hi, Julia. I'm the woman in black who shook your hand as you were leaving the Largo last night. What a fabulous, fun show that was! You and Jill complement each other so well. I'm looking forward to your next Largo show.

I looooved the SNL stories. And your story about your daughter brought a tear to my eye (more than a tear, actually. I was sitting there getting a bit sloppy and I was glad it was dark and I still had my dinner napkin).

We left right after you did. I saw you walking down the street by yourself and thought, whoa, that's not right. Where's her entourage? I thought maybe we should walk you to your car but by then you were a block away and I didn't think it would be right to chase you down and scare the crap out of you. I thought about the forty foot Adam Sandler and you just know he'd have a whole posse walking with him to his car.

Anyway, next time you'll have an escort if you want one.

Anne said...

July 15, 2006
Donita,
Thanks for the note. I sure would have liked to have been there. Good for you!
And Julia, if you're still checking in- "Hey!"

Forrest said...

Well, last night I had one of my favorite performing experiences ever. Really. Like it’s got to be in the... Damn! That was weird. I've read that first paragraph so many times its stuck in my brain.

So, letting go of blogging?

Just rambing here... hurry back.

Forrest

Brassmask said...

Yes, Julia, please post again. I just found your blog and I'm been hypmotized by it!

What a wonderful human being you are.

Radish King said...

Spokane? Really?
Jeeze.
Rebecca Loudon

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