Friday, January 26, 2007

I am filming my show on May 5, 2007!

Finally I have things to announce. I haven't written because my entire Spring is up in the air and I wanted to wait until I had some concrete information, and now I have it! So, I will be shooting Letting Go of God, before a live audience on May 5th, here in Los Angeles at the Gay and Lesbian Center's Renberg Theater. I am shooting two shows that day, one at noon and the other at six p.m. I will have information later about how to get tickets if you want to be part of those audiences. (There will be a nominal fee, all the proceeds for those two shows will go to The Gay & Lesbian Center, Los Angeles for their programs and community outreach.) Before that, I will do seven shows at the Center's Renberg Theater, starting on April 20th. Those will be regular stage productions. Tickets will be able to be purchased for those seven shows in a couple of weeks. I will let you know when you can get tickets for that. When I shot God Said Ha! I had a live audience as well and it took about four hours to shoot the show. But the people had fun! Anyway, all this got worked out yesterday and I am thrilled. I am really excited to do the show again on a full set. When I performed Letting Go at the Hudson theater, I basically moved much of my living room furniture onto the set. And this time I will do that again, but it's going to be more elaborate. I have all kinds of ideas. Now I can really get started thinking about the look of the show in detail.

Last night I went downtown and listened to a debate, or maybe it was just a spirited discussion between Sam Harris and Reza Aslan, He wrote "No god but God, The Origins, Evolution & Future of Islam." The discussion was moderated by Jonathan Kirsch, who has written many books - his most recent is "A History of the End of the World" about the book of Revelation, and my most favorite of his books is, "God Against the Gods" which is a history of polytheism and monotheism in Western History.

The talk was very, very interesting. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Reza was saying. His argument was that Sam was taking the most ridiculous and dated passages from the religious texts too literally and not understanding how religion is really understood by modern people and that he
(Sam) was blaming religion for things that would exist independently. For example, Reza argued that 9/11 was an inherently political attack, not so much a religious one. Sam agreed that there were political elements to that event, but that religion is the gasoline that fuels the fire and takes it over into more deeply divided territory where people are willing to die to kill the innocent. Reza says that history shows us that nationalism also makes people willing to kill the innocent. I guess I agreed with both of them -- I think religion is a terrible added fuel to inevitable tribal and cultural squabbles and wars that will arise around the world. I sat with my friend Catherine Ingram during the debate (she is a wonderful person and author and leader of popular retreats, one of her books is, "Passionate Presence" which I recommend heartily -- there are so few people out there willing to talk about profound -- or, for lack of another word, "spiritual" -- but I hate that word now, too -- life experiences and who understand science as well as she does) and she said that she thinks Sam shouldn't use the 9/11 attack as an example of heinous religious action -- she thinks things like female circumcision or women being stoned to death for having been raped are better examples.

I was actually really intrigued supportive of almost everything Reza was saying until the end of the discussion when he started talking about numinous experiences and how there are many paths to "truth" and science is only one of them. I actually don't necessarily disagree with this, but I never really know what people mean by "truth" when they invoke that word and I suspect they don't know either. That's when words like transcendence and phrases like "relationship with the ultimate" are thrown around too easily for my taste.

In any case, I plan to be a better participant in my forum from now on. Because I like the look and feel of the blog, I'm going to post my comments on blogger as well as on the forum. This may make it confusing in terms of comments. I don't know what to do about that yet. But, for now, that's what I'm going to do.


ShellyD said...

That's great news! I'm so happy you're back.

John said...

Please comment on your view of the catholic mystics such as Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Merton, and William James, though he wasn't catholic.

That is, how to do they and their teachings, ideas and writings fit into your thinking and feelings about "Letting Go."

bookboy said...

Oh my God! Your back. Thank you Julia. I’m sorry that forum thing just isn’t my bag. Your blog is more like opening your back door and talking over the fence, and you know all the neighbors are listening even if they don’t put their two cents in. But the forum seems like instead of yelling out the back door they flip open their cell phones, sure you could listen in (i.e. Bush) but it seemed more private. Happy for your good news, sorry that I was not able to get your CD into the bookstore. Not carried in any warehouse. But you could order it online, is how I recommend it. Talk about a “silent majority”, it amazes me how much interest there is in books like Dawkins, Dennett and Harris’s. Like people have been given permission to talk and ask questions. Thanks again

Undecided said...

That's great news. I'm soooo looking forward to seeing the movie.

I vote for your continued blogging. For one thing, there's just too much noise in the forum. There's good stuff but some of it gets repetitive after a while. For another thing, if there's a way to rss feed your entries from the forum to my home page, I haven't figured out how. Seeing when I first open my browser that you've submitted another blog entry just makes my day. No pressure ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's great to see you posting again, Julia! And I understand the appeal of this site's simpler format , but the Message Board has its plusses too. There are some pretty interesting discussions going on over there -- and while the "noise" did get a bit loud for a while, the recent disappearance of one quick-to-attack-everyone-for-everything member has already resulted in a more coherent discourse throughout the forum.

So it would be great to see you (and your other blog fans) over there, too, whenever you have time to pop in. :-D

Thranil said...

Welcome back! I'm with bookboy in regard to the forum, so I am excited that you will be posting here.

Wendy Dorrel said...

Hello!!You must be so excited to film and to perform on that full set. :) I'll definitely going to check out Passionate Presence, thanks for recommending it!


Laurence Boyce said...

"She said that she thinks Sam shouldn't use the 9/11 attack as an example of heinous religious action -- she thinks things like female circumcision or women being stoned to death for having been raped are better examples."

Well Sam has written about those things too. But 9/11 was an obvious defining moment, prompting Richard Dawkins to write his Time to Stand Up essay.

Saying we shouldn't mention 9/11 is a bit like saying we shouldn't mention Jesus in the context of Christianity.

Maria Alexander said...

Wooo! All great news! :D Well, except the part where you'll be doing that performance in May, and we won't be back in Los Angeles until June. (Waaaah!) Oh, well. Another time!

And just so you know, you can turn off comments on your blog posts so that people can't leave them. Instead, you could maybe add a "What do YOU think?" link to the forum at the end of each post as you see fit. I know that sounds like a pain, but that would carry people forward into the forum directly and you wouldn't have to duplicate your info AND keep track of everything going on in two places.

Anyway, so glad to hear so many wonderful things are happening! :D

Matt said...

Happy New Year Julia! Congratulations on your show. I will definitely be there. Can't wait. Your blog continues to be an ispiration for me. Wishing you and your family all the best! XO, Matt

lynn's daughter said...

I just finished listening to your audiobook, "Letting go of God". It was amazingly comforting. I was just in the midst of the post-revelation depression of finally admitting there is no god, and to know that someone else had the same types of thoughts was very comforting. Thank you for being public about this journey. It means a lot to me.

John said...

Sam Harris/Reza Aslan Debate on CPAN next week:

Anonymous said...

thanks julia. really enjoy your blog.
the forum just seems to invite meaningless rambling. It is a problem with the internet. There is no editing and a magnet for people looking for a place to vent whether it is relevant or not.
enjoy your thoughts. they are intelligent and thought- provoking. look forward to more.

Jarrid said...

I am so glad you're back! Very excited to see the upcoming production! Any thoughts on all this Impeachment stuff?? I also wanted to share that I will be joining the FFRF! I love it! Glad to know you're apart of it! Keep it real!

Christy said...

Thank you Julia. Sometimes when I watch TV I wonder if there are any real people out there. Am I living on the moon? Anyway, I appreciate the candid reality you are not afraid to reveal.

atheist said...

I'm a subscriber to Sam Harris's website and I've often wondered why he even bothers to debate the religion issue.
I used to be religious, only because I never questioned religion when I'd go to church with my mother as a teenager. After she died, I stopped believing altogether and began questioning religion.
You've referred to religion as: "the opium of the masses". I agree with you on this.
I suppose you could say that in my own way, I too, let go of god.
Thanks for having this website. You're someone else I can talk to besides the Humanist site I'm also subscribed to.

Daniel Stoker said...

Hi Julia,

I just wanted to post a comment about how much I enjoy your monologue 'Letting Go of God'. I first heard about you from Richard Dawkins book 'The God Delusion' which lead me to your website and the snippets from the shows posted on there. I thought they were so funny that I bought the cd there and then.

The show is extremely funny and I quote from it all the time but I was also profoundly moved by the way you think about life now that you don't believe in God. Your words have inspired in me the same sense of awe and wonder at simply being alive in such a wondrous universe. You've inspired me to read more science so that I can better understand it.

Sonresa said...

Julia, a suggestion to avoid confusion regarding comments on the blog and the forum: consider turning off the comments on the blog and when someone wants to comment on a post you made, they can do so on the forum. This way all the comments are in one place. Just a thought. Be well.

Libbie said...

Hey Julia,

I just finished listening to Letting Go of God. Thank you for creating such a wonderful really meant a lot to me to listen to somebody else's "conversion" and to see how similar it was to my own. Really a moving experience. I'll be sharing this with my friends and family who can't quite "get" why I'm an atheist. I think it explains things so perfectly.

Thank you again

mistrettaphoto at

Margaret said...

To see more events like the one Julia attended please check out our website
Free, public events at the Los Angeles Central Library!

Donna said...

"I'm a subscriber to Sam Harris's website and I've often wondered why he even bothers to debate the religion issue."

Because the religous idiots have the weapons and technology to blow up our planet.

Brian said...

Blogs and message boards are very different creatures. I would give folks a choice that they can comment on either.

margemary said...

I am so glad that you are back here, Julia. I like this space and the people who write here. It feels like a comfy old shoe. I feel like I am actually learning things here. Thank you very much.

donn said...

I am SO HAPPY that you are filming "Letting Go..." - I saw it twice when you were performing it in LA and I absolutely loved every second of it. I will watch out for your performance at the Center and will try to attend.

Alan Shepard said...

Julia, Great news, and congrats. If, on that day, you are feeling slightly more agnostic than athiest, perhaps you'll feel comfortable uttering the prayer I made famous exactly 46 years earlier, when on May 5, 1961, I became the first American Astronaut to go into space.
"Dear Lord, Please don't let me fuck up."

Best wishes

Jeremy said...

I will try my darndest to make it to the May 5th filming. It is afterall just a short hour and a half away and TOTALLY worth it :)

Anonymous said...

I thought Aslan's 'infinitely elastic' version of Islam didn't jibe so well with reality. Sam even cited polls conducted in Turkey by PEW about the majority of Muslims would stone people for apostasy. Turkey! The most progressive Islamic country that there is.

Don't get hung up on Sam's use of 9/11 to justify cutting off dogmatism (particularly religious dogmatism) at the knees. Like you, he takes on plenty of examples:

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