Sunday, April 06, 2008

This has been a very busy week. Although I normally am trying not to turn my blog into a diary, this week I have no over-arching things to get off my chest. So I guess I’ll just post a quick rundown of my week and maybe something interesting will appear.

On Monday I went to USC and participated in a panel discussion about religion. The panelists included Jack Miles who wrote “God, A Biography” which won him a Pulitzer. I've read that book and I really liked it quite a bit. I haven't read his more recent book: “Christ, A Crisis in the Life of God.” But now I really want to. He was quite astonishing at our panel discussion at USC. He arrived on campus straight from the dentist's office, where he had an emergency appointment for a horrible tooth abscess. He was on pain medication for it. He gave an interesting talk on the panel-- about religion as art that inspires; and how precarious our situation is ecologically and that perhaps our only hope is a new kind of religion that makes the Earth’s environment (as habitable for us) the first priority.

Jack does not claim to be an atheist, but I felt from his talk that he sees religion as a human artistic expression and not supernaturally inspired. I was riveted by his comments.

The moderator of the panel was Dr. Kevin Starr, and he is the California State Librarian as well as a professor at USC. He was very sweet but it bothered me that he described my religious views as a “conversion to atheism” twice! That really bugged me but I didn’t get a chance to make a comment about it. "Conversion to atheism" – that’s a good one. That phrase manages to accuse me of being smitten with a crazy idea at the same time it denigrates the religious experience of conversion itself. Amazing.

Oh jeez. I wrote the above a few days ago. Now I’m in my kitchen, home from the Jill and Julia show at the Renberg Theater and wired. We had such a fun time doing the show tonight. I cannot wait for a real run of this show. I love Jill Sobule. What an honor to be on stage with her. And Dave – our bass player, he is great too. He adds just the right third-piece-of-energy to the show. I think we will open a show in late August or September. I am really really happy to be doing this show, it's just a joy to be onstage with Jill.

Oh - I can’t see straight – jeez. More to come.


librabrunnetevegetarian said...

I do not see anything wrong with using a blog as a diary. It is a cool idea.
I loove your ideas. I go to a catholic church every saturday with my mum and sometimes my niece.
I respect atheists even though I believe in god myself.
You are cool Julia

Cameron said...

Please read up a little on Zimbabwe and maybe post your views? Every little bit helps.

Amy said...


I just saw you on the list of speakers for the World Science Festival in NYC at the end of May. I am looking forward to hearing you speak. Do you know what day you will be there?

NaNcY said...

i have resisted labels. lately though, i have been thinking that all of my names are what other people have called me. and so i am beginning to see it that way. all other people have their view of me and each has at least one word for describing me and the way i am or the in what i believe in. i might not agree with them, but, that is what they think at that time. and only if they get to know me better, can they have any chance of having more than one or any different names for me. so now i am getting a little more accepting of labels or names that people have for me.

seashantyme said...

hi Julia. You have a beautiful blog, thank you :)
I have favour to ask, i'm new to blogging, and i've decided that i want a readership. will you check mine out

tips on gaining readers?

Rosie said...

Its that conversion word that is annoying. It makes you sound like a kitchen that has had new units fitted, essentially a passive experience. I prefer to think of myself as someone whose views are amenable to reason and so subject to change depending on my own active research.

Froggymama said...

I saw 'Jill and Julia' last night! It was wonderful. I've been a fan since "God said 'Ha'" and "Letting Go of God" -- when you performed at the theatre on Melrose.

Your honest and wry humor inspires me as a writer. And I just wanted to say "thanks!"

And btw, I don't know if you could feel the energy from the audience last night, but they were loving it. Cheers to a 'real run' of the show.

The Lone Wolf said...

hi julia...
first of all,let me commend you for having an amazing blog!it totally rocks!!i happen to be an atheist myself...and yeah,i'd love some tips on getting more readers...


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Michael said...

So what type of baptism follows a conversion to atheism? Do you sprinkle yourself with salt?

Alp said...

great to see you are part of the blogging community. I've just fallen across your blog. I'll subscribe immediately.

I see I have a bit of reading ahead.

Keep up the great work.

PS. I remember seeing "God Said, 'Ha!" a while ago and thought it was incredible; personal, bittersweet and wonderful.


a fellow writer

Amy Cates said...

Diary? A bad thing? Heck, no! Not if it's coming from the right keyboard. I get SO TIRED of reading diaries about laundry and school projects on other blogs. Blcchhh. It's good to see what the funny Julia Sweeney is up to.


TimmyB said...

Can't wait to see the J&J show. Several of my co-workers and I are planning a night out to see it next time you're on.

I really enjoy the diary aspect of this blog, Julia. You don't know what a kick I got reading about your rainy-day education of Mulan in the art of compassion a couple of years ago. And your experience on the cruise line. More, more.

Bear hugs


js said...

"Conversion to atheism"? Yeah, that is kind of odd. It makes atheism sound like some kind of organized institution and orthodoxy to which people can devote themselves, instead of an umbrella term meant to describe a bunch of people only slightly connected to each other, who, independently and for reasons of their own, let go of God. While it's true that many of us became atheists because of a book we read or someone we knew who made sense to us, it's not as if our names appear on a roster somewhere or we're given a secret initiation ritual. No one asks us for money, and we don't have to memorize a set of official songs or statements. I've always found that to be one of the charms of not believing in God.

I guess the charitable response would be to assume that Dr. Starr intended a kind of irony in the phrase.

Ellen and Kevin Fay said...

A very non-Hollywood type, just curious about your blog since I saw it advertised. After reading only a few segments, a portion of what you said actually woke me up in the middle of the night: "Thank God I'm not Catholic anymore." My first impulse was "she would never listen to a word I said -- it's a chick from Hollywood" but the fact that it woke me up prompted me to write and let you know how sad and how HOLLYWOOD of you to say it -- I truly wish you knew the gift of what you've thrown away. If you tossed out a million dollars, people would care, but the fact that it's merely the body of Christ, it becomes an act in your show? I pray you start to pay attention to Him knocking.

xpicassox said...

Hey Julia, Just wanted to say, like millions of others, Love your Work on SNL, "Especially PAT" of course. Your small part in Pulp Fiction alonside Harvey Keitel was COOL. Loved when "The Wolf" said, "Some day this will all be hers," referring you be the HEIRESS of a Junkyard.
Keep up the Great Work,

sjames_1958 said...

I used to call myself strictly an atheist, then a secularist, now I have settled (this week) on agnostic-atheist. Meaning I do not consider it possible to know about god(s) therefore I choose to act as if they/he/she/it do not exist.

Keith French said...

Love your blog.

Conversion to Atheism? Conversion to reality, I say.

Today I was taken by you comments about Jack and how you feel that he sees religion as a human artistic expression and not supernaturally inspired.

The Church of Religious Science, of which I am a member, sees our life as a human endeavor without a future heaven or hell. But rather we live in our own hell or heaven each day depending on our attitude. God is everywhere, in everything and we are one with god. I also believe that death is the end of life but not of the soul.

Check out the links on my blog for a better understanding of what we are about.

Dr. Kevin Starr, sounds like most religious experts and their comments about people who don't believe the way they do. Humans are full of judgements, just like me.

I agree with you; Dr Starr manages to accuse you of being crazy while an denigrating the religious experience of conversion.

Oprah, was met with a lot of critism on her program when a woman accused her being against Jesus, becasue she said: What about a person in the Himalayas who has never heard of Jesus, yet practices love, compassion and forgivenes in his life that he taught, Does that make him any better or worse than the "Christians" in the world?

If you are well read you will agree that Hindus, Buddahists, Muslims and Judiasts all belive that therr is one god. And that love, compassion, forgiveness are to be part of your everyday life.

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Thetruth365 said...

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Eric Nay said...

"Conversion to atheism" is absolutely correct. Those who have "let go of God" are just as eager to gain converts to their thinking as any fundamentalist Baptist or Hindu. Couching the argument as only rational factualism is just self delusional.

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