Friday, January 13, 2006

Truth and Memoir

Oh, I am so all over this James Frey story. I hate to gloat, but…

I guess I will. Okay, here’s my history with “A Million Little Pieces” and my recent history with Oprah and Dr. Phil and Dr. Phil’s Wife and My Mother.

Two and a half years ago – I think around that time – I was in Amagansett with a group of Sex & the City writers over Labor Day. We had been working in New York and we all went out of the city for the long weekend. While at a bookstore I saw that book, “Million Little Pieces” and I liked the cover and it looked interesting and I bought it. I also bought about five or six other books.

You see, I have a problem with books. And I’m not trying to brag that I’m such a big reader – although I do spend much of my free time reading. My problem is that when I’m in a bookstore I can’t control myself. I buy everything I’m remotely interested in. I was buying so many books on that my UPS driver actually called me on it one day. He said, “You can’t possibly read this many books.” And he was right. If I were suddenly stuck in my house for the rest of my life, I would probably not be able to read all the books that I currently have that I have not yet read. I’ve tried to do big reductions from time to time. Before Mulan arrived, I actually got rid of half of my books. I only kept what I hadn’t read and what I loved so much, I sincerely thought I might read again. But then I started to mourn the loss of the books I let go of. I wished I’d kept the Herman Hesse and the first copies I had of all the Jane Austen novels – all those books I read in high school and college. This sadness made me even more out-of-control in my buying of books. Like I was making up for what I lost.

I am telling you all this because I want to emphasize how many books I buy – many of which I don’t get the time to read – and how I don’t care so much about the money. It’s my addiction and as far as addictions go, I’m letting myself just have this one. I am also telling you this to make it clear that when I, the next day after purchasing “A Million Little Pieces” took it back for a refund – yes – I read ten pages and hated it so much and thought it was so full of shit that I couldn’t stand to own it and I didn’t want to own it and I wanted to make a point at the Amagansett book store about how much I hated it – what an anomaly that is. I can only remember returning two books in the last ten years. (The other was a Huston Smith book of essays that made me so depressed because although he knows so much about religion he knows nothing about what science is or how it works…) ANYWHO – I took “A Million Little Pieces” back. I TOOK IT BACK. And I remember that it was a hassle to go back there too, I think I made Cindy Chupak take me. Or maybe Amy -- anyway, you could say that book stuck out in my mind. I remember that weekend and returning that book.

Cut to: last Fall. My mother calls me. Oprah and Dr. Phil are her heroes. Every day she watches them and she LOVES them. When it is almost three o’clock in Spokane, wherever she is, she races her car home to watch her Dr. Phil and her Dr. Oprah. And so my mother tells me that there’s this fantastic new book that Oprah is endorsing and how she got it at CostCo very inexpensively and how she bought two copies. She planned to give one to my brother Bill who is a very troubled in many of the same ways that James Frey shows himself to be. (Not exactly in the lying part of it, but the alcoholic, drug, defiant, screwed up part of it) And she planned to read the other copy of the book. I told her my story and I actually said, “You know Mom, I guess I was wrong. I should have read that book further than only ten pages. I like Oprah and what she picks to read. It’s probably a great book.”

Then, almost every time my mother and I talked on the phone she mentioned the book and how Bill was reading it too and maybe it would help him and blah blah blah. Then, Mulan and I go home to Spokane for two whole weeks over Christmas. Many days we all race home and get ready to watch Dr. Phil and Oprah.

During one Dr. Phil show I said, “I hate to say this, Mom, but I just don’t trust Dr. Phil. And I don’t know anything about him. If I were watching his show with the sound on mute, I just would say I didn’t trust him. His facial expressions don’t seem sincere to me. I don’t like how he gets a light in his eye when he delivers a “zinger.” And when I do listen to what he says, he seems like he’s exaggerating everything. I hate how he tries to make complex problems simple, and how he emphasizes one small part of a problem, often inflating it over what it really is, and then acts like he’s solved it. And I feel uncomfortable with Dr. Phil’s wife watching him with such blank adoration. I don’t trust her either.”

Okay. I am embarrassed to have written that I said that. I am probably a difficult daughter to have for my mother. I probably shouldn’t have said that. Well, my mother -- it was as if I had said Jesus sodomized little boys the whole time he was preaching and I have proof – she said, “You. Don’t. Know. Anything. About. Dr. Phil!!!! His. Wife. Is. The, MOST. WONDERFUL. Woman. In. The. World.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And on and on.

So, I capitulated. I said, “Okay. I don’t know anything about him. I just…don’t like his way, his way of…being. His mannerisms. I just don’t like it. But you know, I don’t know him.”

Then we watched Oprah and my mother was delighted because James Frey was on. They were rerunning the show with him and his parents. And I said, “You know…I have to say, I don’t trust that James Frey either. I don’t like the way he’s even sitting there. I get a bad vibe from him.” Once again my mother said, “No! He’s wonderful! You have to read the book! He’s gone through so much!!!!!”

And as if on cue, Oprah said on the show, “As I was reading I just couldn’t believe that this guy was actually still alive! I kept flipping to the back cover of the book to look at his picture, he’s alive! He really lived through this whole thing!”

My mother glared at me. I sunk down in the chair and put my hands in my pockets. I said, “Wow. I really should have read that whole book. I made a mistake taking it back to the bookstore.” My mother eagerly told me she would send me her copy as soon as she’d finished it.

So, you can imagine my joy when my friend Jim Emerson e-mailed me the link to the Smoking Gun story. I had told him this whole story with my mother and we had laughed about Dr. Phil and my mother’s energetic defense. I read every single word of the smoking gun article. And now I am gleefully watching this whole thing explode.

Because it is important if what he wrote was true or not. It does make a difference. Oprah is just trying to protect her choice by saying that it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Because if it were a book labeled “fiction” she wouldn’t have bought it. And she herself said that what was so amazing to her was that this person who wrote this book was still alive. So it was important whether it was true.

So, I take away two things from this: One is that Mary Karr rocks. I love her so much. She wrote “The Liar’s Club” and “Cherry.” I LOVE both of those books. She is being very outspoken about this James Frey fabrication fiasco. She says it makes all memoirists look bad. That three months in jail is substantially different than a few hours in jail! This is not an exaggeration, this is a lie. I love that Mary Karr is saying this. I liked her before and now I like her even more.

The other thing I take away is – it’s important for me to be as truthful as I can in this memoir that I am writing at this very moment. And it’s very hard. For my show, “Letting Go Of God” I had to rearrange some details to make it more dramatic. Like, I adopt Mulan at a certain point in the show that is not exactly when I adopted her in real life – although adopting Mulan is really a very, very side note in my show and I spend very little time on that. And I debated for a long time whether I should have me explore Buddhism before I thought God was “nature” or after. Because the truth is not clear and linear in this case. But these are about ideas, not events. The other thing I do is make a composite character of Father Tom and I give him the comments that several priests made. But all in all, I feel good about my show and that it is true not just in spirit but in fact as well. Plus, I would have a disclaimer. So, I’m glad this happened to James Frey. It’s helpful for me to remember how important truth and honesty is.

I think he should say, “Yes. I fucked up. I made most of it up. And I hope that with my next work of clearly labeled fiction, I will prove to you that I am a good writer. I am embarrassed and humiliated. I may never live this down. I am so sorry.”

What about that?

Okay – on a completely different note – while on the general subject of Oprah and Dr. Phil and his wife – my mother said to me after I made those disparaging comments, “You don’t know how wonderful Dr. Phil really is. This is how he proposed to his wife: ‘I’ll make the living and you make my life worth living.’ Isn’t that the most romantic thing anyone could ever say?”

I’ll make the living and you make my life worth living.

I’ll make the living and you make my life worth living.

I can’t stop thinking about that. I just hate it so much. Or maybe I just wish someone had said that to me. But if they did, I think I would just have laughed at them. I mean, what does that mean???

“I am the focus and you are the support team and if you make things smooth for me, I will compensate you with my shared income.” Is that what that means? He said, straight out, that her part of the deal was to “make his life worth living.” That’s her job. That’s her side of the marriage, to make Dr. Phil’s life worth living.

I mean, I am all for a division of labor for efficiency. I would totally get it if someone said, “It’s more efficient for me to go have this big career and you to run support if we are going to have a family.” That – I totally get. But it’s the…make my life worth living. That part of it. Hmmm…

Also, I’ve been thinking that my bullshit reader/meter on James Frey seems to be pretty good! And I have no idea about Dr. Phil, I could be completely wrong on him. But then I was thinking how my bullshit meter is so wrong on people in real life. Not always, but often enough. And THEN I realized yesterday that when I am in a friendship with someone, or in some type of interaction where the person wants something from me – I can’t detect bullshit so much. I don’t get the distance and calm to do it, because I am all flummoxed and lit up over our interaction and what they want from me and what I want from them. It’s made me dead wrong on some people, and some boyfriends too. So, I guess I should see people on TV first and then try to be friends with them because the TV gives me the distance to judge them better. HAHAHAHA. Oh, this is going to make me laugh all day to myself.


Anonymous said...

Very funny. I congratulate you on detecting Frey's BS. I read the book a few years ago when I was reading several memoirs about people with addictions. I admit I liked the book, but I don't think I had a lot vested in it being truthful, which I should. I don't even remember him talking about jail time. I wonder if the dentist story was truthful, I should check out the Smoking Gun.

Now onto Oprah and Dr Phil. I've been having problems with oprah lately, she's becoming a velvet steamroller. Very nice as she imposes her her views on you. I remember her doing it with a guest who described herself as lucky. Oprah doesn't believe in luck. OK Oprah. And then there's the screaming, there have been a few shows I've had to watch with the mute button on because of the audience screaming. The adoration is getting out of hand. The Dr Phil/ Robin marriage isn't for me, but what marriage is? He also admits to telling her before they had kids that just because she became a mother she shouldn't forget that she was also his wife. Possibly good advice, but the tone was problematic to me.

I found Gary Zukav to be creepy, I stopped watching the shows he was on.

The Retropolitan said...

"I'll make the living, you make my life worth living."

If I said that -- or anything remotely like that -- to my girlfriend, I would have to wait two, three years after finding a different girlfriend to get married.

Julia Sweeney said...

Oh -- I love that Oprah doesn't believe in luck. But of course she doesn't -- because everything that happens was MEANT to be by fate or whatever. That makes me more convinced I want to write about Coincidence & Luck. And how differently people think about those two things and what it means about them. But I am really writing to thank Valerie for the Dr. Phil, don't-forget-you're-still-my-wife story. Yes, it's all so egocentric, isn't it? They have a frighteningly traditional marriage that is hard for me to relate to. But I guess lots of other people don't find it unsettling. Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,

I had previously read about Frey's book on Oprah's website -- she had a whole section of her website devoted to her overwhelmingly positive reaction to his book and the reactions of her friends and staff to the book, but she was intentionally vague about the subject matter, probably to get viewers to watch the show (this was before he was actually on). I really like Oprah and thought I would buy the book. I looked it up on Amazon and immediately changed my mind. I just wasn't that interested in his story, or for that matter, the story of anyone who so thoroughly screws up their life the way he did. Instead I'm really drawn to reading stories of survival, where the survivor didn't have any choice about his/her situation but overcame it. I'm thinking "Autobiography of a Face" by Lucy Grealy (although I was sad to read that she later committed suicide), "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls, "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson (although he did deliberately put his life in danger). But bottom line, I just don't see much value in spending my time reading about some guy who DELIBERATELY made choices that had negative consequences not only for himself, but other innocent people. I still like to watch Oprah, and never cared much for Dr. Phil in the first place.

Anonymous said...


Good on ya! I've been trying to articulate my feelings about Dr. P and Oprah for some time now.

Since I retired and moved to Spokane last July, I've been watching both off and on. No racing home! If they are on and I'm there I sometimes watch.

So, as to appears that she thinks she always knows best and is always right. I believe she must be the Second Coming - LOL. No one could be as right and as correct about the trials and tribulations of life as she - or so it appears to me.

One day I was watching and she said that her acting teacher years ago pointed out to her that she didn't want to be an actress, she wanted to be a star. I'm not able to forget this as I do truly believe that stardom is what she is about. Yes, she does some good things with her money, but to me it would be far more effective if it were done anonomously or as close to anonomously as she could get.

As to Dr. Phil, I'm convinced that he is all about the fame and fortune. He too is convinced that he is always right - pat phrase is "when we come back I'm going to give you some very specific steps to take." How wonderful to know exactly how someone else should run their lives.

Also, as Valerie says, the adoration is getting out of hand for both Oprah and Dr. Phil. His wife looks like a stepford wife to me. Sort of a Nancy Reagan look on he face when she sees him. He makes those beleagered husband/wife jokes that I cannot abide.

I feel as though there is something phony about all of this, but I have trouble putting my finger on exactly what I think is wrong with it. But when so many people are following the so called wisdom of someone else, it makes me think of sheep. Following the herd with no independent thinking going on.

Why do I watch them at all? Think I'll stop as of today.


Anonymous said...

As to the James Frey story, I read his book some time back and absolutely thought it was fiction until I got somewhere in the middle of the book and looked at the cover writings. My interest in the book was because I'm a recovered alcoholic, sober 29 years and I just read lots of things about addiction.

Anyone who has a problem being addicted to anything, be it alcohol, drugs, food or whatever has demons to conquer. No one person has hold over how bad the demons are. If they belong to you, they are very bad.

Whether his book will help anyone else is not for me to say, but it would not have helped me when I was drinking

I would have immediately thought that I didn't have a problem because my drinking wasn't as bad as his was and I wasn't doing drugs.

The one thing I remember reading that helped me the most was a very small quiz in a Reader's Digest in 1975 that talked about signs to watch for. Just that, nothing else. I was so afraid that my husband would read it and finally realize that I had a drinking problem (as if he didn't already know) that I hid the magazine from him.

Oprah may be impressed because she doesn't have this problem and doesn't really understand what it is like to have it. I saw that show and the questions she asked were very naive. For a woman as well read and as up on life as she professes to be, she asks some of the most ridiculously naive questions. Is this supposed to be because she knows her audience and knows that many of them are not as well read or up to date as she is?


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see your comments about Frey. After I read the Smoking Gun article yesterday afternoon, I just kept on thinking about it. How greed can make people do the strangest things. Such as writing about your life and beefing it all up in hopes to sell it as a fictional novel, but be told not to. I've written an autobiographical novel. There's nothing at all wrong with doing that. So long as you call it fiction. But to stand behind your lying guns when people blow your cover. That's simply wrong. You're right Julia, he should come out and say, Hey, I fucked up. Here's the truth. Fortunately for him, there's plenty of Oprah fans that will continue to believe him, so long as Oprah doesn't get bent and call him out.

I got a good laugh out of seeing what you wrote today. Thanks. Ya Rock!


Anonymous said...

"I'll make the living, you make my life worth living."

Is it a comment? Or is it some sort of a Donald Trump like prenuptual agreement.

Sorry honey, you're not living up to the bargain. You're simply not making my life worth living. You'll have to have to get a job and bring in some income.

Anonymous said...

Damn straight.

I read every bit of that Smoking Gun article to my boyfriend, aloud. I knew that guy was full crap after reading a bit of it at B&N.

This idea that Oprah is floating around that it does not matter if he was full of shit or not as long as the "inspiration"helps others is crap. It does matter. It matters even more when this book is held up as a tool for recovery, by her no less. She should be leading the charge against this putz instead of cowering. What an embarrassment.

I found your blog after hearing you on "This American Life." I thought, how wonderful this is that she's put out these feelings, very personal thoughts, out for the world. It's something to be respected. I think any writer who has poured their life and soul out for the world should be pissed off at this guy. What a crock. It devalues the genre as a whole. Hell, writing as a whole. Even fiction writers should be angry. This book, which I've gone back now and read even more of, is CRAP. The writing is unbearably bad and would have never been published if it was labeled fiction.


Baconeater said...

I don't trust or like anyone who reminds of TV psychics. Like Star Jones, for instance. But then again, I really don't like Star Jones on many levels. Her stance against Atheists for instance is reason for me to hate her. Oh yeah, you are talking about that Frey guy in this post. Sorry. But I want to add one more thing. I can't stand Star Jones.

Anonymous said...

I work at a bookstore you know the big one.It had picked Frey's book way back as a "Discover New Writer" book. I find it interesting the type of people that that come in wanting this book, "A Million Little Pieces", anywhere from Grandmas to teens. They come in with eyes wide "do you have that book". Sorry, but this has not hurt sales one bit, if anything they have gone up. Remember we live in a country where the Pres can look you in the eye and lie, and nothing comes of it. This book has a New Ageie feel to it. This is an interesting site wish I knew how to make it so you just had to click on it and would come up,maybe next time. Buy the way Oprah's next book pick is going to be "Night" by Eli Weisle. To be anno on the 17th. Keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

This is such a great conversation going on here! The day I lost all respect for Oprah was the day that this show aired on April 9, 1999:

(You'll have to copy & paste.)

Oprah's guest Melissa told the story of how when she was six years old her father shot her mother and then commited suicide. Melissa went on to reveal that her husband committed suicide as well. Oprah's response was, "It doesn't surprise me." Oprah went on to explain her spiritual philosophy of why this woman married a man who later committed suicide. It was just such a cold-hearted and unsympathetic response that used new age spiritual psychology to explain the tragedies of this woman's life.

I've included the web address of the show in case anyone would like to order the tape/transcript and see for themself.

Erik said...

Awesome blog. This whole Frey fiasco is outrageous, and I admire you for taking a look at your own work and wanting to keep yourself in check for honesty. I've recently started writing personal humorous essays and have struggled a few times with trying to remain honest and not embellish too much for the sake of a joke. But still, I suppose embellishing for the sake of humor isn't nearly the same thing as the kind of outright lies Frey claimed to be true. It should have been marketed as a piece of fiction inspired by real events--I wonder if it was Frey's idea or his publisher's idea to claim the book was a "memoir."

On a completely different note, while I was reading your description of your book buying habits, I sat here literally nodding my head with recognition! I am such a bookaholic. I cannot leave a bookstore without buying several books, and it's not like I can always afford to be buying so many books. But it's like this sickness--if I think I might want to read it one of these days, I have to have it. I've probably read 50% of my collection, and I am both shocked that were ever able to clean house like you did and let go of so many books and I am happy you have allowed yourself to reindulge. It really ain't that bad a sin, you know? Unless you made up this blog entry and it's not really true that you're a bookaholic--now THAT would be a sin of Frey proportions!

Baconeater said...

I saw the repeat of Frey on Larry King last night. He looked high. He looked like a pathetic liar. Even his body language suggests he is a fraud, and a really bad fraud.
He looks up to right with his eyeballs a lot. That is the biggest sign that someone is making stuff up.
It goes to show too that even in this day and age how someone can get a huge following by making stuff up. If it wasn't for Snopes, we wouldn't know the truth.
This Frey guy could have been Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. The only thing is, nobody wrote one word about Jesus, not one word, until at least 30 years after his "death." Makes me wonder if Jesus lived at all. Lots of evidence to the contrary.

Brian C said...

Hi Julia,

As a performance piece or monologue I don't think anyone would question the need to rearrange the time line and build composite characters. This is the necessity (and beauty) of the performance medium: you have to essentialize and focus on what is important in telling your story. It cannot be, and should not be, a mere recitation of the progression of facts from a particular period of your life. That would be boring and uninformative.

So what changes when you put the same story in writing? Perhaps the main thing is the easing of the time constraint. You can put a lot more information into writing than you can in a two-hour monologue. You still need to essentialize and focus on what is important, but there is no real need to rearrange the facts and build composite characters the way you would for a performance piece.

What makes your dilemma interesting and perhaps rare is that you are trying to go from a stage monologue to a memoir instead of the other way around. If Letting Go of God had started off as a written memoir it would be much different, and I don't think you would have felt the necessity to build a composite character like Father Tom until you were faced with the problem of adapting your memoir for the stage. But now that you have created him, you are faced with the choice of having to either "deconstruct" Father Tom and repopulate your memoir with his multiple personalities or keep him and disclose the fact that he is a composite character to your readers.

Now that you have created Father Tom, it must be difficult to contemplate killing him off for you memoir. Either way, I look forward to the result.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog en route to looking for something else (I can't even remember what). I had always admired the pieces you did on This American Life, and you had chosen to adopt your daughter at about the same time that I had embarked on my life as a (deliberately) single mom. So I was thrilled to find your blog!

And even more thrilled to find that you feel as I do that (1) Frey's book was terrible, undeserving of best-seller status and of Oprah's book club recommendation, and (2) that it MATTERS that it's not true. And it doesn't matter if it was his idea or Talese's idea that it be marketed as non-fiction; if he knew (and he had to have known) that it couldn't stand up as a work of non-fiction, he should not have gone along with the idea. It's called integrity, and obviously neither he nor Oprah (and I find this very disturbing, having previously been a fan, although like you I've been getting pretty disgusted with the Cult of Oprah) have enough.

I was sure -- I would have bet money -- that when Oprah learned of all of the deceptions, she'd apologize and/or denounce Frey.

Clearly, I was wrong about Oprah.

(An off-topic question for you: Is Mulan really your daughter's name, or are you trying to keep strangers from knowing her real name?)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your mind, Julia! Please continue to do what you do. Thank You!

Anonymous said...



It saddens me that because of the way you feel, or have lived, you blame it all on God. We all have ups and downs. God gets the lion's share for pain, hurt, sorrow, misfortunes, woe is me pity parties. God gives you the freedom to choose. He does not force Himself on anyone. He would that all would accept Him by faith, but knowing all, He has granted freewill to all people. He stands at the door and waits for an invite. He knows who will reject Him and who will accept Him. Whatever man or woman does, if their heart is pure, without selfish motives, and repentant, He will fully forgive and accept them if He is welcomed and invited into their hearts and lives. So, the only unforgivable sin is unbelief. You will die one day as we all will. You will not be able to be saved by the God you do not believe in. Your mind, however brilliant, was given as a part of your created being to enjoy life to the fullest, serve humankind in some capacity, as you have with your humor, but not to cast aside the one whose mind you cannot know, but will meet some day. I enjoy your comedy on occasion and especially from the days past from the Saturday Nite Live Show. But I am prayerful and saddened that your journey has led you to let go of the only eternal God whom we all will meet when our eyes close permanently. I believe in my heart of hearts that you have erred on the side of hopelessness which can be reconsidered on the side of truth that God is. God bless you!

Brando said...


A great post on this. It amazes me that the BS detector didn't go off for more people within those first few pages. What airline would let someone on who was in that condition?

While not a big Oprah fan myself, I appreciate what she's done for reading. She does generally pick good books and finds a nice balance between serious and accessible. But it is a shame she didn't come down harder on Frey. I guess she has to protect her brand.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog and appreciate reading your thoughts. I hope this isn't a no-no for you (linking to my own blog), but I thought you might enjoy the parody I wrote about Frey's book, A Million Little Reese's Pieces.

Anonymous said...

Oprah keeps jumping the shark. First, it was making "Dr. Phil" a regular part of her program and then backing him for his own show.

After Dr. Phull-of-Himself entered her life, she began frequently interrupting her expert guests, usually psychologists with PhDs, to share *her* insights into the person(s) they were allegedly there to help.

The conspicuous consumption and materialism promoted through gifts for audience members, soon copied by other talk-show hosts, accelerated to a ridiculous level -- cars for the entire audience? It was like emotional porn to see the tape of those people screaming.

And her magazine jumped the shark when it featured multi-page spreads about lavish parties for her celebrity friends at one of her many estates. Sure, it's her money to spend, but it seems immodest to devote so many of her *own* magazine's pages to extravagant spending on women who are themselves pretty well off ... and selling that magazine to women at the other end of the SES (socio-economic status) ladder.

A Jewish agnostic told me one of the old-time rabbis said the greatest gift was one where no one knew the identity of the giver. Oprah seems to be operating on the opposite end of that continuum, and defending James Frey is just further evidence of her detachment from real people and real issues. Reminds me of some politicians ...

Anonymous said...

I agree about Dr. Phil. He came to OKC to speak about 4 or 5 years ago and I went. I had liked him OK until that point. He was so full of himself. He made a comment that everyone should run the other way when they come upon the New Age section at the bookstore. Of course living in the Bible Belt this brought big cheers from the audience of Southern Baptist Junior Leaguers. I was having panic attacks at the time and remember having to pop a few Xanax just to make it through. His wife and son were there and they were just too much. It has irritated me that his son has written a book for teenagers. What kind of credentials does he even have? And isn't he dating some Playboy bunny or model or something? I was done with him then and wouldn't watch the show now for anything. Although my mom, too, is always telling me about it. What is it about that generation (she's in her 70's) that thinks he is so wonderful?

Keep up the great work, Julia. I am surrounded by small-minded idiots on a daily basis and reading blogs like yours is a lifesaver out here in the middle of the United States of Jesus!

Gene Cowan said...

I just don't understand how Oprah -- and under her imprimatur, Dr. Phil -- became such a force in America life and culture. Is this the same phenomenon that turned the majority of our citizens into unquestioning sheep, who believe every pronouncement from the White House, take as the word of god every bizarre rant from a pulpit, or devote themselves to learning each trivial fact about a celebrity... but not their neighbors?
What a bizarre, dysfunctional, and frankly creepy world we've living in now.

Hellbound Alleee said...

It's definitely a bad thing for the issue of drug addiction to portray what is not true as truth. How would anyone hope to evaluate and help a problem if all we had was this Sunday-School-class-pamphlet-belief about it? I heard a discussion today about drug addiction, and I said to myself, "Is this a pro-science and reason show, or am I watching Oprah or Dr Phil?" They spoke about drugs, not as what they really are, but as a sort of 1980's, Nancy Reagan meme. "I don't do drugs because They do this and that." Which drugs? What does this drug do, and what other things do the same thing?

This book, Oprah, and Dr Phil obfuscate the problem. Thank Reason that there is science, and not just television sound-bytes, and books like this.

Oh, and "I'll make the living?" Same problem. Thing is, we have lives beyond the 3-second, poorly thought out comment. A proposal? I'd have none of it. Nothing but a mutual decision for me. Sure, I'd let a couple of dumb comments by my husband slide. Sometimes a person can't help it. But a statement that's planned and rehearsed that illustrates how he feels about you? That statement is definitely a deal-breaker.

Anonymous said...

Today I came across a note I wrote dated June 4, 2005, where you spoke on SF KGO Radio about "letting go of God." It took me this long to investigate further. What a delightful surprise!
Thanks for your thoughts and words.
You give me hope.

Anonymous said...

I heard your "Letting Go of God" piece on NPR, it was wonderful. Do not want to relate my own life but although not the same, relegion has been a heck of a road. Is there any way to get a recording of the piece, it sounds much better than it reads (sorry)

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