Thursday, October 12, 2006

I am too tired to write a proper blog entry. I just want to say that I am so thrilled at the responses to my last blog entry!!! WOW. I am so honored to have people saying so much! Wilbur Owen, you know I love you. And you too, Sheldon. I was glad to see you in San Fran.

This week has been horrendously busy. I was at the Freedom From Religion Foundation conference over the weekend. I drove up to San Francisco with my daughter, stayed a night at Michael’s (boyfriend) brother’s (Joel’s) house (we all – Joel, me and Mulan went to the Exploratorium on Friday, it was AWESOME. The best museum ever) and then I performed my show -- Letting Go Of God -- on Saturday night at the conference for the first time in months.

On Sunday, me, Mulan & Michael went to a concert in Golden Gate park – there was a folk festival. We saw Elvis Costello do a duet of “San Francisco” – y’know - the song, flowers in her hair – yadda yadda -- with T. Bone Burnett! It was so great! Then Emmy Lou Harris came on and sang with both of them too! Then Richard Thompson came on afterwards. It was sunny and warm and beautiful and just the most unforgettable day.

I drove back to L.A., starting out from San Francisco on Sunday night, and it was really too late by the time we got out of town. I was supposed to be at a pitch meeting on Monday at NBC at nine a.m. and I got soooo tired that I pulled over at about 11 p.m., cancelled the meeting, and Mulan and I stayed in a Motel 6 for the night. The room was bare bones, not even a clock. $29.99,

But they did have a Bible!

Which got me to thinking, why not write “The Hotel Bible” ??? I would have it be the book that people really should be reading when they are in a hotel room, I suppose – distraught enough to reach for a Bible. Huh? Huh? I am very excited about it. It would be advice for coping from an expert… ME. A non-professional coper. But a good one, and one who doesn’t rely on things like the Bible to help me cope. I have been writing this in my head every moment since Sunday night at the Motel 6.

I got back to L.A. and then, on Tuesday night and Wednesday night I did shows with Jill Sobule at Largo. I have stayed up way past my bedtime for many nights this week. The show we did last night, on Wednesday, was our best. I think it’s finally coming together and we are finding our stride. Gruber – that’s David “Gruber” Allen, an actor and comedian and musician – joined me and Jill. He played piano. We had such a fantastic time. It was really a fun night. Gruber has a new show, The Naked Truckers, that is debuting on Comedy Central in January. They got the most amazing time slot – right after the Daily Show. He is so funny and talented. I really hope that show explodes and they do many more episodes.

I sold almost 200 copies of Letting Go Of God – the CD/book -- at the Freedom From Religion Foundation conference. WOW. I only sold four at Largo after I did my Jill & Julia show. Hmmm…

This whole CD world is wild. Tomorrow I have to negotiate with the CD manufacturer and the fulfillment house so the CDs get delivered to Salt Lake City early next week. This whole CD endeavor is worth a book, in an of itself. I feel there is some poetic justice in the fact that the fulfillment house, just outside of Salt Lake City, is run by Mormons.

Oh my god, people, I am so tired, I am delirious. But I just wanted to post something, anything, just to show that I was paying attention. I just want to go back and read, again, the responses to my last post.

Today I went to San Diego and did about half of my show, “God Said Ha!” for a medical convention. Then I raced back to L.A. and pitched my pilot to CBS. I love the ladies who run CBS. I just want to constantly hang with them. They are so cool and funny and smart. I know this sounds creepy and fawning, but it’s such a relief to walk into a room of women in television – women running television – women with some genuine power -- it fills me with genuine glee.

I am beat. I am so tired. I can’t see straight. I will write more. At a later time when I can think.


Sheldon said...

Glad to see that you made it back home, safe and sound from SF!

I took my partner, Steve, and two very close friends (all Atheists...or Naturalists, as you'd say) to see you at the Freedom from Religion Foundation ( conference, and they were all THRILLED. Steve and I have watched your work-in-progress version (The God Monologue) so many times that we practically have it memorized, so I wasn't expecting to be as wow'ed as I was by the performance. The transformation was very interesting, and the new - often tighter - version is almost like an entirely different show.

I especially liked the additional stories about how your parents reacted to your new beliefs. From TGM, I got the impression that they were "just bored" with the whole thing. In LGOG, you reveal that they began by completely cutting you off (until the infamous podiatrist visit, that is).

Hearing that, I realized that, in many ways, it really IS a "coming out" of sorts, roughly analogous to revealing one's homosexuality. It takes a long time for someone to come to grips with it her/himself, and the whole process starts all over again with the family's acceptance (or rejection) of the person.

By the way, you have NO idea how much it meant to me that you knew who I was when we met! Your blog entries really get me riled up to post comments/reactions, and I know I probably do it a little too much, but it's nice to know that you're out there reading them from time to time.

Oh! I am absolutely in love with your CD "In the Family Way." My good friend and colleague, Brenda, went through some very similar experiences as she and her husband tried to have their own child, then went the international adoption route, then the local adoption route, finally ending up succeeding with in-vitro on about the zillionth try. Brenda's husband, Lars, had a VERY bad reaction when the Chinese adoption official asked that he sign a statement saying that he wasn't gay (as they asked you to do). Many of their close friends are gay, and Lars just exploded when he learned about their "no gays" policy on adoption.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you perform with Jill Sobule at TAM5. Until then, I'll be checking the blog.

-- Sheldon

Fargofan1 said...

Women run CBS? Awesome! And my dad used to be one of the Gideons hotel Bible-leavers. (Obviously I don't know their real titles.) Very cool time slot after TDS, but what about Colbert Report? Anyway, love your writing - rock on!

Anonymous said...

It's been a busy month so far! But Julia, I find it amusing that you started your entry by saying you were too tired to write a proper blog entry! I am fairly new to blogs so I don't know what constitutes "proper" yet. Still, even exhausted and so tired you can't see straight, you write with such grace and honesty.

I agree with Sheldon with respect to "coming out" as an atheist being somewhat akin to "coming out" as a homosexual. I regularly refer to myself as a closet atheist!

When I first gave myself the label of atheist, I obsessed somewhat with finding out my place in the world AS an atheist. As I am come to terms with how it affects my life and the people around me, the obsession is abating and I can function as a person first, with an atheist kicker, as opposed to "PETRA THE ATHEIST."

I'd be interested to hear the opinion of someone who is both gay and an atheist on this topic. On the one hand, an atheist can live in the world, getting by simply with lies of ommission if they stay in the closet. I imagine that, for a homosexual in the closet, the internal struggle, and guilt associated with overt lies required to maintain the facade must be intensely more difficult.

On the other hand, in most parts of the country, I think being gay has lost a great deal of its stigma - it is generally accepted. Around here, at least, I cannot say the same of being an atheist.

Still, one might argue that a person CHOOSES to be an atheist, where homosexuality is inate. Personally, I didn't choose to be an atheist, I simply realized it. I expect many fundamental christians would say that I could choose god if I really wanted to, and they are right. I could choose, but I would only be lying to myself and everyone around me. I would only be pretending... and to what end?

I am so glad I found your blog, Julia. You make me think. You make me laugh. You make me proud.


Brian said...

Julia, glad you enjoyed SF. Next time you should take Mulan to the Cartoon Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. Both area great.

Anonymous said...

This is less a proper blog comment than an ordinary piece of fan mail, but....

Julia, just wanted to say that my wife (of two months--still in "honeymoon" stage) and I rented "God Said, 'Ha!'" a few nights ago. Via Netflix, as it happens. My wife lost her father eight years ago to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, so there were plenty of tears during your show--but laughter through them, of course.

This led to a "what's she doing now?" Google search (okay, I'd also seen the two nice things Richard Dawkins wrote about you in The God Delusion, so I had an inkling), and to a download of your NPR appearance.

Holy cow!

My Christian deconversion experience had a lot of similarities to yours: for one, being stunned at the horrors of the Bible (hell yeah, Luke 19:27, "bring hither and slay them before me") was key. But LGOG--wow. I've read plenty of critiques of the Bible, but I've never seen/heard one that was nearly as well-put and effective as yours.

I'm sure I'm not the only one out here who thinks that America desperately needs prominent voices out there saying exactly the kinds of things that you're saying. Thank you so much for standing up so publicly for your ideals--it's a big help to those of us who hold similar ones.

So, obviously, I'm champing at the bit to get LGOG in book and CD form. You can chalk yourself up another customer.

One wonderfully humane and caring show about cancer, one brilliant one about dissenting from religion... and now you get to do cool science documentary stuff?

Julia, you're my hero.

(Ahem. Enough gushing.)

Sheldon said...

Julia! I have an idea I want to share with you!

I was watching reruns recently, and ran across an episode of "The Wonder Years," and it hit me...LGOG should be filmed that way!

You could find a little actress to play Little Julia, and you'd do the voiceover during that part. Then, as time progresses in the show, you could find a teenager to play Teen Julia. Then, you'd take over and play yourself in adulthood, opening the door to some Mormon boys (one of them played by me, of, and mayhem ensues.

An online friend of mine even suggested that you could play some of the other roles, such as your mother, one of the Nuns, etc., a bit like Eddie Murphy did in "The Nutty Professor."

I know it would take a lot more backing than a simpler "filmed on stage" version like you did with "God Said Ha!", but think of how much more fun it would be.

Just an idea I thought I'd pitch.

-- Sheldon : )

Anonymous said...

OOOH... I LOVE Sheldon's idea. Sounds perfect. I'm already trying to cast the child and teen Julia's in my head!

Anonymous said...

petra, I'm a lesbian (kinda dislike that word, but it indicates I'm female, which might matter in the discussion, I guess) and an atheist. In public, I'm probably more honest about being gay. Seems like people trust gay people more than atheists. Go figure. I'm really out as both, but my atheism isn't something someone immediately notices about me, but when I'm with my gf, we're pretty obvious. Ironically, in Vegas, a town just full of Mormons, we haven't had a single problem with coming out, except for the moronic Culligan man who came over to our house. Geez, all he was selling was water, I don't know why us being a couple would throw him for such a loop.

Mike Ellswroth said...

Just found out about Pat. All along i though she ws a guy. Life is never what we think it is. Would be fun to make the show in NY this month. The god thing.

cinemantim said...

Julia Sweeney, the world is better because you are in it. And what a brilliant idea. I'd read THAT Bible.

Can't wait to get your CD.

freethoughtguy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
freethoughtguy said...

Julia, it was a pleasure meeting you at the FFRF convention. I bought one of your LGOG CDs and feel fortunate to be "the first kid on my block" with a copy … and an autographed copy to boot! The CD packaging is very nice. I hope to find some uninterrupted time to listen to your delightful monologue again. Thank you so much for bringing your talk to San Francisco. It's so refreshing to hear your story, as many of us have similar (but not near as poignant and funny!) "coming out" stories.

Sheldon's "Wonder Years" idea sounds fantastic! I'm on board! ;-)~

shannon said...

*What's it like to tell the same story over and over and over?

*Is there a "how" to coping? Can't you just sit there and do it? Can you cope in your sleep?

*And could y'all please quit linking man-on-man anal sex with atheism?

Sheldon said...

Dear Shannon,

For a man with a woman's name, you're surprisingly homophobic. Do you also attend monster truck ralleys and scream at ladies to "Show us yer tits!"?

Taking a quick look at YOUR blog, I have a question for you:

* What's it like to post blog entries that absolutely no one reads or gives a rat's ass about?

shannon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
shannon said...

When are the cheerleader try-outs?

Joe said...

Thanks to your work at FFRF, in particular your PSA in support of their organization that played on Air America, I heard about your saying goodbye to God show. I saw it with someone at Ars Nova yesterday and we both loved it. It was nice as well that we had a chance to see Mulan herself.

Susan Jacoby in her book "Freethinkers" talked about 19th Century public speakers who promoted the freethinker creed. So few around these days and you provide a wonderful service.

It also was fitting that the NYT Book Review had "The God Delusion" on its front cover today. The review noted that Dawkins was a bit crude in his denunciation. Your style is preferable.

Sheldon said...

I agree that Julia's style is quite charming, and understand why Joe and others might find it preferable, but I also see a need for the tell-it-like-it-is style of Richard Dawkins. I've read all his stuff, and nothing compares to "The God Delusion."

It follows on the heels of his BBC documentary "The Root of All Evil" (which, I'm sure, is available on Google Video by now) in which he flatly states that religion is the most dangerous, most destructive force on the planet. Some people might prefer if he said, "Religion's just not my thing, but to each his own," but that wouldn't be getting the point across.

Plus, the religious folks aren't held back by anyone when they attack gays and lesbians, women, atheists, democrats, etc., etc. They're far more acerbic and hateful than Dawkins.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

I don't know Dawkins, so only went by the style expressed by the review, but I don't quite agree with the comments partially in reply to my own. [I don't know how he compares, but Sam Harris' book did not appeal to me and in person he is rather depressing.]

I think Julia 'tells it like it is' as well. She bluntly called certain things crap. She supports FFRF and on her blog criticizes things, does not just say 'well they have their way, I have mine' ... if so, I don't think she could support FFRF which put a picture of the Towers on its home page.

As to "religion," certain types of religion are problematic. A twisted sort of rationalism would be problematic as well.

The fact that certain religious groups are crude doesn't mean we should act like them as well. And, there are various ways to reply ... yes, including some more blunt and hard edged than JS.

Sheldon said...

Since you don't know any of Dawkins' work, I don't have a response.

I'm not saying that Julia's way is not effective. I'm simply responding to the attack on Dawkins' style. He's a much-needed voice, and the days for pussy footing are over...hence the Twin Towers photo.

Anonymous said...

Julia -- I saw LGOG on Saturday night in NYC. I feel like I have received a precious gift, so I wanted to thank you. It was really wonderful and thought provoking, and spoke to me about a path I have been trudging along for a while. Coincidentally, as you must know, the NYTimes Sunday book review featured Richard Dawkins' new book on the cover the next morning and I wondered if the "interconnected web of all living things" (I'm a UU) was trying to send me a message (smile).

Sheldon -- You often have such interesting and thoughtful things to say here, but I wanted to express my dismay that you seem to lump all "religious folks" into the fundamental conservative category when you say "the religious folks aren't held back by anyone when they attack gays and lesbians, women, atheists, democrats, etc., etc." Not all "religious folks" are intolerant conservatives, not even all -- or most -- Christians are intolerant conservatives. Although I haven't believed in a Christian god for a long time, and am still struggling to figure out what, exactly, I do believe, I consider myself religious. But I am also a social progressive and find the current outbreak, if you will -- because it is sort of like a disease -- of religious intolerance as troubling as you do. I'm sure this vast generalization is not what you meant, but I believe words have power -- so I thought it was worth pointing out.

Susan W.

Sheldon said...


You make a good point about using terms correctly. I was, indeed, referring to a specific sub-set of "religious folk." I don't backpedal on my assessment of religious beliefs being illogical and ultimately destructive, however. I know a lot of people who do that, and I understand the temptation of allowing that "wiggle room" for those who call themselves "spiritual." It's a lot easier to say that it's only a few, or only a small group, who are the problem; after all, we all want to be accepted, and leaving that kind of "out" allows everyone to nod in agreement as if it's always The Others who are causing all the grief.

Like Dawkins, however, I believe that the issue is actually the whole idea of believing in a god, magic, ghosts, an afterlife, as well as religion. In other words, it's the non-critical thinking that leads us to all the hate, destruction, and bloodshed in the world. If we can just get more people to start making decisions with their Cerebral Cortex more than with their Limbic System, we'll be a lot closer to the perfect world we all want to live in.

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