Show 229: Naturalistic Christmas Special

Long, long before anyone ever heard of Jesus, people all over the world knew that this time of year was special. The winter solstice is a completely natural event, which is loaded with significance, both symbolic and real.

On Christmas Day, Equal Time for Freethought will show how and why Christmas can, and should, be a fully naturalistic holiday… And what a great time we’re going to have doing it!

We’ll be featuring a replay of our classic Equal Time for Freethought’s “Christmas with Santa Claus” interview; we’ll have a look at the history of Christmas and from where its traditions are derived; we’ll be taking your calls, and if that wasn’t enough- we’ll be venturing out to the cutting edge as we offer a special Christmas guided meditation in which everyone can participate!

And you don’t even need to be non-faith based or non-supernatural to benefit from tuning in; in addition to our traditional non-faith-based listeners, Muslims, Jews, Astrologers, Roman Catholics, Baptists, and others can get a lot from the elements of a Naturalistic Christmas…

Show 228: “Was Jesus Left Behind?” w/ Dr. Robert M. Price

As Christmas approaches, and the religious Right try to force everyone to say “Merry Christmas,” and mean it, the rest of us may want to know why they protest so much. What is the relationship between the religious Right, the Christian Church, and the gospel story of Jesus of Nazareth; where do they intersect, and where to they part ways?

Robert Price, a professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, and a fellow of biblical criticism’s most activist research groups, The Jesus Seminar, has asked these questions (and more) of himself and fellow researchers, and has published his opinions in a host of controversial books and papers. He has taken on Pastor Rick Warren with his book, The Reason Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For?; Dan Brown, with his book, The Da Vinci Fraud: Why the Truth Is Stranger than Fiction; discussed his own de-conversion in Beyond Born Again; and even addressed the question of whether an historical Jesus ever existed in Deconstructing Jesus. His answer to that dangerous question…? No.

For Equal Time for Freethought’s one-hour special this Sunday, we will speak to (and take calls for) Dr. Price regarding two of his most recent books; Jesus is Dead (a collection of essays discussing both the historicity of Jesus and the Resurrection), and The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church got LEFT BEHIND (a critical look at myriad apocalyptic novels, including what one reader called, “the biblical errors and theological absurdities in the Left Behind series”).

Show 227: Having a Merry Naturalistic Christmas

No matter how secular or naturalistic you are it’s impossible not to notice that Christmas time is here. To avoid getting a whiff of Douglas Fur should atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers hold their breath until mid January when the sanitation department guides the once noble icons to their transition into wood chips?

Looking beyond its association with faith and beyond the way it has been co-opted by the merchants of crass consumerism, are we left with anything about Christmas worth celebrating? With nine day until Christmas, Equal Time for Freethought will be discussing why “Having a Merry Naturalistic Christmas” is not only possible, it’s desirable.

But what would be the philosophy behind a naturalistic approach to Christmas; and what would activities for a naturalistic Christmas look like?

To facilitate the participation of widely different groups of people that the church wanted to assimilate early church fathers adopted a wide range of local traditions into Christmas. The result is that today’s Christmas celebration is essentially a pan-regional, best of traditions past collection. Rather than denying Christmas, if like the Church fathers of the past, naturalists could find ways to build upon some of the existing holiday traditions and make them their own, it may go a long way to helping establish naturalism as a popular practice.

Hear why, when it comes to Christmas, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Show 226: Leonard Wheat – Against Religious Superstition: Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”

Friday, The Golden Compass opens in theaters nation wide. Whatever critics may say about this new children’s fantasy trilogy, the die has already been cast. According to Christian activist groups, Golden Compass is a direct affront to Christianity and indeed God Himself, as emails, chatrooms, blogs and conservative television pundits warn everyone that in this trilogy, a little girl “kills God.”

Of course, the truth is not so far removed from the Christian propaganda it has spurned. While there is no doubt Hollywood’s version of author Philip Pullman’s – a member of the British Humanist Association – novel series will be rather tame, the books do indeed offer a non-religious take on C.S. Lewis’s Christian vision found in his seven-book Chronicles of Narnia series (indeed, Narnia was the inspiration for Materials).

Christian activists are arguing that Pullman is being grossly deceptive by offering watered-down film versions of his work to entice children to ask their parents to buy them the books, which will in turn de-convert them from Christianity. If only it were that easy.

But seriously, what does Pullman’s books actually say about Christianity, and religion in general, and what ought a secular society take from either the films or novels in question?

Show 225: George Victor – The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable

December 7th, 2007 marks the 66th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. As recent as 2006, on official government websites including, some historians and patriots still talk about the events of December 7th 1941 as a surprise attack by the Japanese. Reading from the White House website, “65 years ago, more than 2400 Americans lost their lives in a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On that peaceful Sunday morning, the country suffered a vicious, unprovoked attack that changed the course of history.” Last year, when this passage was written, President George Bush proclaimed December 7th 2006 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. And, on another government website, it is written, “many Americans, including some military commanders had come to see U.S. lands immune from enemy invasion. That feeling of immunity ended forever on the morning of December 7th, 1941.” If sentiments of an event 66 years old sound familiar, it of course won’t surprise you that the government takes exactly the same position, regarding September 11th, 2001.
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