Show 580: A Discussion with Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Host Matthew LaClair interviews Leonard Pitts Jr., a nationally syndicated columnist and novelist. Throughout his 35 year career, he has written on subjects ranging from music to politics, religion to science, race, writing, and more. We touch on all these subjects, with a focus on how interest in facts and critical thinking have declined, with ignorance taking its place.

Audio can be found here!

Show 571: George Lakoff on the Political Mind

George Lakoff on The Political Mind

This week, Matthew LaClair speaks with cognitive linguist George Lakoff. Professor Layoff is the author of eleven books including NY Times bestsellers The Political Mind: Why you Can’t Understand 21st Century American Politics with an 18th Century Brain, and The All New Don’t Think of an Elephant, and he has just retired from teaching after 50 years, 44 years which he spent at the University of California at Berkley.

How do political ideas spread? Why do people often vote against their own interests? Why have ultra-Conservatives been so successful in controlling American discourse? What message should liberals and progressives focus on going forward?

Audio can be found here!

Show 562: The Future of the Catholic Church w/ Pope Francis

Author, professor, and historian Garry Wills speaks with Matthew LaClair on American politics, religion, and this history of the Catholic Church. Northwestern Prof. Emeritus Garry Wills is the author of around 40 books, the latest being The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis. Wills has received numerous prizes for his work including the Merle Curti Award of the American Historical Association, the National Book Critics Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. He is also a reviewer for the New York Review of Books. His most recent review discussed the new book Why The Right Went Wrong by E.J. Dionne Jr., who will be our guest for April 23rd.

A life-long Catholic, Prof. Wills has grappled with the inconsistencies and irrationality of certain beliefs, such as the literal story of Noah’s Ark, Transubstantiation, and other supernatural claims, while maintaining a core belief in Heaven, Hell, and the divinity and resurrection of Jesus on Earth. ETFF opens the door to Wills to explain how he and other theists distinguish the symbolic from the literal. What do theists and non-theists of all stripes have in common? What makes us different? Are our differences important?

Audio can be found here!

Show 555: The Good Death: Exploring how People Die in America

The Good Death: Exploring how People Die in America w/ Ann Neumann

This week Barry Seidman will be speaking with Ann Neumann about her journey of discovery concerning death in America. No matter what happens to our society, to our species, over the next few decades…death isn’t going anywhere (well, unless the Transhumanists are right, of course).  How we die may or may not reflect how we’ve lived, but it does reflect our culture and the state of our society.  A merger of religion, politics, biology and existential angst tell the stories of people from all walks of life as they face and finally succumb to death.  And for naturalists, recognizing that death is not a transition to a heaven or alternate universe, it’s important we do this right.

Is there such a thing as a “good death?”  If so, how many Americans will experience it? What stands in their way, and is there anything we can do to make things less devastating? We will be asking these questions and more as we discuss Ann’s debut book, The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America.

Audio can be found here!

Show 535: Developing a Progressive Narrative

Developing a Progressive Narrative

As many may already know, science fiction and speculative fiction in general can investigate and articulate the state of our nation and/or world in very direct but also metaphorical ways. We have talked about Star Trek, for instance, on Equal Time and how Gene Roddenberry was able to discuss humanism and naturalism via the small and large screen. And there have been many novels and short stories since at least the late 19th Century which have done the same.

Victoria N Alexander and Adrienne Maree Brown are two authors who have relatively new speculative fiction books out. Victoria, who has a PhD in English and philosophy of science, is also a novelist and the founder of Dactyl, a foundation that fosters dialogue between artists and scientists. She is the author of several novels including the topic of today’s discussion, Locus Amoenus. The novel brings Shakespeare into the post-9/11 world we currently experience and sows an emotionally powerful geopolitical drama.

Adrienne Maree Brown is an author, a life/love work coach, a singer (including wedding singer), events facilitator and a scholar on the late Science Fiction novelist Octavia Butler. In Octavia’s Brood, Adrienne has co-edited a collection of both speculative and science fiction stories founded on the spirit and creativity of the late author.

Show 510: Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire

Islamophobia, ISIS, Hamas, & the Politics of Empire w/ Deepa Kumar

A few days ago marked the 13th anniversary of the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001. Among the still many unanswered questions concerning politics, religion, and the nature of global violence — at least for Americans and some Europeans — is what role Islam has played in all of this? That is, it is assumed Islam is different, somehow, from other major religions because it was founded as a warrior religion and seems to be immune to the liberalization process other religions tend to have gone through.

But of course, religion can not be separated from the people who practice it, and thus there have been many racial undertones and overtones to the debates. Even in the atheist and otherwise secular world, many condemn and blame Islam far more than they condemn and blame Western Imperialism, geopolitics, or economics… And this has once again taken hold of the Western imagination with the recent battle between Israel and Hamas, and the brutal actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS.

Today, new host Abby Davenport, will discuss these topics with a guest who we’ve had the pleasure to talk with on Equal Time in the past, Deepa Kumar. Deepa Kumar is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University; and is affiliated faculty with Middle Eastern Studies and graduate faculty in the Sociology department. She is a public speaker and has spoken at dozens of university and community forums on a range of topics: Islamophobia, Political Islam, US foreign policy in the Middle East and South Asia, the Arab Spring, women and Islam etc. She has shared her expertise in numerous media outlets such as BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Hurriyat Daily News (Turkey), Al Jazeera and other national and international news media outlets.

Today we will be discussing current events in light of her latest book, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

Show 473: Climate Change, Revisited w/ Bill McKibben

Climate Change, Revisited w/ Bill McKibben

Our guest this week is Bill McKibben, a widely recognized leading environmental author, journalist and activist.  Mr. McKibben’s many books include New York Times Bestsellers The End of Nature and Earth, as well as Deep Economy, The Age of Missing Information, and his new book coming out this Tuesday, Sept 17th, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. He is also the founder of the grassroots climate campaign, 350.org. We will discuss his upcoming book, his history and experience in the climate change movement, and the steps human beings must take in order to preserve our very existence.

Show 455: Robert Jensen on Arguing for Our Lives

Robert Jensen on Arguing for Our Lives

Why is being neutral – as regards politics and religion – not acceptable in a democracy? How can we engage in meaningful public or personal dialogue about politics and religion in a deeply polarized society? How do we engage people who can’t (or won’t) discern facts and evidence from opinions and beliefs? And what can we do toward creating a more educated, more intellectual, and more empathic society?

We will address these vital questions and more as we discuss with Robert Jensen his new book: Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialog.

Show 427: Astro-Physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astro-Physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson

This Saturday, we speak with Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director at the Frederick P. Rose Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. He has hosted NOVA Science Now on PBS, and will be hosting Cosmos (based on the original series by Carl Sagan), on FOX (produced by Seth MacFarlane). Frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher and more, Tyson is considered to be one of the most effective science communicators of our time, recently testifying before the Senate to encourage a higher budget for NASA. He has written a number of books, including his most recent Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Join us for this enthusiastic, informative and personal interview!

Show 383: Paul Kurtz: Humanist

Paul Kurtz: Humanist

It has a long history dating back to the Renaissance, picked up steam during the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, and became the umbrella philosophy for atheists, agnostics, skeptics and other freethinkers during the 20th Century. Does humanism have a voice for the 21st Century? Can we trace the evolu…tion of this rich philosophical outlook to today and shape a neo-humanistic worldview which could speak to the challenges – both intellectual and spiritual – of what could be either the most disastrous or most prosperous century for human kind?  Saturday, we will be speaking to one of the founders of 20th Century humanism, and key figure in the Secular Humanist movement, Dr. Paul Kurtz.

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