X-Mas/Chanukah Special w/ Doug Rushkoff & Robert Price

The holidays are here again, and what better way to celebrate than a discussion filled with reason and logic?!

Where did Chanukah come from?  What really happened which lead Jews to celebrate this winter holiday?  What about Passover for that matter?  How can we best understand and differentiate between history and mythology … What’s a Jew to do?

We will discuss these things on the first half of our special holiday edition of Equal Time for Freethought with Douglas Rushkoff, author of Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism.  Then, at 6:30pm, we will tune our radar to Christmas.

While Fox News and the Religious Right complain about a so-called ‘war on Christmas,’ and while many Americans are pleading with us to ‘put Christ back in Christmas,’ ETFF will instead be chatting with biblical scholar Robert Price whose arguments may be a truer war than the imagined one of the Right.

Why?

Because Price argues that Christmas can NEVER be about Christ because Jesus never existed in the first place … Not as a theological myth OR as a historical person.

I doubt John Gibson or Bill O’Reilly would be happy to learn this little fact, but after this program, you will be far more informed than most Americans are on these issues.

“Is Religion the Root of Terrorism?” w/ Robert Pape & Hector Avalos

9/11 sparked a debate in this country about something that much of the rest of the world had dealt with for decades … suicide terrorism.  For the first time, Americans felt they had to try to understand why anyone would kill themselves to get another someone to do what they wanted.  The American media, in echoing the Bush Administration – said the terrorists attacked us because they “hated our freedom and our way of life.”  But people with a little more insight and via a bit more honest investigation recognized the nonsense this “reason” was.

The question of the roots of terrorism then became a battle of values … and it was said that the terrorists valued life and family less than we did.  Again, insight and investigation proved this “reason” to be as dubious as the freedom “reason.”   Indeed, all these given reasons were meant to do was to scare the American public into thinking that endless war in the Middle East, and the murdering of all the terrorists we can get our hands on, was our best course of action.  Thus explained the popularity of the war against Iraq … Until, of course, we learned that all the reasons for the Iraq war were lies and fear-mongering.

So, where do we go from here?  The real debate is not about American freedom or family values, but about religion and politics in the Middle East.  Robert Pape in his book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic behind Suicide Terrorism argues that though religion plays a role, the main reason for terrorism – especially suicide terrorism – is the U.S. military occupation of the homelands the terrorist lived in.  Hector Avalos, author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, argues that the reason for the anger concerning such occupations comes mainly from the fact that the places occupied are holy lands.

This discussion between a political scientist and a cultural anthropologist is sure to fascinate.  Perhaps if we can find common understanding between these two men, we can – once and for all – discover the real roots of terrorism …. And therefore, how to end its popularity as a “war” technique.

Part Two of this program aired on 12/18/05

Bennett Muraskin on Humanistic Judaism

Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism was founded – at least according to some – on the notion that we must always question religious authority and “wrestle” with God when philosophizing about our behavior and actions in this world.  Judaism was/is, therefore, supposed to be more about making this world better and not about the afterlife.

Indeed, much social progress has been either a direct or indirect result of persons who came from Jewish backgrounds – often secular one, of course – such as Fraud, Marx and Miller.  Though we are today, still, sadly, witnessing the regressive nature of Judaism – that Judaism which bases its social political ideologies on religion – secular Jews, in particularly humanistic Jews, are still among the progressive ranks.

What is humanistic Judaism?  Why has Judaism led to so many progressive movements?  Who were/are the progressive Jews.  These are some of the questions we will ask of Mr. Muraskin.  But also, we will ask him about how such Jews fare in separating the clearly regressive and conservative writings of the Old Testament, and the persistence of supernatural ideas of Jewish culture, with a progressive world view?