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.

New Economy Project, a Conversation at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture w/ Matthew LaClair

What are the problems facing New York City’s under-served communities and how can we work to fix them? The New Economy Project‘s co-director Deyanira Del Río and communications coordinator Luis Caridad sit down with Matthew LaClair to discuss social and economic justice in New York City. The heart of the interview was conducted in front of an audience, thanks to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.

Goodbye God?

We will speak with comic-book author Sean Michael Wilson, whose graphic novel “Goodbye God?” takes readers on a tour of many of the issues surrounding religion and the consequences of belief.

Wilson explores the creationism/evolution controversy, ultimately showing that the arguments in favor of it are weak and that the evidence favors evolution – despite the controversy among the general public.

We’ll discuss these topics and more, as well as how Wilson shows in the graphic novel that belief ultimately doesn’t make as much sense as it may at first seem – leading us to say a final goodbye to god.

Sean Michael Wilson is a comic-book writer from Scotland, living in Japan. He has had many books published with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers, such as a graphic-novel version of  ‘A Christmas Carol (‘Best of 2008’, Sunday Times), ‘AX:alternative manga’ (‘Best ten books of 2010’, Publishers Weekly), ‘Parecomic’ (with an introduction by Noam Chomsky), and a manga version of the Japanese classic ‘The Book of Five Rings’. His books are often on themes of history, biography and social issues.

Arnell Dowet will host this seasons program which will focus on the many problems with the Corporate Media and just why Pacifica is so important in these very regressive times. There will be a variety of thank-you items if you donate including the documentary Shadows of Liberty.

In this documentary, “filmmaker Jean-Philippe Tremblay takes a journey through the darker corridors of the US media, where global conglomerates call the shots. For decades, their overwhelming influence has distorted news journalism and compromised its values. In highly revealing stories, renowned journalists, activists and academics give insider accounts of a broken media system. Controversial news reports are suppressed, people are censored for speaking out, and lives are shattered as the arena for public expression is turned into a private profit zone. Tracing the story of media manipulation through the years, Shadows of Liberty poses a crucial question: why have we let a handful of powerful corporations write the news? Media reform is urgent and freedom of the press is fundamental.”

Pain: A Political History w/Keith Wailoo

Amazon Blurb: People in chronic pain have always sought relief―and have always been judged―but who decides whether someone is truly in pain? In this history of American political culture, Keith Wailoo examines how pain and compassionate relief define a line between society’s liberal trends and conservative tendencies. Tracing the development of pain theories in politics, medicine, law, and society, and battles over the morality and economics of relief, Wailoo points to a tension at the heart of the conservative-liberal divide.

Conversations on Race, Authority, and all that Divides Us w/Tim Wise and Kristian Williams

Over the last few years we have seen an increase in state-sponsored violence in America. We have seen the militarization of the police departments and the continued racist-inspired arrests and killings. We have also seen Right Wing politicians trying to out-extreme each other to the degree that they make the Tea Party movement seem tame. There has also been increasing discrimination towards the LBGT community and an explosion of conservative and pro-authoritarian television programs such as Blue Bloods and NCIS, and films such as American Sniper. What ties all these things together?

In 2009, we had Kristian Williams on the program to talk about his book, Our Enemies in Blue. The book is out in a new edition and the timing could not be better with the police murders of black men rising across the nation. We also talked more broadly about the underlying philosophy of a policed society, and what we might do to change things. So today, we will revisit some of these ideas and bring things up to date. Afterwards, we will be talking with anti-racist activist Tim Wise, who has been on Equal Time a few times in the past as well, about some of these same things from a different point of view. His upcoming book is called Under the Affluence.

Kevin Kruse on his new book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America.

Matthew LaClair speaks with Princeton history Professor, Kevin Kruse. Professor Kruse is the author of  White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism, and the subject of Saturday’s show, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, released on April 14th.

Professor Kruse originally set out to write a book on the rise of the religious right, which he assumed would focus on Americans’ fear of the “godless Communists” of the Cold War.  He discovered however that this generally accepted theory missed the mark, and that it was in fact corporate America that used religious beliefs to promote propaganda decades earlier that would tie religion and neoliberal capitalism together. The phrase “One Nation Under God,” and “In God We Trust” did not stem solely from fear during the Cold War, but was instead promoted, organized, and funded by corporate interests.

To many non-believers, especially those who don’t come from a religious background, it’s hard to understand how intelligent, rational people can believe in Christianity or in the god it espouses.

Chris Redford – known on YouTube as Evid3nc3 – addresses this seeming contradiction in a unique way in his video series “Why I am No Longer a Christian”. He shows how, in his own mind, the belief was held up, and the complex (and sometimes counter-intuitive) way he began to lose his faith – without having any idea that that’s what was happening at the time.
He conveys how deeply compelling the faith can be to believers, while also showing how this all-encompassing experience can be produced by human psychology. He also addresses the historical origins of God, the relationship between science and Biblical accounts, and other related topics, as he takes the viewers through the evolution of his thought.

Ultimately, he makes a compelling case for the need for evidence in determining one’s beliefs, even as he takes the viewers through his first, tentative steps into atheism. He also argues for evidentialism, a philosophy which emphasizes evidence as the standard for forming beliefs.

Join us as we discuss these fascinating topics with Chris Redford! Redford earned his PhD in Computer Science in 2012 (after producing the video series), and is working in industry as a Research Engineer for the evidential interpretation of sensor webs.

Naturalistic Support Workshop

** On this program we aired a PSA for an event taking place on April 10/11 at Columbia University on Death and Dying. For the full segment, see below!

Naturalism + Politics = Humanism

On this program, one of our goals has been to try to see how the various parts of humanism operate. We have looked at this by examining each part individually, and have – when able – discussed how one part fit with another. Of course, we first had to be clear what those parts were!

Humanism doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Some refer to the Renaissance humanism, while others to the Enlightenment. While most see science or scientific naturalism at the core of Humanism, others would suggest that morality or applied ethics are at the center.

But when it comes to politics, things tend to get fuzzy and blurry. At various times on ETFF, we have tried to figure out why this is. After all, does not naturalism and critical thinking lead to an understanding of human nature…which makes pretty clear what a healthy person and society would look like? And does not the written and often repeated (in print and otherwise) humanist ethics mean nothing at all if they are not applied in the real world? And are not politics and economics indeed at the core of our societies and demonstrate just what we believe about what it means to be human?

We have long explored these questions because they are indeed central if we are to create a humanistic future global culture. On today’s program, we will speak with two authors who have written essays for the two most prominent humanist magazines in the country: Lawrence Davidson in Free Inquiry (the journal of the Council for Secular Humanism), and Lorenzo Ospri in The Humanist (the journal for the American Humanist Association.