This is a special edition of the Legion of Reason. Helen brought this story to my attention and we played at being investigative reporters. The owners of a bridal boutique in North Hill Mall here in Calgary is being forced to move their business (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/player/News/Canada/Calgary/ID/2320390400/). Ostenibly, this is because Alena’s Boutique and Bridal broke the specific use clause in their rental agreement with the mall and taking business away from other stores. The problem with this excuse is that this store sold clothing specific to Muslim women. Even if there was another bridal boutique in the mall it is difficult to see how the contents of the two stores would overlap at all. Alena’s sold hijabs and abayas, for crying out loud, which the mall management characterized as ‘scarves’. Suzanne Chybli-Taylor and Scott Taylor kindly invited us into their home to tell their story and to talk about their experiences as Muslims living in Calgary.
This is a big episode, folks. December 15 marked the first anniversary of the death of Christopher Hitchens and we pay homage through readings of his writing. Twylla shows me that I’m not the only member of this podcast crew that can go off on a good rant as we discuss “Merry Christmas” Nazis that she has encountered. Before that, Kris trapped Sam Harris in a car traveling between speaking gigs to discuss “free will”, and Haysn, Twylla and I provide our own take on the subject. Before all that, however, we felt compelled to speak on the recent trajedy at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Free Will (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Free-Will-Sam-Harris/dp/1451683405), Sam Harris, Free Press (2012)
The Atheist’s Guide to Reality (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Atheists-Guide-Reality-Alex-Rosenberg/dp/0393344118/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356043539&sr=1-2), Alex Rosenberg, WW Norton (2011)
The Self Illusion (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Self-Illusion-Bruce-Hood/dp/1443405221/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356043634&sr=1-1), Bruce Hood, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (2012)
Sean Carroll at TAM 10 (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=X5Fel1VKEN8) on the nature of humanity.
Welcome legionaries! Before we get to things I have a couple of public service announcements to make. January’s Skeptics in the Pub at Joyce’s on 4th in Calgary will be on the second and not the usual first Tuesday of the month, that being January 8. Coming up later this week is a date very important to the atheist community. December 15 marks first anniversary of the day we lost Christopher Hitchens, an unparalleled voice of reason against religion. Remember to hoist a glass of scotch in his honor and remember how much our lives were enriched because of his time on this planet. So don’t mourn the loss. Celebrate the life. Also, Imagine No Religion 3 (http://imaginenoreligion NULL.ca/) is coming up May 17-19. The speaker list is even better than last year’s, which I thought was going to be very tough to beat. Amongst those coming to Kamloops BC this time are philosopher Daniel Dennett (this year’s keynote speaker), Victor Stenger (author of such books as “God: The Failed Hypothesis” and “God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion”), historian Richard Carrier (author of “Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus” and “Not the Impossible Faith”), outspoken atheist advocate Aron Ra (when’s he writing a book?), Brian Dalton (aka Mr. Deity), and for us X-Files fans, William B. Davis. The lineup is simply fantastic! You can register at imaginenoreligion.ca.
On to this week’s episode. I said last time that it’s important to hear the stories of those who have walked the road leading away from religion in the shoes they wore. This is one I’ve been wanting to do for some time and took the plunge on Saturday. Helen, Haysn and I sat down over scotch and talked with Rainer Rohr, a former Pentecostal minister who has only recently found his way out and has entered the atheist/skeptic community with great enthusiasm and you can meet him at pretty much any get-together. We even get a crash course in speaking in tongues! His story is particuarly moving and it’s important we hear about it. And so without further delay…
G. Elijah Dann, Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Leaving-Fundamentalism-Personal-Stories-Writing/dp/1554580269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292428820&sr=1-1)
Tom Harpur, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tom+harpur)
Tom Harpur, Born Again (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Born-Again-Journey-Fundamentalism-Freedom/dp/0887627382/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355077927&sr=1-4&keywords=tom+harpur) (My Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom)
Mark I. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Gospel-According-Disney-Faith-Trust/dp/B008SLHTIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355079019&sr=1-1&keywords=pixie+dust+walt+disney)
Later in the episode we have yet another of Kris’ interviews that she got in New York. This time it’s Chris Mooney and Jessica Ahlquist that are her subjects. Chris hosts the Center for Inquiry’s podcast Point of Inquiry and is the author of such books as The Republican War on Science and Unscientific America and Jessica is one of the new breed of atheist activists and earlier this year won a lawsuit to remove a religious prayer banner from her school auditorium, all the while receiving that oft talked about Christian love in the form of hate mail and death threats. So stay tuned after we sign off for that. And we have some great local news. The actions of the advocacy group HPV Calgary has succeeded in reversing the Calgary Catholic School Division’s HPV vaccination policy (http://www NULL.calgarysun NULL.com/2012/11/28/calgary-catholic-school-district-approves-controversial-hpv-vaccinations). It’s amazing what the threat of a little legal action (http://metronews NULL.ca/news/calgary/339686/legal-action-looms-in-calgary-catholic-school-hpv-vaccine-standoff/) can accomplish. We start off this episode with a look at the resistance by the British Columbia nurses’ union (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/b-c-nurses-union-continues-fight-over-mandatory-flu-shots-1 NULL.1039192) to mandatory vaccination/mask wearing during influenza season. But before we do that, I want to plug a new podcast that I think our listeners might take an interest in. It’s co-hosted by one of our good friends from the Carribean, and he’s a permanent fixture in the local Calgarian skeptic/atheist scene. It’s called Freethinking Island – I love the name – and the focus is on something I want to do more of on this podcast, and that is walking the many paths from religion to nonbelief while wearing the shoes of those who’ve done it. Freethinking Island concentrates on such stories from the Carribean, and I think this sounds awesome. You can find Freethinking Island on iTunes or visit their website at freethinkingisland.com (http://freethinkingisland NULL.com/).