Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Good Interview With Jerry Coyne on TVO

Jerry Coyne on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin (source)
Jerry Coyne recently visited Toronto -- where he allegedly had some sort of non-Quebecois «poutine» -- c'est quoi ça? Anyway, that egregious act aside, it seems to have been a good visit where he promoted his new book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.

During the trip, he made a stop over at TVO for this great discussion with Steve Paikin.

Watch the interview and then swing on over to Coyne's blog, where he discusses it more in depth.

via Veronica Abbass

Saturday, 30 May 2015

My Appearance on The Infidel: Podcast for the Damned!

Hey! The nice folks at The Infidel Podcast let me talk about stuff on their podcast yesterday! Thanks so much to David and Nicol! You can watch me here.

You know, I get nervous before doing these shows but then when I get onto them I have a lot of fun. So if anyone wants me to ramble on their podcasts or whatever, just give me a ring.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Interview With Atheist Porn Actress Shawna Lenee

Shawna modeling a new t-shirt for Reasonist Products. Check it out here.

Shawna Leneé began her career in adult films back in 2005. She left the industry after five years for what would be a four year hiatus during which she took college small business management course. Reinvigorated with her new found business skills, she returned to porn in 2014, master of her own destiny, having signed a contract with Brazzers.

All of this is pretty common knowledge. You’ll find this story all over the web if you google Shawna. What you may not find is any details about Shawna’s atheism. Just last year, she came out openly as a proud atheist and has even begun modeling secular clothing for Reasonist Products.

I was interested in some of the backstory behind Shawna’s atheism and, although she has a busy schedule, she was nice enough to answer some questions over email.

Did you have a very religious upbringing and were your parents religious?
I did not have a religious upbringing at all- besides going to church a few times with my maternal grandparents and being given religious materials by my paternal grandparents (Bible cards, religious music, Jesus quotes). My parent's weren't devoted to religion really. Church was never a part of my childhood. My father refuses to step foot in a church and I find my mother's beliefs to be agnostic.
Were you ever religious?
I have never been religious. I didn't grow up in a church and I was able to view it with an outsider's perspective. It always seemed cult-like to me. The stories never made sense when I thought about them logically, even when my mind was still young. Science has always been a passion of mine. I always believed in science, but never in religion. Science won my heart very early on, sometime before 2nd grade.
Did you “come out” as atheist to your friends and family?
I "came out" as an atheist a little over a year ago. I actually had no idea that atheism was even a thing. When I found out that there were people who thought about things in similar ways I do, I was in shock. I started coming out by sharing atheist quotes, memes, and photos on Facebook at first. Only a couple of my friends were upset by this. They weren't close friends though, so it was easy to overcome. However, it is important to know that when I came out as atheist, I deleted my family from my Facebook. I just wanted to limit the tension before it started because I was highly unsure how they would react. I believe that my family is well aware that I am an atheist and that I am in the adult industry. They have had ten years to process my career choice, but atheism was a whole new element to make public.
What were the reactions to your coming out as atheist vs. telling your parents about going into the adult industry?
My family has always been supportive of me and my choices, as long as I am happy and am not partaking in destructive behaviors. By now, I think it would be difficult for me to shock my family. I am different from many members of my family. They attend church weekly and some of my cousins have attended religious schools. I feel so lucky that I attended public school (and a great one, I think). Because of this, the idea of teaching religion in school is absurd to me! Why would we teach children ideas without proof and try to pass them off as the truth? Why would be inhibit the teachings of real science? It's hard for me to shock my family because I was always a wild one. I never had an interest in fitting in. But one awesome and amazing thing about my family is that they never tried to change me. My family accepts me for who I am. I can't help but love them so much!
Was one more difficult or awkward? How did reactions differ?
What works best for me and my family is that we don't talk about our different beliefs. When my aunts, mother, cousin, and grandmother are having a little religion argument/discussion, I just listen from the other room and giggle to myself. My grandmother is pretty old-fashioned. I plan on marrying a woman one day. No idea who, but I will find out sooner or later. My grandma has stated to the family that she knows someone in the family will be gay, but she just doesn't want to hear about it. I assume she would feel the same way about my atheism. I will let her believe that I believe in a god. I just don't want to let her down. Basically, there aren't reactions to compare I guess. My family life has continued the same throughout my childhood. How lucky am I to have this? Very. I would be broken hearted if I was disowned or shunned for my career choice or lack of religious beliefs. This happens to people everyday and my heart is with them. I love speaking out about atheism on their behalf. I don't ever want anyone to feel afraid to say "I'm an atheist".
I’d like to thank Shawna for taking the time to answer these questions. I’ve already sent some follow-ups and I hope to present a part two with more insight from within the adult industry through the eyes of a feminist skeptic!

Shawna is currently modeling products for Reasonist Products. Go check out their site!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Pope Francis: Science & Religion? No problemo.

My I'm-no-artist-but-I-sort-of-try tribute to Andy Warhol. I wonder if this Pope would  likes
Warhol? Perhaps that question could go into the next softball interview. (source)

On June 9th, during the Downy softiest fuzziest of softie softball interviews, Spanish-language magazine La Vanguardia asked the Pope about all this atheism business.
In the face of the advance of atheism, what is your opinion of people who believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive?

There was a rise in atheism in the most existential age, perhaps Sartrian. But after came a step toward spiritual pursuits, of encounter with God, in a thousand ways, not necessarily the traditional religions. The clash between science and faith peaked in the Enlightenment, but that is not so fashionable today, thank God, because we have all realized the closeness between one thing and the other. Pope Benedict XVI has a good teaching about the relation between science and faith. In general lines, the most recent is that the scientists are very respectful with the faith, and the agnostic or atheist scientist says, “I don’t dare to enter that field.”
It's just not cool to consider the existence of gods or spiritual matters as questions that could be addressed by science. Oh, unless you're Richard Dawkins and pretty much any 'New Atheist' these days. Did the Pope miss that or is he simply saying these words to somehow magically transform the world into some other reality not unlike the enchantments he mutters while transforming mere bread into bread they call 'Jesus?' I suspect if he's not aware of the atheism movement, he will be eventually - even if the Dawkinian and Hitchenian ages are by then completely past.

Well, okay. I can see where the average atheist scientist just wants to get their job done and -- because religion usually has nothing to do with their work days -- simply ignores the whole religion thing. But doesn't that just speak to just how irrelevant religion is to science and the real world?

To be honest, I don't care much more than a passing jot what the Pope thinks about atheism. It seems that both him and Benedict are both so impossibly aloof to the reality of the the movement and its actual nature -- supposing they actually care, themselves -- that it looks like nothing more than the Church attempting to dictate reality. This is something they have been unable to do in most places for centuries.

They seem to sit around consulting old books rather than look around to what's happening in the outside world.

You know, I was hoping to see some question and answer about the ongoing sexual abuse scandals and perhaps the nightmare that keeps getting worse over in Ireland with these homes for fallen women and dead babies in disused septic tanks. Not a peep. I suppose I'm just not papal fanboy enough to care which team he's rooting for in the World Cup either.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Papal Bull! - Interview With Joe Wenke & How You Can Win His Book

Dr Joe Wenke
Joe Wenke (
Awhile back, I did a review of Joe Wenke's book You Got To Be Kidding : The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of The Bible. I found the book funny and witty and recommended it. I gave it 4 out of 5 - "Worth it for a light, thought-provoking and quite amusing read!"

Joe was also kind enough to send me a couple copies of the book as well, which I sent out to some lucky blog readers here in Canada.

Well, Wenke is coming out with a new book later this summer called PAPAL BULL: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church.

To me, the words Papal and Bull work well together in any phrase.

Like him, I'm also an ex-Catholic who finds calling out his old Church painful yet strangely cathartic. So this looks like something good - something meaty that I could really sink my teeth into, chew with satisfaction and swallow happily with no Catholic guilt whatsoever. Okay, perhaps a little lingering Catholic guilt, but that just makes it all the better.

Well, my own odd and creepy imagery aside, I've agreed to review Joe's new book when it comes out! But for now, Joe's agreed to answer a few questions I had about his childhood, opinions on the Church and how he describes his upcoming book.

If you want to know how you can win the book, just skip down to the bottom of the post! Now on to the interview!
What kind of Catholics are/were your parents? Were they staunch "pro life" Latin Mass traditionalists or more liberal? What was their reaction to you leaving Catholicism? Has/had your relationship with them changed? 
They’re both dead now. They were both very religious. My father was very rigid in his beliefs, so we clashed a lot. My mother was the most beautiful and purest person I’ve ever met. She accepted and embraced all of my ideas even though she disagreed. She thought I was very funny. At the same time there was a division between me and my parents over my beliefs, and there is today between me and my siblings with one or two exceptions.
Were you a devout Catholic back in the day? How much of a part did Catholicism play in your younger days? 
I was pure and idealistic when I was a little boy. We’re using a picture of me when I was seven dressed in my white First Communion suit as the author photo on the back cover of Papal Bull. It pretty much captures how I was back then. That was before I hit puberty and started questioning everything and dealing with the fact that the Catholic Church was all about being anti-sexual and warping young impressionable minds with suffering, sin and guilt.
Do you still catch remnants of your Catholic upbringing - either negative or positive? If so, what are some?

I still look at everything through a moral prism while at the same time thinking that life is absurd, so it’s a blend.
What are your opinions about the new Pope? His odd comments about atheists and gays.

I wrote two Huffington Post pieces about that. Some people are excited about the idea that he might be a reformer. He’s not. He supports all of the church’s traditional positions on the ordination of women, women’s reproductive rights, contraception and the status of the LGBTQ community. He just cleared the way for Pope John II to become a saint even though he was the single person most responsible for obstructing investigations into the church’s sex abuse scandal. He’s just a politician with a more pleasing personality than Benedict XVI, who was known as God’s Rottweiler” when he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.
You can find Joe's latest blog in the Huffington Post here, Pope Francis, the Reformer.
Given the constant scandal around the Church - corruption, sexual abuse cover ups, hypocrisy, etc. - why do you think people cling to the Church and do you think there is a way to wake people up to this so they can stop supporting this organization and move to a less dangerous form of religion or no religion at all? 
I’m trying to “disturb” people, in the Andre Gide sense about these issues. That’s what Papal Bull is all about. I think there is a movement toward humanism and skepticism about religion. At the same time, however, there remain hundreds of millions of people who embrace institutional religion and who use the Bible to justify their own bigotry, particularly against the LGBTQ community.
Do you think you will see the Church change its stance about homosexuality being sinful within your lifetime? 
No chance whatsoever.
Your upcoming book is called, PAPAL BULL: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church. Will this be in the same lighthearted satirical style as You've Got To Be Kidding, or will you take a more serious tone with this piece? Why did you write the book and what (if any) are your hopes and goals for the effect it may have on people?

Papal Bull is very funny, but I would say it’s got a harder edge to it. I’m very detached about the Bible, so it’s easy for me to treat it with a kind of light touch, even though the point of view of You Got to Be Kidding! is very radical. In the case of the Catholic Church, I’m more emotionally involved, so the humor is more cutting. They’re really companion books. I’m delighted to say too that Gisele is also on the cover of Papal Bull. She is the angelic, beatific nun on the cover of You Got to Be Kidding. On the cover of Papal Bull, she is the evil and possessed transgender pope. Once again, they’re companion books. They go together, but the tonality is different in each case.
Again, my goal is to disturb a few people, while keeping it funny. Serious but funny.
Thanks to Dr Joe Wenke for answering my questions and providing some copies of his book for me to distribute!

How You Can Get A Copy Of Joe's Current Book

Cover of book "You got to be kidding" by Joe Wenke.
Gisele Xtravaganza, successful fashion
model graces the book cover. Read the
interesting backstory about this here.
Okay, I'll be honest here. I'm trying to use these books to generate donations to the Humanist school in Uganda I have been fundraising for.

So it's sort of like a hostage crisis, except it's books not humans or pets in danger and you won't need to get a second mortgage on the house to free the hostages. But I do hope it carries some of the same urgency and guilt, just some, just enough to motivate you to make a donation.

So I have five print books to give away. To qualify you can:
  1. Make a donation of any amount to the fundraiser to build new classrooms for the school at Build a Humanist School in Uganda. You do not need to be a Facebook member to donate and I hear that in a day or so there will be no reliance on Facebook at all on the site. One dollar, five dollars, 100 dollars, no matter the amount.
  2. Email me with your name (I will keep it confidential for you if you like) and the amount you donated at
In one month, I will award the books in the following manner:

One book will go to the largest donor. If there is a tie then I will draw for the winner. Don't worry, I wont split the book up and send bits of it to the winners, that would be abominable.

One book will be won in a draw where everyone has a single entry. So no matter how much anyone donated, they all have a 1/N chance of winning where N is the number of participants.

Three books will be won in a draw where everyone will have the same number of tickets as dollars they donated. I'll need to write a computer script to do this. So the more you donate, the more you increase your odds.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Interesting Interview with Colm Tóibín

The Lamentations of Mary Magdalene on the Body of
Christ by Arnold Böcklin.  Okay, wrong Mary, but it gets
the point across.
There is an interesting and rather delightful interview - A New Testament Told From Mary's Point Of View - on NPR FRESH AIR with author-poet Colm Tóibín.  The talk starts out about his latest book, The Testament of Mary, where he puts himself into the character of a bitter and angry Mary twenty years after her son's crucifixion.

He also covers his childhood, experiences with his mother, the Roman Catholic Church as a child and a young man, his loss of religious faith and his coming out of the closet as an openly gay man in Ireland.

A read excerpt from The Testament of Mary.  Mary is recalling her reaction to the disciples.
Something about the earnestness of those young men repelled me, sent me into the kitchen or the garden. Something of their awkward hunger or the sense that there was something missing in each one of them made me want to serve the food or water or whatever and then disappear before I'd heard a single word of what they were talking about.
Tóibín responds to charges that the book is blasphemous because of its portrayal of an angry and potentially unbelieving Mary:
... I'm a citizen of the European Union in which such freedoms are allowed and absolutely accepted by everybody. So that I don't really see any difficulty there.
And he also confirmed what we've been hearing from Michael Nugent in interviews such as this one on Ask an Atheist.  Ireland is rapidly becoming a secular society, throwing off the bonds of the Church.
I suppose what surprised me about Ireland, the response in Ireland, has been the ease and the mildness of the response. That there has not been any difficulty.
In the interview he shares his own personal story as a boy in very Catholic Ireland and how he lost faith in religion and was able to come out of the closet and become openly gay in 1970s Ireland.

When asked how he filled the void left by no longer believing in religion, he responded, in part:
I suppose I did in that I was really terribly interested in poetry. You know, I would have been by that time have found somebody like Wallace Stevens to be terribly important for me and indeed, the portrait of W.B. Yeats, and other American poets like Robert Lowell, so that I was reading poetry very seriously, and I was reading fiction almost for its poetry. And so yes, I suppose a life, I mean very intense reading of books and poems and also the discovery of classical music, and all of that simply fill the gap and so that I didn't feel a void. The void was filled so deeply and seriously by painting, and to some extent, but not as much as by literature and by music.
If you'd like to fill a void, why not go listen to this fascinating interview.  I promise you'll feel more cultured afterwards.  After all, it's NPR.

A New Testament Told From Mary's Point Of View

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