I was surprised to discover I can’t just go out and buy a copy of the movie Porgy & Bess (1959) a musical interpretation by Samuel Goldwyn/Otto Preminger of George and Ira Gershwin’s oft-performed opera. The song It Ain’t Necessarily So is a favorite on one of my more frequently listened to podcasts, Freethought Radio. The movie version of the song is sung by Sammy Davis Jr. who plays the part of the pimp Sporting Life in movie.
Any attempt to find a print of Porgy and Bess turns into an epic exercise in bafflement and frustration. The movie is coveted by aficionados even though few see outstanding artistic merit in it. But those very flaws help explain why this film has been charged with emotion for nearly everyone with a connection to it (and why stage revivals, like a 2012 Broadway production, reignite new rounds of controversy): The history of Porgy is a tangled tale of good artistic intentions gone awry and lasting recriminations among the Gershwin and Goldwyn factions.
The top-billed stars only appeared in the film reluctantly, the producer was crushed by the poor reception the movie got at the box office, and the Gershwins were said to hate the movie as well. There is a PAL DVD version from Spain that is available second hand, but I would really just like to see it, not spend a fortune to own a rare copy of it.
This popped up on Facebook as part of that sometimes annoying sometimes revealing On This Day function they’ve incorporated.
I had forgotten about this song having run across it so long ago. Not to argue with the joke involved in the song and title, but atheists have lots of songs if you mean an atheist wrote them. In actuality it is religion that has no songs; or at least no music,
I want to quote one humorous example that puts this idea to rest. I have had the good fortune of knowing a magnificent musician named Michael May, who was a virtuoso pianist, harpsichordist and organist. He did I don’t know how many “Messiahs” with me in Carnegie Hall with The Masterwork Chorus and Orchestra. To make a living he became a church organist. At one point during the communion, there were a lot of parishioners and he needed a lot of music. He ran out of music, so what he did was to take the score of “Carmina Burana”—how many of you are familiar with that? It’s a piece of music whose text has to do with lovemaking, debauchery, gambling and drinking. He played it slowly and softly, without the chorus, and nobody knew the difference. So without the words, you cannot tell whether or not a piece of music is intended to be religious.
There are thousands of atheists writing music and singing songs, even songs about atheists and atheism. I’ve talked about Tim Minchin in the past. Nearly every episode of Freethought Radio that I posted about back when I discovered podcasting features songs by atheists about atheists or at least music written by atheist composers.
If there ever is an atheist hymnal, it won’t be complete without a few songs from Shelley Segal. Dan Barker introduced me to her music on yet another episode of Freethought Radio, one that occurred after I had given up trying to illustrate the kinds of good information that was available in the podcast arena.
I wonder when you will start questioning all the bullshit everyone around you buys.
Words to live by. Turn to page 265 in the hymnals you can find on the backs of the pews in front of you and please sing along with me,
Thoughts are free, who can guess them? They fly by like nocturnal shadows. No person can know them, no hunter can shoot them with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!
I think what I want, and what delights me, still always reticent, and as it is suitable. My wish and desire, no one can deny me and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!
And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon, all these are futile works, because my thoughts tear all gates and walls apart: Thoughts are free!
So I will renounce my sorrows forever, and never again will torture myself with whimsies. In one’s heart, one can always laugh and joke and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!
I love wine, and my girl even more, Only her I like best of all. I’m not alone with my glass of wine, my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!
So the news is engaged in a full court press today, bound and determined to prove that their horserace really is a race and they really aren’t blowing smoke up our collective asses. I’m doing my best to avoid this mess today, not listening to the news in a complete reversal of my normal patterns for daily life.
I wanted to highlight the bigotry by omission of candidates for government office; candidates who go around touting their religion prominently. This importance placed on their beliefs in the supernatural leaves me wondering openly if they understand how those who believe differently feel when they stress how important their religion is to them. How important they think their religion is to good governance in the US.
The problem for me is, neither Justin Scott nor FFRF seem to be interested in producing content to be consumed directly on the internet and only on the internet. FFRF’s near cluelessness when it comes to web programming is what lead me to attempt to catalog all their episodes several years ago, a project that I finally had to give up when I realized that I wasn’t willing to volunteer my effort on the project indefinitely.
First off, the videos of his interviews are not where he said they were; they are on his personal youtube channel which I finally located here. This is a playlist of all the interviews to date;
FFRF’s link resolves on Facebook to look like this,
The youtube link conveys about the same level of information. Therefore it falls to me to write something that I can share even though, as the title of the piece says, I really couldn’t care less about Iowa. Or New Hampshire, for that matter.
Why? Because they aren’t representative of America. They just agreed that they would go first, and they are determined as small Midwestern states to make themselves out to be more important than they are by being first to caucus and first to primary in the US, because they are utterly forgettable by almost any other measure unless you like snow.
So the presidential candidates run around in these little isolated areas of the US for months at a time, far longer than the voting block that they represent merits if you were looking at national influence, percentage of voting Americans. The idea that these two races mean anything would be laughable if only the media could be convinced to laugh. Instead they insist on portraying the primaries as horse races and build up the competition as if what we are witnessing was a sporting event and not the future leaders of our country vying for attention.
Which is why the subject of Justin Scott’s videos interests me, even though his location in Iowa galls me ever so slightly. Iowa is one of those regions where religion figures prominently; and when I say religion, I mean evangelical christians, the omnipotent WASP’s who have run the country since its beginning. The people who are most threatened by the presidency of Barack Obama and the likely potential that he will be succeeded by Hillary Clinton, if we are lucky. If we aren’t lucky we’ll have any one of the current GOP candidates currently doing their best to out-conservative each other.
Being brave enough to go out in public and film, to identify oneself as an atheist and ask how the candidates plan on protecting your right to not believe. That takes real courage. I wanted to let Justin know that I appreciated his work, even though I have to spend several quality minutes (hours actually) writing a post highlighting the important work that he is doing. I wish that more members of the media had the balls to ask the really hard questions.
August 23, 2008 – Guests: Ernie Chambers and Katha Pollitt
Saddleback abomination. Religious test for office. Homophobia on parade. Supreme misunderstanding.
5:20 Ernie Chambers 2nd appearance; discusses his case against god; omnipotence & omniscience precludes service. the case was brought specifically because courts should be open to any body for any reason (the way the law reads in Nebraska) he goes through a few of the counts against god listed in the lawsuit.
18:40 Catha Pollitt, flocking to faith; Obama’s complete betrayal of the constitution, with his announcement to continue the faith based initiative.
She qualifies her bile with her intention to continue her support for Obama. I find this blind subservience to any political faction sad & disgusting.
5:15 theocracy alert. Texas pledge modification (how about no pledge? My children do not pledge) David Vidder, latest conservative hypocrite. Bill Moyers’ religious judgment error with Martin Marty. God’s warriors.
Neo-Nazis protesting on women’s equality day. Only Turkey has a smaller percentage of people who accept the proof of evolution than the US. Evolution left off list of acceptable low income US education grants. Pope sacks astronomer. Coulter smears Darwin (earns label of coultergeist)
Larry Lerner representing the Fordham Foundation and the report he co-wrote www.edexcellence.net on science standards in the classroom. The discussion revolves around the problems of setting and maintaining education standards, and the evolving nature of creationism.
Kristen Lems & Dan Barker sing The Preacher & the Slave
There are those who say Dawkins goes too far in his attack on religion. That he fails to understand the true nature of religious mystery; that his criticism relies on a parody of faith that he himself set in place, and that people do not take seriously anymore. those who make that objection tend to belong to the mild kindly end of the religious spectrum. these days we should be in no doubt of what the other end of the spectrum is like and we might remember that no social structure ever gives up power because it wants to. If some parts of the christian church are decent and tolerant today, it is because the crusaders and inquisitors and witch burners have been shamed and stripped of their authority by the great critics of religion, some indeed who belonged to the church itself. But all of whom were accused in their time of going too far. -Philip Pullman
“we don’t trust numbers to build up a cause; rather we look at principles, to the truth and the right.” -Elizabeth katy Stanton
5:30 theocracy alert – Indiana chaplaincy program ended; Christian embassy; Left Behind video game promo in ‘care’ packages from Operation Startup. Carl rove resignation & proof of George W. Bush’s schizophrenia.
28:30 Interview – William Lobdell, He had faith in his job Discusses the website http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com and faith healers like Benny Hinn. (Where are the ambulance chasers? Why isn’t there a lawsuit for fraud from faith healers?) Trinity broadcasting telling people to charge their contributions even if they can’t pay their debts. (apparently god wants you to be a debt slave)
Philip Paulson, atheist in foxhole, his 17 year fight against the Mount Soledad cross. His case has since been taken up by Steve Trunk. Terminal cancer sufferers should all look to this man as an inspiration. I want to have the energy he has, and I don’t have cancer.
Ryan Valentine (calling from Austin!) of the Texas Freedom Network was interviewed concerning the SBOE’s ill-advised decision last week to pass guidelines for Bible Courses in Texas (sent this to the governor, myself, with the suggestion that McLeroy should be sacked) litigation has already been filed, so additional state expenditures on this issue are guaranteed.
Texans interested in preserving the separation of church and state in Texas should Take Action at the TFN website.
Theocracy Alert. Newspaper editor with more status than brains is set straight; at least on this program. She remained unapologetic in the face of several letters of protest.
August Brunsman of the Secular Student Alliance was on to discuss the advancing cause of freethought amongst the next generation, and the disturbing amount of money funneled into christian causes like Campus Crusade.
Dan Barker’s work on Yip Harburg‘s Rhymes for the Irreverent. Snippets from this song are frequently used as bumper music in later episodes of the show.
Pagan pulpit wraps up the episode. Tithing supported in the bible? Not the way you might think.
Theocracy Alert. Reading from the Associated Baptist Press, a speech by Walter Sheridan, calling attention to recent disturbing trends in religion. The continuing saga of the Mt. Solidad Cross.
Dave Habecker was recalled from his trustees position in Estes Park, Colorado, for failing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance (I’m betting my position on the pledge would send Estes Park into orbit) which does nothing less than establish a religious test for holding office.
I’m studiously ignoring the plug for Inconvenient Truth at the end of the episode, because it’s not convenient to rant about the environment right now. But then, there’s always Bullshit! to fall back on, when the previous rants fall short.
Mike Christensen sponsored an “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Seattle. He changed his definition of agnostic, and that’s why he’s now an atheist. Sounds familiar. It’s interesting to hear from a member of a younger generation on a thoughtful subject; like the impact of religion on the world.
“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” –Steven Weinberg
Theocracy Alert. CNN YouTube debate snippets and related editorializing. This is how the hosts always get in trouble, and they do it again. One of the question dealt with candidate support for “public” schools, which Annie Laurie lamented were being robbed of funds by “parochial schools” in rigged voucher systems.
I’ve said this several times before, but it bears repeating. They aren’t public schools, they are government or state schools; not much better than prisons in their current form. The alternative to government schools isn’t religious schools (as Annie Laurie has implied more than once) it’s competition for the best education to be had for the least amount of tax burden. The alternative to a top down Soviet-styled federal education bureaucracy (what we have now, or are moving towards) is a real education marketplace.
Am I wrong to fear the dogma of the left/socialist as much as I fear the dogma of the right/fascist? Why can’t we throw out all the dirty bathwater, and just embrace American liberty? Take all the funds from the overfunded government schools, and force them to compete in an education marketplace, let the best educators win.
Emily Lyons was injured in a clinic bombing by a Right-to-Lifer (how can one kill and support a “right to life”? It’s an unsupportable conflict, and no counter-arguments will be accepted) terrorist, Eric Robert Rudolph. Truthfully, the interview is hard to listen to, for me. I have an almost uncontrollable rage response when it comes to people who are willing to kill for their peaceful religions.
Raging Grannies sing, and then loving messages from christian fans closes out the show.
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” –Blaise Pascal
Theocracy Alert this week features a listing of theocracies advances, counter pointed with theocracies defeats (they ought to try this more often) The verdict in the Andrea Yeats trial is discussed, along with the impact on someone else who hears voices in his head, George Bush.
Alvin Harris’ interview revolved around his representation of FFrF in a case concerning Bryan college and the legacy of the scopes trial (FFrF vs. Rhea County School System) Evangelicals who wish to promote their religion in the government schools should remember the lessons of the founders, and their experience with state mandated religious education. What happens when the government adopts a flavor of christianity that you don’t agree with?
Podcast Link. July 19, 2008 – Webster Cook, student senator and non-eater of communion wafers
Sarah Braasch returns to talk about prayer imposed on senior citizens. If I was restricted to use of federally funded services, I think I’d take exception to being forced to pray in order to eat. Which is what Sarah’s report was about. FAQ at FFrF.org
Dan waxes poetic on the subject of reincarnation.
Webster Cook attended a mass recently because a friend was curious about what actually occurs during a Catholic mass. During the mass, he received communion but failed to eat the wafer (he was, in fact, raised Catholic) He’s now being charged with a hate crime, and possible expulsion from school. Go figure. It’s hard to imagine how anything more ridiculous could have evolved out of this situation.
Excuse me if I find this entire subject laughable. I’ve talked to several Catholics over the years who have told me that they never eat the communion wafers. “You never know where those things have been”.
The episode opens with a tribute to the Harry Potter stories. The seventh Harry Potter book was released at midnight the day of the broadcast. I was out there with the rest of the fans, myself.
Theocracy alert deals with a disruption during the Senate invocation prayer. (Why we as taxpayers pay for Senate chaplains is beyond me. I thought they were all sworn to poverty?) and a discussion of the sad state of affairs when it comes to Catholic priests and child abuse.
(Why not advertise Trojans on TV? Can’t be any worse than ED treatments or female hygiene products)
I’ve seen it (and I won’t go see the Passion of the Christ. Talk about Torture Porn) I hate to say this, but I think the interview was better than the film. I haven’t had the chance to watch the entire DVD, but I understand that there is more information on the DVD than is included in the film itself.
For legal buffs, George Daly represented FFrF in their objection to a bible distribution day. He has also represented clients held at Gitmo.
It’s frightening to think this was two years ago, and they have just now granted that these prisoners have a right to a hearing under US law. These prisoners will be waiting at least another year before they even get their hearing, and it could be another couple of years before any of them could be released. That’s over a decade of imprisonment for some of these guys, some of them simply swept up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 3650 days versus one day for a US citizen accused of a real crime. What a joke our laws are.
Freethinkers Almanac makes a reappearance in this episode. Robert A. Heinlein is a July freethinker (check out JOB: a Comedy of Justice if you have any doubts)
David Mills is on to plug his new book Atheist Universe. His objection, that religious parents and teachers use the ultimate club “you’ll go to hell if you don’t believe like I do” to manipulate children, is something that rings a bell with me. Fear of hell was the most motivating part of my belief. In the end, it wasn’t enough.
“Fundamentalists are imposing themselves on our reality”
I neglected to mention the two episodes in the archive in which you can learn more about the hosts. Two of the earliest episodes feature one of the co-hosts interviewing the other. Both are memorable. One is Losing Faith in Faith in which we hear more about the history of the former pastor Dan Barker. The other is Religion’s Harm to Women and the history of Annie Laurie Gaylor. If I had to pick my favorite of the two, Ms. Gaylor is a more interesting interview subject (sorry Dan) although there is much to learn from Dan’s trip from believer to non-believer.
Dan’s song Blood Brothers always chokes me up, having to give up the beliefs of youth. Life was so much simpler then; but this life is real, trying to hold on to those illusions would not be.
I don’t know what happened, but what went over the air this Saturday was a repeat of Stolen Innocence from two weeks ago. It was worth a second listen (I generally listen to them three times by the time I get a review written) and Elissa Wall’s story is one that everyone who is following the story of the FLDS in Texas should hear.
The California Gay Marriage humor brings the messed up state of marriage in Texas to the forebrain again. Not content in just discriminating against gays when it comes to giving out tax bennies (lets call a spade a spade here. This is why gays want to get married. It should be available to anyone in a long term relationship) now, one of our state reps wants to make divorce more difficult to obtain. This is what you get when you let the state get involved in these sorts of personal decisions.
Warren Chisum. Someone else that should be looking for paying work instead of wasting my tax dollars.
The website published the announced episode, however, so I’ll link to it and discuss it.
Darrell Lambert highlights one of the most disturbing things to have occurred in recent years, at least as relates to my own childhood. I was a Cub Scout, Webelo and Boy Scout. I used to love to camp, when I could tolerate pollen, and Boy Scout camp outs were some of the best memories.
To have the current leadership of the Boy Scouts be so blind as to exclude atheists and gays from their ranks is almost too painful to contemplate. Some of the more disturbing memories involve attempts at religious conversion by the zealots in the troops I was a part of. I’d rather have a camp fire and a good ghost story any day.
Rep. Berceau on her Integrity of Science Education Act; Eugenie Scott from NCSE discusses evolution defense within the public schools. I found it rather entertaining that the second guest disagreed with the stance of the first guest, when it came to legislating what is science. I’d say that Eugenie Scott understands the nature of bureaucracy better than Dan and Laurie do.