PZ’s Podcast 90-94: The Rest of Your Life, Sequels, G-d (Robinson Crusoe on Mars), Falsification and My New Program

Episode 90: “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” The song’s not actually […]

Mockingbird / 2.6.12

Episode 90: “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”

The song’s not actually that great. But the title!

This talk concerns your profession, and tries to say what I wish someone had said to me: I wish someone had said this to me when I was 21 and flailing around looking for something to do. I wish someone had said it to me when I was 41 and looking for something better to do. And I wish someone would say it to me when I’m 64 and still flailing around.

The original thought here comes from a paragraph towards the end of the novel After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. The character ‘Mr. Propter’ says that the only seeing-guide when it comes to vision and knowledge would have to be a “religious psychologist”. A religious psychologist could variously be a doctor or nurse, a minister or teacher, a baker (especially a baker of desserts) or a tree guy. Probably not an i-banker, or a seeker after power (even to ‘do some good’ — power seems to corrupt the most eleemosynary aims), or a soldier.

I hope this podcast will make the listener wish to become a religious psychologist. (And when you think about it, there are hundred of directions in which to go.)


Episode 91: Sequels

I like sequels. Like “The Empire Strikes Back”, or “The Invisible Man Returns”, or “The Mummy’s Hand.”

Sermons, by the way, are sequels. I mean sermons in church. They all go back, in a long line, to the first sermon in the tradition: the Sermon on the Mount. But they’re seldom as good! Why?

The idea here is that if you want to know what makes a good sermon, watch “The Invisible Man Returns” or “Son of Dracula” — not to mention, “Halloween III”. I’m serious.

Please note that PZ’s Podcast now has an e-mail address, to which you can send questions, comments, requests, or ideas for a podcast. It’s PZSPODCAST@gmail.com. “I am waiting” (Seymour).


Episode 92: G-d

“Kuh-hay-tchuh-pek”. You know what that is? It’s Martian for “God”, or rather, “G-d”.

In the touching and now Criterioned movie called “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”  (1964), G-d makes a bunch of appearances. All of them are nice.

First, marooned MGP (Mars Ground Probe) Commander ‘Kit’ Draper thanks Him when he is led to a supply of oxygen. Then, Mona the Wooly Monkey, whom G-d has provided to be Commander Draper’s resourceful scout, guides him to water and then to food. Later, ‘Friday’ — a captured humanoid mine slave (Don’t you just love it?) — invokes “Kuh-hay-tchuh-pek” as the Divine Order of the universe, Commander Draper agreeing that “Kuh-hay-tchuh-pek” must be ‘G-d’.

Then our hero recites The 23rd Psalm, after a miraculous deliverance from a sort of lignite or basalt (or licquorice, which I think it actually probably was) deluge. And finally — twice, in fact — ‘Friday’ shows his deliverer the power of the Great Deliverance when he acts to sacrifice himself in order to save Commander Draper.

It didn’t surprise me that one of the production stills Criterion shows you on a special feature depicts a Catholic priest on the set. I am certain that some of the people who made this movie were believers.

By the way, more or less everybody likes this movie, tho’ what internet critics, and even the Criterion essayist, say, across the board, is, “The movie has a religious sub-text. Nevertheless (or Still) it is a credible story of interplanetary shipwreck…”. (Some things will never change.)

This is a short podcast about G-d. I hope it will strengthen your faith.


Episode 93: Falsification

When we compartmentalize truth — and everybody does it — falsification is the result.

Cozzens puts an observation about this into the mouth of ‘Cora Ross’, a character in Guard of Honor (1948). She is speaking to her husband about a widespread vulnerability among Army officers posted far away from home:

“The weak point there, Norman, if by any chance you aren’t perfectly aware of it, is the definition of ‘anything that would hurt his wife.’ He’ll always end by deciding it isn’t a matter of what he does, it’s a matter of what she knows. He is wrong, of course. Either you see why, or you don’t. It is a matter of falsifying a relationship, which has to be a kind of common trust, between two people. if he is, in the very exact phrase, untrue, and she doesn’t know it, he may think he’s getting away with something. He isn’t. He has made it no longer a common trust. He’s made an unstable arrangement of ignorance on one side and deceit on the other.” (p. 282)

This podcast concerns the consequences of falsification in life. We move from ‘Cora Ross’ to Agnes Varda (“Le Bonheur”) to churches and lawyers to Freda Payne (“Band of Gold”).

The podcast also looks at the mine of non-false Gold which the Christian Church sits on, through time and tide, collapse and renewal. It is the non-falsifying acknowledgement of Reality and that impossible-to-refuse engagement with Reality, which is Mercy.


(Mini-)Episode 94: My New Program

It all started last June, when I realized that something had changed, everywhere. My interactions at the drive-in window of the bank were different suddenly, but also the same. It’s not what had changed that stuck out, but the fact it had changed.

I also realized, just about the same time, that the word “program” had changed. Almost overnight. Instead of referring to things like Lenten suppers and Sunday night series on parenting, or youth group “mad dashes” to bring homeless people coffee and sandwiches in bleak mid-winter, “programs” now included things like surveillance and “the Friendly Skies” and something called “rendition”.

I’m designing a new program down where I live. But I don’t exactly know what I should design it to do. Maybe you could give me some ideas. Feels like I’ve got to come up with something.


Again, that email address, for questions, comments, or requests is PZSPODCAST@gmail.com. “I Am Waiting” (Jagger).