This American Life‘s Ira Glass on Faith

The host of This American Life, Ira Glass, did an interview with Beliefnet in anticipation of the upcoming second season of the Showtime TAL show.

The topics of religion (obviously) came up quite a bit:

How do you tell a story well?

There is a kind of structure for a story that was peculiarly compelling for the radio. I thought I had invented it atom-by-atom sitting in an editing booth in Washington on M Street when I was in my 20s. Then I found out that it is one of the oldest forms of telling a story — it was the structure of a sermon.

And if there was any doubt:

I saw on a website that you are an atheist. Was that was an evolution or were you raised that way?

When my people arrived in this country from the Old Country they started eating shellfish the day they arrived. They were very secular very quickly. So neither of my parents were raised with a religious education or in a shul, but they wanted their kids to have that. We all went to Hebrew school three times a week, my sisters and I, and then after that we all went off to Hebrew College three day a week. By the time I was 13, I found I just didn’t believe in God. I would argue with the rabbi who ran the Hebrew college, which is funny because now I have so many religious people in my life and I have done so many stories about religious people.

Would you want your kids to bar mitzvah?

I don’t know. Culturally I am a Jew. I don’t have a choice about it. You can’t lose your cultural heritage like luggage at the airport. It’s a part of me. But my kids…it is weird to indoctrinate your child into something that you don’t believe. It violates some sort of golden rule. I don’t think it is bad to raise your child as an atheist, but I say that as someone without children.

If you’re not downloading the TAL podcast already, do it. It’s by far the best podcast out there.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Ashes

    I’ve been a long-time fan of this show, it’s really great! :) If you search the archives, there’s a show from several years back called “A Teenager’s Guide To God” that follows a group of teens on a mission trip in West Virginia. It’s an absolutely fascinating secular look at a religious right of passage, and also examines how the trip reinforced the faith of some kids while leading others to more questions than before. I recommend that episode most highly.

    Here’s the link where you can listen free:
    http://thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=147

  • Susan

    I’m going to Ira’s appearance in Nashville on May 31. I am so looking forward to it!

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com NYCatheist

    I’m a longtime TAL fan. The current episode is a great summary of the subprime mortgage crisis. It’s still available for a free download. If you don’t know anything about the problem, this is a great easy to understand intro:
    http://thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=355

    If you know TAL well, you might enjoy this spoof:
    http://www.kasperhauser.com/this_am_life.html

  • Karen

    Fantastic show, and also my favorite podcast.


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