Season 1 Finale – The Christmas Chronicler

Hard to Believe #025 – The Christmas Chronicler - Gerry Bowler on Santa Claus

It’s our final episode of season one. We began the season looking at the lasting legacy of the X-Files and how the landscape of conspiracy theories in the 1990s contrasted with those of today. So closing the season right before Christmas, it only seemed right that to examine history’s most successful actual conspiracy – that of hundreds of millions of parents the world over, duping their children by willing into existence a magical elf-man who flies on a sleigh delivering presents for free to all good children.

And who better to ask the greatest living Christmas historian, whose books on the subject include Christmas in the Crosshairs, The World’s Greatest Christmas Stories, The World Encyclopedia of Christmas, and Santa Claus: A Biography. He lives in Canada, in some corner of the country where it’s always Christmas.

Check out his Amazon author page here.

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TOMORROW – A Very Special QANON Event! PLUS: Catch up on episode 21!

Election day is just around the corner! Will the armies of QAnon, defenders of nonexistent children who are the nonexistent victims of a nonexistent cabal of devil-worshipping vampiric/pedophilic elites rise up and take to the streets when Donald Trump loses?

Maybe? Probably? I dunno. But QAnon is scary as shit and you should take them seriously (as in as a terrorist threat, not that you should take their claims seriously!)

Mike Manzi, Jess Collins, and Teddy Smith join me for a two-hour-plus discussion about Nazis, Russian, Roswell, and why your crazy uncle has a WWG1WGA shirt! Head here and subscribe via your favorite podcast platform now!

In the meantime, check out my discussion with Richard Kaczynski about occult icon Aleister Crowley. It’s a good one.

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

Episode 20 – Pastor June Joplin

Hard to Believe #020 – Pastor June Joplin 

Until last summer, June Joplin had been serving as pastor at Lorne Park Baptist Church in Toronto. Then she delivered a sermon that would change her life. In the months since, she has been interviewed by the New York Times, Vox, and the CBC, and her story has been featured in major news outlets far and wide. She spoke to John about what led to her wanting to be a pastor, what led to her coming out, and her hopes for Christianity and herself as she considers what comes next.

You can find more about her at her website, PastorJune.com

She is on Twitter @beloved_june

You can contribute to her GoFundMe here

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

Episode 19 – Emmy Nominee Liza Richardson

Hard to Believe #019 – Emmy Nominee Liza Richardson 

Long admired in the television and movie world, Liza Richardson developed a loyal fan following when she served as the music supervisor for The Leftovers, and this year she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Watchmen. Joey Lewandowski – whose favorite show of all time is The Leftovers – joins John for the first time since our debut episode to talk to Liza about her work, her life, and how she helped make The Leftovers what Joey calls “the best show about religion that’s not about religion” ever.

Find Liza on Instagram and Spotify, where she puts together ridiculously great playlists. 

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

Episode 18 – Greg Garrett on U2, zombies, race in Hollywood, and more

Hard to Believe #018 – Greg Garrett – Cultural Theologian

Cultural theologian Greg Garrett is the author of more than 20 books, including 2009’s We Get to Carry Each Other, the Gospel According to U2, 2017’s Living with Living Dead, an exploration of the theological and human insights of the zombie apocalypse trope, and A Long, Long Way: Hollywood’s Unfinished Journey from Racism to Reconciliation, which was published in May of this year.

Greg teaches English at Baylor University in Texas. He joined John to discuss U2, zombies, race and racism in Hollywood, and the people who continue to teach and inspire him.

He can be found on Twitter at @Greg1Garrett

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

Episode 17 – Mandisa Thomas – Founder of Black Nonbelievers

Mandisa Thomas is the founder of Black Nonbelievers – a nonprofit that connects Black Americans and their allies who are living free of religion and might otherwise be shunned by family and friends in a caring, friendly, and informative environment. The group now has chapters in 14 major cities across the country. 

Mandisa serves on the board of directors for the American Humanist Association, and has been recognized as the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association’s 2018 Person of the Year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Freethought Heroine for 2019, and the Secular Student Alliance’s 2019 Backbone Award winner.

She talked to John about why she believes Christianity can’t be unlinked from white supremacy, why she took on the role of helping other Black atheists come out of the closet, and the importance of putting people first and keeping the momentum of this moment alive. 

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

Episode 16 – Decker and Philosophy

Hard to Believe #016 – Kevin S. Decker – Pop Culture and Philosophy

Kevin S. Decker is a professor of philosophy at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, WA. In his classes, he works from science fiction, comic books, and other popular culture reference points to explore and explain concepts of philosophy to his students.

He has also contributed to and edited a number of books from the “…and Philosophy” series, including Alien and Philosophy, Star Wars and Philosophy, Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant, and Terminator and Philosophy: I’ll Be Back, Therefore I Am. He is also a devoted Whovian, and the author of Who is Who, an exploration of philosophy in Doctor Who.

For this episode, John is joined by Nico Vasilo, from CageClub podcasts .html and X is for Podcast

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith

New Episode Tomorrow (8/26): Kevin S. Decker “and Philosophy”!

Eastern Washington University philosophy professor Kevin S. Decker has written and taught extensively about philosophy and popular culture. He has been a regular contributor to various entries in the “….and Philosophy” series of books, and is also the author of Who is Who: The Philosophy of Doctor Who.

Nico Vasilo from X is for Podcast and .html joins the conversation.

Available tomorrow here or wherever you get podcasts!

Episode 15 – The Lovecraftian: S.T. Joshi

S.T. Joshi is an author, researcher, and scholar based in Seattle, Washington. Since the age of 13, he has immersed himself in studying and chronicling the life and works of the enigmatic and highly influential American author H.P. Lovecraft.

Since this month sees the release of HBO’s adaptation of Matt Ruff’s novel Lovecraft Country, I asked Joshi to speak to me about the author’s complex legacy on literature, philosophy, and atheism and how we should think about his problematic views on race.

Joshi, who proudly describes himself as “technologically inept”, can be found here: http://stjoshi.org/

He is the author of the superb biography I Am Providence

#2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra Hard to Believe – A Podcast About Belief

Octavia Butler is inarguably one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and she may well also be the most important one of our time. She was taken from this world far too early in 2006, but her work continues to speak to and for a beleaguered world, and has found an emerging and increasingly devout audience in social justice circles and among marginalized groups to whom her work has always spoken in profound and hopeful ways. In this episode, John is joined by Anand Kalra, founding director of Uncaged Librarian Arts & Information. He has worked in K-12 public schools, early childhood education, academic libraries, LGBT advocacy, and public health policy. He is the producer, director, and lyricist from Octavia of Earth, a documusical about the live of Octavia Butler, which is now being developed into a feature film. You can learn more about Octavia of Earth here: http://www.octaviaofearth.org/ You can learn more about Uncaged Librarian Productions here: https://uncagedlibrarianmusic.com/
  1. #2.14 – Octavia of Earth – with Anand Kalra
  2. #2.13 – Dr. Fred Grewe – On what working with the dying has taught him about living
  3. Shirley (2020) – A Special Hard to Believe/The Contenders Crossover
  4. #2.12 – Bry Jensen – Host of "Pontifacts"
  5. #2.11 – Q: Into the Storm – with Teddy Smith