Here is an excerpt from Moyer’s opening intro to the series broadcast Friday night:
Our world seems mightily divided right now between the religious and the secular – and even between the faiths which share the heritage of Abraham. Yet I’ll wager that most of us don’t live such polarized, one-sided lives. The people I know seem to move back and forth in the twilight of the mind where doubt and belief stroll together like old lovers, often estranged, now reconciled, trying to carry on a respectful, intimate conversation in the hope of getting to know each other just a little bit better. Throughout the double helix of our DNA, it seems, the molecules of faith and reason chatter away, and it’s in our interest, and the world’s, that they stay on good speaking terms.
—-from the Faith and Reason Website at pbs.org
That’s a pretty good image to describe this relationship amongst the psychosocial/spiritual elements: that of DNA, intimating that it is all part of a wholistic life, whose pieces cannot be separated (“molecules of faith and reason”) , and yet seem to be pitted against each other asif they are separate. Any attempt to talk about them alongiside one another seems doomed to constant blurring.
Moyer’s first big interview is with Salman Rushdie
The following exerpt is from the transcript, found here
BILL MOYERS: You were one of several people like you who signed a manifesto. Tell me about that?
SALMAN RUSHDIE: Yeah, this is a, well, it started off with 12 of us, and now I think many others have added their names. But it’s basically saying we have to call oppression by its true name. And that what we are facing in the world right now is a new tyranny. You know, a new tyranny-
BILL MOYERS: Of?
SALMAN RUSHDIE: –using the language of religion. Using the language of Islam, but which is in fact totalitarianism. Which you can compare to Nazism, you can compare to Stalinism. And which operates against its own people as well as the rest of the world in very fascistic and oppressive ways. And this is I think important to know that people most oppressed by this radical Islamism are Muslims. You know, the people suffering most from the Taliban were Afghans. So this fascistic project, political project, wearing the language of religion like a cloak, like a protective cloak, needs to be called by its true name. And that’s really what this manifesto existed to say.
BILL MOYERS: You say we plead for the universality of freedom of expression so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents against all abuses and all dogmas. That’s the very thing that the tyrants don’t want. They don’t want the critical spirit applied to their-
SALMAN RUSHDIE: But this is the time honored role of the artist to speak truth to power, you know, and if you look at what is happening in the Muslim world some of the writers signing that manifesto are particularly concerned with the oppression of women, which is a very big subject and in the Muslim world. Others are concerned with the oppression of freedoms of speech and assembly. And others are concerned with simple â€” the creation of kind of overarching world view, which makes it impossible for people to consider the concept of freedom. You know, that’s to say it simply not available, for discussion, you know. And one of the awful things about long term mass censorship is that in the end people can lose a sense of what it’s like to live in a free world. You know, because it’s not–there’s nothing automatic about it. It’s a thing you have to fight for and preserve.
BILL MOYERS: And we always think in this country that persecution will lose, but it doesn’t always lose.
SALMAN RUSHDIE: It doesn’t-
BILL MOYERS: It sometimes so changes the frame of reference that people who grew up in it, that they no longer have any sense that there’s something beyond it.
SALMAN RUSHDIE: Exactly. That is the final victory, you know. That’s the final victory of oppression. And I think we need to make sure that that doesn’t happen, you know. And I think it’s important to speak up. And I think it’s very interesting that more and more and more now almost every week you see some new powerful voice being raised, you know. Whether it’s Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whether it’s Wafa Sultan, whoever it may be. Many of these voices are women. And I’ve often thought that in the Muslim world the big change may come because Muslim women reject the oppression that they’ve been subjected to.
BILL MOYERS: A kind of silent revolution. You think there’s a silent revolution going on.
SALMAN RUSHDIE: No, it’s going to have to be noisy.