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Reza Aslan on the Only Way We’ll Ever See Religious Tolerance — IndieWire’s TURN IT ON Podcast

The scholar's new CNN series "Believer" looks at Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, Scientology, Santa Muerte, and even a Hawai'i doomsday cult. Plus: A look at FX's "Feud: Bette and Joan."

Reza Aslan, “Believer”


LAST WEEK’S PODCAST: Dan Bucatinsky on ’24: Legacy,’ ‘Scandal’ and His Partnership with Lisa Kudrow — IndieWire’s TURN IT ON Podcast

Reza Aslan has met Jezus.

Yes, thats “Jezus,” with a “z.” He’s the leader of a doomsday cult in Hawai’i, and “weirdly looks like Jesus, who thinks he’s receiving messages from the heavens,” Aslan said. “He has a vision for the end of the world, a catastrophic flood that’s a result of climate change.”

As a result, Jezus’ community is building an arc for the coming flood. Sounds crazy – until you realize there’s some truth in what may eventually be coming. “What they are afraid of is real, climate change is a real thing!”

Reza Aslan, “Believer”


Aslan, an author and religion scholar whose credits also include consulting on HBO’s “The Leftovers,” is hoping to find common religious ground in a world where that seems pretty impossible. His new CNN series “Believer” aims to do that by sharing stories of customs and faith around the world.

“When you start to talk to these people, they are searching for something that is familiar to a lot of us, a sense of belonging,” he told IndieWire’s TURN IT ON podcast. “Although different people around the world have different ways of expressing their ideals, what they’re expressing is universal. My job is to immerse myself in what look like foreign, exotic religious groups – by not being an observer, but a participant.”

Reza Aslan and Michael Schneider

Among the communities that Aslan visits: Ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israel, Scientology in the U.S., Hindu asceticism in India, Voodou in Haiti, Santa Muerte in Mexico, and an apocalyptic doomsday cult in Hawaii.

Also in this episode: IndieWire TV editor Liz Shannon Miller discusses Ryan Murphy’s new FX series “Feud: Bette and Joan.”

Listen below!

IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now in TV – no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. Each episode features interviews with producers, reviews, essays on the latest buzz and trends, plus a roundup of what’s premiering and what’s returning over the coming week. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.

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Steven F Magdefrau

History is so repeatable. The spring of 1980 I visited my Mother’s Brother Paul Boeth at his compound on a dirt road in Mountain View, Hawaii. A exciting time for a twenty year old young man. A time to keep quiet, be observant and understand what you really want. Uncle Paul had started a compound with three other in the Hawain jungle. A place of friendship and love in his words as we walked down the board walk. I remember the jungle and the afternoon’s rain showers. I remember the cabin they had built. The chicken coop and green house. The small shower with a out house. Rather neat and organized. I realize now they had likely put a lot of effort into cleaning it up before my visit. I think now that they were starving for money with a dream of me having money to fund their lost compound adventure. Two of the first four fellows had left. A year after I left they gave up and left after they found their compound half built on someone’s else’s lot. The push to grow drugs to sell was just one bad decision. I saw that the garden and chickens would not always feed them. The police was in the area catching drug people weekly. My plane ticket had been a two way purchase. I was not interested in cashing in the second leg. Time past along through those three weeks. I saw first hand how dreams are not based on smart thinking. Looking for success in life I was back in Arkansas. I serve in the US Army. I earned a four year degree from college. I married my wife. We go to a Southern Baptist Church. Our two children are doing fine. All those years at the Tyson plants allowed me to retire early. I was lucky to mature without any scars. Even Facebook shows me the two lost loves of my past reveals the trueism blessing of my wife. Cinderland is another past that was lived before. A dream that needed to be left in nothingness one morning. A young person’s future can be wasted, or it can be built.

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