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!”
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.”
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.”
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.