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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 7, 2013 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT

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i came out of the navy in a survey during kennedy and johnson and the congress. we were spending 10% of gross domestic product on defense. it we spend less than four percentage. our allies in europe and spending less than 2%. and the signal that goes out to the world now with their sequestration is that we have cut the pentagon budget and we are about to cut another half a trillion. ..
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why do you use the word emotional in the subtitle? one guinn >> because there are lots and lots of books that talk about the intellectual and historical or conceptual or cultural sins of the motions about the most obvious part that is the hardest when to describe it doesn't need much explanation. if you are on the outside it is mysterious enough to be maybe something you would never quite
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get more. this is probably a book that makes no sense in the british context. it is coming out from the united states in 2013. but it was written to address a british situation in which religion experience is not a country most people go to church on sunday or a riot and think what should we join the? and other sensible human things like that. so, if you want to explain why religion when does make sense, despite the whole complicated history of organized religion why it's worth sticking with to some people, and you can't describe it on the upside. you've got to make some kind of stab at what talking people what
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it feels like. in one way that is a considerable challenge because pulling one experience, nonfiction, books are great at creating imagine native sympathies for positions you don't share yourself. books are virtually the only medium that tell you what it's like being someone else and what i wanted to do was what would draw to the sample and demonstrate that it feels like to other people. said it is a kind of memoir but more argumentative than that sounds. so the kind of explanation by a demonstration of assuming absolutely nothing as i recognize that, absolutely nothing in the we've
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acknowledgment so everything has to be defined from scratch. >> are you practicing christian? >> i am. i am surprised to hear myself say that because i wasn't for a very long time and it's something i came back to after 20 years. >> atheism. >> it's not agnosticism but a comfortable atheism, and i came back surprising myself a little bit as i did. i think that is useful in any way because i don't have to imagine what it's like. i kind of name to that already. so in terms of building a bridge from over there to over here i seem to be over there and now i'm over here so i got to be doubled to manage the bridge. >> how did you go across that bridge? >> i must be careful with my language because i want television and i put no more strongly than that. i made one of the classic adult
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messages of my life and found i needed forgiveness and went looking at the address of where once upon a time long ago i had been told you weren't looking for such things and my considerable surprise seems to be -- >> was that the church? >> it was the church. >> why was that surprise considerable? >> because like a lot of people who left religion behind in childhood, i thought of religion as childish pity if it's a classic mistake because you last saw something at a particular address you think that it defines things and in fact religion is only a few or a child it really turns out to be adult. but again i get the impression this kind of thing is probably less surprising and in the
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american context and for sure it is embarrassing is an enormously powerful british and motioned to be a kind of hope it doesn't, that it isn't penalized by embarrassment on the terrible extent that we are. >> do you detail the experiences and unapologetic, what happened to you? >> i do but it's not a straight down the line adc lanier memoir book. my experience is all are in there but it is and the story of my life as a believer. it is an attempt to find a piece of string that will run all the way through the experience of guilt, forgiveness, questioning about how the world works and then leading on over here in a way that makes one kind of believe in life story. not every kind. there are lots of other places people can and do began.
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but in my experience the way to the universal is to be really specific. you start off with the human stuff, and you say do you recognize this and on the whole people do even if it is nothing like their experience. it's something about the way that it's kind of possessed in human terms, how would this plays to the couple raised in another human being, and people are quite embarrassed to cross bridges to experiences they haven't necessarily had themselves. so long as you can describe them right and help them imaginatively along the way. >> is atheism a belief system? >> eight really anaya acs when you say so and there are some
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who simply have a lack of a belief, but there are other atheist's out there who are grouped by something altogether more emotional and altogether more passionate on their part and in that case it really makes no sense to say the lack of a belief. it is a positive believe the. people like that often have an extremely charged emotional relationship. it isn't just there is no god they just really wish there wasn't a religion as well. and over here, books like the god delusion have been enormous hits. but i respect and a slightly different way than they have been in the united states because it's not like its bringing the good news of some poor kid in the middle i think incredible campus somewhere that
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you're not alone. there are other eevs out there. over here almost everyone is without a believe, and people are interested in and because it seems to be news about how the world works, which i think it's misleading because richard dawkins is a great popularizer of the biology and a marvelous writer. but when it comes to religion i think that he's kind of whistling in the dark. he has an enormous amount to offer. i've been anaya by how successful it's been. there has been lots of attempts to answer it here, but all of them seem to me to buy into the central mistake that he is making it is to treat religion as if it was some kind of a detective second grade science, something that consists of a bunch of propositions about the universe. and you can go yes and no
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proposition that the universe is better than that because that goodbye religion. whereas it seems to me what religion deals with is those areas of human experience with isn't available, we believe when we don't know and then descend a contemptible thing to do with generosity of heart and spirit and seems to me that would be helpful if the monte leaving majority in europe got little reminders about what the world looks like from within believe and recognize we are actually not that we're. >> there have been a whole genre of books on the is and, richard dawkins, christopher hitchens, two of the guests that we have done in the season in london and justin webb of the bbc described american religious thought in many ways is a stone age believe
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and then. why is it that europe has gone this way especially when there are so many historical churches and so much history of the church. >> i have about 50 answer to that. let me give you two of them one of them as sociological but the united states religion is voluntary, it's part of the people organize themselves you do arrive somewhere and go to the church and expect to support your own church when you've got one. you write a check to pay the minister's salary. in europe the historic churches have been a part of the infrastructure society and like the dreams and the electric light that is somebody else's responsibility to provide.
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once the big cultural changes, once the church had been kind of wrong footed about and people fell in out of the habit of going, they also lost any sense that they might have to do anything about maintaining. people expect the church to be there and expect britain for example absolutely expect the church to be there. they don't see that it has anything to do with in between those times. that is one of my answers. another one -- let's see. another one would be to do with disillusioning and disenchanting the 20th century in europe. america had a really good 20th century. you got your kind of self believe confirmed by what happened in the 20th century
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even though there is a mini version of that in britain. we like the story of ourselves in the second world war. all the same and it was a century of retreat and a kind of it wasn't what i thought it was. and a smaller and a more modest sense. and i think that just as americans kind of have a tendency to believe positively in the military valor coming europeans have substituted the irony for a lot of that stuff and we do irony instead of religion. irony seems like the way they're realists approached the universe if you have the european 20th century. >> is there an evangelical movement in eng >> is there an evangelical movement in england and is it a political movement at all? >> there is an evangelical movement but it doesn't do
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politics the way that the american one thus. the way that we are speaking are left on hold. one of the problems as christians in britain, the less people know about church locally the more they get their impression from what they see on the tv. often from a kind of american movie. so, there are quite a lot of people in britain who are now so far away from going to church here that they think that we must be somewhere around which a tall. if you are watching this and which dhaka please buy my book and i would love to someday but i think that people here think that it is the only kind there is. life had to do is actually signing up for the level god
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doesn't mean you instantly become jerry falwell. it just doesn't go like that. but in the kind of christian ethics and what you might vote, there is a huge area of open and free choice pity i find myself are giving it is a very liberal christianity and politically liberal christianity kind of where i am as a voter and as a christian. it's not a problem we have to be a part of me is a little regretful that we actually have enough christians if we had a lot more, i would settle for the political difficulties and the reasonable compensation for the spirit to the disconnect christians in america often are not shy about their allegiance or their faith.
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what about christians and let him? >> it is emotional and the british culture. if you look at the personal ads, the thing they ask for over and over again is a sense of humor is kind of oil by irony and the jokes. it's enough to suffer this kind of problematic. if you walk the plank and drop off the edge of the irony into the ocean of embarrassing earnest mess. actually it says that you can swim and it's okay. so what's been the reaction? >> very positive on the whole. even people you this defeat
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compassionately disagree with enjoy the experience the way you might enjoy getting a head massage or something. and within the churches, even though i swear and in disrespectful by some standards, they come to it right across the spectrum from all the way from the catholics. it has gone down while. if i haven't inlaid some people the kind of people like wanted to an ally, so job is done. >> to paraphrase an early test we have freedom from organized religion as basic human rights. >> freedom from organized religion is a strange cultural deficit that makes it impossible for you to understand in the past. freedom from organized religion leaves you wondering whom that
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is on all the oil paintings and freedom from organized religion means that huge areas of art and morality and culture go silent for you to get freedom from organized religion means that you do see these things like we writing for yourself. i refer to the good book. come on. you don't get to the right the bible yourself. what kind of -- i better not go on in case i become disrespectful to a fellow guest. >> what is your career track? >> erratic i think is the best word for that. none of my looks ever have anything in common with the previous one. it takes me several years every time and as far as i am concerned, one of the prizes of the wife is i get to find out something new every few years. so i look a kind of a sailboat
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and what heavy weather. i write in a book about the polar explorers and the way that engineers - work and a book about children's books, and book about religion and a book about the soviet union. and i am now working on a book about new york in the 1740's. and. >> are you the fiction offers throughout? >> i am creeping up on the section. i am a strong believer in the richness of the nonfiction. it seems to be aired in a way that we put the label when it could be so many different things. >> nonfiction wasn't as powerful a literature as the unlawful but there is interest in the novel, too.
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it was kind of halfway through the novel with footnotes. the next one is going to be in awful because i am greedy and i want to know how to do that, too. >> i want to ask you where did you began your career in the publishing world? >> i was a publishing the year. >> what is that? >> it's something that doesn't exist anymore to get its not being rationalized yet. and long ago, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, way back 19 etds when i graduated from college, and english publishing was so uncommercial they would actually keep people on hand to lead the book and since i am a continuous leader it is a dream job becoming the keister any factory typewriter it's
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like being a nice prison sentence. they passed me two or three novels everyday and i just kind of red and red, and occasionally type on my manual typewriter comments. while i was there i discovered i didn't want to have a career in publishing and to stick closer to the project. so i also realized i was well placed besides the people downstairs but wanted to publish a book by news. so it took time out and on the typewriter i had a series of member memos on why they should print the one i was thinking of. then i was insane and quit my job with a glorious 666 pounds which was not the number by the way. was precisely one-third.
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so we are talking about a thousand dollars in 1989i thought i don't need the job anymore and then i went away and became very poor indeed and made ends meet for the six years that it took to write my actable first book. >> and you won an award for that? >> i did when i finally finished it i got a kind of nice little drum solo which was completely misleading because i thought this is what it's like publishing a book. and it never has been again. but it was a really nice beginning. i got the other thing the sunday times of london, a young writer of the year. the writers guild a prize of nonfiction and one of which i can't -- this comedy festival mountain book of the year award
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which had a beautiful stained-glass that are arrived at the mosaic in london. since then i've never won any of their prized pity it was all at the beginning of my career. >> did read plenty come out in 2012? >> it is a kind of book to make this sound not appetizing as possible. it is about soviet science -- has been a kid is worse than that. it is far worse. it's about soviet economics, it's about the most abysmal country on the planet. part of me was being kind of perverse. i wanted to take the most boring subject anyone had ever imagined, russell licht the ground and force it to give up its rules interestingly enough. but i also have a question i wanted to ask about how we got to where we were after the
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berlin wall fell because i'm old enough i was born in 1964i am old enough to remember all the why would -- what it was like before that when the soviet union was not only kind of grim and desperate that kind of scary and looked kind of modern as well. if you look at the year 1960, 61, and you have the kennedy white house saying we must close the gap with the russians, we must use it as intelligently as they did in the soviet union. most of it was smoke and mirrors, not all of it though because they had an amazing growth rate through the 1950's. people were scared of the soviet union them in the way that some might get a little scared in india and china now they looked at the figures and where they would take us. i always point to a wonderful column that paul krugman wrote when he pointed out this historical irony. and i thought there is a historical moment, there is a
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forgotten moment of the alarm and anxiety when they look like the winners. let's try to get back inside of the head of people that fought that we then because history doesn't just go on by us answering questions. it goes by asking complete sets of questions and forgetting the past ones and that means the past is actually more mysterious than it looks to get inside the mind set even if the past is 40 or 50 years ago it often doesn't enter a different world. it is kind of senate debate to science fiction. but landing on the plan at and behaving that is a set of alien tools and the science fiction to explain them. >> previous guest on the series was robert of the observer. he said that the writers and britain can't be just writers. they have to be writers and something else. do you have a job?
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>> i am a writer and teacher of writing putting it on to each the equivalent of a course on tuesdays and wednesdays every week. that is a good place to go. >> it is part of the university of london was founded long ago by some actable goldsmith that we haven't done any of the precious metal for quite some time. we are good at art and writing and web design. we do that have the time and the other half the time i am at home or sitting at a cafe. i'm actually rather bad working at home. other folks are getting on with their lives and their business and then i can concentrate. >> unapologetic coming out in paperback later this year.
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the subtitle why despite everything christianity can still make surprising emotional sense. will you be touring the u.s. with this book? >> it depends whether it counts as a tour. i will be doing what i'm invited to do and i hope to get to quite a few places that will have to be very pact. >> do you know where you will be? >> no except so four new york, texas and boston are quite likely. >> we have been talking with francis spufford author of unapologetic, read plenty and several other books. thank you for spending a little time with us here on booktv. >> you are welcome. >> coming up next book tv interviewed mary wilmers in london about her 35 years on the london book review. this is just under 40 minutes.
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>> our series from london on book tv continues this week with mary kay wilmers who is the founder and editor of the london review of books. what is the london review of books? >> of the founding editor that is not me. the founding editor is carl miller and he was asked to start the paper. but i was there. the london review of books is a -- it's very like the new york review of books to get it was started by the review of books in 1979, so there was no time to supplement. i was working at the times and
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stopped i think in january of '79. and then in october 3 papers cannot the seat to be causing time or maybe september. it was rather like the new dark review that started when there was a strike at the new york times. so once these papers came out within two weeks the times was back. so the other two eventually merged and carried on as the review. we appeared initially inside of the new york review of books and that lasted until may of 1980 and the new york review didn't feel that we were competing for the same writers i think. we carried on on our own a. >> so you were independent from the new york review of books what is your title?
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publisher? >> i am the editor. >> you are the editor. okay. how do you describe the health of the publishing industry in great britain right now? >> i would say that it was awful but i don't know what anyone else said. >> why did you say that? >> because i think that the books are dumbed down to a certain extent and that is a shame. that is one side of it. the other side of it is everybody is very frightened and the authors paid their best sellers they were not paid very much money, so they have to have other jobs, which i think is not


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