I'm getting 

more nervous:

Why couldn't I 

be bungee 

jumping or 

having my 

teeth drilled?



A Night on the Town Hall
 By Jeff Jones 
Oregonians for Rationality members Jeffery Jones and Bill Capron recently appeared on Portiand's KATU-TV program, Town Hall. The topic was "Do you believe in angels?" The following is Jeff Jones' personal commentary as he experiences his television debut.

The Town Hall angel's feature was scheduled for Christmas Day with a rerun on Easter. I was originally reluctant to appear on TV as a skeptic, but I talked myself into it: "What better way to get into the Christmas spirit - and impress my fundamentalist in-laws. Go for it, Jeff."

     Bill and I arrive an hour early and are escorted to the Blue Room. A psychologist and five members of a local atheist group soon join us, relieving some of the pressure I feel. On the true believer side I see a woman wearing a long red cape: The "Caped Angel Crusader" perhaps? I'm sure it's going to be a entertaining evening!

     We move into the taping studio. The angel believers on one side, everyone else on the other. The psychologist is placed in the "hot seat" dividing the two groups. By now both sides are eyeing each other suspiciously. They seat me close to the "hot seat." This is bad. They expect me (based on a pre-show telephone interview) to be vocal and intelligent. They had obviously confused me with Bill Capron who is smart and who is seated way the hell out on the edge of the bench in the "Forest Gump" section.

     Anxiety builds as the show's producer explains the ground rules and the show host, Jeff Gianola, warms us up. How can he be so calm and collected? Doesn't he know he's about to be on TV? I'm getting more nervous:Why couldn't I be bungee jumping or having my teeth drilled? Where's my decaf guardian angel when I need her?

     Pre-taped, pro-angel segments with "I was saved by my guardian angel" stories, begin to roll. As best I can tell, a Celestial 911 Emergency Response Service is available. The best story comes from a lady who won six million dollars in the Oregon lottery, thanks to the guidance of her guardian angel. I briefly consider switching sides.

     The "Where's the Proof?" side interjcts some rational skepticism and scientific explanations. Bill and I each make a comment, but time is limited. The psychologist, Gene Baker, does the best job, pointing out the role of imagination and metaphor in these experiences and defining angels as personified expressions of our unconscious. We didn't expect to convert the other side, but hopefully some viewers will think more deeply on the subject.

     We listen to another believer who claims to see guardian angels for us all. She sketches Jeff Gianola's angel. I'm a tad bit skeptical; she started the sketch before Gianola even entered the studio. The angel looks suspiciously like Elvis, who, I know, is actually in Fargo, North Dakota tonight performing in a Denny's. I read it in the National Enquirer.

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