religion

Marilyn Yalom is a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, and the author of "A History of the Wife," among other books.

In "The Amorous Heart," Marilyn Yalom tracks the heart metaphor and heart iconography across two thousand years, through Christian theology, pagan love poetry, medieval painting, Shakespearean drama, Enlightenment science, and into the present. She argues that the symbol reveals a tension between love as romantic and sexual on the one hand, and as religious and spiritual on the other.

  Anjali Kumar, a pragmatic lawyer for Google, was part of a rapidly growing population in America: highly spiritual but religiously uncommitted. But when her daughter was born, she became compelled to find God - or at least some kind of enlightenment. 

Convinced that traditional religions were not a fit for her, and knowing that she couldn't simply Google an answer to "What is the meaning of life?", Kumar set out on a spiritual pilgrimage, looking for answers--and nothing was off limits or too unorthodox. She headed to the mountains of Peru to learn from the shamans, attended the techie haunt of Burning Man, practiced transcendental meditation, convened with angels, and visited saints, goddesses, witches, and faith healers.

Her book is "Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In."

In 2016, the president-elect of the United States openly called for segregation and deportation based on race and religion. Meanwhile, inequalities in education, housing, health care, and the job market continue to prevail, while increased insecurity and fear have led to an epidemic of scapegoating and harassment of people of color.

Yet, recent polls show that only thirty-one percent of white people in the United States believe racism is a major societal problem; at the same time, resistance is strong, as highlighted by indigenous struggles for land and sovereignty and the Movement for Black Lives.

Paul Kivel’s book: "Uprooting Racism" offers a framework around neoliberalism and interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism, along with stories of resistance and white solidarity. It provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice.

Paul Kivel has been a social justice activist, a nationally and internationally recognized anti-racism educator, and an innovative leader in violence prevention for over forty years.

God Needed A Puppy

Oct 27, 2017

News10 Anchorman, John Gray, is an Emmy Award winning journalist and writer. When John’s puppy Samuel died unexpectedly at just six months old it brought a profound sadness to their home and a sense that this was just not fair. For the first time John understood how a child must feel when they lose a pet of any age, asking themselves, “Why?”

Hoping to turn his pain into something positive, John put pen to paper and wrote a story to help any child who has lost a pet.

His new book, God Needed a Puppy guides children through the grieving process by using friendly animals from the forest to explain the reasons why a beloved pet sometimes has to leave us.

John will be talking about and signing the new book on Saturday, November 18 at Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center in Colonie at 4PM. He will be at Battenkill Books in Cambridge, NY on December 2.

In his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, NYT bestselling author and co-creator of the Peabody-Award winning public radio show Studio 360, Kurt Andersen, provides a new and comprehensive understanding of our post-truth world and the American instinct in make- believe.

This interview was recorded at UAlbany as part of the New York State Writers Institute symposium: Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World.

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve explores the enduring story of humanity’s first parents. Comprising only a few ancient verses, the story of Adam and Eve has served as a mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole, long history of our fears and desires, as both a hymn to human responsibility and a dark fable about human wretchedness.

The biblical origin story, Stephen Greenblatt argues, is a model for what the humanities still have to offer: not the scientific nature of things, but rather a deep encounter with problems that have gripped our species for as long as we can recall and that continue to fascinate and trouble us today.

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of thirteen books, including his newest novel: The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California. He became involved in electoral politics, and soon was a prominent Bay Area leader.

In The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn examines Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America.

Ruth Gilligan At NYSWI

Apr 13, 2017

Ruth Gilligan is an Irish novelist and journalist. With her literary fiction debut, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, she tells the story of Jewish immigrants in Ireland. The narrative gradually weaves together three main characters whose stories are set in 1901, 1958, and 2013 to reveal the unknown history of Ireland’s Jewish community. The three stories revolve around Lithuanian Jewish immigrants who accidentally arrive in Ireland, mistaking “Cork” for “New York;” a teenager who is sent to an asylum in 1950s Ireland because he hasn’t spoken since his bar mitzvah; and a contemporary Irish woman who has emigrated to London and must decide whether or not to convert to Judaism to marry her Jewish boyfriend. 

Gilligan will read from and discuss her novel at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 13 (tonight) in the Huxley Theatre, New York State Museum, Cultural Education Center in downtown Albany. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and cosponsored by the Friends of the New York State Library.

Early on the evening of March 13, 2013, the newly elected Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and did something remarkable: Before he imparted his blessing to the crowd, he asked the crowd to bless him, then bowed low to receive this grace. In the days that followed, Mark K. Shriver - along with the rest of the world - was astonished to see a pope who paid his own hotel bill, eschewed limousines, and made his home in a suite of austere rooms in a Vatican guesthouse rather than the grand papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace. By setting an example of humility and accessibility, Francis breathed new life into the Catholic Church, attracting the admiration of Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

In Pilgrimage, Shriver retraces Francis’s personal journey, revealing the origins of his open, unpretentious style and explaining how it revitalized Shriver’s own faith and renewed his commitment to the Church.

Kenneth Woodward edited Newsweek's Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He remained a writer-at-large at Newsweek until 2009.

His new book is Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward’s narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women’s liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

  In his new book, The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, challenges us to grasp the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA)—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white Christian nation.

  The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
 
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. 

His book is Boy Erased: A Memoir.

  One in four Americans reject any affiliation with organized religion, and nearly half of those under thirty describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” But as the airwaves resound with the haranguing of preachers and pundits, who speaks for the millions who find no joy in whittling the wonder of existence to a simple yes/no choice?

Lesley Hazleton does in her book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto.

  After a series of childhood misfortunes her father’s death, her mother’s ill-advised love affair, her disabled sister wrecking the family GTO, self-avowed church-geek Jo Page decided it was her job to figure out how to stay on God’s good side and maybe spare the family any more tragedy.

But she was a girl. And a Lutheran. Though women were ordained in the larger branch of the Lutheran church, when Page’s own pastor handed her a brochure enumerating all the ways in which she, as a female, was to be silent and submissive, she gave up on the church and went off in search of sex and drugs and rock-and-roll like any rejected adolescent Lutheran girl would.

Eventually Page found her way back into the church and ultimately into ordained ministry, spending twenty years in the ecclesiastical trenches, presiding over life’s rituals and preaching compulsory weekly words of hope she wasn’t sure she even believed.

Her new book is Preaching in My Yes Dress.

  Samantha Hunt’s third novel, Mr. Splitfoot, tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning. The novel is a contemporary gothic, a subversive ghost story and a compelling mystery. Hunt's work has been performed on This American Life and on NPR's Selected Shorts program.

  In an era of extreme partisanship, when running for office has become a zero-sum game in which candidates play exclusively to their ideological bases, Americans on both sides of the political aisle hunger for the return of a commitment to the common good. Too often, it seems, religion has been used as a wedge to divide us in these battles. But is it also the key to restoring our civic virtue?

For more than a decade, Senator John Danforth, who is also an ordained Episcopal priest, has written extensively on the negative use of religion as a divisive force in American politics. Now he turns to the positive, constructive impact faithful religious believers have and can have on our public life. The Relevance of Religion is the product of that period of reflection.

Pope Francis has brought something controversial to the papacy—the prospect of change. In his new book, The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis, Gary Wills, New York Times best selling author of Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition and What Jesus Meant, takes on one of the most pressing questions in modern religion today: what does the future hold for the Catholic Church?

Gary Wills is a historian, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and professor emeritus at Northwestern University. He joins The Roundtable today to discuss the novel behavior of the current pope and his own opinions on the future of the papacy.

  When Sukey Forbes lost her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to a rare genetic disorder, her life felt as if it were shattered forever. Descended from two distinguished New England families, Forbes was raised in a rarefied—if eccentric—life of privilege. Yet, Forbes’s family history is also rich with spiritual seekers, including her great-great-great-grandfather Ralph Waldo Emerson. On the family’s private island enclave off Cape Cod, apparitions have always been as common as the servants who once walked the back halls. But the “afterlife” took on new meaning once Forbes dipped into the world of clairvoyants to reconnect with Charlotte.

With a mission to help others by sharing her own story, Forbes chronicles a world of ghosts that reawakens us to a lost American spiritual tradition. The Angel in My Pocket tells a moving tale of one mother’s undying love for her child.

Listener Essay - A Passover Story

Apr 3, 2015

  Tina Lincer is a writer living in Loudonville, NY. 

  In recent years, there have been major outbreaks of whooping cough among children in California, mumps in New York, and measles in Ohio’s Amish country—despite the fact that these are all vaccine-preventable diseases.

While America is the most medically advanced place in the world, many people bypass modern medicine in favor of using their faith to fight life threatening illnesses.

According to our next guest, children suffer and die every year from treatable diseases, and in most states it is legal for parents to deny their children care for religious reasons.

Dr. Paul Offit is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His new book is Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine.

  Austen Ivereigh is a British writer, journalist, and commentator on religious and political affairs who holds a PhD from Oxford University. His work appears regularly in the Jesuit magazine America and in many other periodicals. He is well known on British media, especially on the BBC, Sky, ITV and Al-Jazeera, as a Catholic commentator.

Ivereigh has written a biography of Pope Francis that describes how this revolutionary thinker will use the power of his position to challenge and redirect one of the world's most formidable religions. The book is The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.

    

  Although our country is still very much identified as “one nation under God,” the truth is the number of nonreligious Americans is precipitously rising. Back in the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of Americans were nonreligious; today, that figure has jumped to 30 percent.

Drawing on sociological research and extensive in-depth interviews with men and women across the country, sociologist Phil Zuckerman’s Living the Secular Life illuminates this demographic shift with the moral convictions that govern secular individuals.

  Critically acclaimed and bestselling author James Carroll has explored every aspect of Christianity, faith, and Jesus Christ except this central one: What can we believe about—and how can we believe in—Jesus in the twenty-first century in light of the Holocaust and other atrocities of the twentieth century and the drift from religion that followed?

In Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age, Carroll explores how one can retrieve transcendent faith in modern times.

  For the first time, religious self-identification is on the decline in American. Some analysts have cited as cause a post-9/11 perception: that faith in general is a source of aggression, intolerance, and divisiveness—something bad for society. But how accurate is that view?

In her book, Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, Karen Armstrong sets out to discover the truth about religion and violence in each of the world’s great traditions, taking us on an astonishing journey from prehistoric times to the present.

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Recent grassroots efforts have prevented the razing of churches that have been closed for a number of years in Berkshire County. But the victories for preservationists don’t change the underlying issue, part of a national trend: many congregations are simply struggling to survive. In part two of a two-part series, this story takes a look at how some religious organizations in the Berkshires are having success in reaching more people.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Recent grassroots efforts have prevented the razing of churches that have been closed for a number of years in Berkshire County. But the victories for preservationists don’t change the underlying issue, part of a national trend: many congregations are simply struggling to survive. In part one of a two-part series, this story takes a look at how active people are in existing religious organizations in the area.

  Evangelical Christianity and conservative politics are today seen as inseparable. But when Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and a born-again Christian, won the presidency in 1976, he owed his victory in part to American evangelicals, who responded to his open religiosity and his rejection of the moral bankruptcy of the Nixon Administration. Carter, running as a representative of the New South, articulated a progressive strand of American Christianity that championed liberal ideals, racial equality, and social justice—one that has almost been forgotten since.

In Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter, acclaimed religious historian Randall Balmer reveals how the rise and fall of Jimmy Carter’s political fortunes mirrored the transformation of American religious politics.

9/23/14 Panel

Sep 23, 2014

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Times Union Associate Editor Mike Spain & Albany Journalism Professor and Investigative Reporter, Rosemary Armao.

Topics include:
Airstrikes
WH Intruder
Afghan Officers - Canada Border
Companies Tax Dodge
Religion in Politics Poll

Thomas Moore was a monk for twelve years, a musician, a university professor, and a psychotherapist. He writes regularly for Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Spirituality & Health, and Resurgence Magazine. He lectures widely on holistic medicine, spirituality, psychotherapy, and the arts. Moore has been awarded numerous honors, including the Humanitarian Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and an honorary doctorate from Lesley University.

    On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.

At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own “Golden Bible”—the Book of Mormon—he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He’d led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.

In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.

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