religion

  In Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, we learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.

Pope Francis raised eyebrows when he announced the Vatican would conduct a global survey. The poll has made somewhat of a "soft landing" in North America.

Joan Marcus

The Roundabout Theatre Company’s Roundabout Underground program gives productions to emerging playwrights. Last year, they had a hit with Bad Jews - a play by Joshua Harmon, directed by Daniel Aukin.

The show did so well in their 62-seat Black Box Theatre, in fact, that they brought it back to run in the Laura Pels Theatre (their bigger-small space) as part of their season this year - where it continues to earn excellent reviews and enthusiastic response from audiences.

In the play a young Jewish woman, Diana (played by Tracee Chimo, she prefers to be called by her Hebrew name, Daphna) fights with her cousin, Liam, to get a religious relic left behind by their recently deceased grandfather - who had kept it safe during his years in a concentration camp by holding it beneath his tongue. Liam’s brother (Jonah, played by Philip Ettinger) and girlfriend (Melody, played by Molly Ranson) observe and reluctantly weigh-in as Daphna and Liam argue and insult-sling as only family can.

Michael Zegen plays Liam in Bad Jews. Zegen attended Skidmore College and his other Off-Broadway credits include Liz Meriwether’s Oliver Parker! and Greg Moss’ punkplay. On television he’s been featured in recurring roles on The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, How to Make It in America, Rescue Me, and he’ll appear in the upcoming season of the HBO hit, Girls. His film credits include Adventureland, Taking Woodstock, and Frances Ha.

Over centuries, Christianity has accomplished much which is deserving of praise. Its institutions have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, and advocated for the poor. Christian faith has sustained people through crisis and inspired many works for social justice. Although the word "christian" implicates the epitome of goodness, the actual story is much more complex.

That story is explored in Paul Kivel’s new book Living in the Shadow of the Cross- which reveals the ongoing everyday impact of Christian power and privilege on beliefs, behaviors, and public policy.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Religious history was made over the weekend in Albany when the city's first "woman priest" was ordained.

On Sunday, Mary Theresa Streck of Albany was ordained a woman priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. A former Sister of St. Joseph, Streck is an artist and peace activist who is cofounder and director of the Ark Community Charter School in Troy.

    Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal by Michael D'Antonio is an explosive, sweeping account of the scandal that has sent the Catholic Church into a tailspin -- and the brave few who fought for justice.

    For many years, Frans de Waal has observed chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbors and bonobos share their food. In The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, he delivers fascinating fresh evidence for the seeds of ethical behavior in primate societies that further cements the case for the biological origins of human fairness. Interweaving vivid tales from the animal kingdom with thoughtful philosophical analysis, de Waal seeks a bottom-up explanation of morality that emphasizes our connection with animals.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Recent polls and surveys show a huge shift in religious identity in many areas across the country, with attendance at religious services lagging. According to one evangelical marketing group, the once faithful are now identified as "post-Christians," and Albany, New York is number one on a list of the most post-Christian cities in the United States.  

Is the nation moving away from Christianity and other forms of conventional faith?

Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas sat down recently with Robert Titov, the Digital Development Director at the Jewish World. They discussed how the paper is adapting to cultural shifts away from traditional print media.

Listen to the interview by clicking on the link provided.  You can experience Robert Titov's work by visiting jewishworldnews.org ... you can follow them on twitter at @jw_news and join them on Facebook at jewishworldnews.

4/3/13 - Panel

Apr 3, 2013

  Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, WAMC’s Morning Edition Host, David Guistina, and Associate Editor of The Times Union – Mike Spain. Ray Graf moderates.

This morning our discussion topics include:

  • State Senator Malcolm Smith corruption case
  • Gun Control Reform, President Obama is in CO today, CT next week
  • Gallup Poll shows The Capital Region is among the least religious regions in the nation
  • China Smog Linked to 1.2 Million Premature Deaths

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