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The Interfaith - Jun, May of 2017

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Faith on the Fourth
June 29, 2017

Every time we gather for the national anthem or retell the story of our founding fathers, we're participating in a 'secular religion' that is uniquely American.

America's Civil Religion For the past 50 years or so, there’s been a fascinating idea floating around: that in the absence of a state religion, we need a kind of secular religion to bind us together. We may not have a Notre Dame Cathedral, but we have a set of beliefs, holidays and sacred spaces that help define who we are as a nation, while tapping into the deep human longing for myths and traditions. Richard Gamble, history professor at Hillsdale College and author of In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth Kirk Savage, author of Monument Wars: Washington, DC, The National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape Reading List on Civil Religion: "Civil Religion In America" by Robert Bellah God's New Israel: Religious Interpretations of American Destiny edited by Conrad Cherry
Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism edited by John Bodnar

Sacred Harp, Plus the Faiths of Our Founders First, we hear a sonic tribute to sacred harp. It's a form of music that is distinctively American, which got its start right around the time our country was becoming a new nation.
Then, we examine the faiths of our founders. Sometime around the 1980s, we in America started to imagine the Founding Fathers as older, wiser versions of ourselves. For many conservatives, the founders became good church-goers, intent on creating a Christian nation.  And for many liberals, they became secular deists, with little need for God or organized religion. The truth is somewhere in between. Nancy Groce, folklife specialist at The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress Frank Lambert, author of The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America

Customizing the New Testament with a Razor Blade It turns out that Thomas Jefferson, our third president and the lead author of the Declaration of Independence, spent his off hours in the White House creating his own personal Bible. Using a razor blade and a glue brush, he carefully removed miracles, resurrections, and all parts of the Gospels he considered supernatural. What was left was a work of private reflection, written in secret. Mitch Horowitz, executive editor of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House Publishing

Podcast Extra: Turning the Tables on Church Homophobia If you’re familiar with Black churches you know they’re lively and uplifting places. That’s how San Francisco native Yvette Flunder remembers hers. At the Pentecostal Church she grew up in, she recalls pastors and church leaders who were tender and kind and understanding. That is, until one topic came up. This segment comes to us from our friends at The Spiritual Edge, a multimedia project out of KALW in San Francisco. It was produced by Hana Baba.


Courtesy Alissa Gold
Women Who Choose Rules
June 23, 2017

Young Jews, Christians and Muslims who are bucking the 'spiritual but not religious trend' and deciding they want deeper observance in their lives.

Orthodox Judaism: Alissa Gold  As a kid, Alissa Gold never imagined she would become an Orthodox Jewish woman who wears long skirts in the summertime and bakes bread every week for the sabbath. She attended the all-female Wellesley College-- bastion of feminism, alma mater of Hillary Clinton-- and assumed that Orthodox women were oppressed. But then she took a trip to to Israel, and finally got a chance to meet some. "I was pretty shocked," she tells us.

Making the Ritual Her Own: Rachell Goldberg Rachell Goldberg used to see the Jewish ritual of immersing in a mikvah as just another religious obligation--something to check off her to-do list. Nearly every month for thirteen years, she visited a Jewish ritual bath to cleanse herself after her period, a practice commanded in Jewish law. But this time, after enduring seven months of chemotherapy for breast cancer, she's making the ritual her own. And a health update: Rachell tells us that while she’s not fully in remission, she’s done with chemotherapy and radiation for now.  Produced by Abigail Holtzman, who wrote an in-depth, print version of Rachell's story for Narratively.

Protestant Christianity: Ekemini Uw Ekemini Uwan is a devout, orthodox Christian who admits she doesn't "check all the boxes" for liberals or conservatives. Her conservative friends bristle at her bold opposition to white supremacy; her liberal friends scoff at her refusal to support gay marriage. And she doesn't apologize for her embrace of traditional gender roles: women and men are "made distinctly," she says. "We are different."

Islam: Fatima and Hagiraa Tipu Fatima and Hagiraa Tipu are sisters. One wears a hijab (a headscarf) for modesty, and the other doesn't. Hagiraa tells her sister that she hopes to wear it one day, but right now she doesn't have the confidence. Her sister understands. "It's going to be tough but you're going to get through it," Fatima tells Hagiraa. "It's for yourself, and it's for God and it's not for anyone else."

Catholicism: Eve Tus "What I am is someone who is not, say, available for same-sex romantic or sexual relationships," Eve Tushnet tells us, of her decision to be celibate. Eve is a devout Catholic convert, and takes seriously the Church's prohibition against gay sexual relationships. But that hasn't stopped her from forging deep bonds of friendship. "This is different from the friendship you see on Facebook," she says. "This is a life-shaping form of love."

Barry Schwartz: Choosing Religion In his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that unlimited options don't liberate us or make us happier--they paralyze us. He sits down with guest host Emma Green and applies his theory to the subjects of our show: religious women who consciously choose lives with fewer choices and deeper observance. Schwartz says they're on to something.  Barry Schwartz is a retired professor of psychology who has written several books about human nature, decision making, and morality. You can catch his TED talk on the paradox of choice right here.

Sara and Sajida: "You Don't Marry the Person, You Marry the Family" After years of falling for men outside of her faith, Sara Rahim has decided she’s done with all that. Now, she's looking for a Muslim husband... with her mom's help. In the past, Sara kept finding that no matter how much she cared about someone, if he wasn’t Muslim, she couldn’t imagine building a life together. So, at 25, Sara is looking for a man who will make both her and her parents happy. And she’s taking her inspiration from her parents’ arranged marriage. Produced by Abigail Holtzman. Music composition by Elias Newman. Sara Rahim, Masters of Public Policy candidate at the University of Chicago, specializing in international policy and inclusive development. Sajida Inam, owner and manager of Yoomna's Boutique, a Pakistani bridal & designer clothing business in Naperville, Illinois.


Is Yoga a Religion?
June 15, 2017

Is yoga hiding religious assumptions that clash with conservative Christianity? Or is it simply a fun way to wellness? Two sides weigh in.

Candy Gunther Brown: The Hidden Religion in Yoga If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, undergone acupuncture, visited a chiropractor, or relaxed with a shiatsu massage, then you actually practiced a certain kind of religion, even if you weren’t aware of it. At least, that’s according to Candy Gunther Brown. She says metaphysical ideas behind popular health therapies-- like the belief that our bodies contain a 'life force'--  might be challenging our world view. From December 2013. Candy Gunther Brown, author of The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America

Erik Davis: Yoga is 'Spiritual but Not Religious'Though yoga may be rooted in Hinduism, its popularity as a fitness trend has blurred religious lines. Erik Davis says the yoga we practice today is a modern American creation, not an ancient path to enlightenment. "Sometimes it's very religious, and you have gods and you have chanting," he says. "And sometimes it's very secular. You have Jane Fonda in Spandex doing yoga on VHS tapes." From December 2013. Erik Davis, journalist and cultural critic

On Vultures' Wings: The Birds of the Bible A raven feeds the prophet Elijah in the desert. The Holy Spirit is famously depicted as a dove. Birds appear throughout the Bible, from the creation story to the Book of Revelation. For many of us though, they're never more than supporting characters. Until now. Debbie Blue believes that a better understanding of the Bible’s feathered creatures can enrich our reading of Biblical texts. From September 2013. Debbie Blue, author of Consider the Birds


A Theology of Guns? And Martin Luther's Radical Christianity
June 09, 2017

When is it morally justified to take the life of another human being? And the inner life of Martin Luther, 500 years after the Protestant Reformation.

The Meaning of "Pro-Life" in the Gun Control Debate Most Evangelical Christians call themselves "pro-life" on abortion. But what does that stance mean when it comes to the debate on gun control? For Rev. Allen Church, pro-life means protecting gun rights and using guns wisely to defend the innocent. For Rev. Rob Schneck, it means advocating for stricter gun control laws, and questioning our own capacity "to make a good moral judgment as to whether another human life should be taken." The pastors are featured in Abigail Disney's documentary, The Armor of Light. This segment first aired in 2015. Rev. Rob Schenck, Evangelical minister and president of Faith and Action Rev. Allen Church, Evangelical Presbyterian minister  Abigail Disney, director of The Armor of Light

Martin Luther: 500 Years After the Reformation Many founders of world religions didn't think of themselves as founders at all. They thought of themselves as radical reformers. Jesus thought he was transforming Judaism; Siddhartha Gautama said he was remaking Hinduism. And so it was with Martin Luther, who initially set out to revamp the Catholic Church but went on to launch the Reformation, which sparked the creation of Protestant Christianity. As we approach the 500th anniversary of this huge schism in church history on October 31st, we talk to the author of a book about a lesser-known era in Luther's Life: his 10 fearful yet productive months hiding out in a German castle. This segment first aired in 2015. James Reston, Jr., author of Luther's Fortress: Martin Luther and his Reformation Under Siege



Chaplains Part III: Deep Breaths in the Trauma Room
June 02, 2017

We start in an emergency room, where chaplains see the "worst of the worst." Then, how do we measure the impact of spiritual care?

Sacred Moments in a Virginia Hospital JoAnn and Tim Cockey tell us how their son, Luke, ended up in the emergency room of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond nine years ago. And we tag along with Stephanie Hamilton (pictured), a chaplain who was on hand that day and continues to shepherd families through their darkest moments. Produced by Ruth Morris. Special thanks to LifeNet Health. Stephanie Hamilton, faculty chaplain liason for surgery/trauma/neuro at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center

Dollars and Cents and Spiritual Care The statistician W. Edwards Deming famously said, "In God we trust, all others must bring data." For our two guests, reliable data about the impact of spiritual counseling in healthcare settings is a kind of holy grail. How do you measure the value of a compassionate and calm presence in the midst of illness and loss?  Dr. Deborah Marin, psychiatry professor and director, Center for Spirituality and Health at Mt. Sinai.  George Fitchett, professor and director of research, Department of Religion, Health and Human Values, Ruth University Medical Center
This series is supported by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

Spiritual Care Between Boarding Gates Until he retired in 2013, Chaplain Ralph Benson roamed the crowded hallways of Dulles International Airport, counseling up to 12 people a day. His sacred meeting places? The closest Chipolte or Five Guys. He talked to Maureen in 2010 about serving a unique flock.  Ralph Benson, former airport chaplain, current pastor at Brentsville Presbyterian Church in Virginia

A Ramadan Greeting from Maureen Muslims have just begun the holy month of Ramadan, which honors the miraculous evening, some 1400 years ago, when an angel revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Here in North America, Muslims fast for nearly 16 hours a day during Ramadan, from sunup to sundown. And that got our host Maureen thinking about fasting within her own Catholic tradition.



From Jesus to Christ: Reza Aslan on the Historical Jesus
May 25, 2017

Reza Aslan explains how Jesus the man became Jesus the Christ -- and why it's a title he would not have understood.

Rediscovering the Historical Jesus Before he was Jesus the Christ, he was Jesus the man - a poor Jewish peasant living in first century Palestine. Reza Aslan explains how Jesus came to be seen as Christianity's son of God - and why it's a title he would not have understood. It's not a new argument, but in the years since Aslan's infamous Fox News interview, his spin on it has gotten a lot of attention. From July 2013. Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Spirits Who Changed History: Leaders and Their Unseen From Joan of Arc to Heinrich Himmler, Moses to Muhammad, change-makers of all stripes have heard voices. Some have attributed the voices to God – others to spirits, ghosts or the dead. Whether you believe them or not, this much is true: many of the people who shape our world claim to have done so on the advice of spirits. From August 2013. Herbie Brennan, author of Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World

Podcast Extra: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' Message to ISIS In November 2015, we sat down with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to talk about his new book, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. Today, we repost this interview as the recent terror attack in Manchester forces us to grapple, once again, with violence enacted in the name of faith. The former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain helps us understand what draws people to religious violence and how it can be stopped. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, 1991-2013



David Lynch, Diving Deep with Transcendental Meditation
May 18, 2017

Where does David Lynch go to find the dreamscapes that mystify and unnerve us? The Twin Peaks director draws back the curtain with writer Mitch Horowitz.

David Lynch on Meditation and 'Catching the Big Fish' Twin Peaks director David Lynch is famously elusive about what his movies and tv series mean, or where his ideas come from. In films like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man, he submerges us in the dark and foreboding currents of the subconscious. So how does he come up with this stuff? Well, the way he tells it, every morning since 1973, he has gotten up...closed his eyes…slowed down his breathing…and 'gone fishing' in the ocean he calls the 'unified field,' using Transcendental Meditation. He spoke to Mitch Horowitz, on this tenth anniversary of his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity.   Lynch's new season of Twin Peaks debuts on Showtime on May 21. This interview originally aired in November, 2016. David Lynch, film director, screenwriter and visual artist. Founder of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life

David Lynch: Uncut Behold our never-before-heard, barely edited interview with David Lynch, first recorded with Mitch Horowitz in November 2016. It covers subjects including: the organic beauty of celluloid film, why he feels he "For sure; you just gotta look around, you can feel it. You can feel things going on. You might not be able to see it, but you can feel it. But there’s a lot of negativity that’s gotta go; and there’s always been the very, very good, and the very, very bad swimming in the same sea. And it’s just a question of balance."has overcome his anger issues, and whether there are dark forces in the world....

Transcendental Meditation's West Coast Roots Although it originated in ancient India, Transcendental Meditation has only been popular in the United States since the early 1960s. That’s when a man with a twinkle in his eye named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught an updated version of the meditation practice that spread throughout the West Coast. After its embrace by the Beatles, it faded from popular view. But then in the early 2000s, director David Lynch brought it back into the spotlight. We asked Erik Davis to put this all in context for us. He spoke to producer Laura Kwerel. This interview originally aired in November, 2016 Erik Davis, host of the Expanding Mind podcast and author of The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape.

Mindfulness: From Sacred Buddhist Practice to Secular Stress-Reliever Mindfulness meditation was once practiced mostly by Buddhist monks and nuns. Now it's practiced by CEOs, teachers, politicians, and basically anyone who wants to take the edge off life. So how did mindfulness meditation transform from something passed down from Buddhist elders into a popular prescription for the ills of the middle class? Jeff Wilson spoke to Maureen in 2014. Jeff Wilson, author of Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture



A Spiritual Anti-Hero, and Dispatches from the Religion Beat
May 11, 2017

Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber says if she leaves church with a to-do list, 'I don't feel like I've heard any good news.' Plus, Mark Oppenheimer on the religion beat.

A Pastor to Misfits Nadia Bolz-Weber is covered in tattoos, swears like a sailor, and has logged a lot of time in church basements, wrestling with addiction. She is also a Lutheran minister, and founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she welcomes all "the wrong people" -- ex-cons, addicts, sinners and outsiders. Asked about her rejection of Christian stereotypes, she says, "I'm in it for the freedom, man." First aired in October, 2015. Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

An Exit Interview with Mark Oppenheimer, Religion Columnist for The New York Times  Religion should be covered like sports, Jews make good copy, and, let's be real, CrossFit is not a religion. After nearly seven years writing about faith every other week for The New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer reflects on what he's learned. One takeaway: Please stop calling religion coverage the "God beat." "We are covering human beings who do stuff, or earn a paycheck, in the name of religion," he says. "If there is a God, then he, she, or it is not coverable by us." He spoke to producer Laura Kwerel. First aired in August, 2016. Mark Oppenheimer, religion writer and co-host of the Unorthodox podcast



Chaplains Part II: Contemplative Care
May 05, 2017

This week in our "Chaplains" series, we tag along with a Zen Buddhist monk in New York City. Then, how mindfulness can nourish patients and doctors.

The Zen Thing  Koshin Paley Ellison is one of a small but growing number of chaplains in the United States who are Buddhists. In fact, Koshin is a Zen Buddhist monk. He works in hospice, and his goal is to take "the Zen thing" out into the world...and the change the very nature of caregiving itself. Produced by Will Coley and KalaLea. Music by LD Brown.

Mindfulness in Medicine  We speak to a palliative care physician and a Buddhist chaplain about contemplative care-- a mindful approach to the patient-caregiver relationship that could even be an antidote to empathy fatigue and doctor burnout.

The House of Mourning  Kate Braestrup is an unusual chaplain. She ministers to game wardens- people who come to the aid of hunters, fishermen, and hikers who've had mishaps in the wilderness. In this story, Braestrup tells the story of a young girl's unusual request, and how it lead her to believe that the bereaved should be trusted to see the body of their loved one.This story first aired on The Moth.

Koshin Reads Two Poems We asked Koshin Paley Ellison to read a couple poems that have taken on special meaning for him in his work as a hospice chaplain. He shares with us "The Gate" and "The Last Time" by Marie Howe.



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