Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

From Here to Eternity

Oct 31, 2017

There are death rituals around the world that might strike you as morbid, disrespectful, or downright gross. In Japan, survivors pick through their loved one’s cremated ashes with chopsticks to find bone fragments. In Tibet, bodies are eaten by vultures. Tuesday, mortician Caitlin Doughty joins us to talk about the rituals she chronicles in a new book. Doughty says these traditions give families time and space to mourn, something she argues is sorely missing in American culture today.

Wheeler Copperthwaite via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/2szlOWg

The journalist Sam Quinones has called opiate addiction “the closest thing to enslavement that we have in America today.” It’s a scourge fueled by pharmaceutical companies and drug cartels, and it takes advantage of some heavy cultural baggage on either side of the border. Poor people in Mexico are looking for a leg up, while disaffected people in the world’s richest country just want to check out. Quinones joins us to discuss the culture of the opiate epidemic. (Rebroadcast)


Thursday, we’re talking about what happened to Russia. The fall of the USSR was followed by a period of liberalization, and the country appeared to be on the path towards democracy. Then Vladimir Putin rose to power. He invaded neighboring countries. He led a crackdown on political opposition. He’s waging war on the concept of Western democracy. But where has his regime left Russia and its people? Journalist Masha Gessen joins us Tuesday to share what she’s learned about how totalitarianism reclaimed Russia.

istock

Our guest Wednesday has written a book with a slightly off-color title: The A--hole Survival Guide. Robert Sutton is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University, and his book is a how-to for dealing with the jerks in your own life. And the problem isn’t just them. Sutton says research shows that if you work with a jerk, there’s a good chance you might become one. Robert Sutton joins Doug live to talk about identifying, outwitting, and disarming the a-holes around you.

Dream Hoarders

Oct 19, 2017

The scholar Richard Reeves was raised in the U.K., and he hates the sense of class consciousness he says pervades there. That was part of the appeal in becoming an American citizen. In his latest book though, Reeves describes a growing chasm between the upper middle class and the 80% of Americans whose opportunities have stagnated. Reeves joins Doug Thursday to talk about the ways this “favored fifth” is pulling away from the rest of the nation, and what it means for the American dream. (Rebroadcast)

Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

From 1947 to 2000, the LDS Church ran the “Indian Student Placement Program.” It took 50,000 native children from reservations and placed them in Mormon homes. This effort to educate and convert them came naturally out of Mormon theology, which taught that Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel and were cursed for their wickedness. Wednesday, we’re talking about the program and what it reveals about Mormonism’s complicated relationship with Native Americans.

Scars of Independence

Oct 17, 2017
by H. Charles McBarron, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, we’re taking a different look at the American Revolutionary War. We think of it as brave patriots fighting for a noble cause, which is true, but in his new book historian Holger Hoock is trying to remind us just how bloody it was. The British brutalized American soldiers; we tortured loyalists. In fact, this cruelty shaped the outcome of the war. Hoock’s book is called Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth  and he's joining us to talk about it. (Rebroadcast)

Democracy in Chains

Oct 12, 2017


In an explosive new book, noted historian Nancy MacLean exposes the billionaire-funded campaign to upend democratic governance. Her controversial argument centers on one man: James McGill Buchanan. According to MacLean, it was Buchanan who, funded by the Koch brothers, devised the blueprints for a libertarian takeover of American politics. She joins us Wednesday to explore the radical right's plan to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, and rewrite the Constitution.

Historian Pamela Haag says there’s a mythology around American gun culture. The conventional wisdom is that since the Revolutionary War we’ve had some primal bond with our firearms. But Haag argues that our guns were once just another tool of everyday life and that the gun industry convinced us we needed to be armed. In her book, she follows the rise of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the marketing campaign she says created our gun culture. Haag joins us Friday to tell the story. (Rebroadcast)

Monday, we’re talking about the complicated relationship between the Mormon Church and homosexuality. Our guest is historian Gregory Prince who is working on a history that includes the public and not-so-public campaigns against same-sex marriage and their attempt at punishing and curing same-sex attraction. He also examines whether the LDS theology of an afterlife will ever have room for gay people. Prince is coming to Utah, and joins us to talk about Mormons and Gays.

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