Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

With Mormon personalities on the national stage over the last few years, think Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck, Americans have a lot of questions about the LDS Church. That's where the scholar Joanna Brooks comes in. Brooks writes the candid Ask Mormon Girl blog and she's been a commentator on Mormon life and politics for news outlets like The Washington Post and BBC. Now she's telling her own story in a new memoir and Tuesday, she joins Doug to talk about her complicated relationship with her faith.

3/23/12: Radiolab

Mar 22, 2012
Brett Miller courtesy of Radiolab

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation with Jad Abumrad, co-host of WNYC's Radiolab. The easiest way to explain Radiolab is to say it's a series on science, but that only scratches the surface. The show is highly regarded for its rich layers of sound and music and for making what could be rather dense topics accessible to the average listener. Abumrad joins us to talk about the craft of really good radio and to share some of the stories from the series. (Rebroadcast)

Mike Daisey, <i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/djbrokenwindow/3382756524/in/photostream/">Broken Window</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

In January, This American Life aired an episode about deplorable conditions in Chinese factories where Apple products are made, using the work of monologist Mike Daisey to tell the story. It turns out that some of Daisey's anecdotes weren't true though and This American Life has retracted the program. Daisey stands by his writing, saying it's not a lie, it's art. Wednesday, we're talking about facts, fictionalization and truth and where it is and is not acceptable to blur the boundaries.

Modern American manners leave much to be desired. People answer their cell phones in the middle of meals, they shush loudly in movie theaters and even clip their toenails on the train. Henry Alford wanted to learn a little more about 21st century etiquette, so he went to Japan, AKA the Fort Knox of good manners, interviewed etiquette experts and even played a game called "Touch the Waiter." Doug talks with Alford about how we behave and how we could behave better. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/simpologist/104956011/">Matthew Kirkland</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation about the King James Bible and its 400 year history. Our guide is the British historian, novelist and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg. Bragg says that while there have been times the Bible was used "in the pursuit of wickedness," it has also transformed the world for the better. He joined Doug last year to talk about the origins of the King James Bible and how it has shaped social movements, politics and literature, even the way we speak. [Rebroadcast]

On Tuesday, Doug is joined once again by Peter Meehan and Chris Ying, editors of the food magazine Lucky Peach. The newest issue of the magazine explores the world of cooks and chefs -- from three-star Michelin restaurants, to street cooks in Thailand, even an elementary school cafeteria and a military dining hall. Ying and Meehan will give us a guided tour to the inner-sanctums of celebrity chefs, explore the intersection of food and fashion, and discuss the influence of molecular gastronomy.

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkadog/3366563115">Beverly & Pack</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Some political observers say the United States is a global superpower on the wane. They see the rise of China and America's increasing failure to get its way in the world as signs of decline. Robert Kagan, a foreign policy commentator, disagrees. He says the size and influence of America's economy, its unparalleled military might and its global political clout position it to remain the world's predominant power. Kagan joins Doug on Wednesday to discuss America's present and future status.

You may think there's nothing more natural than common sense. Well think again. The sociologist and network scientist Duncan Watts says that commonsense reasoning fails us time after time. It often misleads us into thinking we know more about human behavior than we actually do. Only by understanding how and when common sense fails us, Watts says, can we improve how we plan for the future and understand the present. Watts joins Doug on Monday to expose the holes in our common sense thinking.

2/28/12: The Amish

Feb 27, 2012

Director David Belton faced a big challenge when he set out to create a new documentary for the PBS series American Experience. It's about the Amish, the insular religious group that eschews many forms of technology - including photography. Belton respected this limitation while still creating an intimate portrait of the Amish in their own voices. Tuesday, David Belton joins Doug to talk about the people he met and what it means to hold on to a community.

2/23/12: God's Jury

Feb 22, 2012

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But not everybody really knows what it is, either. In a new book, the writer Cullen Murphy sets the record straight about the Catholic Church's 700-year persecution of its enemies, both real and imagined. And he says the "inquisitorial impulse" lives on - in America's massive surveillance and routine use of torture in the wake of 9/11, for example. Murphy joins Doug on Thursday to remind us the Inquisition isn't something safely relegated to the past.

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