Culture

Culture, Ideas, Religion

Meet Me in Atlantis

Jul 15, 2016

Around 360 BC, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote about a marvelous city that disappeared millennia earlier. Atlantis is one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries, despite the efforts of scholars, amateur sleuths, psychics, and conspiracy theorists. The journalist Mark Adams went on his own quest - not to find Atlantis itself, but to understand the people searching for it. Friday, he joins us to talk about the sunken city and the place it holds in our imagination. [Rebroadcast]

The Mormon Jesus

Jul 14, 2016

Did you know that in the 1850s some Mormons argued that Jesus was married and had children? Or that even today, there’s LDS theology around Jesus Christ that leads Evangelicals to say The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t really Christian? Thursday, scholar John Turner is Doug’s guest. He’s written a book called The Mormon Jesus and he joins us to discuss how the LDS concept of Jesus Christ has changed over time, and what it reveals about Mormonism in American religious life.

Greg Westfall (cropped), via CC/Flickr, https://goo.gl/GWoald

For years, Daniel Kunitz lived the life of the mind. His body though “became a trash depot.” Then he started running, which led to swimming, weightlifting, and eventually CrossFit. His health and his life steadily improved. Kunitz’s personal quest got him wondering how fitness culture has changed through the years. Why were the Greeks so buff? Why do guys do dumbbell curls? How have women changed exercise as we know it? Kunitz joins us to share what he’s learned about the evolution of fitness.

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 a new 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)

The Creation Museum in Kentucky aims to scientifically prove a literal reading of the Bible. There’s a replica of the Garden of Eden, a Natural Selection Room that argues against evolution, and this week, they’re opening a life-sized Noah’s Ark. But the scholars Susan and William Trollinger say it’s a big mistake to dismiss this as wacky or irrelevant. Wednesday, they join Doug to explain what The Creation Museum teaches us about American fundamentalism and why we should be paying attention.

Tim Hetherington, http://www.timhetheringtontrust.org

The journalist Sebastian Junger has noticed that for many veterans, and even some civilians, war feels better than peace, and he has a theory about why that might be. War, he says, compels us to band together and support one another in pursuit of a clear goal. But under the normal conditions of modern culture, we lose those connections, and we feel lonely and lost. Thursday, Junger joins us to discuss why we’re stronger when we come together and what tribal societies can teach us about leading meaningful lives.

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

 

When it set sail from New York on May 1, 1915, the Lusitania bore a full manifest of passengers and the ingenuity and hubris of its era. It was immense and luxurious, the fastest civilian ship in service. It was also under threat. The Germans declared that British ships sailed “at their own risk,” a risk the Lusitania’s operators perilously defied. They claimed theirs was the safest ship at sea. Friday, the writer Erik Larson joins us to recount the disastrous tale of the Lusitania’s last crossing. [Rebroadcast]

Public Domain https://goo.gl/hpqB96

In 2012, Karen King, a respected scholar at Harvard Divinity School, presented a papyrus fragment bearing text that implied Jesus was married. King staked her reputation on the authenticity of what she called “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” Test after test failed to prove the papyrus was a forgery, but the journalist Ariel Sabar still smelled something fishy. He put the fragment through a new test, one that examined its chain of ownership. Sabar joins us Tuesday to share the unbelievable tale he uncovered.

Feminism once had a bad reputation, but these days, it’s the “in” thing. Social media is full of “girl power” messages by celebrities and advertisers. And while those may make for some feel-good messages, the cultural critic Andi Zeisler says they offer little in the way of real change. Women still face inequality and violence in daily life. Monday, Zeisler joins Doug to talk about the way feminism has been bought and sold and what it means for the political movement.

 

Questions surrounding suicide have been with us for at least as long as we’ve had written record, and the answers are as varied as the times and places where they were discussed. Friday, Doug sits down with philosophy scholar Margaret Battin. She’s spent her career collecting the works of religious and secular thinkers regarding suicide. It has been considered noble, immoral, heroic and cowardly, and we’ll talk about what all of those views teach us about end-of-life issues today. [Rebroadcast]

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