Culture, Ideas, Religion

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.

Resurrect Dead

Feb 20, 2012

Tuesday, director Jon Foy joins us for the latest installment in our Through the Lens documentary film series. Foy created one of the strangest docs at Sundance last year. It's about the mystery of the Toynbee tiles, linoleum tiles that started showing up embedded in roads along the East coast in the 1980s with bizarre messages carved in them. Foy joins us to talk about the film and the mystery. He'll also be on hand when we screen the film Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

It takes a lot of work to stay afloat in today's ultra-connected world. Every day we face a torrent of emails, tweets, texts, tags, alerts, comments, pokes and posts. The writer William Powers believes that all those digital demands increasingly distract us from ourselves, from an inner place where time isn't so fugitive and the mind can slow down. He proposes a new digital philosophy that accounts for our needs to connect and for time apart, and he'll talk with Doug about it. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Warner Bros.</i>

No behavior is more reviled in America than pedophilia. Dr. Fred Berlin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, believes in the necessity of criminal penalties for pedophiles, but, he argues, thinking of pedophilia solely as a criminal mindset hamstrings our ability to control it. Berlin regards pedophilia as a treatable mental disorder. He'll join Doug on Tuesday to discuss our understanding of pedophilia and how we can manage and treat it before it leads to a pernicious incident.


The popular TV series Downton Abbey takes pains to hew closely to historical fact, and yet there remains much we don’t know about the reality of life in England’s grand country houses. How did aristocrats come to own such vast tracts of land? How was servants’ work regarded? And how did England’s servant system collapse after the Great War? The cultural historian Siân Evans, author of the book Life Below Stairs, joins Doug on Thursday to help us peel back the fictional veneer of Downton Abbey.

Susan Matt, a professor at Weber State University, laughed when she first read of someone actually dying of homesickness. Nowadays, homesickness is regarded as a childish affliction that Americans, with our penchant for frequent relocation, are immune from. But as Matt writes, nostalgia has long distressed Americans--we leave to college, move for a new job, or migrate to a new country. She joins us to talk about homesickness and how we've managed to cope with it. (Rebroadcast)

On Monday, Doug talks with documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki. In his film Why We Fight, Jarecki examined America's war machine. His new documentary, The House I Live In, scrutinizes another unique expression of American conflict by telling the stories of individuals at all levels of our war on drugs. The drug war has made America the world's largest jailer even as narcotics of all kinds have become purer, cheaper and more available. Where did we go wrong, and what, can be done about it?

<i>photo: <a href="">Martin Cathrae</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

It seems eating has come to be as much about guilt as it is about nutrition and pleasure. But what does it mean to be a virtuous eater? Food writer Alan Richman decided to find out. For thirty days, he set off on what he calls a "journey of ethical enlightenment." He visited farms and restaurants and ate not just for taste, but with a conscience. Richman joins Doug to talk about his trip and about his 10 Commandments of Ethical Eating.  (Rebroadcast)

The Not So Big Life

Jan 5, 2012

The writer and architect Sarah Susankahas created a movement around the idea of finding a proper scale for the houses we inhabit, and the way she sees it, houses are the perfect metaphor for our lives. Her book, "The Not So Big Life," is also an idea: it's about living a life that's just the right size. We're rebroadcasting our conversation with Susanka on Friday, and it might provide some inspiration for those of you putting the final touches on your New Year's resolutions. (Rebroadcast)