with Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blau, professors of Islamic and Asian Art, Boston College
In this holiday special, Hannukah Lights 2013, NPR's Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz read memoirs and stories from acclaimed authors' experienes during the Jewish festival of lights. The stories are written expressly for the show.
Since 1999, Steve Shoemaker has been hosting and producing WILL’s weekend religion call-in talk show “Keepin’ the Faith.” At the time he pitched the idea for the show, very few media outlets dealt with issues of religion. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Shoemaker about the show, why he started it and how media coverage of religion changed after 9/11. We’ll also talk with Shoemaker about his favorite Keepin’ the Faith episodes and how he managed to host and produce the show as a side project while working full time.
Then during the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Reza Aslan, author of the controversial new book about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. In his book, “Zealot,” Aslan attempts to paint a truly historical picture of Jesus. We’ll talk with him about what we know about Jesus’ life independent from the gospels…..and what we don’t. Meadows also talk with him about his own faith and why he says it’s not a good idea to read the bible as literal text.
Illinois State University English Professor Emeritus Curtis White has spent much of his career writing fiction, but he’s recently released his newest book “The Science Delusion,” a non-fiction work devoted to investigating the way we think about the intersection between science and religion. This hour on Focus, Jack Brighton talks with White about what the two camps can learn from each other. Can science resolve our questions about the origins of the universe, the basis of morality and the source of creativity? Is it wrong to say science can’t?
This hour on Focus, we also talk about “scientism,” atheism, and religion’s influence on scientific research. Do you have faith in the unseen? Or do you have to see it to believe it? We want to hear from you this hour! Tweet us @Focus580 or find the show on Facebook.
White is also author of the book “Memories of My Father Watching TV and Requiem. His Book, “The Middle Mind: Why American Don’t Think for Themselves” was an international best-seller and his essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Orion and Playboy.
Jim Meadows talks with Professor of Journalism at the UIUC and filmmaker Jay Rosenstein about his Peabody and Emmy-Award winning documentary “The Lord is Not On Trial Here Today.” The film takes a never-before-seen look at a landmark First Amendment case that has become famous for the phrase “separation of church and state.” We’ll talk with Rosenstein about the case and how he went about researching and producing the film. Ken Paulson, former editor and Senior Vice President of News for USA Today and President and CEO of the First Amendment Center also joins the conversation.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in more than 600 years and cites health reasons for his decision to do so. This hour on Focus, we talk about how that will affect the Roman Catholic Church and the process and politics involved with conclave. Host Jim Meadows talks with Associate Professor of History and Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago Kevin Schultz about what the Pope’s resignation means for members of the Roman Catholic Church and for the rest of us. We also talk about the church’s declining membership and what leaders are trying to do to reverse the trend and how the Pope plays a role in that. Tom Roberts, Editor at Large for the National Catholic Reporter, also joins the program. During this hour we also discussed contraception, same sex marriage and child sex abuse scandals and how the Roman Catholic Church will more forward.
This hour on Focus, we’ll consider the notion of America as a Christian nation, as we talk with Dr. Richard Hughes, a Professor of Religion at Messiah College. He explores this concept in his book Christian America and the Kingdom of God. In it, Hughes considers how religious and political leaders have historically used this belief to reinforce a sort of messianic nationalism, characterizing the United States as God’s “chosen nation” – a view Hughes holds has led to an increase in power and influence among fundamentalist Christians, but has ironically led to unchristian behavior.
Born in 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary is a writer, lecturer, editor, and teacher based in San Francisco. He directs the San Francisco Writer’s Workshop, teaches through the Osher Institute, and writes fiction and nonfiction about Afghanistan, Islam-and-the-West, democracy, current events, social issues, and as he says, "my cat, and other topics as they come up."
It’s hard to pass up any book that promotes itself as an “existential detective story.” That’s the subtitle of author Jim Holt’s new book “Why Does the World Exist?” In it, Holt traces efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, and suggests along the way that many discussions revolving around the classic question “why are we here?” are simply too narrow – that there are many more possible answers than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. Holt talks with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk, among others, as he seeks big answers to the biggest of questions.
This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, September 07, 2012, 10 am.
Eboo Patel, Founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core and member of President Obama’s inaugural Faith Council
Host: Craig Cohen
Following the attacks last week on U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya, which led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, we’ll talk about how there’s a tendency among some to lump violent Muslim extremists in with the Muslim community at large, in a way that we perhaps don’t do with other radicals who pervert other religions. We’ll consider how violent acts like this make it more challenging to bring peaceful people of various faiths together, as we talk with Eboo Patel, the founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core and a member of President Obama’s inaugural Faith Council. He’s the author of the book Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America.