Mello, Mark — The Underground Railroad in New Bedford, Massachusetts

New Bedford, Massachusetts, a sea port located in the southeast corner of Massachusetts, at the base of Cape Cod, is the locale of our program.  Early in New Bedford’s history a group of Quakers from Boston moved there and the town became a safe haven for formerly enslaved African-Americans, who escaped bondage. 

The stories of those who safely arrived in New Bedford on the Underground Railroad are presented at the 34 acre New Bedford National Historical Park in the Old Town section of New Bedford. 

This two part series on the New Bedford Underground Railroad with National Park Ranger Mark Mello was recorded on September 2, 2016, with the sound of wind and street traffic in the background.  Part one begins with a historical perspective of the Underground Railroad and the way in which New Bedford, Massachusetts was a safe haven for former slaves.  

The books Mark Mello recommends are “Fugitive’s Gibraltar: Escaping Slaves and Abolitionism in New Bedford, Massachusetts,” by Kathryn Grover;  ”Whale Hunt,” by Nelson Cole Haley; and “Leviathan,” by Philip Hoare. 

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Griffin, Paul Dr. — Seeds of Racism

Racism, as a part of the American religious culture, can be traced to the religious concepts of some of the earliest European settlers in North America. Professor Paul R. Griffin explores these roots in his book, “Seeds of Racism in the Soul of America,” linking the concepts in the Puritan belief system to long lasting racist effects. He argues that racism is itself a religion in the United States and is closely related to America Christianity. He claims that efforts to erase racism have failed because they have concentrated on its visible manifestations rather than its ideological character.

The book Dr. Paul Griffin recommends is “The Rage of A Privileged Class,” by Ellis Cose.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

The Work of Death Midwives

Death is of the subject of this program. We all will experience it, hopefully without pain and with loved ones and friends near.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Robin Cottrell and Margy Henderson, of Ukiah, California, who describe their work as death midwives. This is part of their efforts with the Death Cafe, an international group whose aim is to increase awareness of death and to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.

As death midwives, Robin and Margy of sing quiet A Capella to people in the end stages of life. When these two women visited the studios of Radio Curious on June 26, 2016, we began with a song.

The books Margy Henderson recommends are The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, by Mark Napo, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. The book Robin Cottrell recommends is West With the Night, by Beryl Markham.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.


Clancy, Susan Ph.D. — Sexual Abuse of Children and the Catholic Church

 This conversation discusses the myth of when and how trauma from child sexual abuse occurs. Our guest, Susan A. Clancy, Ph.D., and author of “The Trauma Myth:  The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children – and Its Aftermath” discusses how childhood sexual abuse abuse is perceived by the victim; the effects of denial, minimization and blame; and how this issue within the Catholic Church is not being resolved.

 Dr. Susan A. Clancy is the Research Director of the Center for Women’s Advancement, Development and Leadership at the Central American Institute for Business Administration in Nicaragua.  This interview with Susan A. Clancy was recorded on April 12, 2010, from her home in Managua, Nicaragua.

 The books Dr. Susan A. Clancy recommends are “Happiness: A History” by Darrin M. McMahon and “In The Woods,” by Tana French.

 Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner: Survival Is Indigenous

The consequences of the control of reproduction and the reproduction of daily life that began about the time of the creation of the moveable type printing press, in approximately the year 1440 is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.

Our guest is Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, the Founding Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, New York and member of the Adjunct Faculty at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York.   Sally Roesch Wagner was one of the first two women to receive a doctorate for work in women’s studies, with a Ph.D. awarded to her in 1978 from the history of consciousness program by the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Wagner, a Radio Curious veteran guest is the author of “Survival Is Indigenous,” a book that describes the consequences of the societal control shortly after the development of the printing press, fomented by western religions, which she argues exists to the present time.

Sally Roesch Wagner and I visited in the Radio Curious studios on January 6, 2016, to discuss “Survival Is Indigenous,”  and began our conversation when I asked her what is indigenous about survival.

The books Dr. Wagner recommends are “Braiding Sweetgrass:  Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” by Robin Will Kimmerer; and “My Life on The Road,” by Gloria Stienem.

 Click here to begin listening.

Peru: Ancient History and Today

Peru is a county about which I’ve been curious for over 60 years, beginning when I first learned of the Inca Empire.  Ten years later the Peace Corps sent me to Peru as volunteer for two years in 1964.

Peru’s current societies are windows into a world in which many Andean people live in the three adjoining countries of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.   The complex societies which flourished in this region, centuries before the Inca Empire was destroyed by the Spanish invaders in the 16th century are still very much a part of the lives of people whose homes and communities are located high in the Andes between 10,000 and 14,000 feet above sea level.  Many still enjoy and celebrate the traditions rooted in the ancient cultures of their land.

When Radio Curious visited Peru and Bolivia in the fall of 2015 we engaged in several conversations about ancient and current times in Peru. Edith Zapata, an independent licensed Peruvian tour guide, based in Cusco, Peru, is our guest in this edition of Radio Curious.

Edith Zapata and I visited in the court yard of a somewhat noisy guest hostal in Cusco, Peru, on November 10, 2015.  We began our conversation with her description of the geological history of the Cusco valley, and moved forward in time to how some of the current leaders of the Catholic Church and some of the people of the greater Cusco area related to each other.

Edith Zapata, a licensed independent Peruvian tour guide, based in Cusco, Peru.  You may contact her by email at  The movie she recommends is “In Search of Happyness,” starring Will Smith.

Click here to listen, or download this program on the link below.



Jespers, Jean-Jacques — Effects of Paris Attacks in Belgium

In this program we visit Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the effects of the November 13, 2015, Islamic extremist terrorist attacks in Paris, France. 

Our guest is Jean-Jacques Jespers, who recently retired as the anchor for the television news broadcast aired nightly in French on the Belgium National Television Network.  While the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France, investigations led authorities to neighboring Belgium in search for the suspects-causing a state of emergency in the country’s capital city, Brussels.

Currently Jean-Jacques Jespers is a journalism professor and a member of the Belgian Journalist’s Committee on Human Rights.  Jean-Jacques Jespers and I first met here in Mendocino County, California, in 1977, when he was the leader of a television news magazine team reporting on California. 

When Jean-Jacques Jespers and I visited by phone from his home in Brussels on November 28, 2015, we began when I asked him to describe what occurred and what the Belgian people’s reactions were to the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris and the lock-down in Brussels.

The books Jean-Jacques Jespers recommends are the three volume “Century Trilogy” by Ken Follette. Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Blincoe, Bob — Kurdish People:  Their Struggle to Keep Their Homeland

In this 1997 edition of Radio Curious, we visited with Bob Blincoe, a Presbyterian minister, who lived and worked among the Kurds in the Zagros Mountains from 1990 to 1996.  

The Kurdish people have long been aptly referred to as a “millet.”  This is a Turkish term that originated in the Ottoman Empire when it ruled parts of central Europe to the near east from 1430 to 1921.  It means “any ethnic group.” Until the 20th century millets, were able to control their way of life and effectively rule themselves.  Now approximately 25 million Kurdish people live in the Zagros Mountains, where the borders of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran converge.  These Kurdish people live stateless and many homeless in their ancestral homeland.  Currently they have been able to successfully defend themselves from brutal ISIS attacks. 

When Bob Blincoe lived among the Kurds and worked as a community organizer in their ancestral homeland he first spoke Arabic, so he wouldn’t stand out.  He quickly learned Kurdish which he spoke only with great discretion. His stories of the Kurdish people are important to consider now in light of terrorism and other dangers inflicted against them.

When Bob Blincoe and I visited in the studios of Radio Curious in the spring of 1997, we began our conversation when I asked him to describe the Zagros Mountains where so many Kurdish people live.

The book Bob Blincoe recommends is “A Peace to End All Peace,” by David Fromkin.

This program was originally broadcast in May 1997.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Ebershoff, David — How Many Wives are Enough?

Polygamy used to be a central aspect in Mormon beliefs.  However, it has not been for over 100 years now, due partly to considerable effort by Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young’s many wives.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with David Ebershoff, author of “The 19th Wife,” the story of Ann Eliza Young, and her realization and then quest to let the world know that marriage should only pertain to two people, instead of one man and a plethora of wives who were referred to as “sister wives.”  We discuss what marriage is, how religion plays a large role in many people’s lives, and how the quest that Ann Eliza had effected her world and the world we live in today.

Our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2008, began when I asked David Ebershoff why Ann Eliza wanted to apostate (or leave without approval) from the Mormon Church in relationship to the politics then and now.

The book that David Ebershoff recommends is, “American Wife: A Novel” by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Click here to begin listening.

Reese, Father Tom — Pope Francis & the Catholic Church: A Discussion with a Priest, Part Two

Marriage, divorce and the role of women in the Catholic church are some of the topics of this edition of Radio Curious, the second of two visits with Father Tom Reese, a member of the Society of Jesus.  In the first visit, we discussed his view of Pope Francis, the role of prayer, and the possibility of opening the priesthood to women. 

Father Tom Reese entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained in 1974.  Currently he is a senior analyst with the National Catholic Reporter. He was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan federal commission that reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. 

Martha McCabe, our guest host, is a retired higher education legal counsel and civil rights attorney with masters degrees in history and creative writing.  Brought up as a Roman Catholic, she graduated from Jesuit Santa Clara University and is now a secular Buddhist.  As a novelist, she was a guest on Radio Curious in 2006. 

When Martha McCabe visited with Father Tom Reese by phone on August 14, 2015, she began their conversation by inquiring about marriage in the Catholic Church.  While the Vatican views marriage as a sacred pact between two people, it forbids its priests from entering into that union.

The book Father Tom Reese recommends is “Laudato Si,” Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on climate change

Click here to listen to the program or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.