Schwartz, Lacey — Nobody Discussed It:  Lacey Schwartz and “Little White Lie”

The secret revealed in the life of Lacey Schwartz, born in 1987 to a white Jewish family in rural upstate New York, where she grew up, is that her biological father was black.  The few who knew her truth remained silent until after her first year of college when she asked her mother why she looked the way she did.  Lacey Schwartz is the producer and director of the film Little White Lie,” which documents her family secret.

“Little White Lie” will be shown at the Mendocino Film Festival on Friday, May 29, 2015, at 5:30 pm, in the Village of Mendocino, California.

Lacey Schwartz and I visited by phone from her home near New York City, on May 11, 2015.  First we hear a clip of Lacey’s voice taken from the introduction of the film “Little White Lie,” and later intersperse our conversation with clips from the film. 

The book Lacey Schwartz recommends is “How It Feels to Be Free:  Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement,” by Ruth Feldstein.

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Offen, Bernard — The Power of Good and Evil

In honor of Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day which falls on April 16, in 2015, we visit with Bernard Offen, a survivor of five concentration camps in Poland, when he was a young teenager during World War II. Bernard Offen leads tours of these concentration camps and says, “You don’t have to be a survivor or Jewish. It’s for all the wounded who want to understand the power of good & evil and want to create goodness in the world.”

When Bernard Offen visited the studios of Radio Curious in April 2005, he began our conversation by describing some of his early childhood experiences in Krakow, Poland in the years just prior to World War II. 

Bernard Offen recommends his own book that was published in 2010, entitled “My Hometown Concentration Camp.” 

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Lawler, Andrew–The Chicken: A Mirror of Humanity

Where chickens thrive humans are nearby.  Portable and good travelers, chickens have been carried by humans around the world.  Currently there are three chickens alive at any one time for each individual person alive on earth.  Descendants of dinosaurs, chickens are primarily cared for by women, they’re a never ending source of slang and continue to be depicted in religious and/or political symbols around the world.  Americans eat, on average, 80 pounds of chicken per year—four times the world average. But, chickens raised for food are not considered animals under U.S. law and are generally not subject to humane treatment regulations. 

Our guest is Andrew Lawler, author of “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?  The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization.”  Andrew Lawler and I visited by phone from his home in the North Carolina hills on March 27, 2015, and began our conversation when I asked him how far back the lineage of the chicken goes in world history.

The book Andrew Lawler recommends is “Guns, Germs and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies,” by Jared M. Diamond.  

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Dole, Robert — Homosexuality and Schizophrenia

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, this edition of Radio Curious discusses one man’s personal experience in recognizing his homosexuality. Until the mid 1970s many people considered homosexuality to be a mental disorder and/or a crime, as it is still in some personal and political belief systems. Homosexual people sometimes were housed in mental institutions, given medication and suffered an array of treatment methods, including shock therapy and other forms of behavior modification.

Professor Robert Dole, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, was one of many individuals subjected to behavior modification. In his book, “How to Make a Success of Your Schizophrenia,” he explains how the “treatment” he endured as an attempt to alter his homosexual preference made him schizophrenic. His personal memoir describes his experiences growing up in the 1960s as a gay man, his institutionalization at the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, the insanity that consumed him as a result of his treatment, his self-led recovery, partially based on a spiritual experience, and his subsequent extraordinary life in academia.

Professor Dole, who is fluent in seven languages, teaches English as a Foreign Language at the University of Chicoutimi in rural Quebec, Canada, where he has lived for 30 plus years. He is the author of several books including, “The American Nightmare.” Robert Dole and I visited by phone from his office at the University of Chicoutimi on November 4, 2011 and began our conversation when I asked him to describe the schizophrenia he experienced.

The books he recommends are: “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” by Leo Tolstoy and any book from Stefan Zweig. 

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Cohen, Helen & Lipman, Mark –”States of Grace:”  Difficult to Imagine – Impossible to Comprehend

On May 21, 2008 Dr. Grace Damman was crushed in a head-on collision on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.  Her abdominal organs were shoved into her lung cavity and her bones and muscles were extensively injured. 

A practicing Buddhist, Dr. Grace engaged her spirituality to survive this crisis, heal and accept the new terms of her life.  Three years and 15 surgeries later, Dr. Grace Damman became the Medical Director of the Pain Clinic at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital where she had previously worked as a physician for 18 years.

“States of Grace” is a documentary film about Dr. Grace Damman, produced and directed by Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman, our guests on this edition of Radio Curious.  We visited by phone from their home in San Francisco, California, on May 16, 2014, and began our conversation with Helen Cohen describing her friend, Dr. Grace.

The films Helen Cohen recommends are “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Guest of Cindy Sherman.” The film Mark Lipman recommends is “Sherman’s March.”

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Rosenwasser, Penny — From Fear to Love: A Judaic Perspective

When Penny Rosenwasser, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, was a child in the suburbs of Virginia, people sometimes said, “You don’t look Jewish.”  She replied, “Thank you.” 

Her book, “Hope into Practice: Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears,” delves into the Jewish experience and its rich yet tragic cultural history. She explores internalized oppression and ways to face fear with a positive outcome, and describes steps to embrace who we are as a means to create a world based on love, tolerance and justice.

I spoke with Penny Rosenwasser from her home near San Francisco, California on May 5, 2014.  She began our conversation by describing a major theme of her book.

Penny Rosenwasser will be speaking in Redwood Valley, on May 18, at 4pm at Kol-ha-Emek 8591 West Road. Call 707 468 4536 for details.

The book she recommends is “The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism,” by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz.

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Thomas, Sam — Midwives and Murder

The rather fascinating tale of midwifery and murder in York, England set in the mid 1640s is the topic of our conversation with Sam Thomas, author of “The Midwife’s Tale,” and “The Harlot’s Tale.”  While researching English history for his Ph.D. thesis, Thomas happened on to the Will of Bridget Hodgson, a midwife.  A fictionalized version of her life forms the basis for Thomas’s mystery series set in York, in which Bridget Hodgson is the protagonist.

Our conversation with Sam Thomas, recorded by phone on December 27, 2013 from his home near Cleveland, Ohio, where he teaches high-school history, begins with his characterization of York, England, in 1644.

The books Sam Thomas recommends are “An Instance of the Finger Post,” by Iain Pears, and “The Lock Artist,” by Steve Hamilton. 

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DeWitt, Jerry — From Pentecostal to Atheist Part Two

This is the second of two conversations with Jerry DeWitt author of “Hope After Faith:  An Ex-Pastor’s Journey From Belief to Atheism.”

In our first visit, Jerry DeWitt talks about his childhood experiences that led him to be a fundamentalist Pentecostal preacher.  His website is an interesting source with links to the curious conundrums fomented by religion. 

In this conversation, recorded by phone from western Florida on December 13, 2013, we begin with Jerry DeWitt’s process of coming out as an atheist, after twenty-five years as a fundamentalist Pentecostal preacher. 


The books Jerry DeWitt recommends are those that “show the human side of renowned ‘non-believers,’” written by Richard Dawkins, Carlton Pearson, Michael Williams, Dan Barker, and/or Daniel Dennett.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

 

 

DeWitt, Jerry — From Pentecostal to Atheist Part One

The freedom to think and the freedom of religion are constitutional keystones and givens in the United States.  However, when those freedoms lead a Pentecostal pastor to come out as an atheist, he is shunned by some and praised by others.

Jerry DeWitt, whose ministry began when he was seventeen, is the author of “Hope After Faith:  An Ex-Pastor’s Journey From Belief to Atheism.” He’s our guest in this two part conversation about his 25 year dialogue with faith, his early beliefs, his evolving skepticism and his embrace of free-thinking humanism.

As it is for all of us, early life experiences are most often taken for granted and form the basis by which we compare subsequent experiences and develop new understandings. 

So when Jerry DeWitt and I visited by phone from western Florida on December 13, 2013, we began the first part of our conversation with a description of his early childhood.

Jerry DeWitt’s website provides information about his book and links to the resources and topics discussed in our program. 

The books Jerry DeWitt recommends are those written by Joseph Campbell.

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Click here to listen to part two.

Binder, Mark & Freund, Hugo — Latkes & Turkey: A Holiday Special

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. It begins every year on the 25th day of Kislev and usually falls in November or December.  The Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, and Hanukkah, often called the Festival of LIghts always starts five days prior to the last new moon before the winter solstice.

Thanksgiving is a celebration common to cultures and religions world wide, often after harvest.  It is held in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November which. 

In this the Hebrew calendar year 5774 and the Gregorian calendar year 2013 these two holidays converge with Thanksgiving falling on the second day of Hannukah.  Thus some people will eat latkas, also known as potato pancakes, with turkey and/or stuffing. 

In this edition of Radio Curious we combine two archive editions and tell the story of two very fun holidays.  We start with our 2011 conversation with Mark Binder, author of “A Hanukkah Present!” followed by a 2002 conversation with Professor Hugo Freund about the history of Thanksgiving in the United States.

We begin with Mark Binder explaining the purpose of telling stories around Hanukkah.

We continue with a 2002 visit about the roots of Thanksgiving with Sociology Professor Hugo Freund recorded in a noise hotel lobby at the American Anthropology Association in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

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