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.

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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

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

 In recognition of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in September 2015, Radio Curious presents a series of visits with Father Tom Reese, a member of the Society of Jesus.  In this first of two visits, we discuss his view of Pope Francis, the role of prayer, changes within the Catholic Church’s view of marriage 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. 

Our guest host for this visit with Father Reese is Martha McCabe, a retired higher education legal counsel and civil rights attorney.  She holds masters’ degrees in history and creative writing.  Brought up as a Roman Catholic, she graduated from Jesuit Santa Clara University. 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, they began when she asked him what the election of a Latin American Pope Francis indicates about the future direction of the Catholic church and the papacy.

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

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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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