What does God get out of us praising him? Or is it actually for us? (7 minutes)
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Ira talks to Father Thomas Santa about the kind of confession that he finds among the most difficult to listen to — and not because what’s being confessed is too big or too horrible — but because, as Father Santa explains, they aren’t sins at all.
Ira admits there is a question he’s wanted to know the answer to since he was a kid in Hebrew school: Why is it that Jews don’t sacrifice animals anymore? Especially since the Old Testament is so clear that God wants it? Ira talks to religious studies scholar Jonathan Klawans to find out. Jonathan is the author of a book covering this subject, Purity, Sacrifice and the Temple.
When Dave Hill was in his late 20s and still basically living at home, he hung out with his mom a lot. But once she used particularly sneaky tactics to get him to attend a church fundraiser.
This past Christmas a story swept the internet about a football coach at a Christian high school in Texas who inspired his team's fans to root for the opposition: A team from the local juvenile correctional facility. Among the thousands of emails that the coach received in response to his actions, one stood out to him.
When Barack Obama chose Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to give a prayer at his inauguration, gay and lesbian groups cried foul, because of Warren's past remarks about homosexuality and gay marriage. But Rick Warren's constituents—Christian conservatives—also got angry.
One day at church camp, David Maxon challenged the devil to show himself. Just then, a huge thunderstorm started, and David felt sure the devil was behind it.
Host Ira Glass talks about the way most political apologies go, and chats with a man named Derek Jones about similar sorts of apologies among preteen girls and King David, in the Old Testament.
Host Ira Glass reads from the Ten Commandments. Not the original Ten Commandments, but some of the newer, lesser-known ones.
Six houses of worship in six different cities, each with its own way of honoring the Sabbath.
In the 1930s, the designer of the U.S. Supreme Court made a frieze to adorn the courtroom walls.
Two stories about people who suddenly realize they're the only ones around who value the separation of church and state. Paul Williams, a city councilman in Janesville, Wisconsin, wants to make sure a Salvation Army built with public money doesn't proselytize.
We hear a quick rundown of all the ways that Christian conservatives are making headway in advancing their values as public policy, why they think total separation of church and state is not what the founding fathers intended. And why they're wrong.
Host Ira Glass talks about the story of Cain and Abel, and the question in the story, "Am I my brother's keeper?" It turns out that the story doesn't really answer that question very satisfyingly.
Host Ira Glass talks with Erin Einhorn, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, who went to Poland to find the Catholic family that had sheltered and saved her mother from the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. She found that in Krakow where she was living, in a country where Jewish populations had been vilified and then exterminated by the Nazis, Judaism was suddenly trendy.
Ira's conversation with Erin Einhorn continues. She talks about the possible reasons that, 50 years after Auschwitz, 10,000 Polish hipsters will now show up to see a Klezmer music concert.
How does the Devil work? We hear stories from five different people who say they found themselves inexplicably doing something random and bad, something which made no sense to them at all. Host Ira Glass explains why this might be, cadging a bit from C.S.
Faron Yoder lives in Amish country in Indiana. When he was a teenager, like every Amish sixteen-year-old, Faron was allowed to abandon the restrictions of Amish life and live as a regular American teenager.
A story of faith lost, thanks to a book about extraterrestrials and a Rabbi.
An explanation of what Christians and Muslims talk about in a place you might not expect them to get along at all: Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Host Ira Glass talks with Georg Taubmann, a relief worker with the Christian missionary group Shelter Now, who built houses and did other good works in Afghanistan for seventeen years, until he was arrested by the Taliban in August.
Host Ira Glass talks to Bible scholars Paulene A. Viviano of Loyola University and John Spencer of John Carroll University about the story of the golden calf in the book of Exodus.
We hear from Father Jim Kastigar, who got on the wrong side of Town Hall and suffered the kinds of consequences people in Cicero suffer. His parish was denied a permit to hold an outdoor religious ceremony they'd held peacefully for seven years, the youth group's tamale fundraiser was shut down by city inspectors and the parking lot near the church was deemed unfit for Sunday parking.
A chat with Reverend Richard Harris, an African-American minister in Florida who's trying not to be angry about the election...because it's against his religion.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions.