Commentaries

If you're a regular listener to NPR news programs, you're probably familiar with the occasional brief commentary during the morning or evening news programs by experts in various fields; people providing insight into public affairs, observations on the arts, and thoughts on how we live. This page contains transcripts and/or audio recordings of local commentaries that have aired on WYSU.


Mark Lilla

Thursday, September 27, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In a recent article and book, Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia University, gives us a refresher course in how the United States of America and European nations came to separate theology and politics while most other nations did not. (1) Lilla points out that the Reformation destroyed the unity of Christendom and left 16th century Europe a hodge-podge of churches and sects where doctrinal differences and political ambitions fueled each other. This led to the "madness" of a century and a half of religious wars in Europe in which, Lilla says, Christians killed one another with "maniacal fury." (2)

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Big Brother

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Commentator: Lou Zona
Transcript:

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The Power of Belief

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

We're not far away from the holiday shopping season when all of us will be searching for gifts for special people in our lives. I have a suggestion of a gift that is inexpensive, educational, and entertaining and that is suitable for either adults or children aged twelve or older. It will also make a superb addition to the media collection of a local school or library. I'm referring to a forty-five minute film entitled The Power of Belief which first aired as an ABC News Special hosted by John Stossel on October 6, 1998. It can be purchased online in DVD or video tape format at abcnewsstore.com at a cost of $29.95 for home use and a higher price for institutional use.

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Paul Kurtz

Thursday, August 30, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In the current issue of Scientific American (September 2007), Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, sends an "open letter" to four religious skeptics - Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. (1) Books by all four of these authors are currently on the New York Times best-seller list. In his letter Shermer warns the authors that the militant, in-your-face tone of their narratives is likely to be counterproductive. He writes: "It is irrational to take a hostile or condescending attitude toward religion because by doing so we virtually guarantee that religious people will respond in kind." (2) He counsels the authors against "passionate diatribes," urges them to be respectful and tolerant of religious moderates, and calls on them to supplement the case against religion with the case for humanism.

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The Christian Reconstructionists

Friday, August 17, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

On July 12 of this year, Hindu Chaplain Rajan Zed of Nevada gave the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. The prayer was disrupted by Christian activists who called prayer in the Senate by a non-Christian an "abomination." The live protest had been preceded by virulent opposition to the invitation to a non-Christian by the Reverend Donald Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, and David Barton, a "Christian nation" activist. (1)

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The Religious Right in the Post-Falwell Era

Thursday, August 2, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

If you're one who believes that the Religious Right suffered a serious blow on May 15 when the Reverend Jerry Falwell died, you're badly mistaken, according to Rob Boston, a long-time student of the movement. In a recent issue of Church & State magazine, Boston reports that the Religious Right today is flourishing. (1)

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Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Suppose you pick up the daily newspaper and read that President George W. Bush has authorized the expenditure of $5,000,000 of public funds under his faith-based programs for construction of a new Baptist church in Texas by young Christians learning the skilled trades. You are incensed at what you see as a flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. But what can you do, legally, to stop the President and preserve the Constitution? You can write a letter to the editor, you can picket the White House, and you can unload on a blog. What you cannot do, however, as of June 25, 2007, the date of the Supreme Court ruling in Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.(Case No. 06-157), is to file a lawsuit.

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Religion and Morality

Thursday, June 14, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

The popular view among religious people is that religion is indispensable to morality in that religion affirms the existence of a God who has revealed a law to direct humans how to live. (1) There are problems with this position, however, from the perspective of philosophy. Religion relies on faith while philosophy relies on reason. The three central beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam which have a bearing on morality and which are embraced on faith are that 1) There is a God, 2) God is good and not evil, and 3) God has ordained rules for living which humans can learn. Although some believers past and present have accepted the challenge of philosophy to prove these beliefs by reason, their efforts have fared poorly in the judgment of professional philosophers.

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A 1981 Warning About Religion and Politics

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Through the 1970's a famous American political figure observed with deepening concern the increasing political activity of religious groups. He worried that religious groups posed a threat to individual liberty and jeopardized the separation of church and state. Finally, on September 15, 1981, he rose in the Senate chamber to warn the American people about the marriage of religion and politics. (1)

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A Day with Ted Williams

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

It was the summer of 1955. My friend Brian Trainor and I boarded an early morning train at the Erie Terminal in Youngstown for a trip to Cleveland to see the Indians play the Boston Red Sox on a perfect day for baseball. We were twelve years old. Our fathers bought our train tickets, gave us spending money, and instructed us to report to a Mr. Berry at the umpires' entrance at the stadium to pick up our tickets. After we arrived at the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, we walked about a mile to the stadium and tracked down Mr. Berry. Charley Berry, a long-time American League umpire, it turns out, had been a friend of Brian's father, Frank Trainor, since they grew up together in Massachusetts. After handing us complimentary tickets, Mr. Berry told Brian and me that he had a surprise for us. He escorted us through a tunnel to the Red Sox clubhouse where Ted Williams was waiting to greet us. We were awestruck. Brian and I assumed that he would shake our hands, sign an autograph, and send us on our way. How wrong we were.
After making sure that he had our names right, Ted Williams led us to the playing field and stationed us just behind the batting cage so that we could watch him and other players take batting practice. Later, on the field and in the dugouts, he introduced us to players on both teams.
Ted Williams spent about two hours with us that day. When game time arrived, he autographed two baseballs for each of us, pointed us in the direction of our seats, shook our hands, and said goodbye.

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