The Trumpian Side of Pope Francis

As a conservative columnist at the New York Times, Ross Douthat fills the post once held by no less a figure than William Kristol. A devout Catholic, Douthat opposes the progressive direction in which Pope Francis is leading the Church—to prioritize caring for poor people and migrants over opposing abortion and the culture of sexual revolution—even though he acknowledges to David Remnick that this puts him at odds with the Church’s emphasis on mercy. In his new book, “To Change the Church: Pope Francis of the Future of Catholicism,” Douthat provocatively compares Francis to Donald Trump, painting him as a disruptive figure who is determined to bring change fast and damn the consequences.

The New Yorker: Politics and More

 

Fantasyland

The roots of the post-truth, alternative facts present can be discovered in America’s “promiscuous devotion to the untrue” and its instinct to believe in make believe, evident across four centuries of magical thinkers and true believers, hucksters and suckers, who have embedded an appetite for believe-whatever-you-want fantasy into the national DNA, argues Kurt Andersen, author of a new book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-Year History.” Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU professor, philosopher, and author of fiction and nonfiction books questions him about the bold claim that America’s love of the fantastic has made this country exceptional in a way that has yet to be understood?

The New York Public Library

Larry Brilliant, Hippie Doctor

larry-brilliantToday, Larry Brilliant is a doctor and global health expert. But back in the Sixties, he was a hippie doctor who joined Wavy Gravy’s traveling bus caravan and then landed in an Indian ashram in the Himalayas, where his guru told him his destiny was to help cure smallpox. Miraculously, his U.N. team of doctors eradicated the world’s remaining cases of this terrible disease. In this extended interview, he tells Steve Paulson about a remarkable moment in history when anything seemed possible.

To the Best of Our Knowledge | 2nd December 2016

The French Culture War

the_french_culture_war-1A year after last November’s terror attacks in Paris, journalist Nick Fraser explores the deeper culture war taking place between a new generation of French Muslims and the defenders of hard-line secular Republicanism in France.

As a country and a civilization, France prides itself on its own model of Frenchness – non-ethnic, republican, integrationist, based on legality and citizenship and, in cultural terms, emphatically secular. It’s based on a concept unique to France – laïcité…

Even in mainstream cultural and political debate many Muslims feel laïcité and secularism are being targeted specifically against them – from the ban on the veil in public space to the burkini row earlier this summer. Secularism is being used as a weapon of anti-Islamic sentiment, they argue, even as a cover for racism. Liberal defenders of laïcité point out that this is a political misuse of the idea but not its truth – arguing that separation of religion from the public space remains necessary and desirable in France.

Seriously… BBC Radio 4 | 15th November 2016

Doomsday Dread: The End of Civilization

doomsday_dreadSince the beginning of civilization, people have worried about its collapse. Pockets of people across the world have long warned that the end is near, and as it turns out, their warnings of apocalypse might be closer to the truth than we think.

Phil Torres, the author of The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse, joins Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps to discuss just how close we are to experiencing catastrophes that have the potential to fuel our demise. With everything from climate change and biodiversity loss to uncontrollable technologies and the greater accessibility of advanced weaponry, Torres predicts that the human race is going to have some major hurtles to overcome if we want to survive the coming century.

Phil Torres is an author, contributing writer for the Future of Life Institute, and an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. His writing has been featured in numerous publications such as Time, Motherboard, Salon, Huffington Post, and Free Inquiry.

Point of Inquiry | 4th October 2016

The Religious Freedom Loophole

The first part of the First Amendment states that all Americans have the freedom of religion. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
So what does that mean, exactly? According to the law, no one religion is supposed reign supreme – nor can anyone be prohibited from exercising their beliefs. But that phrase “free exercise” is a broad one. What happens when religious groups take advantage of these special freedoms to make money, skirt rules or hurt children? This hour of Reveal explores the tricky territory of religious freedom and how different groups have exploited this loophole.
Illustration by Anna Vignet

Reveal | 27th February 2016