Friday, September 29, 2006

Interfaith Dialogue on Here on Earth?

September 29, 2006

Hi Guys, It's been a while. I have been madly trying to meet a deadline with the UW Press on my long-awaited book which is due at the end of this month (Yikes!). I've never been without so much sleep for such a long time. I told my husband it was alright with me if he consigned me to the attic or committed me to an asylum. He said, "Please, just promise me you'll never write another book." And this from a man who has stacks of them in every room in the house. Shows you what he'shad to put up with.

Anyway, what with all this flap about the Pope and his humungus gaff about Islam, the thought occurred to me, why not start an ongoing interfaith dialogue right here on the radio, on Here on Earth? Trouble is, such a venture would fly or fail depending on the guests. Do any of you have any suggestions? Know any open-minded rabbis, Imams, or priests? It wouldn't necessarily have to be clerics. Joan Chittister strikes me as someone who might be just right. And I heard a very impressive Imam from Boston on Tom Ashbrook's show about a week ago, responding to the Pope. I would very much appreciate your help with this.

Joe Hardtke, our Techinical Director, is back from Europe, thank God. I hate to let him know how much he was missed. Things went much more smoothly this week, although we did get an inflammatory response from one highly irate listener to Monday's show on "Literature from the Axis of Evil," who claims that if bombs ever start falling on Iran, he's holding me responsible. I do see his point. No wonder some writers from countries like Syria withdrew their submissions once they discovered they would be published in an anthology with such a title.

Any other complaints? We do read them all and post them on our website. Even if it's nasty, we still want to hear from you. We want you to help us shape this program which is still an ongoing experiment.

There will be a Pumpkin Regatta on Lake Mendota this weekend. Maybe I'll see some of you there.

Have a great weekend, especially thoseof you who are headed to Octoberfests.


Friday, September 15, 2006

A Wild Week

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm looking back at the week and shaking my head. Boy, did we ever cover a lot of territory, beginning with our 9/11 show with Michael Ratner, followed by the Mexican elections, then on to Tuvan rock throat-singing, then the visionary James Martin with his counter Doomsday take on the future of the 21st century, and ending with a salute to cheddar cheese! Now that's one wild whitewater ride. And all of it done running on fumes without the benefit of the manic Joe Hardtke, our Technical and Creative Director who's been on a looong European vacation, well deserved, but you picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

I was very grateful to the callers in the Michael Ratner show, especially to Pat who called in at the very end of the hour and cried. Thank you, Pat. You have restored my faith in my fellow countrymen who seem to have become rather blase at the notion of torture, rendition, and black sites controlled by the CIA. Sorry, but I can't conceal my sorrow and outrage.

And thank you for all those great calls on Tuesday in the Mexican election show! It was very gratifying to get such a robust response. Makes me think a global cultural call-in program on WPR is not such a crazy idea after all.

My favorite program this week was the one with the Tuvan throat singer doing classic rock, but you guys know by now how much I love way-out stuff like that. I hope somebody goes to his concert in Humboldt Park tonight and sends us a report.

My favorite guest this week was James Martin, the British futurist who seems to have so much clear-eyed, level-headed faith in the ability of The Transition Generation to steer us through the whitewater bottleneck ahead. He also has a lot of faith in our capacity to reach an understanding across diverse cultures. He's predicting that by 2050 we'll all be familiar with all the world's diverse cultures. Too bad I won't be around that long.

One more thing: I had a bright idea after hearing Joe Elder give his talk last Wednesday on The Roots of Conflict in the Middle East. What do you think about starting an Interfaith dialogue on Here on Earth? Do any of you know any religious leaders from the three major faiths that might be really good in such a context? One of the points James Martin makes in "The Meaning of the 21st Century" is that the most dfficult task that we face is in avoiding antagonisms among religions. "It would be an irony grander than any in great theater," he says, if the religions that evolved from the teachings of the world's saintly prophets somehow prompted wars that wiped out civilization." Indeed.

Thanks for staying in touch.


Friday, September 01, 2006

India's Judge Judy

September 1, 2006

My favorite show this week was Monday's "Durga's Court" with the indomitable forever-hoarse Shabnam Ramaswamy, a real firecracker if there ever was one, a self-appointed judge in her native village in India who holds court on her veranda twice a week. The amazing thing is that people actually follow her rulings with no penalties or enforcement policies to make them comply. They just trust her judgement and respect her authority. With some people you just feel as if you've known them all your life. She's one of them. No matter that she's half way across the world and I'll probably never see her. If you happen to have missed that show, I really recommend that you find a way to listen, either on the podcast or the web. She's my pick for this week's Queen of Here on Earth. We're hoping to do a follow-up when documentarian Dheera Sujan produces another Radio Netherlands program about Shabnam's school for street kids, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to generate some support for it.

Another heavy-weight contender for this week's Queen is the ever redoubtable and intrepid and amazingly courageous Sarah Chayes who is fighting guns with roses in Kandahar.

And so far, I haven't gotten stoned for promoting cigar smoking, but close. That one went up in smoke.

I love it when you guys call in. But why do you always make me work so hard at it? What's the difference between the programs that light up like Christmas trees and the ones that stay dark? Why, for example, were there no calls this week for Judge Judy, and only one call for A Force More Powerful? It always feels like a party where nobody shows up when you don't call. Topics too esoteric? Don't know enough to be able to contribute meaningfully to the conversation? You can alway ask questions, you know.

Anyway, have a great Labor Day weekend. Thanks for making my labor worthwhile.