Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 11-15 Programs

My Pick of the Week: Rag and Bone. I can’t help it, even as a lapsed Catholic, I do love my relics. I’ve seen a good number of some of the best specimens too: Catherine of Siena’s blackened and shriveled head raised above an altar in her favorite church; St. John the Baptist’s baptizing finger on display at Topkapi Museum in Istanbul; frayed pieces of St. Frances of Paola’s robe and portions of his feet in Calabria. But I had an early start. When my dear Aunt Tootsie, my mother’s only sister, was dying, my mother took me on many pilgrimages all over New York City in search of healing relics and holy oils. Most impressive was the body of Mother Cabrini laid out in a glass coffin in her motherhouse, an image which later served me as the prototype for my Women of Spirit series. When Mother Cabrini was officially canonized, her body was dismembered, the head sent to Rome and other parts made into relics. Even I was appalled to learn about that.

Here’s what’s coming next week:

Monday: Bar Culture in Congo: If you were to major in French literature these days, you would undoubtedly come across the work of Alain Mabanckou, a Francophone writer from Congo Brazzaville who has been sweeping all the most prestigious French awards. His latest book to be translated into English is Broken Glass, a witty novel set in a bar called Credit Gone Away owned by the Stubborn Snail.

Tuesday: Harold Varmus, the Nobel Prize-winning cancer biologist who also serves as science advisor to President Obama is the author of the new book, The Art and Politics of Science. He’s coming to the UW-Madison to give a lecture and a reading at Borders. We get a sneak preview.

Wednesday: Reza Aslan, author of the bestseller No God But God, has become one of our most trusted defenders of Islam. His new book, How to Win a Cosmic War, recommends that we strip the religious rhetoric out of our “war on terror” and pay more attention to the war that can be won: the battle for the minds and hearts of young Muslim men.

Thursday: Not Now, Voyager: Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s memoir of her years as a reluctant traveler.

Friday: Forager’s Harvest: Gardens aren’t the only place where you can pick your own food. The trained eye can find all sorts of edibles in woods and backyards, from dandelions to mushrooms.

Happy Mothers’ Day from an old cowhand!


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