Monday, December 21, 2009

Today on Kresta - December 21, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Dec. 21

Kresta Countdown of the top interviews of 2009

#40 - Polygamy and the Courts
From the Mormon Church's public announcement of its sanction of polygamy in 1852 until its formal decision to abandon the practice in 1890, people on both sides of the "Mormon question" debated central questions of constitutional law. Did principles of religious freedom and local self-government protect Mormons' claim to a distinct, religiously based legal order? Or was polygamy, as its opponents claimed, a new form of slavery--this time for white women in Utah? And did constitutional principles dictate that democracy and true liberty were founded on separation of church and state? Sarah Barringer Gordon is here to answer those questions and more.

#39 – John Paul II: Confronting the Language Empowering the Culture of Death
We live not only in a time and place but also in the description of that time and place. William Brennan is here to expose how that description was twisted and deformed, and how John Paul the Great responded by teaching the world the language of the culture of life. He reveals how, through a discourse of truth-telling - calling things by their proper name - Pope John Paul II effectively exposed the corruption of language and thought fueling a death culture that is becoming increasingly embedded in medicine, human experimentation, commerce, law, and ideology.

#38 – A Catholic View of Literary Classics – Part 10 of 10: Uncle Tom’s Cabin
We continue our 10-week series examining Classic Literature from a Catholic perspective. We will ensure that traditional moral readings of the works are given prominence, instead of the feminist or deconstructionist readings that often proliferate in other series of 'critical editions'. As such, they represent a genuine extension of consumer choice, enabling educators, students, and lovers of good literature to buy editions of classic literary works without having to 'buy into' the ideologies of secular fundamentalism. Today, we examine Uncle Tom’s Cabin with Ave Maria University Professor Mark McCullough.

#37 – Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason
On a brutal winter's day in 1650 in Stockholm, the Frenchman RenĂ© Descartes, the most influential and controversial thinker of his time, was buried after a cold and lonely death far from home. Sixteen years later, the French Ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes' bones and transported them to France. Why would this devoutly Catholic official care so much about the remains of a philosopher who was hounded from country to country on charges of atheism? Why would Descartes' bones take such a strange, serpentine path over the next 350 years—a path intersecting some of the grandest events imaginable: the birth of science, the rise of democracy, the mind-body problem, the conflict between faith and reason? Their story involves people from all walks of life—Louis XIV, a Swedish casino operator, poets and playwrights, philosophers and physicists, as these people used the bones in scientific studies, stole them, sold them, revered them as relics, fought over them, passed them surreptitiously from hand to hand. Russell Shorto is here to explain.

#36 – The True St. Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas
When most of us hear the name "Saint Nicholas," we immediately think of Santa Claus. But if asked why Santa sometimes goes by this alias, we might be at a loss for a satisfactory answer. Too bad: the real St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop who may have attended the famous Council of Nicaea in 325, was a fascinating if elusive figure whose name has been invoked, and selfless deeds recounted, for hundreds of years. Now, in The True St. Nicholas, the bestselling author, radio talk-show host and former Secretary of Education William Bennett brings Saint Nicholas's story to life, and shows why it is still relevant today.

#35 – Who Is My Neighbor?: Personalism And The Foundations Of Human Rights
Over the past half century the language of human rights has gained such dominance in moral, civic, and ecclesiastical discourse that ethical and social questions are increasingly framed in terms of rights. Yet the vast literature dealing with human and civil rights focuses almost exclusively on the juridical and practical ramifications of rights, rather than the philosophical, moral, and foundational aspects. As a result, the proliferation of rights claims and catalogs has not been accompanied by a reasoned case for the existence of human rights or rational criteria for distinguishing true moral entitlement from spurious claims. Fr. Thomas Williams makes an original, compelling case for human rights as moral entitlements grounded in the dignity of the human person.

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