84 minutes | May 23, 2017
003 Storytelling and the Holocaust
In this week's episode I am honored to be joined by my colleague in English, Dr. Melinda Menzer. We begin with a discussion of stories and the power of storytelling for communicating identity and values. This leads into an extended and extremely moving account of her Jewish family's murder in Lithuania in 1941. Melinda shares the research she has done in learning the story of her family, and of other Jews killed by Nazis and by their Lithuanian Christian neighbors.We then discuss how the Holocaust is a modern story that is still alive and relevant to our world, and which constantly challenges us to learn its lessons and make sure that such hateful policies and practices never happen again. What is the role of storytelling in this task, of controlling the narrative and resisting falsehoods as well as apathy and ignorance? What is the power of public monuments and memorials that tell truths and inspire us to action?Melinda and I finish with a discussion of her work in corpus linguistics, specifically as it applies to our shared interest in Bible translation.One final important note: Melinda will be swimming a 9.2 mile race on June 4th in Chattanooga, TN as a fundraiser for HIAS, an organization that provides relief assistance to the world's most vulnerable refugees. She has posted a support page at http://support.hias.org/goto/mmenzer, and I would be thrilled if any of my listeners offered contributions to this inspiring and worthy cause. 9.2 miles! Go Melinda! Theme music, Gillicudy, "A Garden and a Library" CC
78 minutes | May 15, 2017
002 Science Fiction
In this episode I have a conversation with my Furman Religion department colleague and friend, Roger Sneed, a scholar who specializes in African American Religious History, Black Liberation Theology, and Religion and Science Fiction. He is currently writing about "Afrofuturism," a topic at the intersection of theology, race, politics, and culture. Here's the thing about Roger: he's the biggest sci-fi nerd that I know. We dive into all kinds of advanced geek topics, but the episode is structured as an introduction to the things that Roger cares deeply about. You will enjoy his thoughts regardless of how much you follow science fiction.In the show, Roger begins with a detailed discussion of Star Trek and gives me suggestions about which TV episodes and movies I should watch (spoiler: nothing from JJ Abrams). We also talk about topics such as the place of hard science in science fiction; the relative qualities of Star Trek vs. Star Wars; religious themes in Superman (especially the death and resurrection of Christ figures); and Roger tells us about Janelle Monáe and his other favorite musical artists.
88 minutes | May 9, 2017
001 How Scholars Disagree
In this episode I talk with philosophy professor Aaron Simmons about the practices and ethics of academic discourse, especially the questions of how and why scholars disagree with each other. We begin with the recent controversy stirred up by Rebecca Tuvel's essay in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia, titled "In Defense of Transracialism." Along the way, we discuss questions such as "why do scholars disagree so strongly with each other?" "What is the relative epistemological value of reason and experience?" "Is anger a legitimate rebuttal of an academic argument?" "How should scholars use social media in this climate?"And we finish with the perennial question, "What are you listening to," as Aaron takes us through some of his favorite hip-hop and metal bands. Theme music: Cynicism, "Purveyor of Chaos," Creative Commons 3.0.