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101 minutes | Nov 11, 2021
Order, Chaos + Homo Sapiens
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. One enduring reality makes every challenge of democratic self-governance more difficult: human beings. The founders integrated their deep understanding of our flawed nature into the form of government they designed — the checks and balances, the rights of the minority to control the power and excess of majority factions. Now that those dudes are no longer around and it’s our job to steer the ship of state, are we adequately contemplating how the most essential truths of our psychology as a species affect our ability to live and govern together? Are we making good decisions given, uh, humans? Add to the complex stew of human nature the politics of power – who’s in (and likes order), and who’s out (and will flirt with the change that chaos can bring) – and all the disruption we’re currently experiencing starts to have a story arc. Making everything just that much worse, we’ve effectively (though accidentally) used technology to weaponize human nature. In today’s angry partisan throwdown, we’re remarkably able to overlook human error in “us” even as we make a hobby out of obsessively pointing out what’s wrong with “them.” (Turns out this is human nature too.) We’re joined by psychologists Dr. Paul Conway and Dr. Bo Winegard — who have different worldviews, but talk anyway — whose verbal jousting we’ve found truly riveting. We talk people, partisanship, power, and presidents. (No topics that don’t start with a “p”.) Tune in to see if our facilitator, Jovita Woodrich, can get a word in edgewise.
95 minutes | Oct 28, 2021
American Values with David Blankenhorn, Founder of Braver Angels
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. Founder of Braver Angels and the Institute for American Values, David Blankenhorn has spent his career thinking creatively and provoking constructive discourse about some of the most important and controversial cultural issues of our time. As we find ourselves increasingly locked down inside ideological camps, David defies categories, crosses boundaries, and offers fresh and compelling thinking where we seem most stuck. Our discussion is wide-ranging and free-wheeling and focuses not just on problems (like hyper-partisanship) but also on solutions (like how to build stronger communities). Facilitated by his long-time friend and Village Square board member, Bill Mattox. If you’re tired of thinking inside the box then this one’s for you.
69 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Our Declaration with Dr. Danielle Allen
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. Join us for a conversation with very special guest Dr. Danielle Allen — Harvard Professor, classicist, and political scientist, and the author of “Our Declaration,” a book about this critical moment in the future of building a multiracial democracy. At a time when the future of American democracy is under threat from across the political spectrum — when a disturbingly high number of citizens seem to no longer believe in the American project — Dr. Allen’s body of work “thrillingly affirms the continuing relevance of America’s founding text, ultimately revealing what democracy actually means and what it asks of us.” Part democracy’s orator and part its master mechanic, Dr. Allen is uniquely equipped to guide us to the other side of our current crisis of faith in democracy. Dr. Allen’s contributions to this moment in history are tangible and impactful — she recently co-chaired the comprehensive report Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century. Find Danielle Allen’s piece “How the Declaration of Independence Offers a Roadmap to a Better Union” in the Spring 2020 “Democracy Edition” of Forum Magazine (begins on page 22). Join us for this important conversation about our future you won’t soon forget, facilitated by Dr. Nashid Madyun, Executive Director of Florida Humanities.
58 minutes | Sep 30, 2021
Free Speech (in the Age of Political Correctness and Bad Manners)
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. At a time when too often bad manners and ill-tempers replace conversations of substance, sometimes free speech seems to have simply gone to seed – and we find ourselves wishing someone would control the din. At the same time, our society’s reaction to legitimately held and asserted opinion that differs from our own has at times become toxic and damaging in its own right. While charges of “hate speech” sprout like crabgrass on an un-mowed lawn and college students debate micro-aggressions, when a bad choice of words can tank your career, we seem to be in a societal-wide spitting match about just who is the most tediously offended. And before we get too haughty about those who might possess a somewhat more sensitive constitution, we have to admit that as a people we seem to be doing a near-professional job of elevating being offensive to an art form. In the current age of opinion overload – when it’s usually the most despicable sentiments that break out of the pack – at a time when a graduation speaker better hew to our own beliefs or we won’t even listen, how do we walk the fine line between protecting the critical right to free speech and maintaining something quaintly reminiscent of being civilized? Is it possible that everyone has gone a wee bit too far? Joining us for this discussion: Jonathan Rauch and Chuck Hobbs. Facilitated by Rabbi Jack Romberg.
113 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
Respect + Rebellion: The state of debate on campus
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. BYU is the nation’s most consistently “stone-cold sober” school with a focus on upholding traditional values. UC Berkeley has become the country’s quintessential progressive bastion with a reputation for challenging the status quo whenever possible. It would be hard to find two campuses that better capture the political divisions roiling college campuses across America, divisions also striking deeply – even dangerously – at the heart of America herself. These are two of the college campuses the Village Square has worked on in their college campus project, Respect + Rebellion. Yet for those seeking solutions to this divisive status quo, we think it might be equally prescriptive to look past campus differences and attend to a striking generational commonality university students everywhere likely share: fewer Millennials reportedly believe that it’s “essential to live in a democracy.” For young liberal Americans, vulnerable groups perceive the larger ideals of democracy as having failed or disadvantaged them. For young conservatives, globalization of democracy has brought forces they think are deeply hazardous to the health of civil society itself. Is democracy down for the count in the next generation? Universities have long been seen and experienced in Western cultures as a place where the ideals of free inquiry and deliberative democracy are embodied – even as the paragon of these values and convictions. But in recent years, colleges across the nation have become front-page news for alarming instances of censoring particular voices and protests escalating to near violence when two ideas come into conflict. Universities may now represent a kind of collective “canary in the coalmine,” which is what makes campus difficulties especially concerning. We bring you a panel of people who work to keep the spirit of dynamic disagreement alive and well – and respectful – on American college campuses. Who care about the young people making their way at this time of deep and unsettling division. Joining the conversation: Musa al Gharbi, Heterodox Academy, Columbia University Dr. Sam Staley, DeVoe Moore Center, Reason Foundation Shane Whittington, FSU Center for Leadership & Social Change Liz Joyner, Founder & CEO of The Village Square
92 minutes | Sep 2, 2021
High Conflict with Amanda Ripley
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. When we are baffled by the insanity of the “other side”—in our politics, at work, or at home—it’s because we aren’t seeing how the conflict itself has taken over. New York Times bestselling author and award-winning investigative journalist Amanda Ripley joins us to offer up a brilliant and frame-shifting understanding of conflict — from the most distant political conflict to the most intimately personal conflict in our closest relationships — from her most recent book “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out.” As Amanda introduces us to compelling people in high conflict situations — somehow written more like a great novel you can’t put down — we learn how very human it is for us to let the unique dynamics of high conflict take over, and the dire consequences of doing so. Lucky for us Amanda also hands us ingenious and easy-to-implement ways out. We think this book will change your life — it did ours. *** Years ago now, we got a call from Amanda Ripley who was researching bridge building work. That’s when we learned that Amanda was a thinker we intended to follow. From there, we’ve read Amanda’s refreshing and deeply thoughtful takes on the important challenges of our time. One of our favorites is a re-imagining of the very underpinnings of journalism “Complicating the Narratives,” and we’re betting you might have seen her extraordinary feature piece in The Atlantic, “The Least Politically Prejudiced Place in America.” Her work has also appeared in Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Politico, the Guardian and the Times of London. To discuss her writing, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX News and NPR. She has spoken at the Pentagon, the Senate, the House of Representatives, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Oh, and The Village Square. Learn more about Amanda here.
92 minutes | Aug 19, 2021
Created Equal + Breathing Free
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. “All Men are Created Equal,” but not everyone feels they are. Have we gone too far with insuring equality or not far enough? In “Created Equal + Breathing Free,” we’ll examine the straining of the central – and sometimes competing – principles of equality and freedom. Does your freedom threaten my equality? And does my equality limit your freedom? We’ll dive into topics of religious freedom, gay rights and the appropriate role of the law in both insuring equality and safeguarding freedom. At this time of deep, heart-wrenching division across race, religion and political perspective – division that seems too often to create civic dialogue that finds the worst in us instead of calling our better angels – we think this is a conversation for our time, a checking back to consider how well we are hewing to the ideals of America, and perhaps a renewed promise to get there. This program features Father Tim Holeda of St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral and Terry Galloway, Co-founder of The Mickee Faust Club. Facilitated by Bill Mattox of James Madison Institute and Village Square Board of Directors.
91 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Dead Presidents + Living Statues
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. As current events batter the institutions of democratic self-governance designed by our founders, an imperfect though once seemingly stable foundation seems deeply shaken. Never mind our inability to solve real problems together, it’s increasingly more difficult to even navigate how we gather together under the banner of “e pluribus unum.” We’ll be joined by presidential scholar Clay Jenkinson of The Thomas Jefferson Hour to get as close as metaphysics allow to talking to the author of the lofty ideals that we hold so dear, but struggle to live into. We’ll dive into the issues surrounding the upheaval of our times – with an eye toward understanding its lessons – through the eyes of a man who has spent his lifetime struggling to understand both the promise and failures of our history as a people. Clay Jenkinson has lectured about and portrayed Jefferson in forty-nine states over a period of fifteen years, having performed before Supreme Court justices, presidents, eighteen state legislatures, and countless public, corporate and student audiences as well as appearing on The Today Show, Politically Incorrect, The Colbert Report and CNN. Clay is a humanities scholar, Rhodes Scholar, author and social commentator who is considered one of the most entertaining and articulate public speakers in the country. Back to facilitate another riveting discussion with Clay Jenkinson is Steve Vancore, president of Vancore Jones Communications. Also joining the discussion is God Squad regular Pastor Darrick McGhee of Bible Based Church and of Johnson + Blanton.
94 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Here's to you Jackie Robinson
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. Join us as we discuss the impact of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 – why it was such a momentous breakthrough, how it laid the groundwork for the subsequent success of the civil rights movement, and what we can still learn from Robinson’s example today. We’re delighted to be joined by Jackie Robinson’s cousin, Dr. Linda Walden, who lives in southwest Georgia. Dr. Walden spearheaded the effort to have Jackie’s birthplace placed on the Historic Registry. Also joining our discussion is special guest Fred Flowers, who — as the first black Seminole to put on a Florida State University uniform — broke FSU’s color barrier soon after integration began. Fred is the athlete commemorated in the statue “Integration,” which was dedicated in 2004. Also joining us is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Sanchez, whose career began writing sports columns in the Florida Flambeau during the civil rights protests of the 60’s, continued as he taught journalism at FAMU and wrote for The Miami Herald.
90 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
A Conversation with President Thomas Jefferson
This program is part of the Created Equal and Breathing Free podcast series presented in partnership with Florida Humanities. In a live audience taping of The Thomas Jefferson Hour, we looked through the eyes of the author of the Declaration of Independence and marked our progress toward a more perfect union. We considered what both Mr. Jefferson and those of us charged with perfecting America today might think is yet to achieve. Thomas Jefferson is portrayed by Presidential Scholar Clay Jenkinson, who has spoken as Jefferson in forty-nine states over a period of fifteen years, having performed before Supreme Court justices, presidents, eighteen state legislatures, and countless public, corporate and student audiences as well as appearing on The Today Show, Politically Incorrect, The Colbert Report and CNN. Clay is a humanities scholar, Rhodes Scholar, author and social commentator who is considered one of the most entertaining and articulate public speakers in the country. Clay will be joining us again soon for Dead Presidents + Living Statues as we continue the conversation and talk openly about Jefferson's hypocrisy and the debate around statues in our country.
94 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Created Equal: Stretching Towards Freedom
Presented in partnership with Leon County Government. This program is the first in a collaborative podcast series in partnership with Florida Humanities. Confused about Juneteenth vs. May 20? Join us for a conversation about the process of Emancipation. From the hearts of the enslaved, to the dreams of freedmen, to the urgent pleas of today’s black American citizens, the journey toward the full franchise of freedom lives on. We’ll celebrate what’s come before — and consider what’s yet to be done. This year’s Created Equal program commemorates Emancipation Day in Florida, which is recognized on May 20. More than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General McCook announced Emancipation to the state of Florida from the Knott House in Leon County on May 20, 1865. The journey toward freedom that began 156 years ago, continues today in our community. Join us as we celebrate this legacy and consider our generation’s work still to do. Across the years, across the state — we’ll connect our past, present and future to consider the legacy of Emancipation Day in Florida. To honor the past and look to the future, Created Equal 2021 will highlight both local and state-wide historians as they discuss Florida’s history of enslavement, civil rights and how we continue to stretch towards freedom today.
76 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
God Squad: Rethinking Conflict with Dr. Gary Mason
Meet The Reverend Dr. Gary Mason, a Methodist minister who has spent a career in inner city Belfast building peace across the “ghosts of religious division which have dogged this island for hundreds and hundreds of years.” He brings wisdom from the Irish legacy of sectarianism to America’s current divisions. Gary’s organization, Rethinking Conflict, is a UK based non-profit social enterprise working in the field of conflict transformation, peacebuilding and reconciliation. Our sincere thanks to Good Samaritan United Methodist Church for providing Dr. Mason for this important program. After we hear from Dr. Gary, the God Squad joins the discussion, offering unique perspectives on tackling conflict in our communities. In this episode, we also reveal our summer reading recommendation - and you won't want to miss this because the author will be joining us at The Village Square soon! Listen in for details.
105 minutes | May 20, 2021
Your Brain on Tribal Media
Somewhere between white supremacists marching, an unbearable number of wrongful deaths of black youth, and police officers being gunned down in broad daylight sits the American citizen – overwhelmed by the escalating anger, confused by what’s true and what isn’t, not knowing where to turn to figure it out. Forced to choose between media sources that are increasingly partisan and without the time to launch our own research projects, we’re left paralyzed, polarized and more than a little bit angry ourselves. In partnership with Florida Humanities Council and the Poynter Institute, we’re bringing you three powerful voices – two seasoned journalists and one student of human nature – to confront this central challenge of our time. Just how should those who write “the first draft of history” tell these stories in a diverse democracy like ours? Can a media that fans the flames of racial division also provide the inspiration we need to transcend it? Joining us are: Alexios Mantzarlis, Director of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, The Poynter Institute Eric Deggans, TV Critic, NPR Cory Clark, Director of the Adversarial Collaboration Project and a Visiting Scholar in the Psychology Department at University of Pennsylvania
86 minutes | May 6, 2021
Forget Washington, Save America
What if we turn our eyes from Washington and rededicate ourselves to the most essential aspect of democratic self-governance that Washington doesn’t ultimately control — the “of, by, and for the people” of it all? And what might happen in Washington if we did? Do we have to forget about Washington if we’re ultimately going to save America? To attempt to answer this question we’re joined by Former U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire, author of the book “Dead Center” who has got unique insider knowledge and a determination to doggedly tell the truth. Jason Altmire served three terms in the United States House of Representatives. He was a bipartisan centrist known for working with both sides of the aisle – ultimately having 29 of his legislative initiatives signed into law. During his time in office, the nonpartisan National Journal calculated Altmire’s voting record to be at the exact midpoint of the House — the Dead Center — giving him the most centrist voting record in Congress.
63 minutes | Apr 8, 2021
God Squad: IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!!
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that America is awash right now in conspiracy theories — a phenomena that thrives when anxiety and isolation is high (uh, now). It’s not just the pandemic and unrest in the streets that drives its spread — conspiratorial thinking has found its most fertile ground in all of human history in the dark (and ever-expanding) corners of the internet. Throw in a bunch of trolls and a hostile foreign power or two and, well, it may be here to stay. We’ll avoid the usual finger-pointing and talk about how civil society and faith communities navigate the rising tide of bonding around things that just aren’t true, and how we provide the belongingness and meaning people seem to hunger for. Facilitated by Dr. Gary Shultz of First Baptist Church of Tallahassee.
96 minutes | Mar 25, 2021
Let Friendship Redeem the Republic
Ask yourself how much time you spend really talking with friends or acquaintances who disagree with you ideologically? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is “hardly ever.” And despite all panic about the failure of democracy, we don’t act to change that — even when there’s lots of evidence that suggests that if we’d just spend more time with each other as human beings it would actually make a difference. Join us to meet pairs of friends on opposite sides of the political division who maintain close friendships that deepen and enrich their lives anyway. You’ll meet Berny + Geston (they disagree on almost everything, except that they both love their country), Marian + Derek (a lesbian pastor and conservative Latter Day Saint who work together on the thorny issues of religious liberty and equal rights), and you’ll meet Village Square Founder & CEO Liz Joyner’s friend Dr. Jacob Hess, co-author of “You’re Not as Crazy as I thought (but you’re still wrong).” Liz and Jacob have joined forces to convince the rest of America that friendships across differences are the very best kind (see their Respect + Rebellion project). Program title “Let Friendship Redeem the Republic” came from Patricia Nelson Limerick. Presented in partnership with Florida Humanities and Tallahassee Democrat, through the generous support of Florida Humanities and season sponsor Johnson & Blanton.
62 minutes | Mar 11, 2021
God Squad: Cancel Culture
It wasn’t long ago when a reference to cancel culture would provoke mostly quizzical looks in anyone over 23. Now no matter your age, it’s the new normal — if your opinion doesn’t conform and the Twitter mob finds you, you’re not only exiled but life as you know it could be over. This isn’t a partisan phenomenon (although partisans would have you believe it is), rather it’s a part of a new way of doing business driven by social media and practiced in earnest from American college campuses to the halls of power in Washington, D.C. In a country that calls us to follow our conscience and express our beliefs, how has it come to this and how can mutual understanding navigate our way out of it? Moderated by Fr. Tim Holeda of St. Thomas More Co-cathedral. Join us for a discussion with our panelists, Rabbi Jack Romberg, founding member of the God Squad and retired Rabbi of Temple Israel; Pastor Joseph Davis, Jr. of the Truth Gatherers Community Church; Reverend Trinity Whitley of Faith Presbyterian Church; and Jack Denton, former Senate President at Florida State University.
83 minutes | Feb 25, 2021
A Divided Union: Structural Challenges to Bipartisanship
We're bringing back our two favorite former Congressmen who served on opposite sides of the aisle and were repeatedly thwarted by a dysfunctional system when they (wait for it) tried to work across the aisle in Congress. A lot has happened since we chatted with them last time in 2018 — including their consideration of mounting bipartisan ticket for the presidency, and one of them leaving his political party — so we thought it was time to hang out again. Oh and they wrote a book together. A Divided Union delves deep into ten pressing political challenges that former US Representatives Patrick Murphy and David Jolly (serving on opposite sides of the aisle in Congress) have identified over their multiple terms in Congress and that continue to plague the American electorate today. In an introduction describing their unique paths to Congress, Murphy and Jolly focus in detail on key institutional barriers they faced in Washington in attempting to do the job voters elected them to do. They introduce us to geographic challenges, demographic change, a polarized media, gerrymandering, the role of money in politics, the structure of primary elections, and several other aspects of political life on Capitol Hill. Presented in partnership with Florida Humanities and Tallahassee Democrat, through the generous support of Florida Humanities.
42 minutes | Feb 18, 2021
The Reunited States, part 2: Q&A
We’re back for Q&A with the filmmaker of The Reunited States, the author of the book that inspired the film, and three other heroes featured in the film. Watch the film here. At a time when America is ripping apart at the seams, The Reunited States is a powerful and urgent documentary that follows the unsung heroes on the difficult journey of bridging our political and racial divides. Susan Bro, who lost her daughter when a car drove through a group of counter-protestors in Charlottesville, and David and Erin Leaverton, a Republican couple who travel to all fifty states in an RV to find out what divides us, are just a few of the characters profiled in the film. Each of these bridge-builders have realized that while our divides run deeper than they ever could have imagined, so does the love and hope to bring our country back together. Based on the book of the same name (which features The Village Square) the film urges us to consider that everyone has a role to play in reuniting the country.
61 minutes | Feb 11, 2021
The Reunited States
At a time when America is ripping apart at the seams, The Reunited States is a powerful and urgent documentary that follows the unsung heroes on the difficult journey of bridging our political and racial divides. Susan Bro, who lost her daughter when a car drove through a group of counter-protestors in Charlottesville, and David and Erin Leaverton, a Republican couple who travel to all fifty states in an RV to find out what divides us, are just a few of the characters profiled in the film. Each of these bridge-builders have realized that while our divides run deeper than they ever could have imagined, so does the love and hope to bring our country back together. Based on the book of the same name (which features The Village Square) the film urges us to consider that everyone has a role to play in reuniting the country. We’ll be joined by the author of the book, the filmmaker, Heather Heyer’s mother, and former Senior Field Director for Republican Senator Bob Corker for an important conversation about what citizens can do to heal the gaping divisions damaging America. Watch the film here.
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