A history of Mormonism and how it has evolved:
"Yet how much do specifically Mormon beliefs matter to contemporary Mormons? Brooks’s story, give or take a Nephite or two, could unfold in any fundamentalist community that provides comfort and meaning if you’re prepared to park your critical intelligence in the lot outside the church door. She writes, often quite movingly, of the persistent ambivalence of her feelings about her natal faith, but any strayed member of a tight community of believers feels this way about it. Nephi, the Lamanites, the approaching apocalypse in Missouri—these things hardly come up. What resonates for her is the Mormon elder who said that heavy-metal music had secret satanic codes—the same preacher you find in any fundamentalist camp. These stories of attachment and repulsion are being played out in or around Hasidic communities in Brooklyn every day, and surely, for that matter, among Sikhs and Jains in Queens, too. This is the story of faith, not of Joseph Smith’s faith. The allegiance is to the community that nurtured you, and it is bolstered by the community’s history of persecution, which makes you understandably inclined to defend its good name against all comers. It isn’t the truth of the Book, or the legends of Nephi, that undergird Mormon solidarity even among lapsed or wavering believers; it’s the memories of what other people were prepared to do in order to prevent your parents from believing. A critique of the creed, even a rational one, feels like an assault on the community."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5331 words)
The Book of Revelation is the Bible's "Hollywood ending"—but author Elaine Pagels' new book explores what the author originally intended:
"Pagels then shows that Revelation, far from being meant as a hallucinatory prophecy, is actually a coded account of events that were happening at the time John was writing. It’s essentially a political cartoon about the crisis in the Jesus movement in the late first century, with Jerusalem fallen and the Temple destroyed and the Saviour, despite his promises, still not back. All the imagery of the rapt and the raptured and the rest that the 'Left Behind' books have made a staple for fundamentalist Christians represents contemporary people and events, and was well understood in those terms by the original audience. Revelation is really like one of those old-fashioned editorial drawings where Labor is a pair of overalls and a hammer, and Capital a bag of money in a tuxedo and top hat, and Economic Justice a woman in flowing robes, with a worried look."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2942 words)
Our growing prison population, and whether there's a link to the dropping crime rate:
"The accelerating rate of incarceration over the past few decades is just as startling as the number of people jailed: in 1980, there were about two hundred and twenty people incarcerated for every hundred thousand Americans; by 2010, the number had more than tripled, to seven hundred and thirty-one. No other country even approaches that. In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Ours is, bottom to top, a 'carceral state,' in the flat verdict of Conrad Black, the former conservative press lord and newly minted reformer, who right now finds himself imprisoned in Florida, thereby adding a new twist to an old joke: A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged; a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted; and a passionate prison reformer is a conservative who’s in one."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 23, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5469 words)
Call them the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers. The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, where information will be free and democratic, news will be made from the bottom up, love will reign, and cookies will bake themselves. The Better-Nevers think that we would have been better off if the whole thing had never happened ... The Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to others—that something like this is going on is exactly what makes it a modern moment.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 7, 2011
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4734 words)
The making of Winston Churchill
PUBLISHED: Aug. 30, 2010
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6362 words)
Is Le Fooding, the French culinary movement, more than a feeling?
PUBLISHED: April 5, 2010
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5060 words)
Our hunger for cookbooks
PUBLISHED: Nov. 23, 2009
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4385 words)