Friday, February 8, 2008

What I Learned on NPR This Week

Okay, I confess--for those who don't already know--that I'm an NPR junkie. Go ahead, criticize me as hopelessly under the mind control of the voice of the left--but the fact remains that if you drop by my office you will hear me streaming an NPR show over the internet (and occasionally a podcast about the TV show LOST). Say what you will!

The following stories/interviews struck me as interesting or powerful or both:

1. I'm always really amazed at how good the NPR segments are about the Storycorps project. These segments are taken from actual interviews that ordinary people do of someone in their life--usually a family member--at one of the Storycorps booths around the country. (There's one in Union Station in Manhattan that I always meant to make use of, but just never did.) The segments are always deeply touching. This morning on Morning Edition they aired a segment where a father shares about his daughter's murder and how he came to forgive her murderer. In a few short minutes, we, the listeners, are privileged to hear one of the most powerful stories of grace I've ever heard.

2. I know I said that I wouldn't be posting any more about abortion, but I did share my thoughts on the film JUNO and how it's been dragged into the hopeless contemporary American dialogue on the issue, so I feel obligated to put something here about the new film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. I haven't seen the film yet, because it has just opened to limited release in the U.S.--and something tells me that it won't be coming to the art house cinema capital that is St. Joseph, MO--but the plot centers around two college students in Ceausescu's Romania, one of whom finds herself pregnant. The two set off to procure an abortion for her, an act that was illegal in the communist regime. On yesterday's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed the director and he paints a very frightening picture of what it would be like when a government controls what can and cannot happen to a woman's body.

3. I'm not a big fan of Hillary Clinton. As a former New Yorker, I have to admit she was a good senator. I don't disagree with her politics very much either. My problem with her comes down to her vote on the war, which I believe went against what she knew to be right, but she went with what was most advantageous to her future ambitions. I believe you see this kind of unbridled ambition in the kind of negative campaigning she and her husband have engaged in so far in the primary season. I believe she represents more of the same old partisanship that will continue to ignore the real problems in our country.

YET--I also have to admit that ever since she took the national stage, she has been the target of untold unfair attacks, many of which boil down to outright sexism, even if it is a sexism masked in political language. On Day to Day, there was an interview with feminst author Robin Morgan. She makes a very powerful and convincing argument that the kind of attacks that have been levelled at Clinton this season--mainly by those on the opposite side of the aisle--have been degrading to women in general. She asks what the reaction would have been if a heckler had called out for Barack Obama to shine his shoes, just as a heckler yelled at Clinton to "Go home and iron my shirt!" I agree with her belief that there would have been an outrcry if such a statement was about race--and deservedly so--but sexism remains something our culture refuses to address in any meaningful way, in spite of the advances women have made over the last few decades.

Won't you join me in the ranks of those under the mind control spell of NPR?

Grace and Peace,


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