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bixentro / flickr creative commons

The word "bastard" hasn't always been meant to offend. Used simply as an indication of illegitimate birth at first, the label "bastard" didn't bring with it shame or stigma until long after it first appeared in the Middle Ages.

Today, while its original meaning has not been forgotten, its use is largely reserved for insult. Yet, ironically, the underdog status once associated with a person of illegitimate birth is now something our modern culture celebrates.

From Alexander Hamilton to Game of Thrones's Jon Snow, the bastard's ability to rise above his or her unfortunate circumstances to achieve greatness has become something to root for.

Classical artist Paul Armesto
Allison Minto / Connecticut Public

You might say muralist and painter Paul Armesto is a throwback to the past. Rather than using modern means to create his mostly religious works, Armesto has steeped himself in the classical style, adopting the techniques and even materials of the Renaissance masters, like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. For the last several months, Armesto has been working on a giant mural for the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury.

MARCO VERCH / flickr creative commons

Seriously: a show about towels.

There's the history of towels, towels in Christianity, Terrible Towels, Towel Day.

Oh, and there are actual towels too.

Because when has a bad idea ever stopped us before?

Photo by Victoria Will, illustration by John Gibson

Hear about the 5000 year history of billboards, and meet the man behind the “I LOVE YOU JESUS” billboards on I-84 and I-91 here in Connecticut.  And hear about a technology that focuses the audio of a billboard directly to you and only you.  Plus, why one Baltimore resident chose to propose to his girlfriend with a billboard (and how it went).

Guy Walker Wolf III died on February 13th, 2021. He was 77 years old.

There are many ways to describe Guy, but I’d say we who knew him would all agree that he could be described as the captain of his own ship. And he was my stepfather. I’ve known him since I was 11.

Throughout the process of his death at home, I was compelled by the people who were a part of guiding us through it.

So today, I’m gonna introduce you to the people who helped Guy die, and who helped us celebrate him. From the hospice workers who came to the house, to the funeral home director, to the cantor who sang at his mass.

You’ll meet his wife, my mom, and hear about how she made the choices she did, and how it feels to be a new widow. And at the end of the show, you’ll hear a little something from Guy.

Frustration As Waterbury Catholic School Set To Close

Mar 25, 2021
Olivia Hickey

Sacred Heart High School and Middle School are scheduled to close June 30 after educating students for 99 years. While some families are preparing to transfer their children to new schools, alumni and school community members have been working together to prevent the closing.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II / Joint Chiefs of Staff

Moderna announced today they were making new versions of their vaccine that can be used as boosters against variants seen in South Africa, Brazil, and the U.K. The vaccine should be effective against variants but it seems to create fewer antibodies against the one that has emerged in South Africa. Either way, vaccines alone will not be enough. We talk about mutations and vaccines. 

Also this hour: The Biden inauguration was the most Catholic inauguration in history. Is a more liberal Christianity on the rise? 

Lastly, a tribute to John McDonough, actor, singer, and a Connecticut native.

John Minchillo / AP Photo

Images of the mob that attacked the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6 show a dizzying array of political and religious symbols among the crowd. There were flags, logos, sweatshirts and tattoos. Philip Gorski is a professor of sociology and religious studies at Yale University and author of American Babylon: Christianity and Democracy Before and After Trump. He spoke recently with Connecticut Public Radio’s Diane Orson.

Sheri Terris, Flickr Creative Commons


I love Reddit. This mostly-anonymous giant internet bulletin board has a plethora of communities called subreddits, which bring all sorts of interests together.

The Battle For Butter

Dec 27, 2020
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Image of sunlight ight shining through a tree
Jannatul Hasan / Wikimedia Commons

Faith can play an important role in times of uncertainty - offering comfort and hope.  Since COVID-19 hit Connecticut, many churches, synagogues and mosques have closed across the state.  Faith leaders have moved worship online - and found new ways to bring people together.

It has not been easy.  Leaders across religious traditions are under tremendous pressure guiding their congregations through grief and trauma - while helping their communities build resilience.

In a conversation recorded earlier this month, guest host Diane Orson talks with a pastor, a rabbi and an imam who have walked into a pandemic - and it is not a joke.   They speak about what it has been like for clergy, where they turn when they’re feeling stressed, and whether their own faith has wavered.

Bradley Gordon / Creative Commons

We are still living in two different realities. President Trump lost the election but still can't concede or admit it, and a high percentage of Republicans say they doubt the results -  even though courts have found no evidence to support their claims of fraud. 

Meanwhile, President-Elect Joe Biden is moving forward with his transition - including talking with foreign leaders, choosing Cabinet members, and planning his first 100 days in office. Can Biden unite us?

Illustration by Chion Wolf, candy corn photo by Skeeze on Pixabay

This hour, visit a West Hartford history professor’s eye-opening Halloween display about Black Lives Matter and Covid-19, and hear what passersby think of it.

Erich Ferdinand / Creative Commons

Religious scholar Elaine Pagels trusted the Gospel of Thomas to get her through the almost unbearably painful years after the death of her six-year-old son -- born with a congenital heart defect -- followed one year later by the unexpected death of her husband. 

Walking with Dante

Jul 12, 2020
FreeParking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

self-isolation connecticut
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

COVID-19 has brought death much closer to everyday life for many in Connecticut and around the world. But it’s also had a big impact on how we memorialize and mourn the dead.

Gilad Raphaelli / Flickr Creative Commons

This hour, we’re starting at the end: Death.

Knowledge of our mortality affects almost everything about us. And lately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, death is on our phones, in the headlines, and in the air.

This is the ninth and final episode of US in the Time of Coronavirus.

We’ve surpassed 100,000 deaths in our country, and more than 3,826 deaths here in Connecticut as of Friday, May 20th. These numbers aren’t just numbers. They’re mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, brothers and sons; Grandmas and grandpas, and best friends.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shortly after the pandemic shifted our weekday work scenario from one of shared space and bursts of spontaneous conversation, to one hour-long weekly Zoom meeting, Colin shared his urge to sit down with a few old friends to talk about life in the shadow of a pandemic. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Who would have guessed a face mask would become the latest cultural symbol of our identity, one more way to express our politics, our sense of style, and our deepest beliefs in what it means to be American.

Berlin Mosque
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Praying together in a mosque could put Muslims at risk of catching COVID-19, so mosques are closed to the public.

That makes for a very different celebration of the holy month of Ramadan in 2020. It means that special evening prayers must be done at home.

Wikimedia Commons

In March, President Trump blamed our global pandemic on China. When that didn't work, he blamed the World Health Organization (WHO) for not responding quickly enough to the virus. When that didn't work, he blamed governors for not getting their own supplies. Now, he says immigrants will take away American jobs.

The Bible defines a scapegoat as one of two kid goats. One goat was sacrificed and the living “scapegoat” was supposed to absorb the sins of the community and carry them into the wilderness. Is that what's happening here? Are the president's scapegoats supposed to carry away the sins of Mr. Trump?

CEA

Before the pandemic, most of us craved of a little solitude away from the hustle of life. Now, we've been  been thrust into a form of solitude far from the idleness of the lazy summer afternoon we imagined. Our minds are restless with uncertainty and fear and without the usual distractions we turn toward when being alone with ourselves becomes too painful to confront. 

Church
Jim McIntosh / Creative Commons

For Catholics marking Holy Week – the final days of lent leading up to the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ – worship is much different than last year.

Joey Zanotti / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s Holy Week for many Americans, a heightened time of prayer and meditation and looking inward. But it doesn’t matter what your religion is, or if you don’t feel compelled to engage with religion at all. It seems like every one of us has been looking inward in the past month or so.

This hour, Rev. Dr. Shelley Best on how she, as a faith leader, is making sense of all this. What does this pain and death mean - if anything at all? How is she reconnecting with her communities, and how is she finding comfort for herself?

Urban Hope Refuge Church
Tyler Russell/Connecticut Public

For Christians around the world in self-isolation, the celebration of Easter will be a stark reminder of the impact coronavirus has on their lives.

A pastor in Hartford's North End will bring his congregation together for Easter while still practicing social distancing -- it’s called an Easter drive-in service.

family zoom
Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

For many Jewish families, staying safe and staying home because of the coronavirus meant that this year's Passover dinner took place using technology.

passover dinner
Courtesy: Congregation Mishkan Israel

Sundown marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesach. It’s a time when families gather for a Seder meal and the annual recounting of the Jews’ deliverance from slavery to freedom. But this year is different from all other years. Social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic means most homes will not be physically open to welcome family and friends.

Worship in the Time of Coronavirus

Apr 2, 2020
Wikipedia Commons

Churches across the states have temporarily shut down. Easter, Passover and Ramdan are all rapidly approaching and many will not be able to gather and celebrate. 

This hour, we talk to religious leaders and learn how they're navigating worship and virtual religious services.

Yujin =) / Flickr

From ancient mixtures of boiled goat fats and ashes to modern artisanal soaps with calendula and coffee grinds, humans have been inventing clever ways of cleaning themselves since the very beginning.

This quest for cleanliness has wound its way through religion, sexuality, culture, and more. It has been the source of everything from comedies to conflicts to consumer crazes. This hour we talk to experts and historians about the history of hygiene.

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