25:11There are hundreds of Confederate memorials across the U.S. With our colleague Jalane Schmidt, we explore an often overlooked part of their history: religion. Not only are these monuments often steeped in religious symbolism, white Christian communities also helped to build and maintain them. And we hear from a group of Christians here in Charlottesville wrestling with that legacy today.
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Field Notes: Sticky Situation
20:18Graduate student Kevin Stewart Rose brings us the story of a Christian community dedicated to creating a more environmentally sustainable future, but unable to extract itself from our unsustainable present. Part of "Field Notes," our ongoing series dedicated to highlighting documentary work from students at UVA.
What's So Great About Cyrus?
25:23Last season. we explored the impact of an ancient artifact with Biblical connections: the Cyrus cylinder. Cyrus's proclamation may be ancient, but it has a lot of resonance in modern discussions of religious freedom, immigration, and national identity. Perhaps then it shouldn't come as a surprise that Cyrus himself has become a political symbol, as well. We're looking at two very different leaders who have become closely associated with Cyrus: the last Shah of Iran, and President Donald Trump.
Field Notes: #BlackLivesMatter
13:04We're returning to our ongoing series Field Notes, featuring documentary pieces from students here at UVA. Jason Evans explores how black women—leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement since the beginning—are shaped by their faith, even as they question many aspects of the traditional black church.
24:32Santa Muerte. Holy Death. To outsiders, she's become a symbol of cartel driven violence in Mexico—a "narco-saint," worshiped only by traffickers, and venerated at crime scenes. To her followers, she's a protector with roots stretching back to the pre-Hispanic past. Dr. Jessie Marroquín joins us to explore the complex history of the saint, now one of the fastest growing religious movements in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.
To Move the Passions
20:21In 1902, a young American headed to the Vatican to record a voice unlike any other. His subject was Alessandro Moreschi—the last known castrato. That is to say, a man castrated in childhood in order to preserve a high singing voice. Castrati's high, yet powerful, voices were in constant demand in both sacred and secular spaces across Europe for centuries. We talk to UVA's Bonnie Gordon about how the interpretation of a single biblical passage helped launch that demand, and how their otherworldly voices became a tool for conversion—and the center of a debate about the nature of human bodies and souls.
Field Notes: In the Halo of a Moment
10:21"He was a time-traveler and a translator. Or more precisely, the act of translating enabled Mira ji to time-travel." As we work to get our remote studio up and running, we're dipping into our archives to bring you some excellent short audio documentaries by students here at the University of Virginia—including this piece on the Urdu poet Mira ji, whose poetry refused to be confined by religion, gender, or time.
A Lotus Blossoms Above Muddy Waters
26:30In 1905, a young Zen priest named Nyogen Senzaki arrived in San Francisco from Japan. He was convinced that America, with its long tradition of religious freedom, was fertile ground for the spread of Buddhism. And he slowly built a diverse new community of Buddhist practitioners in California. But everything changed when the U.S. entered World War II. Beginning in 1942, the United States government incarcerated roughly 120,000 people of Japanese descent—including Senzaki—in remote camps across the American interior. Many were American citizens. They were held without charges, and without appeal. Duncan Ryūken Williams, scholar and author of American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War joins us to discuss how this mass incarceration shaped American Buddhism—and American conceptions of religious freedom.
28:52In 1872, an act of Congress transformed newly acquired territory in the American west into Yellowstone National Park. The act declared that the land was "hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States...and set aside as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."And while it was our first national park, Yellowstone draws on much older thinking about sanctuaries. We often use the word sanctuary to talk about places like Yellowstone that have been protected from human development and industry. But it's a word with deep religious roots. Traditionally, a sanctuary is a place that is set apart from daily human life and reserved for the divine.Last winter, we traveled to Yellowstone to explore what happens when a religious idea like sanctuary is transformed into a secular and bureaucratic one. How has "setting aside" this land affected the people and animals who have historically lived within its borders? And can any man-made border keep out the effects of climate change?