Word of Mouth for 01.14.12

Jan 13, 2012

Part 1: Political Red Herrings

Absent tight races or sex scandals, pundits, op-eds and media-makers occasionally flirt with tantalizing uncertainties to liven things up. Salon news editor Steve Kornacki wrote about five of the biggest non-stories you’ll hear far too much of during campaign 2012 - none of which (he says) will amount to a hill of beans.

Part 2: Ten Revolutionary Tea-Parties you weren’t invited to

And now, the spread of the tea party…circa 1774. We’re talking about the Annapolis Tea Party…the New York Tea Party, and other protests that boiled over in the colonies from Maine to North Carolina. These copycat protests were buried by the 92,000 pounds shoved overboard in Boston. Historian Joseph Cummins highlights the significance of the original tea party craze in a new book called “Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests that History Forgot.”

Part 3:  Faith on the Field

The most recent squabble about faith in America is not about the relative piety of the GOP candidates, but rather the spectacle of one Tim Tebow. The Denver quarterback’s in-game displays of devotion on bended knee make him the target of criticism and adulation.  Tebow’s public prayers have inspired a new verb, and a host of memes - including gobs of babies and toddlers “tebowing” on YouTube.  The devout blame the godless media for stirring things up.  Secular audiences  -- and broncos haters – poke fun at the presumption that God favors Tebow. We wondered how a member of the clergy might feel about mixing god with football.  Jason Wells, Vicar at Grace Episcopal Church in Concord, was a good enough sport to tackle the subject.

Part 4: Hope: A Tragedy

There are strange noises and a rotten smell coming from the attic of Solomon Kugel’s old farmhouse in upstate New York. Downstairs, his wife resents him, his kid is sickly and his mother imagines herself a holocaust survivor, even though she was born and raised in New York City. Yet, Kugel remains an optimist, which his shrink declares is the problem: the more hell bent one is on life, the more terrified of death. Kugel is part Nathan Zuckerman, part early Woody Allen, and the entirely comic protagonist of Hope: a Tragedy, a new novel by Shalom Auslander. Shalom is a regular contributor to PRI’s This American Life, and author of the international bestseller, Foreskin’s Lament.

For links to content mentioned during any of these interviews, click on the corresponding segment listed below under "related content".