New Rituals of Death & Dying in Contemporary Japan

KU Professor William Lindsey’s primary research interest lies in analyzing how individuals and groups in Tokugawa Japan (1600-1867) constructed and contested social identity and power along lines of ritual and symbol made available through the bricolage of Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, kami worship, local traditions, and individual motivations.

Recorded at The Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence on May 22, 2016

Toxic Weapons Plant

The Bannister Federal Complex, which for decades housed the Allied/Bendix/Honeywell nuclear weapons facility, has been found to contain over 2000 toxins, resulting in the deaths of scores of workers, both at the weapons facility and at other federal offices on the premises. Former plant employee, Maurice Copeland brings us up to date.

Felicia Kornbluh on the Politics of Welfare

This week on CounterSpin: It was 20 years ago this month that Bill Clinton eliminated the federal guarantee of assistance to poor families. Corporate media played a key role in persuading the public that Aid to Families with Dependent Children—representing less than 1-and-a-half percent of federal outlay from 1964 to 1994—was somehow bleeding the country dry.

Now we’re told we’re in a moment of reconsideration—of tough-on-crime policies, of the deregulation of banks and, perhaps, of the notion that depriving needy people of assistance would lead to their gainful employment and well-being. Our guest says a true reconsideration of the 1990s welfare overhaul would require a so-far invisible recentering of the people in its crosshairs: low-income women, particularly mothers raising children on their own.

Felicia Kornbluh is associate professor of history and gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Vermont and president of the faculty union, United Academics. She’s author of The Battle for Welfare Rights and, with Gwendolyn Mink, of the forthcoming Ensuring Poverty: The History and Politics of Welfare Reform. She joins us today on CounterSpin to talk about what’s missing from even Democratic debates about the social safety net.

Melting Pot: The O’Connor Family Band, Cha Wa, The Sweeplings & Albatross

By Craig Havighurst, Music City Roots Producer

The contrasts between two of this week’s leading men couldn’t have been more striking. One, a 19-year-old African American with Choctaw blood who performs down home parade music in a big blue feathered suit. The other, a lanky 55-year-old violinist/fiddler who’s spent much of the last two decades on the finest concert stages with symphony orchestras. Such is the beautiful breadth of music, and the 8.10.16 edition of MCR made me especially grateful that we get to reach so widely and put such textures side by side. And it was a show in two halves – the first emphasizing the song and the voice, the second, the ensemble and the groove.

Adam Stockdale, the English songwriter who performs under the moniker Albatross, has a 19th century vibe about him. Flowing locks, cook moustache and round horn rimmed glasses suggested poet or political dissident. But he was a gentle sort, chatting kindly with the audience in between lovely and lyrical songs that were story forward and human scale. “Little More Than Strangers” was about the people we collect and then let go. “Game of Love” was a poppy lament that’s earned airplay on Nashville radio. For the second half of the set Stockdale was joined on stage by his close collaborator Matt Menefee on banjo, which provided a nice silvery touch up to the artist’s fine fingerstyle guitar playing.

The Sweeplings presented a refined look – Whitney Dean in a white suit with a white guitar – Cami Bradley in all black save for her striking blonde hair. The yin-yang image seemed calculated, and I’ll be candid that I wasn’t sure I’d love this duo based on the cool formality of their recordings. But it took about half a song to seduce me and everyone else, because their voices absolutely nestle together like lovers. Bradley has a wildly versatile pop voice and she knows how to make it dart and dance. The surprising thing is how Dean matches her with insanely precise harmony, phrasing and surging dynamics. The songs were probably about love. I was too enmeshed in the lush music to think that hard.

There could have been an intermission at this point as if between two totally different acts, but all of our shows should have this much logic and structure. The O’Connor Family Band’s progressive bluegrass and virtuoso musicianship hit me in one of my most sensitive and longest standing musical soft spots. And it wasn’t just the picking and bowing, which was nuts, but the songwriting and singing too. We are watching the birth of a bluegrass star in Kate Lee whose clarity and intention on “Always Do” made goosebumps happen and her sky-high take on “Ruby” showed deep bluegrass feel and a bluesy cry. Forrest O’Connor was author and lead singer on “Coming Home,” the title track to the debut recording, and here his voice matched Kate’s in stellar harmony, plus a few more family voices besides. The fiddling was ten master classes packed into 25 minutes. When Americana blends its human emotional roots with virtuosity like this, I’m in my happiest place. And they ended with a segue from the moody “Those Memories” into “Johnny B. Goode” which was a showbiz closer that matched style with substance.

The only way I’d follow that performance is if I had a giant blue feathered suit and a New Orleans rhythm section, and fortunately that’s exactly what Jwan Boudreaux carries around as the frontman of Cha Wa. The intricate syncopations – the cowbell and shakers and Iko Iko thump of the bass drum and the pulse of the sousaphone emerged just as my mind’s ear hoped it would. Ain’t no sittin’ down in the presence of this primal American street funk. They did classics like “Fire On The Bayou” and “Li’l Liza Jane,” that brought a very particular sense of place to our stage. The five piece band sounded like more than that, with blistering, razor sharp drumming from Joe Gelini and those big thumping bass lines from Clifton Smith. Guitarist Raja Kassis, whom we last saw visit with Dave Eggar, offered some fine solos. And the band’s not so secret weapon is badass danger lady Haruca Kikuchi on trombone. The group’s debut album is called Funk n Feathers, and that’s what they do.

The New Orleans feel continued on the jam, but the universal quality of “When The Saints Go Marching In” meant that the fiddles and bluegrass instruments felt right at home. It was as if we could see the American melting pot bubbling right there on our stage.

A Spiritual Anti-Hero, and Dispatches From the Religion Beat

A Pastor to Misfits

Nadia Bolz-Weber is covered in tattoos, swears like a sailor, and has logged a lot of time in church basements, wrestling with addiction. She is also a Lutheran minister, and founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she welcomes all “the wrong people” — ex-cons, addicts, sinners and outsiders. Asked about her rejection of Christian stereotypes, she says, “I’m in it for the freedom, man.”


An Exit Interview with Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times

Religion should be covered like sports, Jews make good copy, and, let’s be real, CrossFit is not a religion. After nearly seven years writing about faith every other week for The New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer leaves us with a few final reflections on what he’s learned. One takeaway: Please stop calling religion coverage the “God beat.”

“We are covering human beings who do stuff, or earn a paycheck, in the name of religion,” he says. “If there is a God, then he, she, or it is not coverable by us.” He spoke to producer Laura Kwerel.  Mark Oppenheimer is now religion writer and co-host of the Unorthodox podcast.

Orson Scott Card & The Funk Brothers (Encore)

This week on Arts Magazine, it’s an encore presentation as we re-live Michael’s interview with legendary science fiction writer Orson Scott Card. In the second half, we revisit Michael’s interview with the Funk Brothers, the background musicians behind the 60’s Motown hits.

Consciously Reinventing Masculinity with John Gray, Ph.D. and Arjuna Ardagh

In today’s culture, the stereotypical man is becoming a thing of the past as men consciously evolve into more balanced beings, leading to more fulfilling lasting relationships with their partners and a better expression of themselves. His “feminine side” is just the beginning of what today’s conscious man explores. Gray and Ardagh offer examples and directions for staying conscious and balanced in this new age of masculinity. The reinvention of masculinity requires an understanding of both male and female energies, needs, chemistry and hormones, and the skills to consciously balance those. Our culture has so emphatically encouraged gender equality that we may have become blind to the real differences that make us unique and complete. John Gray explains, “We can do everything the other sex can do but what’s different is biological. Men and women have different needs based upon our different hormonal systems. So on a biological level, we are very different and if we want to grow an intimacy, if we want to be successful in our lives, we need to respect what behaviors, what interactions, what styles of communication, what attitudes and insights will help men stay on their masculine side as they open their heart. And what behaviors, interactions and ways of communicating will help women stay on their feminine side while they’re also open to manifesting their masculine side.” They posit that, to have a harmonious relationship, each partner has to respect and understand themselves, the other, and the roles each play throughout the experience. Although they can be equal, men and women need not compete for dominion, but rather engage actively in a complimentary manner. Ardagh says, “Let people do what they enjoy…no one can really argue very convincingly that people shouldn’t have the opportunity to fully enjoy life in whatever way they want,” but this is where the meaning of conscious masculinity becomes relative, “because the fact that we have freedom to do whatever we want now means we can choose what’s actually the best dynamic, what’s the best way for us to align ourselves.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Arjuna Ardagh is a writer, public speaker, and founder of the Awakening Coaching.

Arjuna Ardagh is the author of many books including:

John Gray, Ph.D. is a leading relationship expert. His unique focus is assisting men and women in understanding, respecting and appreciating their differences.

John Gray is the author of:

Gray and Ardagh are co-authors of:

To learn more about the work of Dr. John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh go to or

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is a “conscious man”
  • What are some inherent differences between men and women
  • What is polarity and polarization
  • How are stereotypical roles of men and women changing
  • What is “imitated masculinity”
  • How are “listening” and “sharing” masculine and/or feminine
  • How do men and women handle stress differently
  • Why do some men turn to pornography for gratification
  • What is the solution to the loss of novelty
  • How do estrogen and testosterone play into a healthy relationship

Host: Justine Willis Toms        Interview Date: 6/26/2016         Program Number: 3586

The Heart of the Wild with Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams tells the story of her initiation by the living land when she was 7 years old. While taking a school trip she ended up alone, in the dark, in Mount Timpanogos Cave. For a brief but powerful moment she felt the beating heart of the mountain. She says, “For the rest of my life I’ve been trying to retrieve that sacred space I felt inside that mountain alone. I have been searching for that moment when you’re part of something so old, so deep, so true.” Take a tour with Williams and find the relevance of our national parks in the 21st century and how these public commons might bring us back home to a united state of humility. It’s Terry Tempest Williams’ hope that we learn what it is to offer our reverence and respect to the closest thing we have to sacred lands. Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan stated that our American national parks are our best idea. Williams goes on to say, “And I would argue that they are our evolving idea; it’s never one story but many stories that are rooted in these American landscapes.” She reminds us that as we visit these public lands we can tune into a stillness that is outside of all the noise, distractions, and chaos in our everyday life. “They are places where we find a united state of humility . . . We are in this deeply fractured and divided country. I think if we could listen more to each other we would find a compassion that would surprise us.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Terry Tempest Williams is a naturalist, environmentalist, and award-winning author. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Ms. Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. She is currently the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah.

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books including:

To learn more about the work of Terry Tempest Williams go to

Also, regarding the Native American Inter-Tribal Coalition go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How Williams was initiated by the land when she was 7 years old in Mount Timpanogos Cave
  • How more than twenty Native American Tribes are joining together to protect over two million acres of sacred lands
  • How the coyotes and rainbows responded to medicine man Jonah Yellowman
  • How Williams was called by her ancestors at Acadia National Park in Maine
  • How deep listening is more than listening to words, it’s listening to the wind, the animals, the land itself
  • What a man from London found when he drove 8 hours to hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas
  • How National Parks help us to get in touch with what it means to be human in places with other species
  • How Tim DeChristopher became an eco-warrior and hero for the Southern Utah Wilderness
  • What Williams experienced when visiting ground zero at the Macondo Well of the BP oil spill
  • Williams shares her experience of being caught in the Trapper fire with her family at Glacier National Park
  • How the buffalo responded to Max Richter’s Recomposed: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons

Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 6/11/2016          Program Number: 3587