Writer and rabbi Chaim Potok is best known for his novels. However, he served as the Secretary of the Writings Committee of the Jewish Publication Society Committee of Scholars. The group has been working since 1957 on a new translation of the Old Testament, and the third volume was just published. It is the first translation in 2200 years to base itself on the original Hebrew texts. Potok joined the show in June, and he's back to offer comparisons between the new translation, the King James Bible, and the 1917 Jewish Publications translation. Potok will also answer listener calls.
William Murray is the son of atheist crusader Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whom the family considered "the most hated woman in America." At the age of 14, Murray was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court case his mother filed to remove prayer from the Baltimore Public Schools. Murray experienced a difficult relationship with Murray O'Hair, who terrorized him as child. As an adult, Murray converted to Christianity and hasn't spoken to his mother since 1977. His new book is "My Life Without God."
Cal Thomas is the Vice-President for Communications of the Moral Majority. The Moral Majority was funded by Jerry Falwell and a coalition of pastors, priests, and rabbis in June of 1979. Thomas describes the group as a political organization dedicated to addressing the "erosion of traditional values" and the social problems the group believes results from the abandonment of "Judeo-Christian values." Thomas writes the group's daily radio commentary, material for its monthly newspaper, and serves as a spokesman for the organization.
Monsignor John Patrick Foley of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Temple University professor Leonard Swidler discuss their views on the popularity of the pope, his concern for social justice, and what some see as his conservative positions toward doctrine, hierarchy, and women in the church. Fresh Air listeners call in with their questions.
Brad Allison is an Evangelical pastor in Philadelphia. John Gordon became a Christian in college. His scholarship led him away from religious fundamentalism. He is now the chaplain at Albright College. The two religious leaders speak with Fresh Air listeners about their faith.
Jeffrey Dekro and Phyllis Taylor both draw inspiration from their Jewish faith to fight for civil rights and other social justice movements. They answer questions from Fresh Air listeners about the contrasting trends of Jewish assimilation into mainstream American culture and a growing number of devout and practicing Jews.
Philadelphia-based Shamsud-din Ali is a local leader of the Muslim community. He speaks with Fresh Air callers about his faith, the relationship between Islam and other religions, and attitudes toward Muslims around the world.
Activist Michael Harrington has been a leader of the American left for the last thirty years. In the 1950s, he was the associate editor of The Catholic Worker, a socialist, Catholic newspaper. In the 1960s, he worked with the Civil Rights movement, including joining Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Advisory Committee. He was also active in the labor movement and worked against the war in Vietnam. Harrington chaired the Socialist Party from 1968-1972, and has been the National Chair of the Democratic National Socialists of America since 1973.
Stewart Hoover is a research scholar at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in the impact of communications technology on culture. In recent years, many have deemed religious television programming controversial. Many mainline church leaders fear the effect such programming will have on local churches. Hoover, along with George Gerbner, Larry Gross, Michael Morgan, and Nancy Signorielli, has just conducted a study on religious television programming.
Folk artist Howard Finster was born in 1916, but did not start painting until 1976 when he had a vision that told him to devote his life to making sacred art. Finster has been working as a preacher since the age of 16. Finster has spent 20 years working on "Paradise Garden," a two-and-a-half acre mixture of sculpture, painting, vines, vegetables, and discarded objects. "Howard Finster, Man of Visions: The Garden and Other Creations: A One Person Show" is opening at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.