Monday, January 11, 2016

Do we choose our religion?



This is the monologue for the most recent episode of Why? Radio: "What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?” with guest Jan Willis. Click here to listen to the episode.  

Why do we believe what we believe? Why do some religions compel us and others feel like fairy tales? Why do we hold to some values, even if we fail to realize them, and reject others as not even worthy of pursuing? These are profound questions that overlap philosophy, psychology, anthropology, history, and sociology. Religion and belief are not simple.

We know, for example, that most Americans will be raised Christian, and as the recent season has shown us, even if they do not consider themselves believers, they will find solace and joy in holidays like Christmas. Yet there are others who choose to convert to Islam or Buddhism; the Grand Forks synagogue is full of former Christians who became Jews, and North Dakota is a pretty Christian place. If we could map this out, would we discover that belief is just an accident of birth? Is it the resolution to our various neuroses and insecurities or simply free will, a perfect illustration of what choice is supposed to mean?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why? Radio is live this Sunday at 5p.m. central: "What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?" with Guest: Jan Willis


Why? Radio is live this Sunday at 5p.m. central.
Send us your comments now or during the show.


"What does Buddhism Offer an African-American Woman?”

Guest: Jan Willis

Sunday, January 10 at 5 p.m. central.


Listen live from anywhere in the world at http://www.whyradioshow.org/ and in North Dakota at 89.3 (Grand Forks), 91.9 (Fargo), 90.5 (Bismarck), and on Prairie Public radio stations across the state.

Send your comments to askwhy@und.edu

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top posts (and top neglected posts) of 2015

For the record, I have no idea what is happening in this picture.

In the spirit of the season (and as a result of significant peer pressure), I thought it might be of interest to list the best posts of the past year. Of course, it is unclear what “best” means in this context. Should I link to the posts with the most comments? The most page views? The most shares? These are complicated measures, in part because a significant amount of blog-based conversation takes place off site and a surprising number of people respond to the question in the title without actually reading the post. Also, all of those measures indicate popularity, not quality, and I’d like to think that good is more important than popular. I'd like to think that my own judgment is also a factor in determining whether a post ended up being good or not.

So, the links below are posts that I determine to be the most “successful”: a mixture of interesting topic, good responses, and writing that I like. They are all posts that engaged people’s imagination, if not ire, and in at least once case, significant praise. So, without further ado, here are the “Top PQED posts of 2015”: