Religion. Faith. Ethics. In his recently launched weekly news of religion podcast “Beliefs”, William Baker, PhD, director of Fordham’s Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Public Policy, and Education, covers all of this and more. As the podcast’s creator and host of each episode, Baker delves into top religion stories with a new, featured guest each week.
Together, he and his guests explore topics and fundamental questions that arise from today’s religion landscape. The show’s raison d’être, faith, is important and often at the center of blame and controversy, yet part of the life of over six billion people. Some of the stories are about conflicts within religion, but also covered are the many stories about religion as a positive force in communities worldwide.
Developed in partnership with Religion News Service, “Beliefs” episodes range from 12-20 minutes and are intended to reach communities beyond those normally covered and served by mainstream media. By exploring current events in the world of religion in a sympathetic and secular way, the podcast is accessible and relevant for a broad audience, even to those who don’t adhere to any religious doctrine.
For example, in the first six months of the podcast, “Beliefs” covered origins and practices, abuse and pain, hate speech and bigotry. As Baker explained in “God bless America: The theology of the Fourth of July”, Ira Stoll, academic and author of Samuel Adams: A Life, discusses the Declaration of Independence: “The most important sentence is probably the one that says, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.’ So, that idea that all men have certain unalienable rights that came from their Creator – God – is what I call the ‘Theology of the Fourth of July’.” Another episode, “Equal or complementary? Gender roles in faith traditions”, examines “complementarianism”, the theological view in some traditional religions that men and women fulfill separate and complementary roles in life and in religion. And in the podcast conversation on “LGBT Catholics: Inclusivity in the Catholic Church with Fr. James Martin SJ”, Martin discusses his book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.
In addition to his position as director of Fordham’s Bernard L. Schwartz Center for Media, Public Policy & Education at Fordham University, Baker is President Emeritus of New York’s PBS station, WNET-Thirteen.
In other news, the Schwartz Center has received two significant grants from the John A. Hartford Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, to produce a movie that focuses on later-in-life issues. Titled Fast-Forward, it takes young people on a journey that immerses them in what the elderly experience as they enter their third act. The film’s purpose is to awaken young adult minds to understand what their time later in life will be like, and then armed with this knowledge, ask themselves the question,“ Should I be doing anything differently now for the future?”
Also, Bill Baker and Michael O’Malley will have their book, Organizations for People, published this October. Said Baker, “Its focus on Caring Cultures, Basic Needs, and Better Lives discusses the success of kind leaders and kind companies as a counternarrative to many current work environments that seem to foster more of a “killer mentality.”
— Jeanine Genauer contributed reporting.