Tag Archives: Minnesota Public Radio

Catholics ought to be up in arms about anti-Catholic ‘humor’ on National Public Radio

December 19, 2010

1 Comment

“This American Life” is one of the very best radio programs in the country, but the past week the producers of the show from Chicago’s public radio outlet let down a good portion of their audience by allowing a “comedian” to make fun of Catholics and the practice of their faith.

I frankly couldn’t believe what was coming out of my car radio as I drove from store to store doing Christmas shopping. I’m posting the link here because I think others need to know what this is all about:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/422/comedians-of-christmas-comedy-special. It’s Act Three: The Little Altar Boy” by Mike Birbiglia that triggered my calling Minnesota Public Radio to express my indignation that it would allow such bias on its station.

I kept asking myself, doesn’t anyone at “This American Life” have the brains — or the sensitivity — to know how offensive Birbiglia’s piece was to Catholics? 

I expect so much better from public radio. I expect public radio will be the standardbearer against prejudice of all kinds. And then it allowed someone to use its very valuable, “public” air time to make fun of the faith and the religious practices of millions? Intellectually, how does that make sense? I wondered, was the crew laughing along with Mr. Birbiglia, or did anyone in authority anywhere along the way ask themselves, “Are Catholics going to find this not only distasteful but an attack on their beliefs?” They should have.

 As soon as Birbiglia uttered the words, “Christ has lied …,” the little bell should have gone off in the heads of someone, if not at “This American Life,” if not at WBEZ, then certainly at MPR. If someone in any of those public radio offices had the ethics that I equate with public radio they would have pulled the plug on Birbiglia’s mic or on the syndicated feed and apologized to the 70 million Catholics in this country.

 Frankly, Birbiglia’s stuff wasn’t even funny. The jokes by the third graders that were aired early in that show were better than the childish garbage Mr. Birbiglia presented as humor. It’s really too bad he didn’t have the creativity of the third graders.

 Here’s to hoping everyone at public radio rises above the anti-religion, anti-Catholic gutter in the future. If you agree, why not let them know. — Bob Zyskowski

Continue reading...

Keillor brings Lake Wobegon’s Fourth of July to hilarious life

March 20, 2009

1 Comment

“Liberty,”

by Garrison Keillor

Before another Fourth of July comes around, give Garrison Keillor permission to tickle your funny bone.

“Liberty” will test your housemates’ willingness to allow you to laugh aloud for extended periods without calling for the men in the white jackets.

It’s the story of an Independence Day celebration — and the preparation for the big event — in Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota hamlet Keillor has made famous on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion” show.

Those familiar with Keillor’s weekly monologue will recognize many of the characters.

The hero of this fun read is mechanic Clint Bunsen. He’s the architect of one of the most successful Fourth of July parades in the nation, but he’s bruised a few egos along the way, and some of the townsfolk are out to depose him.

Some don’t like, for example, that he’s thrown out the cavalcade of farmers driving their John Deeres down Main Street and replaced them with more exciting acts — the St. Cloud Shriners Precision Rider Mower Unit, for example — and they are out to get Clint even though he’s made Lake Wobegon’s Fourth so spectacular that CNN is sending a crew to cover it for the second straight year.

No good deed goes unpunished

In typical Lake Wobegon fashion the culture of the town won’t allow room for an individual to enjoy too much success, and no idea is ever allowed to be presented without its downside casting a dark shadow over any potential good outcome.

Keillor has the naysayers down pat.

In a lovely passage that describes those who accuse Bunsen of being a tyrant as he chairs the parade committee, Keillor’s familiarity with Scripture and his insight into human frailty burst off the page:

“If they had been at the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus brought forth the miracle of the loaves and fishes, they would’ve thought, ‘Did he wash his hands. Where are the napkins? How long was that fish cooked?'”

Sound familiar?

Fair warning: Keillor’s imaginative libido has his hero stumbling off the marital-fidelity track, and some readers may be offended by some of the frank and explicit language in this Viking book.

On the whole, though, “Liberty” offers a commentary on humanity that points society in the right direction by shining a spotlight on those times when we and our neighbors fail to be all that the creator gave us the potential to be.

And it’s hilarious. — bz

Continue reading...

Meet the man behind the weather report

December 16, 2008

0 Comments

“Nature’s Messenger: Memoirs of a Prophetic Meteorologist,”

by Craig Edwards

Craig Edwards was the man behind the scenes for our weather in Minnesota and the rest of the Upper Midwest.

As the Twin Cities area chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service, the St. Hubert, Chanhassen parishioner recently finished a 34-year career warning people about storms, tornadoes, blizzards — you name it.

It’s from that experience of watching the weather patterns and witnessing scientifically the dramatically visible changes we see and feel that Edwards moves from telling his life story to almost a self-appointed role as prophet about climate change and global warming.

Edwards, who upon retirement from the weather bureau in 2007 took a job in the weather department for Minnesota Public Radio, religiously — pun intended — writes about his Catholic upbringing in Illinois and his fascination with the weather from an early age.

Readers of a certain age are going to see parallels with their own youthful years, I’m sure, and I didn’t find much of that part of “Nature’s Messenger” compelling reading.

But when you get to page 56 of this paperback, that’s where the good stuff starts.

Come behind the curtain

Edwards takes readers on a lengthy behind-the-scenes tour of operations at several Weather Service locations around the Midwest, into the personnel issues, how and why the government got behind commercial television stations in working with new technologies like Doppler radar.

If you’re old enough you’ll be able to relive some of the major weather events of the past 34 years, including record snowstorms, tornadoes and of course the Red River Valley floods. Edwards calls the central part of North America “the world’s greatest playground for the forces of nature,” and thus a prime spot for weather people to work in.

All along the way in this life story of a man with an interesting job he works in what’s going on with his family life and especially his faith life, including his finding blessing in Eucharistic Adoration and teaching in his parish confirmation program.

Interesting, too, is this comment about the parallels between life and weather: “There are a large number of days when things are just simply partly cloudy.”

A man on a bigger mission

There’s a good bit of preachiness here about the importance of striving for excellence in one’s career without having to be pushed by outside forces, but Edwards doesn’t over-do it. His writing style like his leadership style is more of collaborating, mentoring and preaching with his actions.

But when he starts laying out his thoughts about climate change, Edwards preaches a tough-love homily. “The planet is more vulnerable than ever before,” he claims, and we humans have brought it on ourselves.

He sees the evidence of global warming as disrespecting God’s creation, and he drives home with paragraph after paragraph of evidence the fact that we ignore all the warnings at our peril.

The answer lies in “a substantial sacrificial response and personal accountability,” Edwards said. “All God’s people have an inherent purpose to preserve the goodness of the earth.”

Edwards does speaking engagements on the topics he writes about in “Nature’s Messenger,” an iUniverse title. Reach him at http://www.naturesmessenger.com. — bz

Continue reading...