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The words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase “In God we trust” on the back of a dollar bill haven’t been there as long as most Americans might think. Those references were inserted in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, the same decade that the National Prayer Breakfast was launched, according to writer Kevin Kruse. His new book is One Nation Under God.
In the original Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy made no mention of God, Kruse says. Bellamy was Christian socialist, a Baptist who believed in the separation of church and state.
“As this new religious revival is sweeping the country and taking on new political tones, the phrase ‘one nation under God’ seizes the national imagination,” Kruse tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It starts with a proposal by the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic lay organization, to add the phrase ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. Their initial campaign doesn’t go anywhere but once Eisenhower’s own pastor endorses it … it catches fire.”
Kruse’s book investigates how the idea of America as a Christian nation was promoted in the 1930s and ’40s when industrialists and business lobbies, chafing against the government regulations of the New Deal, recruited and funded conservative clergy to preach faith, freedom and free enterprise. He says this conflation of Christianity and capitalism moved to center stage in the ’50s under Eisenhower’s watch.
Ira Glass is the award-winning host and executive producer of the documentary radio program “This American Life,” produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International. The program began in 1995 and is now heard on over 500 public radio stations each week, by more than 3 million people, and is downloaded as a podcast more than 900,000 times weekly.
Watch Ira Glass in discussion with Googler Logan Ury on topics including his favorite episodes, thoughts on technology, and what it was like to see himself mentioned on “The O.C.”
(Contains adult language.)
Here’s the last of the summer library series from NPR, once again featuring Jessamyn West.
More than 90 percent of Americans say public libraries are important to their communities, according to the Pew Research Center. But the way that love translates into actual financial support varies hugely from state to state.
Vermont, for instance, brags that it has more libraries per capita than any other U.S. state. Some of them are remarkably quaint. In Ludlow, one library is a white clapboard Victorian, slightly frayed, ringed by lilies and sitting by the side of a brook.
Read & listen to the full story @ NPR.org.
There’s a battle going down at the of the Baltimore County Public Library system. It’s a one-point game in the fourth quarter with only seconds left on the game clock. Huddled around a big screen in a small room, 10 or so teenagers cheer on their joystick-wielding buddies. The ball is snapped, the kick is up … no good. It’s wide right, and the crowd goes wild, trash talk flying.
Every Wednesday, battles like this one boil over at Sollers Point, where the weekly Xbox program for teens starts at 3:30 p.m. and ends at 5.
“If they’re being really good and the next shift can take over, they can stay until 5:30,” says Sollers Point librarian Liz Slack. Today, the kids get their extra half-hour.
Read and listed to the full article @ NPR.org.
When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, “Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian.”
I just assumed our librarian, who was maybe 23, was that most regrettable of midcentury things, a “spinster.” (She was so much older than my baby-sitters.) Later I learned that The Music Man was spoofing that idea, by making Marian young — maybe 23 — and sexy once she let down her hair and utterly irresistible to the traveling salesman, who’d presumably had many a fling.
But then of course the Spinster Librarian is a durable literary construct and hardly the only one I picked up from pop culture. Others include librarians as detectives, libraries as fortresses protecting us from ignorance, whole science-fiction worlds devoted to the storage of ideas and history. Like, say, the deserted planet in that seems the only remaining trace of an entire civilization.
It’s hardly surprising that writers, who deal all the time with words, would find fascination in great repositories of them — Jorge Luis Borges, imagining the universe as a “Library of Babel” containing all possible books; Neil Gaiman stocking Lucien’s Library, , with every volume anyone has ever dreamed of writing but never written; George Lucas imagining holobooks and datasticks for his Jedi Temple library; a whole universe’s worth of knowledge stored in Doctor Who on a planet-sized library that contains whole continents of biographies.
Read and listen to the full story @ NPR.org.
E-books have strained the relations between libraries and the major publishing houses. Libraries say they’re being cut out of the market because publishers are afraid they could lose money selling e-books to libraries. After much negotiation the publishers are experimenting with new ways of doing business. Some libraries are already looking to bypass the high prices and restrictions that publishers place on e-books.
As part of our series on libraries, NPR’s Lynn Neary has this report on the differences that still separate these two book-loving institutions.
Listen to the full story @ NPR.org.
On this week’s episode of This American Life:
Two years ago, we did a program about a mysterious business in Texas that threatens companies with lawsuits for violating its patents. But the world of patent lawsuits is so secretive, there were basic questions we could not answer. Now we can. And we get a glimpse why people say our patent system may be discouraging, not encouraging, innovation.