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Believe It!

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Oct. 7, 2008
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   Edward R. Murrow's CBS Radio program "This I Believe" originally aired amid the alarm and suspicion of the McCarthy era. More than 50 years later it was revived on NPR during the similarly divisive post-9/11 era. The soothing tones of narrators who prompt reflection rather than dogma has buoyed the spirits of many a radio-listener flagging under the language of fear that's become the lexicon of our age. Last month the second compilation of essays from the series was published, named This I Believe II and edited by program producers Jay Allison and Dan Gediman.

  This I Believe II features 75 pithy essays by authors young and old, famous and unknown, and engaged in every walk of life. In "The Right to Be Fully American," Pakistani-American Muslim attorney Yasir Billoo describes the anguish of being made to feel like a foreigner in your homeland, while virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma expounds the benefits of cross-fertilizing cultures, both in life and in music. In "The Faith That Brings Me Peace," Betsy Chalmers describes how the implicit belief in marital faithfulness has enabled her to remain committed to her 30-year marriage to a convicted criminal; in "God is God Because He Remembers," Elie Wiesel puts the value of shared history into stark perspective. In the foreword, co-producer Jay Allison describes This I Believe as "a snapshot of the convictions of our age." Even a preliminary reading of the book will reveal that these varied convictions arise from a diverse range and depth of experiences. Program co-producer Dan Gediman comes to the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Shorewood on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.

  Later this week Broad Vocabulary and the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center host a reading-performance by Australian author Alistair McCartney. The event is billed as a 21st-century update of Oscar Wilde's seminal lectures in which the Irish playwright/poet tackled everything from historical criticism to home dcor. McCartney will read from his novel, The End of the World Book-an encyclopedic endeavor, part memoir, part history and part fiction-against a backdrop of projected images relating to his alphabetically arranged subjects. The event takes place on Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, 703 S. Second St. Tickets cost $10.


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