Bad Faith

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First made available online in March 2005, this one hour program includes a combination of serious, occasionally absurd monologues, interspersed with telephone conversations with Larry Block and Lester Nafzger.

Synopsis

  • Distressing news stories that reflect a world in chaos, serve as a repeated motif throughout this program.
  • Monologue: distressing news stories. Washington DC snipers, pedophile priests protected by the church, the Condit/Levy story, dead immigrants, Russian women in slavery.
  • Larry Block: discussing Robert Frost: "good fences make good neighbors".
  • Monologue: deadly fires in nightclubs. Insensitive press. JonBenet Ramsey. Laci Peterson. Terri Schaivo.
  • Larry: his daughter goes to the hospital to comfort her friend's family after a stroke. Joe tells Larry a story of his mother when Joe was hospitalized with bladder cancer in 1991. She tells him it was harder for her to watch him suffer than for him to battle the cancer himself.
  • Monologue: the schoolteacher who seduced her student. The attempted train suicide. The Jackson trial. Tsunami. Rwandan genocide. Darfur refugees. Decapitations in Iraq. Suicide bombers attack mosques. War disfigurements and the insane wealth of corporate leaders. Alarming stories of environmental disaster brought on by corporate and government irresponsibility. Worrying about terrorists. The news is terrifying. "It's the stuff of nightmares. It surpasses belief."
  • Lester Nafzger: "smear the queer", renamed "tackle the guy with the ball". Joe tells Lester a story of his awkward walking date with Ariana Huffington.
  • Monologue: the innumerable steps that make up and change our lives, taking us inexorably towards death. Metaphors on time, progress and death. Atheism vs. longing for God. Evil: can it be seen in perspective? Seeing God as the unknown. Joe on his own religious outlook. Rejecting the "join us or face eternal damnation" concept behind organized religion. Upbringing as a source of religious conviction.
  • Joe talks to Lester about facing his own death: twice he has fought cancer. Extreme coincidences in his life suggesting an unseen force; these experiences are comforting to Joe. A heartfelt conversation concludes the program, Lester is skeptical about the coincidences but reluctant to hurt his friend's feelings or shake what little faith he has left.

Commentary

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Spblat

My goodness. This is a special program. Touching conversations, gripping and compelling monologues. The news stories connected me with some issues I feel strongly about, such as: a) there is unimaginable suffering and evil in the world, both manmade and natural; b) corporations and the powerful are making this worse, enriching and empowering themselves at the expense of the less powerful and the environment; c) the media are oblivious or (worse) supportive of this status quo. I rant and rave about this in more detail on my personal web site. Wow, intense. Thank you, Joe, for giving voice to so much that bums me out about the state of our society. And the Huffington story? Priceless! And having Lester on the phone was great. His relationship with Joe is different from Larry's: it's clear that Joe has a respect for Lester that makes for what sounds like a conversation among equals.

I'm reminded how frequently I find that I don't understand the titles Joe chooses for his programs until the very end. "Bad Faith": Joe's faith, in his own view at least, has truly gone bad. I have my own firm opinions about the big questions of life, chief of which may be: "if there is no benevolent, all-powerful God (which seems likely given all the world's needless suffering), what is our purpose for being here?" I believe the answer is simple and self contained: since it appears likely that there is not a benevolent, all-powerful God who is interested in our success, we must make our own purpose in life, and we will all benefit if we make the experience of other beings in the universe more tolerable. Check out what David Hartman said about this.

Online

Angry Child | Bad Faith | Bottle for a Headstone | Countdown| Debi Mae at Burning Man | Dirt| Duplicity | Fire | Goodbye | Hitchhiker, The (short film) | Jilted Lover| Jiffy Lube Radio Spots | Joe Frank Band Rehearsal | Just An Ordinary Man | Live at Market Street | Magda| Memories (short film) | Perfect Woman, The | Rain (2003) | Rare Early Joe Frank Stories from NPR Playhouse (rebroadcast) | Summer Notes (short film) | Time's Arrow| Winter Love