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Prologue

Carlton Pearson's church, Higher Dimensions, was once one of the biggest in the city, drawing crowds of 5,000 people every Sunday. But several years ago, scandal engulfed the reverend.

Act One: Rise

Reporter Russell Cobb takes us through the remarkable and meteoric rise of Carlton Pearson from a young man to a Pentecostal Bishop: From the moment he first cast the devil out of his 17-year-old girlfriend, to the days when he had a close, personal relationship with Oral Roberts and had appearances on TV and at the White House. Just as Reverend Pearson's career peaked, with more than 5,000 members of his congregation coming every week, he started to think about hell, wondering if a loving God would really condemn most of the human race to burn and writhe in the fire of hell for eternity.

Prologue

Two stories about people who suddenly realize they're the only ones around who value the separation of church and state. Paul Williams, a city councilman in Janesville, Wisconsin, wants to make sure a Salvation Army built with public money doesn't proselytize.

Act One: The Substance Of Things Hoped For...In Government.

We hear a quick rundown of all the ways that Christian conservatives are making headway in advancing their values as public policy, why they think total separation of church and state is not what the founding fathers intended. And why they're wrong.

Act Two: God Said, Huh?

Julia Sweeney, a Catholic, tells the story of how her faith began to crack after reading a most alarming book...called the Bible. Her story is excerpted from her play, "Letting Go of God," which ran in Los Angeles.

Act Three: Oedipus Hex

Shalom Auslander reads his true story, "The Blessing Bee." It's about the time when, as a third-grader at an Orthodox Jewish school, Shalom saw his chance to both make his mom proud, and push his drunken father out of the picture. Part of his scheme involved winning the school's bee on the complicated Hebrew blessings you say before eating certain foods.

Act One: Changing The Channeler

This American Life contributor Davy Rothbart goes to Brazil with his deaf mother to try and get her hearing back from a miracle healer called Joao de Deus, or John of God. They had trouble agreeing whether the things they witnessed down there were miracles or not.

Act Three: Nuns Amok

Susan Drury reports on a group of Glenmary Sisters who chose to leave the Catholic Church in the 1960s but still stay nuns, more or less. Several of the former sisters, Monica Appleby, Helen M.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks about the story of Cain and Abel, and the question in the story, "Am I my brother's keeper?" It turns out that the story doesn't really answer that question very satisfyingly.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Erin Einhorn, a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, who went to Poland to find the Catholic family that had sheltered and saved her mother from the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. She found that in Krakow where she was living, in a country where Jewish populations had been vilified and then exterminated by the Nazis, Judaism was suddenly trendy.

Act One: Pole Vault

Ira's conversation with Erin Einhorn continues. She talks about the possible reasons that, 50 years after Auschwitz, 10,000 Polish hipsters will now show up to see a Klezmer music concert.

Act Two: This Blessed House

A short story by Jhumpa Lahiri, from her book of short stories The Interpreter of Maladies. The story is read by Mira Nair, director of the movies Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding, and others.