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ViW 75 is our 99th episode! We know, the numbering is strange, and we will update it for the new year (This is the 75th week, and we sometimes release extra episodes a week).  As we ramp up to our 100th show we have brought in some of the guests from earlier shows that have been the most popular.  This week we have research psychologist Dr. John Lu (Ph.D, University of California, Irvine) talking about a field of health psychology known as "optimization".  We here at ViW do not dig hokey self help nonsense (think of "the Secret").  But what happens when responsible researchers in the field of research psychology (not therapy, but bio-psycho-social research) start thinking about "how to be better?".  What if, one of these researchers happens to share some of our wasteland pessimism but also thinks a lot about the good life, and is a good friend? Well, you get this episode.
Dr. Lu recently spoke to a large group of students on this topic and it was such a success many suggested (and we concurred) that this needed to be an episode.  
Download and listen on a car ride, whilst cleaning for the holidays, etc... and if this tickles your fancy, check out one of our earliest shows "The Road to Happiness" with Dr. Lu
(Photo courtesy of someone John's wife got to take their family pictures. John talks about his son and how having a child caused him to evaluate his strengths and weakness. If you know John, this is the happiest he has ever looked)

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We keep the holiday train rolling with a discussion of the best (and a few of the worst) Christmas movies.  While we discuss the movies we like (and dislike) the most, we also discuss what it is about these particular movies that make them resonate with our culture.  What does the popularity of Home Alone, or Elf say about our culture (good things!).  What are the archetypes that Christmas movies tap in to? While you're in the holiday mood- feel free to check out our shows from Christmases past on the best Christmas pop songs- Here and the best Christmas Hymns- Here.

And keep watching this space- our 100th Episode spectacular is going to be released by the end of this year, with some of your favorite guests from shows past.

 
 
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This time of year we tend to hear a lot about "the war" on Christmas.  Or, we hear that Christmas is nothing but a pack of pagan celebrations wrapped up in the American flag and the baby Jesus.  Hand wringing abounds.
Here at ViW we think this is the most wonderful time of the year, a time of cultural cohesion and cheer amidst the darkness.  As for a "war" on Christmas- keep watching this space and our "Tiniest of things are Forever" site.  As for the claims that Christmas is a combination of pagan rituals.  Well, that might be right.  At least culturally we have appropriated traditions from various cultures and set them amidst the Dickensian trappings and religious imagery.  On this episode we celebrate this most wonderful time of the year, take a deeper look at some of our fondest traditions and urge us all to embrace both tidings of good cheer and some peculiar yuletide cultural hand-me-downs.

 
 
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Philosopher of science Dr. Angus Menuge joins us to talk about the vocation of a scientist, especially that of a scientist who is also religious.  Prof. Dan Deen (Concordia University, Irvine), another philosopher of science is along for the expedition.  We talk about new atheism, virtue, epistemology, science, biology, physics, paradigms, theories, and Motörhead (that's right).  Dr. Menuge is professor of philosophy at Concordia University Wisconsin and is the president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. His research interests include philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, apologetics, and C. S. Lewis. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Diploma in Christian Apologetics from the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights, Strasbourg. He is editor of C. S. Lewis: Lightbearer in the ShadowlandsChrist and Culture in Dialogue, Reading God's World and of Legitimizing Human Rights (forthcoming). He is author of Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004). His most recent work focuses on libertarian free will and the creative powers of agents.

 
 
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We talk NFL, explain why we've been wrestling with immigration, share some stories about our week, and end by applying philosopher of science, Ian Barbour's four transparadigmatic criteria to NFL viewing and other indulgences. Just Dan and Jeff between classes.  Enjoy the expedition.

 
 
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In anticipation of President Obama's executive action related to immigration and Central American Child Refugees, Joe Laughon of Café Con Leche Republicans returns to the show to discuss the controversial idea of opening the US borders.  Is it possible that it is in our economic and moral interest to do so?  What about communism and radical Islam?  What about drugs?  What about the burden of social service resources?  Come with an open mind and feel free to disagree and remain friends with our show.  Whatever your political position, undocumented (aka illegal) immigrants (aka aliens) are human beings, so we need to consider a virtuous response to our current crisis.

 
 
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Twenty years ago, Rwanda experienced an astonishingly rapid and brutal genocide.  We remember and reflect on that story today with a special guest.  Survivor of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Alex Nsengimana tells of his experiences during the bloodshed, from the vantage point of the capital city.  He also shares his story of transformation and hope.  He currently works with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse.

Here's the stuff we played on this episode, the first being the music of the break:
 
 
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While Dan is out speaking at the Teigen Reformation Lectures, classicist and biblical scholar, Dr. C. J. Armstrong sits down with Jeff to trace the theme of the hero's journey to the underworld and back.  What does it look like?  Can we fight against death.  Why does the Apostle's Creed say that Jesus descended into hell?  Listen in and find out.   



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Our second spooktacular. This is a show about stuff you should be more afraid of than you are.  Dan shares the biggest fears of friends and experts. Jeff shares his recipe for a mini-bug-out-bag, should the apocalypse arise.  Dr. CJ Armstrong joins the wasteland gents at the end to bring a word of comfort in the face of fear and death.  Jeff reads a moving passage from Peter Berger's book A Rumor of Angels.

VIW MINI BUG OUT BAG.  This is for those who want to travel light but have a fighting chance of surviving a mini-apocalypse. 
And something you can't buy on Amazon; their #1 is a good pick, says Jeff, though he's happy with an old-school, single action, Ruger Vaquero cowboy model, since it won't ever jam up and you'll save ammo during the apocalypse when Big 5 has been ransacked: 
 
 
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This week we are posting a show that we recorded on the road.  We thought of it as us "phoning it in" (as we are on a hand held mic while sitting in Los Angeles traffic), or "mailing it in" (an old time saying for giving it less than your best).  We don't give you less than our best, however, as we run down a list of celebrities, other luminaries, and institutions (even a city) that have been 'mailing it in' after initial success.  We go after those that you might guess (how can you not condemn the last decade of DeNiro's career), and ultimately tie it into how we might think about those times when our jobs have us down and we feel like giving it less than our best.  (Speaking of 'less than our best', the audio isn't great as we weren't in the studio, but it came out better than we thought).