‘Why Religion?’ Asks ‘How Hearts Can Heal’ After Tragedy

Religion scholar Elaine Pagels lost her young son to terminal illness and her husband a year later in an accident. Her new book combines memoir and biblical scholarship reflects on loss and faith.

Also, Lloyd Schwartz visits two art exhibitions — the Met’s big Delacroix retrospective and the Morgan Library’s Pontormo collection.

Best Of: Jonah Hill / How Newt Gingrich ‘Broke Politics’

Jonah Hill always wanted to be a writer and director, but an unexpected complement in an acting class shifted him towards performing instead. He co-starred in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Superbad,’ and ‘Moneyball.’ Now he’s written and directed his first movie, ‘Mid90s,’ about a group of young skateboarders. He talks about toxic masculinity, self-acceptance, and his experience directing for the first time.

Maureen Corrigan reviews ‘If You Ask Me,’ a book of advice columns by Eleanor Roosevelt.

‘Atlantic’ journalist McKay Coppins says that by the time former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, left Congress in 1999, he had enshrined a “combative, tribal, angry attitude in politics that would infect our national discourse in Washington and Congress for decades to come.” Coppins’ new article is ‘The Man Who Broke Politics.’

Comic Hasan Minhaj

“I’m an Indian-American-Muslim kid, but am I more Indian or am I more American?” Minhaj asks. The former ‘Daily Show’ correspondent has a new weekly political comedy series on Neflix called ‘Patriot Act.’ Minhaj spoke with Terry Gross in 2017 when his comedy special ‘Homecoming King’ was released and he had just done the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews ‘Homecoming’ on Amazon Prime Video. The series stars Julia Roberts as a therapist who’s working with a soldier returning from Afghanistan.

How Newt Gingrich ‘Broke Politics’

‘Atlantic’ journalist McKay Coppins says that by the time the former speaker of the house left Congress in 1999, he had enshrined a “combative, tribal, angry attitude in politics that would infect our national discourse in Washington and Congress for decades to come.” Coppins explains how Gingrich set the stage for President Trump’s rise, and how Democrats are now using some of his tactics. Coppins’ new article is ‘The Man Who Broke Politics.’

Also, critic David Edelstein reviews the Orson Welles film ‘The Other Side of the Wind,’ which was unfinished before his death — now complete and streaming on Netflix.

Is SCOTUS Too Powerful?

Author David A. Kaplan warns that the Supreme Court is becoming increasingly polarized — and influential: “Why should nine unelected, unaccountable judges dictate so much policy in the country?” We’ll also talk about what Trump’s two appointees – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – mean for the future of the court. Kaplan’s book is ‘The Most Dangerous Branch.’

Also, Ken Tucker reviews Kurt Vile’s new album, ‘Bottle It In.’

Jonah Hill

Hill always wanted to be a writer and director, but an unexpected complement in an acting class shifted him towards performing instead. He co-starred in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Superbad,’ and ‘Moneyball.’ Now he’s written and directed his first movie, ‘Mid90s,’ about a group of young skateboarders. He talks about toxic masculinity, self-acceptance, and his experience directing for the first time.

Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews ‘Let The People See,’ the story of Emmett Till.

White Nationalism And The Synagogue Massacre

Journalist Eli Saslow says white nationalism inspired the man who killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue: “In the horrific hierarchy of white nationalist beliefs, they really consider Jews their primary enemy.” Saslow spoke with Terry Gross Monday morning about the tragedy and its “straight line” to the white nationalist movement.

Also, we’ll listen back to an excerpt of the interview with Saslow and former white nationalist Derek Black from September. Saslow’s book, ‘Rising Out of Hatred,’ focuses on Derek, who was once a leading voice in the white nationalist movement but has since denounced his views.

Best Of: Melissa McCarthy / Paul Dano

McCarthy is not interested in playing pleasant characters. “Who wants to watch that?” she says. “There’s nothing to sink your teeth into. … The people I love and like are filled with quirks and eccentricities.” McCarthy spoke with Terry Gross about playing Sean Spicer on ‘SNL’ and her role as literary forger Lee Israel in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’

Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissued album, from 1981, featuring diverse musicians playing songs that Nino Rota composed for Federico Fellini movies.

The ‘Love & Mercy’ and ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ actor steps behind the camera for ‘Wildlife,’ an adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel about a boy whose parents are separating. The film was informed by Dano’s own parents’ relationship.

Lou Reed: A Life

Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor for ‘Rolling Stone,’ says he sought to write the biography that Lou Reed “deserved.” DeCurtis didn’t shy away from writing about the darker side of Reed’s life, including addiction and domestic abuse. “It wasn’t like I had to go looking for the drugs and the sex,” he says. “Lou wrote about it … so I felt it was fair game.” ‘Lou Reed: A Life’ is now out in paperback. DeCurtis spoke with Terry Gross in 2017.

Corruption, Scandal & The Big Business Of College Basketball

A federal jury on Wednesday convicted three men of conspiring to use cash payments to recruit players to top basketball programs. Writer Michael Sokolove says the case exposes the sordid competition for young athletes, involving apparel companies, scouts, coaches, parents and so-called street agents, or runners, who seek out players as young as 12. “They’re exploitative, they’re dealers in human, athletic flesh, and they’re trying to get their hooks into kids, and get their hooks into families and get into their inner circles, and then to see what’s in it for me?” Sokolove’s new book is ‘The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino.’

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the new fantasy thriller ‘Suspiria,’ from ‘Call Me By Your Name’ director Luca Guadagnino.