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NEAL CONAN, host:

From NPR News in Washington, D.C., I'm Neal Conan, and this is TALK OF THE NATION.

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. A week from today Jews around the world celebrate Passover and gather at the Seder to tell the story of Moses, Pharaoh and the deliverance from slavery one more time. This year religious calendars coincide and Easter week starts next Monday, too. That's going to be a busy week at Steve and Cokie Roberts' house.

Over the past 45 years this interfaith couple has worked out ways to respect both their religious traditions. He's Jewish, she's Catholic, including their own version of The Haggadah, which is both the religious ritual and the set of cultural and family traditions that accompany the Seder dinner.

If you're an interfaith marriage or family, tell us how you blend religious tradition. Our phone number: 800-989-8255, email us talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program the roles of emotion and politics and the scientific debate over global warming. But first Cokie and Steve Roberts join us here in studio 3A. Their new book is "Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions For Interfaith Families." And welcome to you both.

COKIE ROBERTS: Oh, Neal, what a treat to be with you.

Mr. STEVE ROBERTS: Lovely, Neal.

CONAN: Good to see you.

Mr. ROBERTS: Thank you.

CONAN: The Seder plate you describe in your book contains foods that are symbols of Passover, like Matzo and bitter herbs. So what's with the artichoke?

ROBERTS: Well, we don't have a artichoke on...

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: ...plate. But Steve and his reaching out and learning about other peoples' Passover traditions came up with the artichoke.

Mr. ROBERTS: Well, there's a rabbi who says, look Jews are historically thorny on the subject of interfaith marriage - an understatement if there ever was one, and so the artichoke with its kind of bristly nature symbolizes interfaith marriage. There are other traditions...

CONAN: And a very delicious heart.

ROBERTS: Heart, exactly.

Mr. ROBERTS: And a very delicious heart.

ROBERTS: The heart of not gold.

Mr. ROBERTS: Yeah, some people put an olive on the Seder plate to symbolize hope for Middle East peace. Some put an orange, which is sometimes seen as a welcoming symbol for same-sex couples or also for women. So there are - it's a lot of symbolism going on and you can...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROBERTS: ...make up your own if you want to.

CONAN: Well, yeah, I won't go clash of symbols, but Cokie, all of this must have been very intimidating...

ROBERTS: Of course. And I think it is for many people, Neal. You know, you -it's hard enough to just have a dinner party, much less to have one where you have strange foods and the table looks different from any other night, and all of that. But I wanted to do it.

When we got married, we agreed that we were going to be respecting and celebrating each other's religions and traditions in our home. And after I went to my first Seder I loved it and understood that this was going to be something that I wanted to do. So, after a couple of years I got up the courage to do it myself and we've been doing it ever since.

Mr. ROBERTS: And you say that hard for Cokie, but in some ways is even harder for my mother.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROBERTS: As a Jewish woman who is deeply attached to her tribe and her culture but never darkened a synagogue, the whole notion of actually us celebrating the Seder was sort of strange to her. In fact, she often said, before she died last fall, that the first Seder she ever went to was organized by her Catholic daughter-in-law. So, go figure.

CONAN: So you were raised in a non-observant Jewish family...

Mr. ROBERTS: To say the least.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: ...in Bayonne, New Jersey and these were people who were very political, and Zionist in some respects, but not necessarily Jewish.

Mr. ROBERTS: And that's actually quite typical of the Jew...

ROBERTS: Well, they were very Jewish.

Mr. ROBERTS: Yeah.

ROBERTS: They just weren't religious.

Mr. ROBERTS: Well, they were tribally and culturally Jewish. If you woke my mother up in the middle of the night and said Dorothy Roberts, what are you, she probably would have said mother first and Jew second. But she never, ever went to a synagogue. My grandfather, her father was never bar mitzvahed. Neither of my grandfathers were ever bar mitzvahed or participated in any religious ritual. But as you point out, in that world of Eastern European immigrate Jews, often politics replaced religion. Zionism, socialism, Bundism -they were all very powerful. I used to say that my grandfather, his real rabbi was actually Larry Spivak, who was the host...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROBERTS: ...of "Meet the Press," when he was growing up. And my grandfather's religious devotion was to listen to Rabbi Larry. It wasn't to go...

ROBERTS: But that grandfather had gone to Palestine as a young man, as a pioneer. So he was very much a Zionist.

CONAN: So you, on the other hand, were raised Catholic and...

ROBERTS: Very Catholic.

CONAN: ...raised, to some degree, by the nuns.

ROBERTS: Absolutely, and I still am in very close contact with the nuns who raised me and their successors; great, great women. But also, a very Catholic family. My parents were in politics always and very much identified as prominent public Catholics and then after my mother left Congress, she was appointed as the United States ambassador to the Vatican. So you don't get a whole lot of more Catholic than that.

So it was very much something that was going to be part of my life. There was no way that I was going to be in any way abandoning my Catholicism when I met and married Steve.

CONAN: Well, Steve described how his mother came to some revelations at your Seder. What about your mom?

ROBERTS: Oh, my mother loves Seder. My mother's 95 and she comes all the time and loves it. The only year she missed was the year she was at the Vatican. But she found some Seders to go to there as well. She was very close friends with the Israeli ambassador.

Mr. ROBERTS: Ambassador, right.

ROBERTS: And so they celebrated Passover there as well.

Mr. ROBERTS: You know, it's funny, Neal, because you mentioned my mother-in-law. I've often kidded that I'm the only Jew from Bayonne, New Jersey whose mother-in-law was an ambassador to the Vatican. But now I'm the only Jew whose mother-in-law was an ambassador to the Vatican, whose wife, the esteemed National Public Radio correspondent, Cokie Boggs Roberts, is now a life member of Hadassah - thanks to the good women of Boca Raton, Florida. So...

ROBERTS: There you go.

Mr. ROBERTS: It's been quite an adventure here.

CONAN: Anyway, when you decided to start doing the Seder, you started with a book and then realized you weren't really happy with it?

ROBERTS: Well, I had a lot of friends who felt free to comment, and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I think I know a couple of those friends.

ROBERTS: Right.

Mr. ROBERTS: You do.

ROBERTS: So, well these were - when I first read the Haggadah, it was back in California and I had gone to the local temple and bought a Reconstructionist Haggadah - it's a branch of Judaism - and that was our first Seder. And everybody had views. You know, oh, you left out this part, or, well, you know. Oh, wait a minute, you shouldn't have put that part in. And all of that.

So the next year I gathered up a bunch of Haggadahs, including the Maxwell House classic, and sat down at my Smith-Corona manual typewriter, that had been a high school graduation present, and typed up our Haggadah. And this book is basically that service. It's a little bit changed and it's your basic Seder service. It's shorter than some, but it has everything necessary there. And it's not all hippy-dippy, by any means at all. It does have four children instead of four sons.

Mr. ROBERTS: Uh-huh.

ROBERTS: And I was kind and did not make, both the wicked one and the simple one, boys.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: But was this to some degree, having been raised Catholic - finally you get to edit the Gospels.

ROBERTS: It was absolutely. Well, not the Gospels, but certainly the Old Testament. And I did do some editing. That is true, but also having been raised Catholic - as you well know, Neal, since you were too - is that you're acquainted with all of this. So it was very familiar to me and it wasn't really something strange and odd. It was something that I could easily relate to.

CONAN: Every spring we would be taken out of school to go see "The Ten Commandments."

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: 800-989-8255, email us talk@npr.org. If you're in an interfaith family or an interfaith marriage, how do you blend the religious traditions?

Let's start with Elaine(ph), and Elaine's with us from Sacramento.

ELAINE (Caller): Hi.

ROBERTS: Hi, Elaine.

ELAINE: How are you?

ROBERTS: Good.

CONAN: Go ahead.

ELAINE: Well, I'm Jewish, and I cover food actually for a member station in Sacramento, California. And my husband is a Cantonese master chef.

Ms. ROBERTS: There you go. That's great.

ELAINE: So our table is very delicious, and even elements of presentation may take on an Asian form. For example, the gefilte fish plate, fish balls are not unfamiliar to the Chinese. They're a little bit different and have fewer bones, like my grandmother's gefilte fish, where you're spitting out the bones.

But we might garnish it with cilantro and long, beautiful, upright garlic chives.

Ms. ROBERTS: Oh, that sounds wonderful.

ELAINE: It's a beautiful presentation.

Ms. ROBERTS: It's a lot better than the jar of Manischewitz that I buy and then take it out and scrape off that gelatinous stuff.

ELAINE: Yeah. This year, we've having duck.

Ms. ROBERTS: Oh, yum.

ELAINE: You will be very surprised that instead of the usual port that my husband might make - I mean, he cooks lots of other cuisines, where he works, at a private club, French reductions and what have you, the effect that Manischewitz can have on reducing the glaze in a pan.

So this year, instead of port sauce over the duck, the sauce will actually have elements of the sweetness of Manischewitz wine in the reduction of the gloss.

Ms. ROBERTS: You're right, I'd be surprised.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ELAINE: It's delicious. It's sort of like duck with cherry, but, you know, that kind of sweet element. We like sweet things on Passover, like we do on Jewish New Year, as well.

Mr. ROBERTS: Exactly.

ELAINE: So those are some of the infused items that - and also the Matzo balls are part of the pride of my husband's technique. He's really taken on the Matzo ball thing. He's learned not to uncover the lid. They get fluffy.

And when we first met, he impressed my mom because, obviously, I was very and had not been married, and she would have been happy if I had brought home a gorilla (unintelligible)...

(Soundbite of laughter)

ELAINE: By the time I was 38, and he made her a dish of chicken soup, but the Matzo balls inside had been molded in these beautiful Chinese molds, in the shape of a duck.

Mr. ROBERTS: Oh my goodness.

CONAN: Oh, that's completely wrong.

ELAINE: But they were the Matzo ball.

CONAN: Elaine, thank you so much for the call.

Ms. ROBERTS: Thank you. That's - I really would love to come to your Seder.

Mr. ROBERTS: Well, you know, it's...

ELAINE: Any time.

Ms. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Mr. ROBERTS: You know, but it's so - her call was so emblematic of such an important dimension to this holiday. First of all, one of the reasons we did the Haggadah is because it's the perfect way for any interfaith couple to -it's a gateway to Judaism and Jewish practice. You do it in the home. You don't have to buy tickets to the high holy day services. You can do it at home. But also, you do it your own way.

We call this "Our Haggadah," but it could be called "Your Haggadah," and her, you know, Chinese gefilte fish is perfect.

Ms. ROBERTS: It's a great story.

CONAN: Cokie and Steve Roberts are our guests. We're talking with them about their new book, "Our Haggadah," and how interfaith families mix religious tradition. How'd you work it out in your marriage or in your family? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

When Cokie and Steve Roberts married, they knew they wanted to meld their Jewish and Catholic religious traditions at home, including Passover, but figuring out just how to do that was another matter.

After their first two Passovers as a married couple, Cokie realized if she wanted a Passover Seder that fit her family, she was going to have to figure it out herself. You can read about how she and Steve developed what they call their mishmash Haggadah together in an excerpt at our website. Go to npr.org, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

If you're part of an interfaith marriage or family, how do you blend religious tradition? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join us on our website. Go to npr.org, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's go next to Kumar(ph) - let's see if we can go to another caller. Let's go to - this is Caleb(ph), Caleb with us from Pittsford in New York.

CALEB (Caller): Hi, everyone. I wanted to thank you for having this call because yesterday I just was telling my wife that Easter is not my favorite holiday. And, you know, I go along with it, and it's great, and we go to Seders every year.

But you having this show reminded me that a couple years ago, my mother-in-law asked me to bring information about the Seder to Easter dinner. And as I researched, and I'm just not a very seriously practicing Jew, as I researched it, I found that one side or the other helped each other back in the original Passover.

And I actually felt closer to the Christian heritage that my wife is part of because of it. So I was just kind of glad that you brought that - that you're having this show today to remind me of that.

Ms. ROBERTS: I'm glad you said that because, of course, The Last Supper, which is so celebrated in art, was of course a Seder. It was a Passover meal. And this year, as Neal said at the beginning, Easter week begins at the same time as Passover.

And the echoes of Passover in all of the Easter liturgies are enormous. The symbolism of the Paschal lamb and the Paschal Sacrifice, the meaning of going from slavery to freedom, from death to life, are the same. So there are many, many things that make you feel more together than apart at this season of the year.

I do want to say, though, Neal, even though the Haggadah is a mishmash, it was a mishmash of other Haggadahs. It's not Christianized in any way. This is a Jewish ceremony.

CONAN: Because I was going to ask: Don't you feel like you might be treading on dangerous ground?

Ms. ROBERTS: No, no, no, this is very much a Jewish ceremony that we celebrate. We do have in this book introductions that talk about the themes that are similar, we have boxes that explain certain things and certain references, and we have readings from other thinkers on and activists on the subject of freedom. But the Seder itself is the traditional Jewish Seder.

CONAN: You mention that - I just wanted to read a short excerpt: Rabbi Jill Jacobs of the Jewish Funds for Justice, suggests asking guests to bring something that reminds them of the Passover story, a memento from their own family's immigration to America, for example, or a news story about a contemporary liberation struggle.

And then you have quotes from Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Sojourner Truth. It goes on and on and on.

Mr. ROBERTS: Well, it's going to be easy this year. I mean, you know, you talk about - we've been kidding about this, but we do want to thank our new press agent, Hosni Mubarak, for reminding everybody how universal this story is.

As Cokie says, it's a Jewish holiday, but it's a universal message, and your caller reinforced that, as well. And it is a year when the connection between the ancient Jewish story and the modern yearning for freedom is pretty tangible.

Ms. ROBERTS: In the first - in the early centuries, actually, Passover and Easter were the same celebration. Easter was a Passover celebration. And only in, you know, well into the establishment of the church, several centuries in, did Easter become a separate celebration.

CONAN: I always figured it was somebody who figured: I can calculate the calendar better than you can.

Ms. ROBERTS: It's always a calendar issue.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's go next to Cathy(ph), Cathy with us from Cincinnati.

CATHY (Caller): Yes, hi, thank you for taking my call. This is the first time I got for you to talk to me.

CONAN: Well, congratulations, Cathy.

CATHY: Yeah, it's been many tries. I was raised as a Catholic, Catholic girls' school, mother born in Ireland, so, you know, very strong, thick Catholic tradition.

But I did grow away from it. It wasn't like it was something that I was close to, really. And met a nice Jewish boy, and about halfway through our dating, we spent 16 days on a bus tour of Israel. And after we survived that...

Ms. ROBERTS: I was going to say: And you still married him.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ROBERTS: Sixteen days on a bus with anybody is tough.

CATHY: Yeah, yeah, it worked out really well. When my daughter came along, that's when, you know, you start getting serious about this sort of thing. And we were very lucky in Cincinnati to have a humanistic - the Congregation Beth Adam is a humanistic congregation.

And, you know, for many of the same reasons Steve and Cokie were talking about, our, you know, community has (technical difficulties). And it's a really, really, beautiful...

CONAN: Your phone is betraying you, Cathy. I think you said your community has written their own Haggadah?

CATHY: Yes, my congregation has written their own Haggadah, congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it is a beautiful piece of literature that includes everything that needs to be included in a Seder.

CONAN: It's interesting you should say that, Cathy, because Cokie, there's a part of your book where you said there was a debate, after you edited this after 25 years, about one particular psalm, and people said: Oh, it's a little too long.

Ms. ROBERTS: Right.

CONAN: And you were objecting.

Ms. ROBERTS: I said - no, first of all, it is "His Mercy Endureth Forever." And I said: First of all, it is echoed in the Easter service. So for the Christians there, that is something that they can recognize. But secondly, it comes at a time when I am trying to clear plates and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: So stage manager.

Ms. ROBERTS: Exactly, and I - you know, it's a lot of people at our Seder, and I need some help there. So I need them to be praying while I'm getting that done.

But let me tell you a funny story about Cincinnati and this. When Steve and I were dating, I was working in Cincinnati at one point, and it was the high holy days, and I went over to the very famous Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati and walked in to go pray at the high holy days.

And the usher says to me: What are you doing here? And I said: I thought I would come and participate in the service. And he looked at the other guy or the other usher, and they looked at each other and shrugged and took me down the aisle and said in a huge stage whisper: Here's one who came without her boyfriend.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Here's an email we have, this from Aaron(ph): My wife is Japanese. I am Oregonian. I was raised a Unitarian, and my wife was raised in a Soto Zen and Shinto household in Japan. We practice both Japanese and American spiritual observances, though neither of us are particularly religious.

We do Christmas. We also follow some seasonal Japanese cultural events like Oban, celebration of the dead. Sometimes it's a challenge, especially since Shinto is not common or well-understood in the U.S., and Zen is usually known only from stereotypes.

Luckily, we have the only fulltime Shinto shrine in the continental U.S. nearby, in Granite Falls, Washington.

Mr. ROBERTS: That's wonderful, and, you know, the fact is that what that email, the spirit of it is so open-hearted. And if you're going to be in one of these relationships, it can't be one-way. It's got to be equal. And both sides have to learn about the other.

CONAN: And so what are you going to do come a week from Sunday, when it's Easter?

Mr. ROBERTS: I'm going to be there at Easter Mass, as I am every year, and, you know, Cokie...

Ms. ROBERTS: And then presiding over the hunt.

Mr. ROBERTS: That's right, the Easter egg hunt.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROBERTS: But it is very much a part of our family that we do both. It can't be one-way, and that was a lovely email because it reflects.

Ms. ROBERTS: It's also such a wonderful American story. I mean, this is just such a fabulous country, that everybody feels so comfortable with each other.

CONAN: I should point out not only are there instructions on how to conduct the ceremony - obviously everybody's encouraged to make it their own - there are some recipes here. But with Easter and Passover in the same week, that's a lot of lamb in one week.

Ms. ROBERTS: It's a lot of cooking. We actually don't have lamb on Easter. We tend to go for shrimp and grits on Easter. But...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Oh, that's another cultural tradition.

Mr. ROBERTS: That's right.

CONAN: From New Orleans. Let's see if we can go next to Akila(ph), Akila with us from Rocky River in Ohio.

AKILA: (Caller): Hi, thanks for having me.

CONAN: Sure, go ahead, please.

AKILA: So I am Hindu, and my husband is Lutheran, and unfortunately, our two religious don't mix as easily as Christianity and Judaism. But, you know, neither one of us have been very religious, and a lot like the Japanese and -that whole - neither of us are very religious, but as we started to talk about having kids, it's become very important to us all of a sudden, in a way that it wasn't before.

And it's caused us to really kind of understand each other, that the fact that we care about it is really more to do with culture and understanding where each other came from.

And probably the most important thing I would say is that, you know, we started to learn about each other's religion and how we can incorporate it both into our lives. We want to take the best from both and give it to our kids.

Mr. ROBERTS: That's a good way to put it. And we did something very similar. I mean, we have tried to blend the two traditions, tried to infuse with our kids the same values. But the truth is, you know, often the clergy or parents will try to pull young couples apart, emphasizing the differences. But when they -you know, when you sit around the kitchen table and you talk about your kids, you talk about the values you want to impart to them, you talk about the way you want them to live and to love, you can often find far more in common than the rabbis or the priests or the parents make it out.

And you've got to figure that out for yourself around the kitchen table.

ROBERTS: But I think she makes a very good point about the fact that as they were about to have children, that this was something that they started to think about more. Because what you start to think about is, who am I? And for many of us, the religion is part of our self-definition and that becomes very important.

CONAN: Thanks very much, Akila.

AKILA: Thank you.

CONAN: And I wanted to ask, though - Steve, you mentioned earlier, sometimes a lot of people in the Jewish faith are not responsive to interfaith marriages and consider this a bad thing.

Mr. ROBERTS: That's true, but it's changing. And it's changing very significantly. Just last night, we were in Atlanta, at the big Jewish community center in Atlanta. They have a $200,000 grant from the United Jewish Appeal to create programs specifically for interfaith couples in that Jewish community center. That would never have been true even just a few years ago.

Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, which trains conservative rabbis, now has courses in training rabbis how to deal with interfaith couples. Why? It's simply reality. It's not that they are terribly enthusiastic about the trend, but the trend is irreversible.

And so many organized Jewish communities now are far more welcoming to non-Jewish spouses and interfaith families. And otherwise, they're going to drive them away. Otherwise, they're going to lose them completely. And you've got to - one of the messages of this little book is inclusion is always better than an exclusion.

CONAN: And, Cokie, my information might be old, but the Catholic Church is more accepting of interfaith marriages, so long as you agree to raise the kids Catholic.

ROBERTS: As long Catholic party does, that - in the olden days, they used to ask the non-Catholic party to do that and that's not true anymore.

CONAN: We're talking with Steve and Cokie Roberts. Their new book is, "Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families." You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And this from Rivky(ph) in Cleveland. My husband and I are both Orthodox Jews so our Seder is run according to standard Jewish tradition. However, my husband's family came from Ukraine 20 years ago. And in deference to the older generation, the majority of the Seder is run in Russian. It is also beautifully symbolic since in the Ukraine, my husband's family were not free to practice Judaism.

ROBERTS: Right.

CONAN: It's a beautiful irony that we are running the Seder in the language of the country which oppressed them religiously. Here's to freedom.

ROBERTS: That's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: But that's a wonderful story. It's hard on the children, I suspect, because, you know, there's a lot of...

CONAN: But the speak Russian in the house...

ROBERTS: Unless they do. But the idea that this is connecting them back to their roots, but at the - but talk about a celebration of freedom. I mean, for that family, it has really special meaning.

CONAN: And it was interesting, at several points in the book, you say, don't worry about if you have the right plates or the right...

ROBERTS: Exactly.

CONAN: ...because there were so many places around the world where...

ROBERTS: Where people are suffering, where people have nothing. You now, you can be quite sure the Jews throughout the centuries, in all kinds of horrible conditions, have found a way to celebrate Passover without good china.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Email from Timothy in Charlotte. How do mixed faith couples address the issue of the afterlife, especially in moments of loss, given that religions have different notions of eternity?

I wonder, Steve, have you thought about that?

Mr. ROBERTS: Well, I lost my mother this year. It's going to be the first Seder without my mother. And, yes, it's true. You do have doctrinal differences. But as I said earlier, one of the callers used the word spiritual, and I think, in many ways, the spiritual qualities unite rather than divide.

One day, when Cokie's mom was ambassador to the Vatican, we were invited to a mass celebrated by the Holy Father, Neal, and we were in Rome. And we walked into this small, sunlit chapel and there was the pope in simple white vestments, on his knees at prayer. And that was a moment of such pure, spiritual power that transcended any of the doctrinal differences Cokie and I learned as children. It was a unifying moment. And I think a lot of the callers are talking about that in one form or another. And so, yes, there are doctrinal differences. But...

ROBERTS: But one of the things that we found as we were doing some research for the book, is we found a letter written by the Catholic bishops about the subject of teaching Judaism in Catholic churches. And it was very inspiring to me, because it says, we must accept our responsibility to prepare the world for the coming of the messiah by working together for social justice, respect for the rights of persons and nations and for social and international reconciliation. To this, we are driven, Jews and Christians, by the command to love our neighbor, by a common hope for the kingdom of God, and by the great heritage prophets.

Those are the things you care about when you lose someone, is those - that sense of being together on the same moral page. And I think that that is as well said there, and it's really not that you're sitting around worrying about what happens in the afterlife. It's that you're able to comfort each other and take care of each other in this life when something like that happens.

CONAN: Well, maybe this year, that child will go out the door and find a bearded man ready to come in and have his glass of wine.

ROBERTS: Will it be you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: No. It won't be me. Steve Roberts and Cokie Roberts, thank you so much for your time today, and good luck with the book, and have - how many people are you expecting next Monday night?

ROBERTS: About 45, 50.

CONAN: Forty-five. Dinner for 45 or 50.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Steve Roberts, thank you again.

Mr. ROBERTS. Neal, a great pleasure. Thank you.

CONAN: Coming up after a short break, Richard Muller will join us. He's been called a climate change skeptic. But when Congress asked him whether global warming due to greenhouse gases is a hoax, his answer came as something of a surprise. More on that in just a moment. Stay with us.

I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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