Your host, Anthony Gill, is professor of political science at the University of Washington and distinguished senior fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.  Learn more.
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Featured Episodes
Date: July 26th, 2015

Did the Ottoman Caliphate have any impact on Europe’s socio-political and economic development? While we often examine Europe’s late medieval history in isolation from other world events, Prof. Murat Iyigun (University of Colorado) argues that the Ottoman Empire’s advances into southeast Europe affected the religious, political, and economic history of Europe in very interesting ways. We also look at the ability of monotheism to guarantee longer and more expansive sociopolitical control, and the influence of mothers on the military policy of Ottoman sultans. At the end of the podcast, we have a special treat — an original “arabesque blues” song, Muqarnas, written and performed by Murat!

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Date: July 19th, 2015

How have humans viewed heaven and hell throughout the ages? And why is it important that Christians read the pagan writers of ancient Greece and Rome to understand more modern conceptualizations of the afterlife? Prof. Lou Markos of Houston Baptist University takes us on a journey through thousands of years of literature to answer these questions, moving from Plato to Dante to C.S. Lewis. Lou also notes that evangelical Christians, who were once skittish about pre-Christian writers, are now understanding the importance of embracing these ancient classics.

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Date: July 12th, 2015

Can democratic governance on a national scale coincide with Islam? Prof. Paul Kubicek (Oakland University) takes us on a comparative journey to show where predominately Islamic populations have existed successfully with democracy. While much of media and scholarly attention on the topic of Islam and democracy has focused on the Middle East, Paul discusses the interesting cases of Turkey, Senegal, Mali, and Tunisia, while also noting some of the difficulties in democratic transitions in places such as Bangladesh. He also shares his reflections on the Arab Spring.

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Date: July 5th, 2015

Can religion coexist with psychological counseling? While some tension has existed between these realms, Dr. Gregory Popcak explains how they are mutually facilitative and discusses his career as a Catholic psychologist. We also talk about his book “Broken Gods” and the why and how humans can become more like “god” (small “g”) and what that means. While it may sound blasphemous, Dr. Popcak notes this was a theme with such luminaries as St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and C.S. Lewis!

Visit our extensive archives to find more interesting interviews!

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Date: June 28th, 2015

For our annual Fourth of July episode, and for our 250th podcast, we invite our very first “just graduated” high school student, Phoenix Moomaw, to discuss his senior project on the faith of President Ronald Reagan. As the grandson of Reagan’s pastor in Southern California, Phoenix came across several folders of personal letters between Reagan (as governor and president) and his grandfather. He uses these letters and some additional research at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley to determine how much Reagan’s faith affected his policies and style of governing. His answer to this question is surprisingly nuanced.

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Date: June 21st, 2015

In light of the horrific church shooting in South Carolina recently, we present a previously released episode related to one aspect of this news story: church security. While not the only angle to examine recent events from, the issue of church security has been one point of discussion.

Our prayers and condolences go out to all those affected by the events in Charleston.

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Date: June 14th, 2015

To what extent can local governments partner with faith-based organizations to provide social welfare? And what role does the federal government play in this relationship? Jay Hein of the Sagamore Institute discusses his time working with various faith-based initiatives at the state and federal level and what this means for the future of welfare provision in the United States. He also talks about how the Bush (43) Administration expanded the lessons from the US faith-based initiative to Africa.

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Date: June 7th, 2015

Why do some ethnic conflicts become infused with religious rhetoric while others do not? Matthew Isaacs, a PhD candidate at Brandeis University, discusses his dissertation research investigating why Protestants in Northern Ireland were quick to attach religion to their conflict whereas Catholics were not. He also examines the role of Buddhist monks in the civil war in Sri Lanka to discover some interesting patterns. Matt argues that when religious groups within an ethnicity face significant competition among confessional lines, and when resources to these religious groups are on the wane, religion has a tendency to become more salient.

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Date: May 31st, 2015

What role does religion play in shaping cultural notions of gender, and how might this be related to economics and production in both agricultural and industrial societies? And can missionaries inadvertently carry over theological messages to cultures that unintentionally reinforce gender roles? Dr. Carrie Miles, of Chapman University and Empower International, answers these questions in a fascinating look at the intersection of theology, gender, and economics.

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Date: May 24th, 2015

We return once again to the Religious Freedom Project for a panel discussion on the historical dimensions of proselytism, humanitarianism, and development that was conducted on March 4, 2015 at Georgetown University. The panel includes Thomas Farr (moderator), Michael Barnett (George Washington University), Rebecca Shah (Religious Freedom Project), and Robert Woodberry (scholar-at-large).

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