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.
October 30 -- Chris Bader on the Paranormal.
Featured Episodes
Date: October 23rd, 2016

The walking undead have swept popular culture in the form of books, movies, and comics in recent decades. Prof. Roger Luckhurst (University of London) discusses the origins of the zombi(e) narrative and how it has developed over time, examining how the cultural and socio-political context of the time drove how we looked at the “unhuman other” and how we envisioned ourselves. We encounter a number of very interesting literary characters along the way and discuss why movies such as “Dawn of the Dead,” “28 Days Later,” and “Warm Bodies” played important roles in rethinking what it means to be dead, yet not dead.

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Date: October 16th, 2016

Encore Presentation: Dr. Frank Newport, the Editor-in-Chief at Gallup, discusses the process of public opinion research and what it tells us about America’s changing religious landscape. We spend a significant amount of time discussing how polls are conducted, what their limitations are, and how survey companies like Gallup try to overcome these problems. This is a fantastic primer for those who are unfamiliar with survey research. We spend the second half of the interview discussing Dr. Newport’s book, “God Is Alive & Well,” which argues that America is still a vibrantly spiritual nation.

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Date: October 9th, 2016

Paul was a central figure in the progress of early Christianity. Looking back at his writings with 21st century eyes and sensibilities, we often see an individual who was arrogant, gruff, misogynistic, and even racist. Prof. Brandon O’Brien puts Apostle Paul into context for us and discusses his book “Paul Behaving Badly” (co-authored with E. Randolph Richards). We learn about Paul’s history, his cultural context, how he could have written letters while imprisoned in Rome, and whether or not we should pay any heed to what he said back then for our lives today.

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Date: October 2nd, 2016

Sociologists have long noted, and perplexed by, the long-term trend in interpersonal violence in industrializing nations, a pattern that dates back several centuries. William Reimer, author of “Revisiting Toronto the Good,” explains how the spread of religious ideas and themes in the late 19th century helped to mitigate murder rates in this Canadian “city of churches.” We discuss the rise of British Evangelical Protestantism, its influence on proper manliness and prison reform, and how it became infused in the political fabric of the city in the late 1800s.

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Date: September 25th, 2016

What is our purpose in life? How do we find it? While the good folks at Research on Religion would like to provide you with a definitive answer to that question, we can only offer you up a sociological analysis of how people search for meaning to their lives. Prof. Paul Froese (Baylor University) helps us with this task as he talks about his newest book, “On Purpose: How We Create the Meaning of Life.” Our journey includes everybody from Jesus to King Missile and from Tony Robbins to a pig who just doesn’t care.

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Date: September 18th, 2016

What do public school teachers think about the ability to exercise religious expression in the classroom? Prof. Laura Olson of Clemson University discusses her study on the attitudes teachers have towards the free exercise clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Olson contextualizes this issue in recent Supreme Court cases and the a decision by a public employee in Kentucky to refuse issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. We also discuss religious voting trends in light of the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

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Date: September 11th, 2016

While many scholars have focused on religious motivations for war and conflict, few have looked at how day-to-day rituals affect combat operations on the battlefield. That is, until now. Prof. Ron Hassner (UC-Berkeley) returns for his third visit to the show to discuss his new book “Religion on the Battlefield.” We learn about how sacred space, sacred time, and seemingly mundane religious practices can play a role in motivating, provoking, inhibiting, and exploiting various actions during wartime. We also talk about the role of military chaplains.

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Date: September 4th, 2016

So, you are lying in an emergency room and the doctor tells you that he is going to restart your heart in two minutes, and it should work but things could still go wrong. What goes through your mind? A motorcycle road trip through the western United States, of course! At least that is what Michael Boone thought of, and then made it reality, picking up on a religious theme of 40 days in the wilderness and learning about letting go, listening closely, and learning what Sabbath really means. He shares his inspiring insights about what became a “journey of the heart” in more ways than one.

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Date: August 28th, 2016

What is sharia law? And how are governments working them into their constitutions in contemporary Muslim societies? Prof. Clark Lombardi (University of Washington Law School) tackles these questions and several more in an informative discussion of the history and contemporary application of sharia law. He contrasts and compares canon and common law with sharia and has reflections on how this all affects good governance.

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Date: August 21st, 2016

Irish immigration during the 1840s and afterwards had an important effect on the cultural, economic, and political history of the United States. Prof. Maureen Fitzgerald (College of William & Marry) discusses how Irish nuns worked with poor immigrants and the effect they had on transforming New York’s welfare system over the course of the 19th and early 20th century. This seldom told story illuminates the important role women religious played in advocating for women, children, and families during a period of rapid change in American society.

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