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.
Nov 2 - Religion & Craft Guilds in the Middle Ages
Featured Episodes
Date: October 26th, 2014

Our annual Halloween show takes up the issue of the “death industry” in American history with Prof. Gary Laderman of Emory University. Gary discusses how our conceptions of death and funerals have changed over the past two centuries in American history, particularly with the rise of the funeral business in the late 19th century.

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Date: October 19th, 2014

As we are months away from the sesquicentennial mark of the end of the US Civil War, we devote this week’s discussion to the use of religious rhetoric in the War Between the States. Prof. Sean Scott, a historian of the Civil War era, covers the use of spiritual language in the various writings of “common folk” in “The Old Northwest” (i.e. Great Lake states and Iowa).

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Date: October 12th, 2014

Can neuroscience detect the long-held notion that there is a connection between the spirit and the body? Is prayer good for the brain? And what about cuddle parties? These questions are answered by Rob Moll, an independent journalist and scholar who has investigated the current boundaries of brain science. We discuss how prayer works to alter your brain, how being in a group and touching can change your mood, and how the subconscious reacts the signals of other individuals, all in the context of religious experience.

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Date: October 5th, 2014

What is it like to be shot at and abducted while serving as a religiously-based humanitarian aid worker? Torrey Olsen, who spent 15 years in West Africa with World Vision and other organizations details his experiences and what he learned in the field. He also discusses the history and operation of World Vision, a Christian-based relief organization that operations in roughly 100 countries, including some of the most dangerous hot spots around the world. We examine various projects World Vision undertakes including an ecumenical outreach program to Muslims concerning the Ebola pandemic in Africa.

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Date: September 28th, 2014

Is religious liberty good for business? Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, explains why rights of conscience are good for commercial businesses and how individual enterprises can be encouraged to support basic human rights. We discuss the creation and role of his organization as well as some specific instances where businesses around the globe — from Brazil to Indonesia to Europe — have helped create a more peaceful and spiritually pluralistic environment.

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Date: September 21st, 2014

Why do strict churches that demand much of their members, including seemingly irrational sacrifices and stigmatizing behaviors, perform so well in the religious marketplace? Prof. Larry Iannaccone of Chapman University discusses the economic logic behind sacrifice and stigma and what studying the organizational requirements of churches can tell us about society more generally. We also discuss the growing field of “economics of religion.”

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Date: September 14th, 2014

Johannes Kepler is perhaps best known for his modifications to the Copernican theory of heliocentrism, but few people remember how his science was guided by his deep personal faith. Prof. Russell Kleckley of Augsburg College discusses the natural philosophy and theology of this gifted mind. Kepler’s story is an interesting encapsulation of the scientific and religious ferment that was occurring in Europe in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Plus, we learn all about “Scuba Jesus.”

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Date: September 7th, 2014

In an encore presentation, previously broadcast in January 2011, Prof. Eric Carter of Georgetown College joins Tony to discuss the difficulties facing professional athletes in the National Football League (NFL) and what role religion plays in helping stabilize the lives of those lived in the NFL spotlight based on unprecedented access to over 100 pro players. The rapid ascension to fame and fortune often places these young men into situations where they experience severe difficulties in coping and finding stable relationships. Our conversation turns to what role religion helps in overcoming many of these difficulties. As an added bonus, both Eric and Tony reveal their Super Bowl predictions for 2011. See if they were correct!

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Date: August 31st, 2014

Of all the countries in the world, why would anyone consider North Korea a territory for Christian evangelization? With one of the most repressive and atheistic regimes, that thrives on a cult of personality of its founding leaders, this would not seem to be fertile ground. Darren Slade discusses the political and religious background of this communist nation and what missionizing strategies have been employed in an environment that is extremely hostile to Christianity.

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Date: August 24th, 2014

What was the function and rationale of the Oracle of Delphi? And how does its operation help us understand the Temple of Shiloh, the role of the Vatican in the Middle Ages, and the physical location of Washington, DC and Sacramento, CA? Prof. Colleen Haight applies some basic economic principles to understand why the Delphic Oracle was so important to ancient Greek civilization and how it relates to so many other historical and contemporary phenomenon. Being both fun and informative, this is an instant Research on Religion classic!

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