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 30 - Crisp on Deviant Calvinism!
Featured Episodes
Date: November 23rd, 2014

While Tony takes a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, we offer you an encore presentation about the Pilgrims. Thomas Kidd (Baylor University) enlightens us about the history of the Pilgrims, tracing their roots in 16th century England to The Netherlands and eventually to the Plymouth Colony in what is now today Massachusetts. Prof. Kidd discusses the differences the Pilgrims had with the Church of England and their Puritan brethren. We also explore why the king of England would allow a group of his critics to settle land in North America, the hardships that this group of religious refugees faced in their first years in the wilderness, and the imprint the Pilgrims left on U.S. history.

A great podcast for high school educators and homeschoolers, as well as a nice refresher course for those of us who think we remember our American colonial history. Plus, you get to hear your host recite poetry!

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Date: November 16th, 2014

In 19th century America, Jews disproportionately filled an important role in the US economy as peddlers and merchants who brought supplies to settlers in the westward expansion. Prof. Colleen Haight of SJSU explains the logic behind this phenomenon and links it to the economics of religion and the role that religious distinctiveness played in solving reputational problems. She also addresses the matter of hostility towards Jews and how this factored in to their chosen profession.

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Date: November 9th, 2014

What is it like to be Mormon and political in the United States? We invite Prof. David Campbell (Notre Dame) and Prof. Quin Monson (BYU) to discuss why members of the Latter Day Saints are considered a “peculiar people” (a term adopted from the Old Testament) and how this has affected their political affiliation and attitudes on a variety of issues. Both scholars also share their own perspectives growing up Mormon and how being a religious minority can affect one’s identity.

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Date: November 2nd, 2014

While economic historians have long been interested in the rise of craft guilds during the medieval era, Prof. Gary Richardson documents their surprising origins in confessional organizations and the role that religious ritual, practice, and prayer played in their maintenance. None of this should have come as a surprise, though, as the primary documents from these guilds is saturated with religious discussion. We review how religion helped to enhance cooperation and coordination among professional groups, maintain a level of quality, and what happened when the Black Death came to visit England.

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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).

Our free podcasts are a great educational resource for high schools, college students, and homeschoolers. Tell a teacher about us!

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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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