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.
Dec 21 - Reynolds on Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Featured Episodes
Date: December 14th, 2014

In one of our most unique interviews, we talk with J Warner Wallace, a cold-case homicide detective, about his journey into Christianity and his use of criminology tools to determine whether or not the Gospels have any veracity to them. We talk murder mysteries, forensic methodology, and whether or not the birth narrative of Jesus could hold up against the weight of cold-case evidence. This is a conversation that you will want to tell your friends about!

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Date: December 7th, 2014

Why would a Presbyterian who spent time in the ministry decide to convert to Catholicism? With a number of high-profile individuals making the same choice, we discuss this journey with Jim Tonkowich, former president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy. This interesting life story is peppered with sociological insights into church authority and structure, and the state of our religious environment today.

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Date: November 30th, 2014

Who was John Calvin, how have people interpreted his theology throughout the ages, and is it really as narrow as many believe it to be? These questions and more are answered as Research on Religion dips into the world of historical theology with Prof. Oliver Crisp of Fuller Theological Seminary. With a delightful English accent, Dr. Crisp explains a lot of words that Tony cannot pronounce and argues that Reformed theology is a great deal more diverse that it is typically portrayed. Prof. Crisp also makes a strong case for why the study of deep theology is important.

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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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