Archive for October, 2011

Steve Pfaff on Denominationalism, Sin & Other Stuff

Sit in on a collegial discussion with Tony and his good friend Prof. Steve Pfaff as they discuss a range of topics including denominationalism and whether churches today emphasize sin enough. These two topics lead us down several different paths taking a look at how and why churches create brands, the benefits of religious pluralism, youth religious practice and whether megachurches are really just soft-peddling Christianity. This open-ended discussion is a window into what Tony & Steve often talk about while hanging out at the University of Washington and is a great wrap around to several recent podcasts we’ve featured on the show.

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Scott Poole on Monsters

A week before Halloween, we investigate the darker side of the supernatural with a look at how monsters have been portrayed in American history and what that says about US history. Historian Scott Poole (College of Charleston) talks about his new book, “Monsters in America” and shows how our obsession with, and imagery of, monsters has reflected some very dark trends over the past 400 years. From aliens to zombies, we cover it all in this special spooky version of the increasingly popular podcast! Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

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Justin Barrett on the Naturalness of Religious Belief

Do human beings have a cognitive predisposition to believe in the supernatural from birth? In other words, is spirituality a natural tendency in us? Psychologist Justin Barrett (Fuller Theological Seminary) explores some fascinating research that indicates that we have a strong sense of God from birth, and that this innate tendency is actually shared across cultures and historical epochs. While Prof. Barrett argues that religion is natural for humans, he also tells us that theology is “unnatural” and we examine the implications between religion (innate belief) and theology (structured logic).

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Matt Boswell on Starting a New Church (Really Fast!)

What do you need to do to start a church? Moreover, how fast can you do it if you only have one week to get the church up and running? Matt Boswell discusses the frenetic process of setting up a church in a podcast that has the flavor of a reality show. With virtually nothing to their name (including no money, no building, and no name), a small group of individuals were able to go from zero to 562 congregants in one week. How did that happen? What does that tell us about the entrepreneurial spirit within America’s religious economy? (Disclaimer: This podcast involves the congregation that the host of Research on Religion currently attends, though he had no influence on any of the decisions discussed in the podcast.)

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Patrick Mason on Anti-Mormonism and Mitt Romney

With Mitt Romney making waves as a presidential candidate frontrunner for the Republican Party, we visit with Prof. Patrick Mason to discuss the history of anti-Mormon bigotry in the United States tracing it back to the founding of the faith in the 1820s.

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