Category: Catholicism


Rodney Stark on Myths of the Reformation

Many misconceptions surround the Protestant Reformation, from it being the birth of capitalism to it prompting Europe’s secularization. Noted sociologist of religion Rodney Stark (Baylor ISR) joins us to discuss these myths and more. With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation just about a month away, this is a great opportunity to refresh on some interesting talking points to engage your friends, family, and colleagues.

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Margaret Taylor-Ulizio on Being a Canon Lawyer

If the Catholic Church has canon law, there must be canon lawyers, right?! There are, and we were able to track down and invite Dr. Margaret Taylor-Ulizio to talk about her career path to canon law and what canon lawyers do. While canon law covers a wide range of issues from property rights to employment, we spend time talking about marriage nullity, which comes up with relative frequency and is something that Dr. Taylor-Ulizio has been specializing in recently.

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Andrew Chesnut on Santa Muerte

The cult of Santa Muerte is one of the fastest growing religious movements in the Western Hemisphere, yet little scholarly attention has been paid to it. Prof. Andrew Chesnut of Virginia Commonwealth University discusses what this folk saint is, how it emerged historically and recently, and how devotions are practiced.

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Jim Papandrea on the Catholicism of Early Christianity

Protestants have often been critical of the Roman Catholic Church for adding on a number of traditions, rituals, and theologies that were not part of early Christianity. Prof. Jim Papandrea of the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary (Northwestern University) argues that many of these critiques are misplaced and that early Christianity was very Catholic (capital C) in nature. He discusses issues such as tradition, faith and works, the papacy, and veneration of the Saints. The conversation is very interesting given that Prof. Papandrea was once Protestant and is now Catholic, why Tony was once Catholic and is now Protestant. Ecumenical understanding is a theme running throughout our discussion.

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Timothy Neary on Race, Sports, and Catholics

Prof. Timothy Neary (Salve Regina University) takes us back to Chicago during the mid-20th century to discuss the creation of the Catholic Youth Organization by Bernard Sheil, and how this sports-oriented organization helped to bridge racial divides in a rapidly changing city. We cover the life and times of Bishop Sheil, some interesting facts on the popularity of boxing, and the legacy of this important religious outreach effort.

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Samuel Gregg on Pope Francis, Argentina, and Economics

Over his first four years in the Vatican, Pope Francis released two important encyclicals dealing, in part, with economic issues. Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute talks about the nature of Catholic social encyclicals, and the historical context of Argentina that influenced how Francis views economic issues.

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Maureen Fitzgerald on Irish Nuns and Welfare

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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Joseph O. Baker on American Secularism

America has become less religious in recent years. To explore this phenomenon, both in its present form and situated historically, we invite Prof. Joseph O. Baker of Eastern Tennessee State University to talk about the history and contemporary dimensions of American secularism(s). He notes that secularism does not necessarily mean atheism, but includes an array of different categories. We also discuss some of the reasons for the recent increase in “nones,” including family structure, changing sexual norms, and political polarization.

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Christopher Hale on Religion & Protest in Mexico

Prof. Christopher Hale (U of Alabama) discusses how religion is connected to political protest in Mexico. Building upon some foundational work in the religious economies school, he explains how institutional decentralization and lay leadership fosters socio-economic activism. He also addresses the role of ideology and religious competition.

Check out our extensive archives of great episodes. There is sure to be something of interest to everyone there!

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Keith Pavlischek on John Courtney Murray and Dignitatis Humanae

With the 50th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae just past us, we visit with independent scholar Keith Pavlischek to discuss the life and thought of John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit priest who had a profound impact on how Catholics think about religious pluralism and liberty. We review the major document on religious freedom released at the Second Vatican Council and then discuss how Murray became involved in this debate after being prompted to think about religious freedom following a series of US Supreme Court decisions. We also reflect upon what Murray would have thought about our current church-state landscape.

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