Category: Historical Topics


David Smith on Episodic Religious Persecutions (Encore Presentation)

Prof. David Smith of the University of Sydney returns to discuss the role religion plays in international relations and foreign policy. We chat about why international relations scholars have de-emphasized the role religion plays in cross-national interactions and how this might be changing. David also reviews how scholars now think that religion plays a role in diplomacy and foreign policy.

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Barry Hankins on Jesus, Gin, and the Culture Wars (Encore Presentation)

We are still on a sabbatical but hope to return with new audio formatting and access modes in the next month. Please stay tuned.

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Charles North on Religion, Economic Development, and Rule of Law (Encore Presentation)

While we are still on a short sabbatical, please enjoy this popular “blast from the past.”

Prof. Charles North discusses his research linking religion to the rule of law and economic development. We survey the literature on religion and economic growth, and then chat about North’s findings wherein Protestantism, Catholicism, and Hinduism were statistically linked to higher support for “rule of law” and lower levels of corruption. We discuss some of the potential causal reasons for this connection, which takes us back to medieval Europe and the rise of canon law.

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David Deavel on De Sales, Newman, Chesterton, and Hitchcock

Location, location, location.  That is the eternal cry of every real estate agent, and it proved prophetic for this week’s guest, Prof. David Deavel, an assistant professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas — as he grew up an evangelical Christian in the shadow of Notre Dame, which gave him the foundation […]

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Shari Rabin on Jews on the American Frontier

What is it like to be a stranger in a strange land on the move, and how does that affect one’s ability to preserve their religious identity?  This is a central question take up by Prof. Shari Rabin, an assistant professor of Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston and director of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center […]

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Michael Douma on Van Raalte and Dutch Religious History

In the 1830s and ’40s, Dutch Reformed theology experienced a schism between an increasingly liberalized theology and the growth of a new Pietism movement. One of the dominant figures of this era was Albertus Van Raalte, a medical student turned theologian in the Netherlands who subsequently migrated to the United States and eventually settled in Michigan. Prof. Michael Douma (Georgetown University) discusses the life and historically-informed theology of Van Raalte with reference to a newly discovered manuscript written by this 19th century religious figure.

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Anthony Esolen on Timeless Hymns

What makes for a “timeless hymn”? Prof. Anthony Esolen (Thomas More College) discusses his recent book “Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church,” and shares with us the importance of singing and poetry for the faithful. We review a number of important themes found within various hymns and reference a few of the greats over the past several centuries.

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Mark Lawson-Jones on Christmas Carols

Why was the partridge in the pear tree? This is all the more mysterious given that these birds can’t fly well. We answer this and several other questions related to the history of Christmas carols with special guest Rev. Mark Lawson-Jones, a chaplain for Mission to the Seafarers and author of the delightful book “Why Was the Partridge in the Pear Tree? The History of Christmas Carols.” We cover a broad swathe of history dating back to the medieval period when carols were used in various pageants, discuss the fun of wassailing, note that the Puritans almost killed Christmas fun, and then discuss the history and meaning of a few well-known songs.

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Adam English on St. Nicholas of Myra, the Real Santa Claus (Encore Presentation)

While we are still on an extended sabbatical, we revive a favorite podcast from our archive. Prof. Adam Engish (Campbell University) discusses his book “The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus.” We learn about the true charitable bishop of Myra and his most famous act of charity, how that became transformed into our modern representation of Santa Claus, and many other details about this extraordinary individual who lived during an important era of Christian history.

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David Fishman on Saving Jewish Documents during World War II

During the 1930s and ’40s, the Nazi regime in Germany tried to eradicate Jewish culture through the pillaging and destruction of Jewish artwork, literature, and other documents as part of the broader strategy of the Holocaust. Prof. David Fishman of the Jewish Theological Seminary tells the story of a courageous group of Jews in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania who took it upon themselves to preserve these cultural treasures at great risk to themselves. The Paper Brigade, as they were known as, hid these documents from the Nazis and, later, the Soviets. With recent caches of these documents rediscovered in 1991 and 2016, we review the content of these findings as well as the importance of preserving history.

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