Category: Religion & Popular Culture


Matthew Moore on Buddhism, Meditating Machines, & the Robopocalypse

Can robots meditate? And with the “near-future technology” of artificial intelligence (AI) and whole brain emulation (WBE), how are humans to wrestle with the concept of suffering? Political theorist Matthew Moore (Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo) returns to our program to discuss these issues from the spiritual framework of Buddhism. He argues that the Buddhist conception of how to deal with suffering offers a number of important insights into policy-related questions regarding if we should proceed, or how we should manage, AI and WBE. Along the way, we talk about the possibility of a Robopocalypse! A futuristic discussion that may be of “near future” relevance.

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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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Steven Pfaff on the World of 1517

What did Europe look like economically, politically, and religiously on the eve of the Protestant Reformation? What broad historical trends facilitated the success Martin Luther’s schismatic break from the Catholic Church where others in the past had failed? Prof. Steve Pfaff (Sociology, University of Washington) discusses the factors spurring on the Protestant Reformation, sharing some of the most up-to-date research on how social movements spread.

The second in our series devoted to the people and events of the Protestant Reformation. Great for classroom use.

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Sarah Dreier on Anglicans, Lutherans, and African Churches

As certain Christian denominations in Europe and America turn towards progressive values such as the support for same-sex marriage and other LGBTQI rights, how do their affiliated churches in Africa manage this cultural change? Sarah K. Dreier, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington, explores this often overlooked tension within transnational organizations. She discusses how African Anglican and Lutheran churches that have a stable source of funding and/or are facing significant competition from Pentecostal churches are more likely to vocally oppose progressive policies on sexuality and gender issues.

Check out our expansive archives, now over 330 unique episodes!

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Christian Novetzke on Kung Fu Fighting and Eastern Religions (Encore Presentation)

Get into the octagon with Prof. Christian Novetzke as we spar intellectually about the relationship between the martial arts and Eastern religions. Karate, jujitsu, tai chi, tae kwon do, and even yoga are discussed in our fascinating interview that also explores Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and the connection between Christianity and the mixed martial arts (i.e., cage fighting). We discover the importance of self-actualization that connects all these different philosophies and martial activities.

We are taking a break for the Easter holiday but will return with fresh episodes soon. Enjoy this great interview from our archives.

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Marion Larson on Bubbles, Bridges, and Multifaith Engagement

In an increasingly pluralistic world, can Christians break out of their bubble and engage individuals from different faiths while still retaining their own spiritual identity. Prof. Marion Larson of Bethel University discusses how she and her co-author, Prof. Sara Shady, have approached this subject theoretically and as a matter of practical experience. Prof. Larson shares her thoughts on the topics of ecumenism, tolerance, and approaching others with an attitude of hospitality.

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Kelsey Dallas on Religious Journalism

Deseret News journalist Kelsey Dallas joins us to discuss her path towards religious news writing, the importance of the Religion News Association, and a number of the stories she has covered throughout the years. We talk about stories regarding life on other planets (and how it would affect religious believers), pilgrimages to Chimayo (New Mexico), football prayer circles, and what has become of the faith of all these Millennials. A wide-ranging, uplifting, and fun conversation.

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Daniel Dreisbach on Biblical Rhetoric in the Founding Era

What role did the Bible play in the rhetoric of the Founding Era of the United States? Prof. Daniel Dreisbach discusses how various themes and particular passages of the Scriptures were used by political leaders during the late 18th and early 19th century to help frame the creation of a new republic. He argues that verses found in Micah, Proverbs, and other places were used frequently to connect to a larger political conversation with the American people regarding the nature of the United States, the importance of virtue in its citizenry, and why the diffusion of power was important. We also chat about the role of religion during presidential inaugurations.

Search our archives for more great topics related to this episode and many other subjects!

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Paul Harvey on Religion in the American South

“The South” is commonly referred to as the Bible Belt in the United States today, and despite New England having a more explicit Christian identity during colonial times, the region from Virginia down to Florida and out to Texas has been shaped by religious dynamics from its most early days.  Prof. Paul Harvey, professor of […]

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Tara Moore on Christmas Traditions … and Krampus! (Encore Presentation).

How has Christmas been celebrated throughout the millennia and in different parts of Europe? Where do traditions such as decorating trees and caroling come from? And what is Krampus? Tara Moore, a part-time instructor in English at Penn State University – York, talks about all of this and more in an exploration of how we celebrate Christmas. Based on her book “Christmas: The Sacred to the Santa,” she provides us with many interesting tidbits that you’ll want to share them with friends and family during Yuletide.

Let your friends, family, and colleagues know about our podcast this holiday season. It is the gift of education!

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