Category: Social Issues


Michael Medved on Religion & Hollywood (encore presentation)

Film critic, radio talk show host, and cultural crusader Michael Medved joins us to discuss how religion is portrayed in Hollywood. We focus on Michael’s life story and the accidental manner in how he became a movie critic. Our main focus, though, centers on how Hollywood went from partraying religion in a positive light in movies such as “The Bells of St. Mary” and “Going My Way,” to casting clergy and churches as corrupt. We cover Michael’s role in the critic scandal surrounding Mel Gibson’s epic “The Passion of the Christ” and also tackle the question of why Hollywood has not been making more faith-friendly movies considering the box office success these films garner. There are many more insights in this lively interview.

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Jared Rubin on Religion & Credit Risk in the Ottoman Empire (Encore Presentation)

Return with us to winter 2016 when Prof. Jared Rubin explained to us why the economic, political, and religious elite did not always get the best credit deals in the Ottoman Empire, and what this all has to do with being a member of a minority religion. When we last talked with Jared, he was finishing up his book manuscript entitled “Rulers, Religion, & Riches.” Let this discussion give you insights into this fascinating work that helps explain the differing historical trajectories between two great world cultures, as well as a fascinating project he conducted with economist Timur Kuran (also a frequent guest on RoR).

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Tim Clydesdale on College and Vocation

Early adulthood can be a very disorienting time for individuals as they wrestle with the practicalities of moving out on their own and beginning a professional career. What are colleges doing to encourage thoughtfulness about meaning in life when it comes to plotting out one’s life trajectory? Prof. Tim Clydesdale of The College of New Jersey discusses his evaluative research of a Lilly Foundation initiative to encourage colleges to incorporate the idea of “vocation” into their educational mission. We discuss what “vocation” is, how different schools have incorporated this theme into their curriculum, and what aspects of such programs seem to work best. While not strictly a discussion about religious vocation, this topic should be of interest to anybody interested in education and developing the whole person, spiritually or not.

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Robert Nelson on Lutheranism and Nordic Social Democracy

The Nordic states are known for their high levels of socio-economic equality, good governance, and high levels of social trust. While some scholars have attributed this to their unique brand of secular social democracy, Prof. Robert Nelson (U of Maryland) argues that Nordic social democracy has deep roots in the “Lutheran ethic.” We discuss how the Lutheran ethic is different than the Calvinist ethic (as seen by Max Weber), how contemporary social democratic thought in Nordic countries has similar elements to Lutheranism, and what is in store for social democracy.

Check out our other podcasts related to the Protestant Reformation this year!

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Jamie Aten on Religion and Disasters (Encore Presentation)

In light of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, we offer up this timely podcast from last year on religion and disasters. Prof. Jamie Aten (Wheaton College) shares his experience with Hurricane Katrina and explains how congregations can get prepared for natural disasters and other calamities.

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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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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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Robert D. Rubin on Judicial Review & the Religious Right

Prior to the 1980s, the incipient Religious Right was skeptical of the US judicial system given a variety of decisions that went against their interests. Dr. Robert Daniel Rubin examines how Southern Christians came to embrace judicial review using two crucial court cases involving education in Mobile, Alabama, and Judge Brevard Hand who decided them. This discussion is both a microcosm of social and political change brewing in the South in the 1980s, but also a reflection of broader trends developing in American society.

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Frank Selden on the Military, Suicide, and Faith

Frank Selden, a Seattle-area attorney and author, joins us for a very personal and impactful discussion on his service in the military, his various suicide attempts, his faith, and how religious faith has approached the topic of suicide over the years. We learn how his views towards the Iraq War changed over two tours of duties, how he emerged from a suicidal spiral, and his perspective on religious faith today.

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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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