Category: Health & Disease


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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Sung Joon Jang on the Boy Scouts of America (Encore Presentation)

In this encore presentation from 2012, Prof. Sung Joon Jang discusses his recent study on Eagle Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America, conducted by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion with Byron Johnson and Young Il-Kim. The report focused on the effect that Scouting has on developing the behavior and character of young men, particularly those who earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Prof. Jang details a list of pro-social behaviors that are associated with Eagle Scouts well into their adulthood and compares these traits with individuals who were in Scouting but never obtained Eagle and the general population. The results are fascinating and contain a few surprises.

We will return next week with a brand new episode. Please stay tuned and tell a friend.

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Proeschold-Bell and Adams on Clergy Mental Health

While many parishioners often look to their pastor for emotional and spiritual support, it is not often that we think that members of the clergy need such psychological assistance as well. Nonetheless, the demands of the ministry can be highly demanding and their unique professional role may often lead to isolation from important social support networks. Profs. Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell (Duke) and Chris Adams (Azusa Pacific) discuss the results of a recent study on the mental health of ministers within the United Methodist Church. The focus is not only on trying to address negative mental health outcomes, but ways in which positive mental health predictors can be encouraged. We also talk about how one counselor (Dr. Adams) has put this research to use in his own role as a counselor to seminarians and missionaries.

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Phillip Sinitiere on the Osteens & Lakewood Church

Joel Osteen has risen to fame and popularity over the past decade and a half, and not without much criticism for his spiritual message and preaching style. Prof. Phillip Sinitiere examines the founding and growth of Lakewood Church, dating back to John Osteen, to put the Osteen phenomenon into a broader context. We examine the history of the Osteens, the institutional development and innovativeness of Lakewood Church, as well as the development of the prosperity gospel and what it all entails. The story that emerges is more nuanced than either supporters or detractors paint.

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William Wubbenhorst on Serve, West Dallas and FBO Evaluation

Are faith-based efforts to transform an impoverished community in Texas effective? William Wubbenhorst, co-president of Social Capital Valuations, discusses this unique collaborative program to reduce social ills in West Dallas and how he has measured the program’s effectiveness. We cover the various component parts of Serve and discuss the various difficulties in evaluating programs such as this one.

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Rob Moll on Religion & the Brain

Can neuroscience detect the long-held notion that there is a connection between the spirit and the body? Is prayer good for the brain? And what about cuddle parties? These questions are answered by Rob Moll, an independent journalist and scholar who has investigated the current boundaries of brain science. We discuss how prayer works to alter your brain, how being in a group and touching can change your mood, and how the subconscious reacts the signals of other individuals, all in the context of religious experience.

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Torrey Olsen on Faith-Based Humanitarianism and World Vision

What is it like to be shot at and abducted while serving as a religiously-based humanitarian aid worker? Torrey Olsen, who spent 15 years in West Africa with World Vision and other organizations details his experiences and what he learned in the field. He also discusses the history and operation of World Vision, a Christian-based relief organization that operations in roughly 100 countries, including some of the most dangerous hot spots around the world. We examine various projects World Vision undertakes including an ecumenical outreach program to Muslims concerning the Ebola pandemic in Africa.

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Matthew Franck on Hobby Lobby & Religious Freedom Jurisprudence

What is the history behind, and issues relevant to, the upcoming Supreme Court Case involving Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties that will decide whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is consistent with our understandings of religious liberty? Prof. Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute details how this conflict emerged and summarizes the main issues involved and arguments to be made by both sides. He also reviews the relevant case law that sits in the background of this case. This podcast is a great way to beef up your understanding of what is coming down in our judicial system.

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Jeff Levin on Judaism and Health

Judaism is known to be good for the soul, but can it help with what else ails you? Dr. Jeff Levin, an epidemiologist at Baylor University, discusses the connection between Judaism and health. We discuss some of the historical links between the Jewish faith and health, the role of rabbis in sorting out bioethics, the importance of pastoral care to the sick, as well as the contemporary Jewish healing movement.

Note: Next week’s episode will air on Monday, January 6.

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Rodney Stark on How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists

Frequent guest and popular academic author Rodney Stark joins us to discuss his new book “America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists.” We discuss whether or not spiritual life in the United States is actually on the decline, and then review how the activities of religious Americans have positive spillover effects for society as a whole in a wide range of areas including health, voluntarism, pro-social behavior, the economy, and intellectual life. We even talk about “s-e-x.” This is a wonderful “starter” podcast for new listeners as it covers a number of different themes we have addressed over the past three years.

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