Category: World Region


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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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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James Felak on the Counter-Reformation

As a capstone to our Protestant Reformation Series, we give the “other side” its day in court to make their case. Prof. James Felak (University of Washington) discusses how the Roman Catholic Church reacted to Luther and the Protestant fervor that followed in the decades after Luther sparked a religious fire. We cover everything from the Diet of Worms to the Council of Trent, and to Jesuits, Inquisitions, and Carmelites without shoes. This is an inordinately fun exploration of the 16th century religious landscape.

Listen to all the interviews in the Protestant Reformation Series by clicking the tag to the right or the “read more” link below!

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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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Peter Henne on Religion-State Relations and Counterterrorism

During the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War, the United States began to ramp up counterterrorism efforts around the globe. Some nations proved relatively cooperative with these efforts whereas others did not. Prof. Peter Henne (University of Vermont) explains how religion-state relations condition the response of different governments to these counterterrorism examples. We examine this in a broad perspective and with specific attention to Pakistan, UAE, and Turkey.

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Rob Sorensen on Martin Luther’s Life

With the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his “95 Theses” to the doors of the Wittenberg Cathedral approaching, we take a pause to examine the early life of Martin Luther with Rob Sorensen, a PhD candidate at Faulkner University and author of a book on Luther’s life. Our attention is devoted mostly to Luther’s formative years leading up to his defiant act in 1517, but there are reflections on his life following excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.

Check out our other episodes in the Protestant Reformation Series by visiting our archives.

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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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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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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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Marion Goldman on Martin Luther and Spiritual Virtuosity

With the quincentennial anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (dated from October 31, 1517), we begin an occasional series looking at the events and people that made up this historic event. We start with Prof. Marion Goldman (sociology, University of Oregon) who argues that Martin Luther had the characteristic of a “spiritual virtuoso” and that this factor was critical to the split that transpired between the Catholic Church and Protestants. Spiritual virtuosos are individuals who are concerned with personal sanctification, are reluctant leaders, but do acknowledge their role in inspiring social movements. Our conversation also covers other similar individuals such as leaders of the Abolitionist Movement and Steve Jobs of Apple fame.

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