Category: Featured


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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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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Eleanor Power on Rituals, Community, and Signaling

Why would anyone walk across hot coals, pierce themselves with sharp objects, or engage in other costly sacrifices when their resources are meager? Using data collected from two years of fieldwork in India, Dr. Eleanor Power of the Santa Fe Institute explains how individuals signal their credibility, trustworthiness, and helpfulness in their communities via these public rituals. Elly also explains how this ritualistic behavior is perceived by others in the community and how it connects various individuals. Along the way, we also talk about possession, not in terms of ownership but wherein your body is taken over by demons or gods.

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Mark David Hall on Religious Accommodations and the Common Good

As a number of religious accommodation cases are winding their way through the U.S. court system, we invite Prof. Mark David Hall (George Fox University) to discuss the history of religious exemptions in American history. In addition to whether or not a florist or baker should be exempted from providing services to same-sex weddings based on religious beliefs, we also examine rights of conscience accommodations granted to religious groups for military service, the swearing of oaths, mandatory school attendance, and vaccinations. Prof. Hall explains how “Americans at their best” have accommodated religious views since colonial days and speculates on what the future holds.

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Michael Rota on Pascal’s Wager

Is it rational to believe in God? Is it rational to believe in Christianity? These were the some of the questions raised by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century that Prof. Michael Rota of St. Thomas University takes up in a re-examination of Pascal’s famous wager. He discusses Pascal’s life, the nature of the wager itself, and then updates it with his own insights, finishing off with a discussion of the probability that God exists.

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Matthew Moore on Buddhism and Political Theory

Prof. Matthew Moore explores the interesting (and limited) political theory embedded in Buddhist thought and compares it with some Western political thinkers including Friedrich Nietzsche and John Howard Yoder. We discuss the concept of “the self,” and how the notion of limited citizenship plays out in the polity for Buddhist thinkers. We even discuss whether or not robots should meditate at the end of our interview.

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John Fea on the American Bible Society

Happy bicentennial to the American Bible Society, celebrating its 200th year in operation on May 11, 2016. To celebrate, we invite historian John Fea (Messiah College) to discuss the history of the ABS and his recent book “The Bible Cause.” We track the changes to this quintessential American institution over time, emphasizing how it reflected and shaped our society over the past two centuries.

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Francis Beckwith on Taking Rites Seriously

Prof. Francis Beckwith (Baylor University) discusses his new book “Taking Rites Seriously,” and how secular rationalism has permeated our legal decisions and what that means. He discusses the intellectual framework surrounding secular rationalist arguments, why he considers them limited, and discusses how this affects the freedom of religious believers. We cover issues such as abortion, intelligent design, and the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Aaron Saiger on Religion & Charter Schools (Encore Presentation)

The rise of charter schools over the past quarter century has altered the way in which we think about the nexus of religion and state with respect to education. Prof. Aaron Saiger of Fordham University Law School documents changes in the American educational system and how religious communities are reacting to the charter school movement.

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Tara Moore on Christmas Traditions

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!

[ READ THE FULL ARTICLE ]
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