Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’


Is Religious Freedom Good for Growth? A Panel Discussion

Can religious liberty promote economic growth and long-term development? An expert panel of scholars moderated by Brian Grim discusses various perspectives on this question with the conversation ranging everywhere from the Ottoman Empire to Guatemala, and from Chinese house churches to bourbon. The panel includes noted luminaries Ilan Alon, Timur Kuran, Rachel McCleary, and your fuzzy host Anthony Gill.

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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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Rodney Stark on The Triumph of Faith

The decline of religion around the world may be greatly exaggerated. Returning for his sixth appearance on our podcast, Prof. Rodney Stark, co-founder of Baylor’s ISR, discusses his new book “The Triumph of Faith” and reviews how the religious landscapes in various countries and regions of the world has been greatly transformed in the past half century. We look at “nones” from the United States, the rise of indigenous Christianity in Africa, and how even the Japanese still rely upon Shinto priests for blessings.

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Darío Fernández-Morera on Andalusian Spain

From approximately 711 A.D. to the end of the 13th century, the majority of Spain was ruled by Muslims, with Christian rule finally unifying the country in the late 15th century . Prof. Darío Fernandez-Morera examines the history of al-Andalus and argues that this historical epoch was not necessarily a time of religious harmony and “convivencia” that many contemporary scholars claim. We examine the political, economic, and social status of Christians and Jews, as well as women, during this time period.

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Proselytism, Humanitarianism, and Development: A Panel Discussion

We return once again to the Religious Freedom Project for a panel discussion on the historical dimensions of proselytism, humanitarianism, and development that was conducted on March 4, 2015 at Georgetown University. The panel includes Thomas Farr (moderator), Michael Barnett (George Washington University), Rebecca Shah (Religious Freedom Project), and Robert Woodberry (scholar-at-large).

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Jim Papandrea on Christianity’s Seven Revolutions

Author and professor Jim Papandrea returns to our podcast to discuss his new book “Seven Revolutions,” explaining how Christianity helped to alter our perceptions of, and actions toward, the human rights, community responsibility, and governance. We discuss what historical changes occurred in Christianity’s first four centuries and what that historical experience can tell us about religion’s role in the “post-Christian era” of today.

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Religious Freedom & Political Flourishing: A Panel Discussion

On October 10, 2013, a distinguished panel of scholars gathered at Georgetown University to discuss the relationship between religious liberty to political freedom and social flourishing. Sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and moderated by Prof. Timothy Shah, the panelists included Dan Philpott (Notre Dame), Nukhet Sandal (Ohio U), Ani Sarkissian (Michigan State), and Tony Gill (U of Washington). They examine issues whether democracies can suppress religious liberty and still remain democratic, whether increases in religious liberty can promote other civil liberties, and whether religious freedom can facilitate transitions from authoritarianism.

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Joel Fetzer on Confucianism and Democracy

Max Weber once argued that Confucianism did not lend itself to liberal democracy because of its allegiance to social hierarchy and harmony. Prof. Joel Fetzer of Pepperdine University examines this claim with evidence based upon the recent democratization of Taiwan. He argues that although Confucianism was not a cause of the recent democratization, the philosophy is flexible enough to allow for compatability with a variety of democratic norms including indigenous and women’s rights. We also examine the cases of South Korea, China, and Singapore.

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Kevin Cooney on Christianity in Japan

Prof. Kevin Cooney of Northwest University gives us a general perspective of what spiritual life is like in Japan, focusing first on Shintoism and Buddhism, but then exploring the hidden history of Christianity. He discusses the suprisingly early arrival of the “Nestorian Church,” followed several hundred years later by Jesuit missionaries. What happens when the Catholic Church is forced to go underground and how does the opening of Japan to the West and then its imperialist phase impact Christianity? We also explore where Christianity sits today in Japan and how religion relates to fertility rates.

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Robert Nelson on Environmentalism as Religion

Can environmentalism be considered a religion? And if so, what are the implications for the separation of church and state when it comes to the contemporary environmentalist agenda? Prof. Robert Nelson (U of Maryland) addresses these questions. As a former policy analyst in the US Interior Department, he brings an interesting perspective to the table, arguing that the environmental movement shares a great deal in common with what other people would normally consider to be theologically-based religions. We discuss what religion is and what aspects of environmentalism qualify it to be defined as a religion. We talk creation stories, teleology, sins & repentance, rites & sacrifices, and evangelization. Prof. Nelson concludes with an interesting argument about the separation of church and state being applied to environmentalism.

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