300 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Christianity about their New Books

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    • Christianity

Interviews with Scholars of Christianity about their New Books

    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)

    Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Random House, 2020)
    Until the End of Time gives the reader a theory of everything, both in the sense of a “state of the academic union”, covering cosmology and evolution, consciousness and computation, and art and religion, and in the sense of showing us a way to apprehend the often existentially challenging subject matter. Greene uses evocative autobiographical vignettes in the book to personalize his famously lucid and accessible explanations, and we discuss these episodes further in the interview. Greene also reiterates his arguments for embedding a form of spiritual reverie within the multiple naturalistic descriptions of reality that different areas of human knowledge have so far produced.
    John Weston is a University Teacher of English in the Language Centre at Aalto University, Finland. His research focuses on academic communication. He can be reached at john.weston@aalto.fi and @johnwphd.
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    • 2 hrs
    Vanessa Cook, "Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left" (U Penn Press, 2019)

    Vanessa Cook, "Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left" (U Penn Press, 2019)

    In this episode of the podcast, Vaneesa Cook discusses her new book Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). The book shows that there is a deep religious strain within the American Left despite contrary common perceptions. Leftists Cook calls spiritual socialists believed the basic expression of religious values—caring for the sick, tired, hungry, and exploited members of one's community—was key to creating a functioning and more equal society. They emphasized these aspects of socialism and sought to implement them through their own actions and through a bottom up approach to activism. The book discusses a group of activists who practiced and shaped this intellectual tradition.
    In the episode, Cook discusses what she means by the term “spiritual socialists,” some of the individuals she discusses in her book, and how they distinguished themselves from communists both in their belief system and in the context of multiple American Red Scares. Cook also talks about her research process and some ways her book might be useful for thinking about the contemporary American political landscape.
    Christine Lamberson is a historian. Her research and teaching focuses on 20th century U.S. political and cultural history. She’s currently working on a book manuscript about the role of violence in shaping U.S. political culture in the 1960s and 1970s.
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    • 53 min
    Kathleen Gallagher Elkins, "Mary, Mother of Martyrs" (FSR, 2018)

    Kathleen Gallagher Elkins, "Mary, Mother of Martyrs" (FSR, 2018)

    Throughout Christian history, the Virgin Mary has been idealized as a self-sacrificing mother and a model for all Christian women to emulate. However, she is one of many ancient maternal figures whose narratives pivot on violent loss. In her 2018 monograph Mary, Mother of Martyrs: How Motherhood Became Self-Sacrifice in Early Christianity (Feminist Studies in Religion, 2018), Dr. Kathleen Gallagher Elkins (Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI) examines ancient representations of mothers and children in the context of sociopolitical violence. She demonstrates that, as today, early Christian notions of motherhood are contextual and produced for specific political and social reasons. She also interrogates the tendency of both theologians and cultural commentators to read tales of early Christian mothers in an anachronistic manner informed by modern conceptions of the “natural” and “normal” family. Adding contemporary intertexts to the ancient texts at hand, each chapter juxtaposes an ancient maternal figure (including the Mother of Maccabees, Perpetua, and Felicitas in addition to Mary) with examples of contemporary maternal activism, such as Madre and Pussy Riot. Gallagher Elkins thereby shows the strategic, political charged, and rhetorically flexible conceptions of maternal self-sacrifice.
    Diana Dukhanova is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Slavic Studies at Brown University in Providence, RI.
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    • 56 min
    Betsy Gaines Quammen, "American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West" (Torrey House, 2020)

    Betsy Gaines Quammen, "American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West" (Torrey House, 2020)

    In 2014, the cattle rancher Cliven Bundy entered the national spotlight after a showdown against federal officials over grazing rights on public lands. Two years later, his sons seized the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and occupied it for forty days with militia and sovereign citizen groups. As journalists rushed to the scene, trying to make sense of the motivations behind their anti-government politics, Betsy Gaines Quammen, a historian working on her history Ph.D., knew something was amiss. She had spent hours at the Bundy home, interviewing them for her dissertation on Mormon settlement in the West. She knew the Bundy’s rooted their politics in their Mormon faith, but their religious attitudes made few popular headlines. In her new book, American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West (Torrey House Press, 2020), Quammen situates the Bundy standoff within the long and convoluted history of Mormon migration into the American West—and provides an exciting new take on religion in modern American politics.
    Ryan Driskell Tate is a Ph.D. candidate in United States history at Rutgers University. He is completing a book on fossil-fuels and energy development in the American West. Twitter: @rydriskelltate
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    • 49 min
    John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope" (Fortress Press, 2015)

    John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope" (Fortress Press, 2015)

    John D. Caputo has a long career as one of the preeminent postmodern philosophers in America. The author of such books as Radical Hermeneutics, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, and The Weakness of God, Caputo now reflects on his spiritual journey from a Catholic altar boy in 1950s Philadelphia to a philosopher after the death of God. Part spiritual autobiography, part homily on what he calls the “nihilism of grace,” Hoping Against Hope (Fortress Press, 2015) calls believers and nonbelievers alike to participate in the “praxis of the kingdom of God,” which Caputo says we must pursue “without why.”
    Caputo’s conversation partners in this volume include Lyotard, Derrida, and Hegel, but also earlier versions of himself: Jackie, a young altar boy, and Brother Paul, a novice in a religious order. Caputo traces his own journey from faith through skepticism to hope, after the “death of God.” In the end, Caputo doesn’t want to do away with religion; he wants to redeem religion and to reinvent religion for a postmodern time.
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    Nijay Gupta, "Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies" (Baker Academic, 2020)

    Nijay Gupta, "Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies" (Baker Academic, 2020)

    Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies (Baker Academic, 2020) is an accessible and balanced introduction that helps readers sort out key views on the most important debated issues in New Testament studies. Well-known New Testament scholar Nijay Gupta fairly presents the spectrum of viewpoints on thirteen topics and offers reflections on why scholars disagree on these matters. Written to be accessible to students and readers without advanced training in New Testament studies, this book will serve as an excellent supplementary text for New Testament introduction courses.
    Dr. Nijay Gupta is Associate Professor of New Testament at Portland Seminary at George Fox University. Dr. Gupta lives in Portland, OR. He can be found on Twitter @NijayKGupta
    Jonathan Wright is a PhD student in New Testament at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a ThM from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and can be reached at jonrichwright@gmail.com, on Twitter @jonrichwright, or jonathanrichardwright.com.
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    • 1 hr 5 min

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