Someone once observed that if Howard Stern and Krista Tippett had a love child, it would be Scott Jones. Scott liked that.
At "Give and Take,” Scott Jones talks with artists, authors, theologians, and political pundits about the lens through which they experience life. With empathy, humor, and a deep knowledge of religion, current events, and pop culture, Scott engages his guests in a free-flowing conversation that's entertaining, unexpected, occasionally bizarre, and oftentimes enlightening. He likes people, and it shows.
Past interviewees include Mark Oppenheimer, Melissa Febos, David French, Miroslav Volf, Dan Savage, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rob Bell, and (yes) Krista Tippett.
Scott is the former host and producer of the popular Mockingcast podcast (https://themockingcast.fireside.fm) and an in-demand consultant on all things “pod.” He’s also the co-host, with Bill Borror, of New Persuasive Words (https://npw.fireside.fm). Scott is also a prolific writer, a frequent conference speaker, a PhD candidate in Theology, and an ordained minister.
Episode 244: Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic, Abdul El-Sayed
My guest is Abdul El-Sayed. His new book is Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic. From a rising voice in progressive politics, a combination of memoir, science, and public policy, diagnosing the challenges facing America and laying out a way forward
A child of immigrants, Abdul El-Sayed grew up feeling a responsibility to help others. He threw himself into the study of medicine and excelled—winning a Rhodes Scholarship, earning two advanced degrees, and landing a tenure-track position at Columbia University. At 30, he became the youngest city health official in America, tasked with rebuilding Detroit's health department after years of austerity policies.
But El-Sayed found himself disillusioned. He could heal the sick—even build healthier and safer communities—but that wouldn’t address the social and economic conditions causing illness in the first place. So he left health for politics, running for Governor of Michigan and earning the support of progressive champions like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders.
In Healing Politics, El-Sayed traces the life of a young idealist, weaving together powerful personal stories and fascinating forays into history and science. Marrying his unique perspective with the science of epidemiology, El-Sayed diagnoses an underlying epidemic afflicting our country, an epidemic of insecurity. And to heal the rifts this epidemic has created, he lays out a new direction for the progressive movement. This is a bold, personal, and compellingly original book from a prominent young leader.
Special Guest: Abdul El-Sayed.
Episode 243: Breaking Bread With The Dead, with Alan Jacobs
My guest is Alan Jacobs. His newest book is Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader's Guide to a More Tranquil Mind. W. H. Auden once wrote that "art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead." In his brilliant and compulsively readable new treatise, Breaking Bread with the Dead, Alan Jacobs shows us that engaging with the strange and wonderful writings of the past might help us live less anxiously in the present--and increase what Thomas Pynchon once called our "personal density."
Today we are battling too much information in a society changing at lightning speed, with algorithms aimed at shaping our every thought--plus a sense that history offers no resources, only impediments to overcome or ignore. The modern solution to our problems is to surround ourselves only with what we know and what brings us instant comfort. Jacobs's answer is the opposite: to be in conversation with, and challenged by, those from the past who can tell us what we never thought we needed to know.
What can Homer teach us about force? How does Frederick Douglass deal with the massive blind spots of America's Founding Fathers? And what can we learn from modern authors who engage passionately and profoundly with the past? How can Ursula K. Le Guin show us truths about Virgil's female characters that Virgil himself could never have seen? In Breaking Bread with the Dead, a gifted scholar draws us into close and sympathetic engagement with texts from across the ages, including the work of Anita Desai, Henrik Ibsen, Jean Rhys, Simone Weil, Edith Wharton, Amitav Ghosh, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Italo Calvino, and many more.
By hearing the voices of the past, we can expand our consciousness, our sympathies, and our wisdom far beyond what our present moment can offer.
Special Guest: Alan Jacobs.
Episode 242: Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife, with Ariel Sabar
My guest is Ariel Sabar. His newest book is Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife. In 2012, Dr. Karen King, a star professor at Harvard Divinity School, announced a blockbuster discovery at a scholarly conference just steps from the Vatican: She had found an ancient fragment of papyrus in which Jesus calls Mary Magdalene "my wife." The tattered manuscript made international headlines. If early Christians believed Jesus was married, it would upend the 2,000-year history of the world's predominant faith, threatening not just the celibate, all-male priesthood but sacred teachings on marriage, sex and women's leadership. Biblical scholars were in an uproar, but King had impeccable credentials as a world-renowned authority on female figures in the lost Christian texts from Egypt known as the Gnostic gospels. "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife"--as she provocatively titled her discovery--was both a crowning career achievement and powerful proof for her arguments that Christianity from its start embraced alternative, and far more inclusive, voices.
As debates over the manuscript's authenticity raged, award-winning journalist Ariel Sabar set out to investigate a baffling mystery: where did this tiny scrap of papyrus come from? His search for answers is an international detective story--leading from the factory districts of Berlin to the former headquarters of the East German Stasi before winding up in rural Florida, where he discovered an internet pornographer with a prophetess wife, a fascination with the Pharaohs and a tortured relationship with the Catholic Church.
VERITAS is a tale of fierce intellectual rivalries at the highest levels of academia, a piercing psychological portrait of a disillusioned college dropout whose life had reached a breaking point, and a tragedy about a brilliant scholar handed a piece of scripture that embodied her greatest hopes for Christianity--but forced a reckoning with fundamental questions about the nature of truth and the line between reason and faith.
Special Guest: Ariel Sabar.
Episode 241: Spiritual Directions and Spiritual Direction, with David Norling
My guest is David Norling. He is a California native, an evangelical refugee, and has a deep interest in spirituality, spiritual direction, and human flourishing. We spend time talking about his own spiritual biography and journey. We also talk narrative therapy and spiritual direction.
Special Guest: David Norling .
Episode 240: You're a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass), with Mike McHargue
My guest is Mike McHargue. His newest book is You're a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass). Why is there such a gap between what you want to do and what you actually do? The host of Ask Science Mike explains why our desires and our real lives are so wildly different—and what you can do to close the gap, in this his newest book.
For thousands of years, scientists, philosophers, and self-help gurus have wrestled with one of the basic conundrums of human life: Why do we do the things we do? Or, rather, why do we so often not do the things we want to do? As a podcast host whose voice goes out to millions each month, Mike McHargue gets countless emails from people seeking to understand their own misbehavior—why we binge on Netflix when we know taking a walk outside would be better for us, or why we argue politics on Facebook when our real friends live just down the street. Everyone wants to be a good person, but few of us, twenty years into the new millennium, have any idea how to do that.
In You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass), McHargue addresses these issues. We like to think we’re in control of our thoughts and decisions, he writes, but science has shown that a host of competing impulses, emotions, and environmental factors are at play in every action we undertake. Touching on his podcast listeners’ most pressing questions, from relationships and ethics to stress and mental health, and sharing some of the biggest triumphs and hardships from his own life, McHargue shows us how some of our qualities that seem most frustrating—including “negative” emotions like sadness, anger, and anxiety—are actually key to helping humans survive and thrive. In doing so, he invites us on a path of self-understanding and, ultimately, self-acceptance.
You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass) is a guided tour through the mystery of human consciousness, showing readers how to live more at peace with themselves in a complex world.
Special Guest: Mike McHargue.
Episode 239: The Campaign of Miner Bo, with Todd Drezner
My guest is Todd Drezner. His newest film is The Campaign of Miner Bo. It’s probably safe to say that Bo Copley never expected to run for U.S. Senate. A lifelong resident of Mingo County, West Virginia, Copley worked in the coal industry for 11 years until he was laid off on September 18, 2015.
In May of 2016, Copley was invited to join a roundtable discussion with Hillary Clinton, who was campaigning in West Virginia before the state’s presidential primary. Copley, his voice breaking, showed Clinton a picture of his three children and challenged her assertion that she was a friend to coal miners. Copley’s raw emotion broke through the usual campaign chatter, and throughout the campaign, he was a regular on cable news.
Copley tried to take advantage of his surprise political celebrity by running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018. But without money, experience, or a traditional campaign infrastructure, he quickly discovered that being a politician is harder than it looks.
The Campaign of Miner Bo documents that fight and shows how this most unlikely political campaign changed its most unlikely candidate.
Special Guest: Todd Drezner.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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Love this podcast! Highly recommended!
was hard to listen to the guest, laura briggs, with all the interrupting by host scott jones.
Long form interviews at their best
Scott’s conversational style and breadth of knowledge leads to some really amazing conversations with his guests. It’s fantastic!