A weekly podcast exploring academic research on religion and featuring top scholars in history, sociology, political science, economics and religious studies.
#1 Matthew Moore on Buddhism, Meditating Machines, and the Robopocalypse.
It is said that Jesus hits like the atom bomb. If so, then Buddha, or at least this episode on Buddhism and near-future technology, might be the daisy cutter of philosophy. Whereas most of the episodes on Research on Religion have focused on Christianity, the dominant faith tradition in the English-speaking world and the topic most in my wheelhouse, I tried to venture outside of the box on a regular basis to learn about other religions. Relative to Christianity, there isn't as much social...
Keep on reading: #1 Matthew Moore on Buddhism, Meditating Machines, and the Robopocalypse.
#2 Daniel Stiles on Cowboy Churches
One of the greatest joys of doing this podcast for the past eight years has been to meet some pretty incredible people who are just "ordinary" citizens going about their daily life. My goal from the beginning of this project was to highlight "practitioners" who "learn by doing" and to bring forth the knowledge they possess. Such practitioners often have more valuable insights into human behavior than the scholars who study these folks. Without doubt, my favorite category of interviews have...
Keep on reading: #2 Daniel Stiles on Cowboy Churches
#3 Ron Hassner on Sacred Spaces and Holy Conflict
Academia is a world that can be filled with intense jealousies and envy, wherein one professor is always concerned why the work of another professor is more cited than their own. We all suffer from that sin, whether we admit it or not. However, Dr. Ron Hassner (UC-Berkeley) is probably the one scholar in my field of religion and politics whose work I have the highest respect for and think his writing should be getting as much attention as possible. We featured Prof. Hassner on our show...
Keep on reading: #3 Ron Hassner on Sacred Spaces and Holy Conflict
#4 Emily Fisher Gray on Luther’s 95 Theses
During 2017, we undertook a series of episodes dedicated to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. A number of superb interviews came from that series, including the Catholic response to Protestantism with James Felak. However, my favorite episode of this bunch was with Dr. Emily Fisher Gray of Norwich University, who (like Colleen Haight last week) had incredible enthusiasm for the topic. I found this to be a very accessible introduction to the thinking of Luther and his life and...
Keep on reading: #4 Emily Fisher Gray on Luther’s 95 Theses
#5 Colleen Haight on the Oracle of Delphi
As noted in my farewell monologue, the characteristics that I look for in an interview are topics that are a little off the beaten path and the enthusiasm of the scholar for his/her topic. Dr. Colleen Haight, a professor of economics at San Jose State University, is the perfect embodiment of both these characteristics. Not only has Colleen studied the economics of fair trade coffee, and the historical importance of Jewish peddlers on the American frontier, she also undertook a project (with...
Keep on reading: #5 Colleen Haight on the Oracle of Delphi
#6 Rod Stark on How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists
Organized religion and religious believers often get painted with a bad reputation, and sometimes it is justly due, but most of the time it is not. Prof. Rod Stark, a co-founder of Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion, explains the benefits of religion on a wide range of social behavior. Rod has long been my most favorite sociologist of religion and has had a profound impact on the way I write. While Prof. Stark can write research papers in academic jargon with the best of them, the...
Keep on reading: #6 Rod Stark on How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists
Customer ReviewsSee All
Good show with a consistently interesting variety of topics and guests.
Informative and enjoyable
I first heard Tony Gill on an episode of Econ Talk. I really liked what he had to say and decided to check out this podcast. I'm so glad that I did! I like how he takes what can be a dense and difficult subject and puts in practical and meaningful terms. This is fast becoming one of my go-to podcasts!
5-star history, 1-star contemporary bias
I've downloaded and listened to this podcast for 2-3 years now, and have at times greatly enjoyed it. On its best days this podcast provides fascinating insights in the history and practice of religion - in the early church, in americal history, and across the world.
The problem - and it has become more and more glaring over the years - come as the podcast moves into the present. Looking at Dr Gill's guest and topic list, one would assume that progressive and
emerging Christianies do not exist. His guests almost exclusively follow the typical religious conservative party line, with discussions of important topics (religious liberty, media bias, etc.) from and American Evangelical conservative bias, and virtually no discussion of other vital faith issues of our day (e.g. Christian duties in environmental stewardship, economic justice, etc.).
I once heard Tony Gill say he was inspired to start his podcast by Russ Roberts economics podcast "Econtalk". Sadly, he has followed his inspiration too far fallen into the same trap. Just as Robert's podcast operates with and ideological bias toward the Hayekian and seldom includes any voices that might challenge those biases, Gill's "Research on Religion" has come to be more a forum for conservative evangelical apologetics than a place for genuine inquiry into the issues facing religion today.
In fairness to Gill, one could argue that this problem has deeper roots than his podcast. The academic study of religion has largely been abandoned by secular universities and resides mostly in those institutions whose own biases get projected into the results. A sad state of affairs to be sure, but one which Gill could at least acknowledge instead of tacitly participating in.
All told I'll probably check into Research on Religion for the occasional historical nugget, but listening regularly just isn't worth it anymore.