33 episodes

Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile learned in divinity school about the art of paying attention. In this podcast, they turn that attention to a variety of everyday scenarios in their own lives to see what’s really at stake. Each week, Vanessa and Casper walk each other through the process of figuring out what their ‘real’ questions are with help from texts ranging from movie musicals to theological treatises. In this intimate, thoughtful podcast we explore how friendship can be a tool for living a more intentional life.

The Real Question Not Sorry

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 261 Ratings

Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile learned in divinity school about the art of paying attention. In this podcast, they turn that attention to a variety of everyday scenarios in their own lives to see what’s really at stake. Each week, Vanessa and Casper walk each other through the process of figuring out what their ‘real’ questions are with help from texts ranging from movie musicals to theological treatises. In this intimate, thoughtful podcast we explore how friendship can be a tool for living a more intentional life.

    Back to School

    Back to School

    Casper is feeling a lot of nostalgia for his graduate school experience. There are so many times in his day to day life where he feels like he should know more and he wishes that he had a teacher to guide him. He's been trying to teach himself, but it just doesn't feel the same. Should he just go back to school?


    With help from Legally Blonde and Hermes Trismegistus, Casper and Vanessa explore how learning gets institutionalized and how we can make room for it after school is over. 
     
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    • 44 min
    Karens: Part 2

    Karens: Part 2

    Back in May, Vanessa brought us the question 'am I a Karen?' That episode focused on gender and the way systems of power can fail and frustrate women. This week we bring you part two of that conversation, where we discuss the racial dynamic at play in the Karen meme. We were incredibly lucky to be joined by Dr. Apryl Williams for this conversation. Dr. Williams is a multidisciplinary scholar who studies the experience of race and racism in digital spaces.


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    • 37 min
    The Monarchy

    The Monarchy

    Casper has a soft spot in his heart for the monarchy. He understands all the absurdities of the institution, but he can’t get rid of that feeling that he associates with childhood and history and national identity. Is it okay to have that feeling knowing what he knows intellectually? Or should he be trying to get rid of it? 


    With help from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, Casper and Vanessa reflect on what it means to glorify national stories and how to go about dismantling them.


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    • 43 min
    Old Photographs

    Old Photographs

    Every so often Vanessa scrolls through photos on her phone and runs into some memories she’d rather forget. Should she just delete those photos? Or are those bad memories something productive? 


    With help from Spotlight and Mad About You, Vanessa and Casper explore what it means to re-write our own historical record and when we should do it.


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    • 44 min
    Middle Age

    Middle Age

    Casper is getting older and he's been thinking about what that means. On the one hand: age is just a number! There’s no such thing as the ‘right’ thing you should be doing at any age. But on the other hand: he wants to make sure he’s stepping into the full responsibility of what it means to be an adult. Without subscribing to tradition benchmarks, how do you keep yourself on track?


    With help from David Sedaris and Shakespeare, Casper and Vanessa think about the 'stage' of middle age and what Casper should be doing with it.


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    See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    • 39 min
    Rituals (The Happiness Lab)

    Rituals (The Happiness Lab)

    Instead of a normal episode this week we're bringing you an episode of The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, featuring our own Casper ter Kuile.


    Space crews, athletes and pop stars all indulge in strange rituals before moments of high stress. It's easy to mock these behaviours - indeed even the people who practise them often admit they're a bit weird - but they can act like performance enhancing drugs. Dr Laurie Santos looks at the research to show why creating a good luck ritual can make us perform better and feel calmer, happier and more confident when faced with life's big moments.
     
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    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
261 Ratings

261 Ratings

claire-elena ,

Wonderful!

This podcast makes me a better person!! I’ve taken away so much wisdom to apply to my own life. Thank you Vanessa and Casper!

effundatrix ,

Can’t not listen even when it’s challenging

Of all the podcasts I listen to, the only ones I auto download and queue are The Real Question and Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The ritual /structure and philosophical depth of their conversations (not a chart cast) reflects their divinity school training. Even when I have deep disagreements with their propositions and conclusions (the episodes Karens Part 1 and Are You Ok come to mind) I’m so glad I listened and am grateful for the thought provoking experience.

Naya Jane ,

Reflections make me think and give me hope

This podcast thoughtfully tackles real-life questions that we all ponder in one way or another. I LOVE the way the hosts honestly share stories, support, and wisdom to help each other — and us! — arrive at the answers to our deepest questions. Listen to this podcast to find meaning in life, to move through conflict with hope, or to simply share a cup of coffee with a few friends. ❤️😊

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