THE AUTHORITIES (Blackout podcast, parenting as a dictatorship, churches and technology)

Would churches be better off with no technology? Could Leah be a powerful dictator? Would people return to traditional authoritarian styles of leadership when the grid goes down? WE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS AND MORE DEFINITIVELY. Charismatic versus inherited authority in congregations. The worship leaders versus the pastor. Weberian analysis of the book of Judges.

THE BELIEVERS (McMinnville UFO Festival, Bob Lazar, Roswell)

SPECIAL EPISODE: This week we take you on location to the McMinnville UFO festival to watch the premier of the new documentary about Roswell whistleblower Bob Lazar. We talk about belief, how UFO communities are like churches, and the extent to which each of us believes and/or wants to believe. We meet in a dark back alley within the convention hall like Mulder and Scully, and end the day in a less-than-inspiring food tent.

THE CONGREGATION (The People Vs. George Lucas, ultra Star Wars fandom, and authorial intent)

What happens when a movie series becomes not just your favorite or your religion, but literally forms the basis for all of your thinking and imagination and everything for your ENTIRE LIFE! Such is the power of the Star Wars franchise. This week, we dive into the murky depths of Star Wars fandom through the documentary The People Vs. George Lucas to think about authorial intent, the biblical canon, who owns our imaginations, and what it means to truly love fictional characters.

THE NOSTALGIA (Stranger Things, the Cold War, and child abductions)

Let’s talk about one of the most popular shows on Netflix: Stranger Things. Monsters, the 1980s, neon clothes, loaded memories of teenage drama, and a time when malls ruled supreme over the lives of adolescents. We talk about the Cold War and the child abduction fear craze in the 1980s and wonder: Why are we looking back on this era with fondness, exactly? Does Stranger Things re-enchant our secular world?

THE CREATOR (The Dropout, Elizabeth Holmes, gender smackdown)

This week we sneakily keep the sci-fi theme going with a topic involving science and fiction: the embattled Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes and her attempt to create—or rather, fake having created—a futuristic blood-testing system. We end up having a gender smackdown conversation about women-on-women violence in the workplace, discussing ancient female fertility figurines and matriarchal societies, and musing on whether Holmes intentionally tried to dress like a religious leader.

THE EVIL (Twin Peaks, good and evil, moral progress, and Lynchian style)

This week we enter the surreal world of David Lynch through Twin Peaks. Brian and Leah enter the Black Lodge. We consider why writers/artists would create obtuse art vs. on-the-nose art. We discuss tulpas. We try to explain Twin Peaks. And we discuss unfortunately timely topics such as: Has the cause of good gone backward or forward in the world? Why does evil always make a comeback, making progress seem impossible?

THE ANOINTING (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, school shootings, and being chosen)

This week we’re talking about the #1 most references TV by religious studies academics: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Leah the expert takes first-time-pilot view Brian through the nuances and rituals of the Buffyverse. We reflect on the notion of being chosen, Buffy’s feminist twists, top Buffy moments, and thinking about cosmic violence in high schools during the age of school shootings.

THE HEAVENS (The Good Place, the afterlife, and the point system)

Season 3 opens with THE HEAVENS, an exploration of the afterlife with the The Good Place. One woman dies and finds herself in the afterlife wherein “good” people end up in a specially-created place to enjoy with their soulmate. Just one problem. SHE IS TERRIBLE AND SHE KNOWS IT. What should she do? Fortunately, her faux soulmate is a moral philosophy professor and if anyone can make someone good, it should be him. Right? In this episode we talk about heaven, hell, purgatory, and every place in between! JOIN US.

SEASON 3 TRAILER: NORMCORE VERSION

Season 3 of Weird Religion has arrived! This is the normcore trailer. For fans of Twin Peaks, we also have a BLACK LODGE version. Your choice. Do not say we are a one-size-fits-all podcast.

BONUS: Interview with Prof. Tim Timmerman

In THE TEACHER, we welcome a university “Teacher of the Year,” art professor Tim Timmerman, to talk about creativity, learning to handle criticism, technology, and lapsing into an Irish accent during lectures. Join us!

BONUS: Interview with the Spouses

For our holiday special, we chose two of the wildly popular Hallmark Channel Christmas romance movies and watched them WITH OUR SPOUSES and with a keen eye for messages about the holidays and love. Join us for the hot cocoa filled interview!

BONUS: Interview with Dr. Michael Wood

In THE CONSPIRACY we interview psychologist Dr. Michael Wood at the University of Winchester in the UK about who has the best conspiracy theories and why people believe in them at all. All that, plus The X-Files. Join us!

BONUS: Interview with House Hunter Molly Oberheide

In THE HOUSE, we asked Molly Oberheide to spill about why all of those HGTV shows are so alluring, what it takes to hunt a house, and what really goes on behind the scenes of all of our favorite home improvement and home buying shows. You may or may not want to have House Hunters spoiled for you… listen at your own risk! Join us!

KURT COBAIN (a Weird Religion check-in)

A live check-in, from Leah and Brian, from the Coffee Cat in downtown Newberg, OR. What we’re watching on TV (Siempre Bruja, The Good Place), GenX love, and the death of Kurt Cobain.