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.

THE THANKS (Stand-up comedy, Nihilist Arby’s, and Instagram)

Our Season Two material has run its course, but we made one more miniature meta-ep as a direct “THANK YOU” to everyone who is listening. We explain why Season Two ended when it did and talk about what’s next for future seasons! Along the way we discuss trying to come up with a stand-up comedy routine, Nihilist Arby’s, and Instagram advertising.

THE SCIENTIST (Science Fair, bioethicist Devan Stahl, and the Creation Museum)

In this episode we are watching the award winning and 98%-critically-acclaimed-on-Rotten-Tomatoes documentary Science Fair, a heartwarming look at the lives of lovable teenage geeks trying to change the world through technological innovation. Along the way Brian and Leah reminisce about their own science fair project fails in school, why Americans hate experts, evolution and the Bible, and the power of immigrants to reinvent society for the better. We interview Michigan State bioethicist Devan Stahl, author of Imaging and Imagining Illness, about how liberals and conservatives approach science and quandaries in contemporary bioethics. In the Kitsch Corner, we make a (virtual) visit to the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky and muse about the problem of Lucy the Ape and the “faulty assumptions” we may begin with when we interpret the world.

THE BIBLE (Bible Quiz, Eve Feinstein on Jewish interpretation, and Biblezines)

This week we’re talking about the Bible, and interacting with the 2013 documentary Bible Quiz. Leah takes us back into the world of Bible culture among the Puritans and others in the history of Scripture reading, and Brian gets long-winded about hypocrisy, his feelings about  VeggieTales (warning: it’s not positive), and brand dilution among evangelical Bible readers. We invite Dr. Eve Levavi Feinstein in as our guest, author of Sexual Pollution in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford University Press, 2014) and contributor to www.thetorah.com, to talk about Jewish Bible reading strategies and how it could be the case that Moses called up one giant monster frog to infest Egypt during the Exodus story. In the Kitsch Corner, Leah and Brian offer analyses of forms of the Bible marketed to children and teenagers.

THE BACHELOR (TV romance, Bach Nation fan fav Tenley Molzahn, and Christian dating games)

This week our topic is the hit ABC TV “reality” show The Bachelor. Leah attempts to convert Brian to the philosophical and cultural merits of the show, and we unpack Bachelor memes and cliches. Our guest is none other than Bachelor Nation fan-favorite Tenley Molzahn, who was a runner-up contestant on the Bachelor, Bachelor Pad, and Bachelor in Paradise, not to mention appearances on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Ellen DeGeneres show (and also not to mention her work as a blogger and health expert at Tenley’s Sweet & Free Life!). In the Kitsch Corner we take a glance at the Christian online dating scene, represented by the “Equally Yoked” website and also a video series where churches try to connect their prized singles with singles in fellow churches.