In THE WAR, we watch Ken Burns’ epic ten-part Vietnam documentary and ask: are Americans, in particular, fond of the notion of “holy war”? Catch our interview with Dr. James Byrd, professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt Divinity School, on the religious imagery of battle and America’s holy war tradition. Join us!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week we’re all about food, the thing we need to live and be happy. We engage with the Netflix series Ugly Delicious, and talk about how food is a site for cultural exchange and religious ritual (and shame, and conflict). We interview Roger Nam, Dean of Portland Seminary, about food in the Hebrew Bible, his culinary adventures, and his experience growing up eating Korean food in an immigrant family. Brian spuriously claims to have invented things; Leah breaks her foot running after a bag of Cheetos. In the Kitsch Corner, we examine the Daniel Plan/Fast/Diet and the prosperity gospel.
We’re talking about teaching—the movies, the cliches, the fails, Dangerous Minds and Dead Poets Society. Leah and Brian share their classroom fails (and joys), specific and general, and discuss the role of education in religious settings. In the studio, 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. The Kitsch Corner features a look at contemporary guru culture…thanks, Gwyneth.
We’ve chosen two of the wildly popular Hallmark Channel Christmas romance movies and watched them with a keen eye for messages about the holidays and love. Spoiler alert: ladies, quit your jobs—and start dating a ghost. Leah and Brian divulge shocking details about meeting and courting their spouses. We then invite two extremely special surprise guests (!!) into the studio to talk about dual career marriages, Christmas, and romantic comedies. In the Kitsch Corner, we take a look back at the now-relevant-again-because-it-was-renounced-by-its-author book I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
This week we attempt to watch Ken Burns’ epic ten-part Vietnam documentary, and allow ourselves to get extremely depressed at the futility of war while asking: Is there some sense in which we need war? Are Americans, in particular, fond of the notion of “holy war”? Can there ever be a purely “secular war”? Is America headed for another Civil War? We interview Dr. James Byrd, professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt Divinity School, on the religious imagery of battle and America’s holy war tradition. In the Kitsch Corner, we vainly attempt to lighten the mood by analyzing a poster that advertises a Rapture-themed paintball game.
We’re talking about conspiracies: is the world only what it seems to be on the surface, or is there some theory about what is really happening beneath it all, behind the scenes? Are Americans particularly into conspiracy theories, or do we just think we’re the best at everything? We talk about the documentary “The Trump Prophecy,” as well as ancient conspiracies, the book of Revelation, QAnon, Plato, aliens, and whether toucans, as a species, are a hoax. Is there something at the heart of religious belief that is “conspiratorial,” fundamentally? 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. And in the Kitsch Corner: We elevate the human spirit and aural imagination with a song about how a certain president is the leopard king prophesied in the book of Revelation.
We're back with the first of the Season Two episodes! Why are all of those HGTV shows so alluring? What do they communicate about the mythology of home buying, the ritual of TV watching, and our deepest desires about fertility and space? Can attractive people be funny? Is anything really real? We're talking about all of this, somehow. And interviewing a home-buyer featured on a real House Hunters episode. And introducing a new segment we're calling "The Kitsch Corner."
The next set of Weird Religions episodes is coming soon! Starting next week, on Tuesdays, we’ll be releasing an episode per week through Christmas. Merry Christmas already!
Behold: 8 minutes of material that didn't quite rise to the level of a coherent episode! We talk about a very weird religious artifact: a flyer advertising a themed paintball contest, based on the idea of the rapture...
A special extra shot of Weird Religion as an add-on to Season One: Brian & Leah take on the Rose City Comic Con, reflecting on the victory of geek culture, interviewing artists like Midnight Furies author Jessica Herron, Junior Braves of the Apocalypse authors Greg Smith and Michael Tanner, and more. We also seek out the dark underbelly of the comic-con circuit—WILL WE FIND IT?!
Behold: 37 minutes of meandering material that didn't quite rise to the level of a coherent episode! Classic Brian and Leah! The joke of avocado toast! Brian and Leah disagree! Mormons and Bob Jones University and change and revelation! Ridiculing the state of Wisconsin and the IHOP>IHOB name change and Gwyneth Paltrow!
This episode considers the life and spiritual vision of the Rev. Carlton Pearson, subject of a popular This American Life episode as well as the recent Netflix bio-pic Come Sunday. When Rev. Pearson hears God reveal to him a potentially heretical view by way of a special revelation—universal salvation (everyone goes to heaven, and there is no hell)—he risks losing his congregation and jeopardizing his spot as a rising Christian star. How would people know whether God revealed new information by revelation? Along the way we talk about racial division in church, the pros and cons of revelation as a mode of spiritual discourse, and the reasonability of hell.