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Monday, December 26, 2011

Your's Truly on Research on Religion

Previously I've mentioned the Research on Religion podcast, which is hosted by the political scientist Tony Gill, a professor at the University of Washington. Below, I have posted links (as well as brief descriptions taken from the website) of some of the recent podcasts. Note that the last one listed is an interview with your's truly on dark (i.e., covert and illegal) networks.

Jason Jewell on John Locke & Religious Toleration. Jason Jewell enlightens us on the life, times, and philosophy of John Locke with specific attention to his views on religious toleration. We discuss Locke’s influence on Western culture as well as how he may have affected our views on church-state relations and religious liberty. Jason and Tony also contemplate the role of intellectuals on history and Jason gives us some insight into his online project to read the Great Books of Western Civilization.

Jared Rubin on Christian and Islamic Economic History. Did religion or church-state institutions have anything to do with the great economic divergence between Christian Europe and the Islamic world beginning in the 11th century? Prof. Jared Rubin of Chapman University reviews the economic history of these two civilizations, covers the dominant explanations for the observed divergence, and then discusses his own research showing that the relationship between religious and political authorities in each region of the world had a great deal to do with why Europe surged ahead economically. We focus primarily on the role of usury laws and financial interest, but Prof. Rubin gives us a taste of some of his work relating to the economic importance of the printing press.

Mark Glickman on the Cairo Genizah. It is amazing what can be found hidden in plain sight! Rabbi Mark Glickman recounts the tale of the discovery of valuable Jewish documents located in the genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt during the late 19th century. While many individuals knew there was a storehouse of old documents in this synagogue, it wasn’t until Rabbi Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University got hold of a snippet of the Ben Sirah manuscript that anyone realized how remarkably valuable these documents “hidden in plain sight” were. Rabbi Glickman takes us on the journey of discovery, reveals the treasures contained in these documents, and tells his own story of his visit to the Cairo Genizah. A “must listen to” podcast for those interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Allen Hertzke on Religious Liberty. Prof. Allen Hertzke of the University of Oklahoma joins us to discuss religious liberty around the world. We cover why religious liberty has become an increasingly important issue in foreign affairs and why many intellectual and government elites tend to dismiss its importance. The conversation also includes current threats to religious freedoms in many parts of the world and what positive effects might arise from the spread of religious liberties.

Steve Pfaff on Denominationalism, Sin & Other Stuff. Sit in on a collegial discussion with Tony and his good friend Prof. Steve Pfaff as they discuss a range of topics including denominationalism and whether churches today emphasize sin enough. These two topics lead us down several different paths taking a look at how and why churches create brands, the benefits of religious pluralism, youth religious practice and whether megachurches are really just soft-peddling Christianity. This open-ended discussion is a window into what Tony & Steve often talk about while hanging out at the University of Washington and is a great wrap around to several recent podcasts we’ve featured on the show.

Sean Everton on Dark Networks. Dark networks are clandestine organizations that often engage in nefarious behavior. Often associated with religious terrorist groups, these dark networks are the focus of our discussion with Prof. Sean Everton of the Naval Postgraduate School. He covers the nature of these groups, how we learn about them via network analysis, and how counter-insurgency efforts are being crafted to disrupt these networks in places like Colombia, Indonesia, and Iraq.

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