We’re delighted to announce some exciting new opportunities to join the RSP team. We particularly need interviewers in North America, as well as in Asia, Africa, and other regions that have been under-represented on the RSP to-date. We are also looking to bring in at least one more audio intern.

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Ann Taves joins us to discuss her work arguing that we should study religions under the broader rubric of “worldviews” and “ways of life”. This ambitious interdisciplinary project aims to place a micro-level analysis of individual worldviews into a broader evolutionary perspective. Through case-studies (including ‘secular’ worldviews like Alcoholics Anonymous alongside more traditional ‘religions’), she explains how worldviews form in response to existential ‘Big Questions’ – here understood as core biological needs and goals, rather than theological or moral concerns – and are enacted in Ways of Life, individually or collectively.

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A Response to “Drone Metal Mysticism” by Owen Coggins
Francis Stewart

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In a freewheeling conversation, Dr. Jason Josephson-Storm and Dan Gorman discuss the intellectual history of religious studies and the myth that magic is dead.

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A Response to “Stereotyping Religion: Critical Approaches to Pervasive Clichés”
by Christopher F. Silver

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In this podcast Professor Joe Bulbulia of Auckland University speaks to Thomas White about situating the study of religion within a broader concept of ‘justice’. Bulbulia calls ‘religion and spirituality those features of nature [in the biocultural sense of the word] that combine to cultivate a sense of justice in people’.

Bulbulia argues that common across human societies are conceptions of obligation and responsibility: what is owed to others, and what is owed back in return. These sensibilities locate within a complex combination of institutions, traditions, texts, stories, habits, rituals, rules of etiquette, laws and conventions, abstract ideals, and beliefs in God(s) – though this list is not exhaustive!

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“Religions are belief systems”, “Religions are intrinsically violent”, “Religion is Bullshit”… these are just some of the pervasive cliches that we might hear from time to time in the English-speaking world about our central topic of discussion on the RSP, ‘religion’. In this podcast, Chris is joined by Brad Stoddard and Craig Martin, the editors of the recently published Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Cliches (Bloomsbury, 2017) to discuss these cliches, the ideological work that they do, how scholars could and should approach them, the construction of the book, and more.

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A Responses to “Why do we believe? Evolution, Primates, and the Human Niche”
by Tenzan  Eaghll

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In this wide-ranging interview, Chris and Professor Fuentes discuss the themes of the lecture series, the intersections of research on human evolution, ethnoprimatology, and human nature, with the study of religion more generally, the Planet of the Apes films, and more. Along the way, important distinctions are made between specific “beliefs”, “belief systems” and the human “capacity to believe”, and we ask some important questions about the future.

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In this interview, Owen Coggins joins us to talk about the use of religious (and sacreligious) language and imagary in Drone Metal, a genre which stretches metal to low, slow, repetative extremes. Drawing on the work of Michel de Certeau, he tells David Robertson that the prevalence of language relating to mysticism and “spiritual experience” may be due to the genre’s focus on the physicality of the musical experience. Expanding out to discuss other forms of popular music which exhibit these modes of engagement, the conversation moves to consider how this case-study might open up new ways to engage with religious ideas in popular culture, and in other practices involving extreme states of bodily consciousness.

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This week we’ve got something a little different for the Features segment. A couple of months ago the RSP attended the Open University’s conference on Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspectives. We thought this would be a great opportunity to do another RSP video! This time we decided to do something

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With the rise of reactionary politics across the globe, it is arguably increasingly important for the academic community to give consideration to the prospects of developing and strengthening solidarity across apparent religious, political and economic differences. In this podcast, Chris speaks to Dr Timothy Stacey (University of Ottawa) about his forthcoming book, Myth and Solidarity in the Modern World: Beyond Religious and Political Division (Routledge, 2018), in which he asks how we can begin to imagine solidarity in the modern world, and challenges academics to be challenge the co-option of their work by being “better than those who seek to co-opt us.”

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This conversation between Richard Irvine, Theodoros Kyriakides and David G. Robertson concerns magical thinking in the modern world. We may think that such ideas are confined to the fringes in the secular, post-Enlightenment world, but this is not necessarily the case. We talk about Weber’s rationalisation and James Frazer’s evolutionary model of modernity, and how they relate to ideas of belief, and magic.

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A response to “The BASR and the Impact of Religious Studies”
By Jonathan Tuckett

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In this week’s podcast, Hans Van Eyghen sits down with Professor Michael Pye to discuss the  various historical, political, and social factors that have impacted Japanese Shinto.

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