Episodes
Over the past two centuries, colleges have slowly replaced theology departments with religious studies departments. But what happens when theology becomes religious studies? It can produce a more neutral, observational approach that might not fully appreciate the normative claims of religious adherents and their values, commitments, and beliefs. A careful historical and objective study of religious history and the dimensions of religious practice are deeply valuable. But engaging religious...
Published 04/09/22
"Real wars always begin with culture wars." Theologian Aristotle Papanikolaou discusses Eastern Orthodox perspectives on war and violence; the impact of Communism on Eastern Orthodox theology; the complicated ecclesial structures of Eastern Orthodoxy, where bishops, patriarchs, and nation-states interact in unpredictable ways; he reflects on Eastern Orthodoxy in Russia and Ukraine, the ways Christianity is enmeshed and caught up in the authoritarian, nationalist regime under Putin, and the...
Published 04/04/22
“There really is no more beautiful thought in all reality than the thought of God. I believe that theology is ultimately just that: thinking the thought of God and worshipping the Reality who is God.” (Katherine Sonderegger) In this conversation, Katherine Sonderegger joins Matt Croasmun to discuss the importance of a free and unapologetic, unembarrassed approach to Christian theology; the interplay of Christian theology with other religious texts and pluralistic perspectives; the practice...
Published 03/27/22
Miroslav Volf offers his personal reflections about the war on Ukraine. His theological and ethical commentary speaks to various facets of the situation, including: the global cultural clash between authoritarian nationalism and pluralistic democracy; the primacy and priority of God's universal and unconditional love for all humanity, including evildoers; the call to actively resist evil and guard our humanity; the importance of truth in an age of disinformation and suppression of real facts;...
Published 03/19/22
Ukrainian theologian and pastor Fyodor Raychynets (Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary) is currently in Kyiv, Ukraine—posting daily to his Facebook page with updates and reflections on the toll the Russian war on Ukraine has taken on innocent, vulnerable people. Women, children, and the elderly are sheltering in place without electricity, without water, without medication, and without any clear idea when or how this will end. Fyodor is a former student of Miroslav Volf's from their...
Published 03/15/22
Willie James Jennings (Yale Divinity School) joins Matt Croasmun for a conversation about the future of theology, reminding us to be looking for the opportunities in the middle of crises of theological education; he worries about the inability to hold complexity, public communication, and deep formation together in a way that shows how theology is for our very lives; he speaks to the recent aversion to pastoral ministry, which is theology for the sake of the people; he touches on the role of...
Published 03/12/22
What does it mean to be a Christian in a world where so many of our systems are dehumanizing? What duties are incumbent upon us as Christians, as humans? How can we learn and share a global flourishing that respects and honors all? In this week's episode, Matt Croasmun interviews Fernando Segovia, the Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins. And as a Cuban...
Published 03/05/22
Jazz pianist Julian Reid on music, theology, and improvisation. The keys element of The JuJu Exchange uses the history of blues, gospel, and jazz to discuss how we communicate emotionally and spiritually through music, teaching an important lesson in how to live and long for home while we remain exiles. Features score from The JuJu Exchange's latest release, The Eternal Boombox. Interview by Ryan McAnnally-Linz and Evan Rosa.
Published 02/26/22
"I am because they were." Lisa Sharon Harper joins Miroslav Volf to discuss the significance of narrative history for understanding ourselves and our current cultural moment; the sequence of repeated injustices that have haunted America's past and directly impacted Black Americans for hundreds of years; the Christian nationalist temptation to hoard power; the necessary conditions for true repair, the role of reparations in the pursuit of racial justice, and the goodness of belonging. This...
Published 02/19/22
Jemar Tisby, author of the NYT bestseller The Color of Compromise, explains the complicity and compromise of American Christians; the narrative war that confederate monuments wage (and how they were erected much later than you might think); the ugly theological justifications of racism and the shameful history of Christian white supremacy; the fraught project of selectively naming heroes and villains and then memorializing them; and the practical problem of how to go forward rightly from this...
Published 02/12/22
Sameer Yadav comments on Howard Thurman's Civil Rights Theology, Ryan McAnnally-Linz reflects on the spiritual and moral significance of David Walker's "Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World," and Stacey Floyd-Thomas talks about racial oppression via vicious humility and the life-giving dignity of Black joy. #BlackHistoryMonth
Published 02/05/22
Can we find joy in our world? It's hard enough to find genuine, death-defying joy in the wake of the failure of the modern utopian project, the expectation that human reason and technology and political revolution might save us all. Overlay the malaise of modernity with this dumb pandemic, and the prospects for joy seem bleak. But for N.T. Wright, joy doesn't depend on the whims of circumstance or the proper function of the world. He speaks of the hardy resilience of joy, even in the midst of...
Published 01/22/22
"Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness... " (Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968) The day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached these words in Memphis, Tennessee. In a powerful and urgent message for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee that's come to be known "I've Been to the Mountaintop," he considers the parable of the Good Samaritan, going on to speak prophetically and presciently of the dangers he himself faced, not knowing how very true his...
Published 01/15/22
Democracy in America and abroad is under threat. Authoritarian regimes, nationalisms of many stripes, a loss sense of the value of democratic participation among younger generations, and a growing cynicism and suspicion of our neighbors all threaten freedom and flourishing. In this episode, Miroslav Volf, Marilynne Robinson, Charles Taylor, Kevin Lau, and Andrew Kwok comment on what makes or breaks democracy around the world. NOTE: For the Life of the World is running highlights, readings,...
Published 01/08/22
Miroslav Volf and Evan Rosa consider audience questions and feedback about hopes and fears going into 2022. A reflective conversation about politics and theology, the aims of theological writing, suffering and the problem of evil, the loss of the middle ground in our polarized era (and Miroslav questions whether "middle" is even a Christian category), the primordial goodness of the world and seeing suffering with one eye squinted; and whether theology is for the religious only, or indeed, for...
Published 01/01/22
"Don't dare think that somehow your conversation with Mary and your interest in her is in competition with your relationship with Christ. ... You are flirting with heresy if you do not have a doctrine of Mary as mother of God." —Matthew Milliner What is the role of the Virgin Mary in Christian spiritual formation? Art historian Matthew Milliner (Wheaton College) joins Evan Rosa for a conversation about beauty of Mary in Christian spirituality—particularly for Protestants, for whom the abuses...
Published 12/25/21
"Her hands steadied the first steps of him who steadied the earth to walk upon; her lips helped the Word of God to form his first human words." (St. John of Damascus) Who is Mary? Why is she called "Theotokos"? Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Eastern Orthodox writer and educator, joins Evan Rosa for a discussion about Mary, the Mother of God. During the first half of the episode, they discuss the Eastern Orthodox reverence for Mary and the scriptural account of her life—from the Annunciation...
Published 12/18/21
In the midst of war, the loss of his mother, and the heartbreak of unrequited love, poet W.H. Auden was rediscovering his faith. And the fitting response to the darkness and despair and apathy around him, he thought, was the Christmas event. So he set to work on a Christmas Oratorio called For the Time Being. Originally meant to be performed and sung, what emerged is a much more sobering and stark retelling of the Christmas narrative than you're used to. Auden's modernist poetry becomes a way...
Published 12/11/21
"I wrestle not against flesh and blood." (David Dark's Ephesians 6:12 mantra) / According to David Dark (Belmont University), each of us occupy a variety of robots—roles, titles, occupations, institutions, conglomerates, ways of being, social norms, etc.—and these robots exert a cultural force, sometimes benign, but then again, sometimes violently destructive and degrading of human life. And in order to appreciate and honor our shared humanity, those of us in violent, impersonal robot systems...
Published 12/05/21
"To be a poet is to be an exile," says poet Christian Wiman. He echoes the most influential writer on his early life and work, Simone Weil, who wrote in her Gravity & Grace: "We must take the feeling of being at home into exile. We must be rooted in the absence of a place." Wiman spent most of the 2020 leg of the pandemic curating a story about home using 100 poems, seamed with prose from some of the wisest denizens of our species to narrate the tale. He joins Evan Rosa to read some of...
Published 11/27/21
Happy Thanksgiving! We often misunderstand gratitude as either a means to our subjective well-being or as an obligation of debt to a giver. So what is the emotion of gratitude? Sameer Yadav (Westmont College) joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to reflect on a better way to understand gratitude than owing it, being in debt to another person, seeing gratitude only through the dry indifference of a receiver's economic indebtedness to a giver. Gratitude as indebtedness creates problems especially when...
Published 11/20/21
What can the faith of the migrant teach us about a living theology? The resilience and communal outlook of immigrants offers a way of seeing human relationships—political, social, religious—as porous and permeable, meant to encounter God in the other, welcoming each other in love and hospitality. Francisco Lozada (Brite Divinity School) joins Evan Rosa to reflect on his experiences at U.S.-Mexico borderlands, leading travel seminars and teaching about immigration and justice from a...
Published 11/13/21
Can Christianity survive in the Middle East? Ancient communities of Christian faithful are currently being decimated not just by religious violence, persecution, and war—but the economic factors that motivate emigration and refuge. Janine Di Giovanni is an award-winning journalist and war correspondent, and is Senior Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. She joins Evan Rosa to discuss her journalistic style and approach to human rights reporting, the alarming...
Published 11/06/21
What is the purpose of a pastor? To teach you how to think (or vote)? To reassure you that you're safe? To heal your wounds? The goal of pastoral ministry is surely in question right now. Everything from the toxic masculinity of the bully pulpit, to the pastor as political pollster, to the staggering need to be cool of hipster celebrity pastor—there's lots of ways to go wrong in pastoral ministry, and a razors edge of getting it right.Amidst our consumeristic, narcissistic culture, what does...
Published 10/30/21