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Weird Religion is a podcast for people who think religion is weird but love it anyway. Your hosts, Leah Payne and Brian Doak, are both professors, authors, and pop culture aficionados, whose interests range from archaeology and history and linguistics to LARPing and The Walking Dead. Episodes tackle some piece of media highlighting the wonderful weirdness of religious experience—a documentary, a television show, a Twitter scandal—and use that as a "thread" on which to hang reflections on a w ...
 
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We’re talking with award-winning film writer and director Chris White about his new feature Electric Jesus, chronicling the rise and fall of a Christian heavy metal band in the summer of 1986 and the pastor’s daughter who runs away from home to join them. Adorableness, personal memories, and deep commentary about Christian music then and now ensue.…
 
Facebook has gathered church leaders for a conference to ask how they can have church on Facebook. It’s all about “connection.” Peanut allergies and Netflix’s new dating show Sexy Beast and Brian not having a son are discussed, as well as theories of brand dilution and holiness. And the revelation: We speculate about how Facebook is promoting a par…
 
We’re at our local coffee shop for an all-lightning round version of this week in weird religion news. Advice: If you’re writing a Christian romance novel, steer clear of genocide. Here are the stories we’re tracking: Get your daily prophecy: https://www.elijahlist.com/index.php Biden compares troops to prophets: https://www.relevantmagazine.com/cu…
 
Biblical forgery cases get everyone riled up—here are the two hottest controversies of the moment, covering both Old and New Testaments: “The Shapira Scroll” and the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Brian goes off. Come for the juicy details on both documents, and stay for the hard discussion of “history” and meditation on intellectual humility. The pandem…
 
We’re talking with professor and author Natalie Wigg-Stevenson about transgression and devotion in the award-winning TV series Fleabag. Natalie Wigg-Stevenson profile: https://www.tst.edu/directory/faculty/wigg-stevenson-natalie Transgressive Devotion: Theology as Performance Art (2021), by Natalie Wigg-Stevenson: https://www.amazon.com/Transgressi…
 
The weird religion news is on fire as always. This week: Is there a Matt Damon - Ben Affleck curse? Has Britney Spears become Catholic? Is Amanda Knox a philosopher? Can you go beyond yoga? Britney Spears goes Catholic on Insta, then deletes it: https://www.instagram.com/britneyspears/; https://www.newsweek.com/britney-spears-reveals-shes-now-catho…
 
You know how you do that thing where you watch an intriguing trailer for an artsy horror film and then make all your friends watch it? Here we are. In The Lamb, forthcoming this fall, a couple tries to raise a lamb (?) as if it is their own child (?), and the lamb then morphs into something like a human (?), and some difficult things happen when th…
 
We’re talking with host of Things Not Seen Radio host and professor David Dault about the X-Files. Enough said. Check out David Dault’s massive and amazing catalogue NOW: https://www.thingsnotseenradio.com/ Dr. David Dault at Loyola Chicago: https://www.luc.edu/ips/about/faculty/daviddaultphd.shtml X-Files on Hulu, S4E14: “Memento Mori”: https://ww…
 
In this week’s News Roundup, we’re going to marry God, pronounce on Bible translations on Tiktok, and make a very convoluted analogy to the JEDP Pentateuchal source critical scheme!! This week’s stories: A woman marries the Holy Spirit; husband objects: https://religionnews.com/2021/06/04/kenyan-woman-marries-the-holy-spirit-in-anglican-ceremony/ A…
 
We take a deep breath and watch Darren Arnofsky’s maybe brilliant maybe dumb yet deeply religiously inspired and definitely provocative 2017 film mother! Film critic Joel Mayward joins us for support. Brian tries to ex(man)splain. Leah is not having it. (Warning: this episode contains some disturbing content, and also a heaping of razor sharp film …
 
A very short episode dedicated to our friend Javier Garcia, who died recently. He was 34 years old, a Bonhoeffer scholar, director of an Honors program, a surfer, mountain climber, brother, son, and friend. With the flare-up of a long-brewing and continuing and still bitter disagreement between Brian and Leah about the quality of the show Battlesta…
 
We’re talking about the spirituality of the biggest financial scam in history—with the star-creator and director of an award winning and genre-bending new film: A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff. Alicia Jo Rabins and Alicia J. Rose join us for a conversation about excommunication, success, failure, the artistic process, “cycles,” and mysticism. And UFOs.…
 
Conservatives take on Super-Conservatives. Major drama just went down at the annual convention for the nation’s most prominent Protestant “denomination,” the Southern Baptists. Who are “Baptists”? And how did Joe Baptist create the modern Baptist movement? What is happening with Moore and Moore? Brian interviews Leah and if you listen to this, you …
 
Bob Ross: Soothing TV painter, guru to Millennials, and a ghost hawking Mountain Dew. A postmodern capitalism horror show. Purity. Sounds. Avoidance and/or acceptance of darkness. The roaring 20s will lead to a new war. Bob Ross paints and then drinks a bottle of Mountain Dew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRrWjdO9NVQ Paula Abdul dances with Gene…
 
A religion in the news roundup with some surprising stories. Mother Theresa a cult leader. Interpreting the Torah. Your face will become a skull. Rachel Hollis is out of touch. Zaprudurian. This UFO thing is not going away and Brian is getting excited. A lot going on. Links below to each story. Some covered more in depth, and some in the lightning …
 
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 behind the scenes? Are Americans particularly into conspiracy theories, or do we just think we’re the best at everything? We interview psychologist Dr. Michael Wood (at the time a lecturer at the University …
 
The Mark of the Beast strikes again. We break down a 53-second Facebook rant by congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in which the claim is made that vaccine passports are Joe Biden’s satanic plot. And we affirm the enduring power of the Book of Revelation. The video: https://twitter.com/RightWingWatch/status/1376900032184586245?s=20 The Late Great …
 
A new segment on recent religious-themed stories in the news! Fasting, Foxmania, halal tacos, mummified bodies, Trump worship, exvangelicals, the spiritual weirdness of airports, politics as religion, the Gates divorce, ancient goddesses and emotional men. Links to our stories: Orange County mosques, tacos, and vaccinations: https://religionnews.co…
 
To celebrate the end of the academic year in the university calendar, we discuss student evals, internet review culture, negativity bias, the Iran Contra Affair, depression, and religious authority in an age of reviews. Footnotes: (1) Ronald Reagan’s Oval Office address on the Iran Contra Affair: https://youtu.be/rYdvBZxPhLY (2) Gottman research on…
 
A Weird Religion mystery: Why does a particular episode of the X-Files, “Beyond the Sea,” have subtitles for a song playing in the background that are actually from a different but similar song? We investigate. The X-Files, S1E13, “Beyond the Sea”: https://www.hulu.com/watch/17db9bbb-aa0e-4973-8099-b277c2bd1312 Spoiler alert (only read this after l…
 
Here we discuss the Netflix series The Crown (https://www.netflix.com/title/80025678). And: The religious dimensions of monarchy, etiquette rituals, and our social class insecurities. The Crown, Season 3 finale scene (Queen Elizabeth walks to the carriage): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpUSil0_0zU Etiquette expert reacts to The Crown: https://ww…
 
The 2020 election and the inauguration have come and gone, leaving the predictions of the QAnon prophets…hanging in the air. What happens to a religious movement when its key prophecies fail to come true in real time? Are adherents disappointed? Is/was Q a “religion”? Did they ever care in the first place? And did the biblical prophet Ezekiel make …
 
What happens behind the scenes at a “men’s retreat”? Sexualized sermons and high-stakes confrontations. Two stories, here at the return of the Kitsch Corner segment. With guest Simon Trautmann. And here is the story about the drug cartel using the men's retreat classic book.By Brian Doak & Leah Payne
 
In this episode we begin by discussing the hit TLC series 90 Day Fiancé and meander into topics such as Biblical marriage patterns in the book of Genesis, sexist stereotypes about the attractive lady + the less attractive guy, and how women get exoticized on the show and in real life.By Brian Doak & Leah Payne
 
HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW SEASON OF WEIRD RELIGION. COMING YOUR WAY. TITLE: "WEIRD RELIGION IN THE AGE OF THE VIRUS." Eps rolling out now. They're going to be short. They're going to be frequent and yet also sporadic. They may come in clusters. They're going to be of bootleg quality. And it will be our best season yet. You need this right now and you …
 
Brian and Leah hit the road to look for Bigfoot. On the way, Brian ambushes Leah in the who-is-more-working-class battle, but Leah strikes back. We discuss the fear of wearing expensive clothing, pastors wearing expenses sneakers, and mean girls, and Leah’s desire for a pair of Jordache jeansBy Brian Doak & Leah Payne
 
In this episode we talk about the religious angle of conspiracy theories with Anna Merlan – journalist and author of Republic of Lies, a fascinating new book on American conspiracies – what they are, where they come from, and what they mean for the religious landscape of the U.S.A. Along the way we talk conspiracy theory cruises, U.F.O.s and much m…
 
wo parents experience their worst nightmare: their daughter is under the control of Kilgrave, a villain who overrides the will of anyone he wishes to control. Who can help them? Enter Jessica Jones, the hard-drinking, super-powered private eye. Can she defeat Kilgrave? Does she have any choice in the matter? Does anyone in the Jessica Jones univers…
 
THE SEASON 3 FINALE: ANCIENT ALIENS: NEED WE SAY MORE. Leah admits she used to watch Alf. Brian watched Alf too! We all did. Was The History Channel ever really respectable? The true utopian technology prophets will tell us when everything has been illuminated at the same time. Is it possible that…By Brian Doak & Leah Payne
 
Would church be better off with no technology? Could Leah be a powerful dictator? Would people return to traditional authoritarian styles of leadership when the grid goes down? WE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS AND MORE DEFINITIVELY. Charismatic versus inherited authority in the church. The worship leaders versus the pastor. Weberian analysis of the book o…
 
We watch some episodes from the Jordan-Peele-hosted revival of The Twilight Zone and talk about the old series and the horror of being trapped. We ruminate on creepy doll horror like Talky Tina. Brian tries out the second joke from his stand-up routine. Leah tells the legend of the china doll.By Brian Doak & Leah Payne
 
SPECIAL EPISODE: This week we take you on location to the McMinnville UFO festival to watch the premier of the new documentary about Roswell whistleblower Bob Lazar. We talk about belief, how UFO communities are like churches, and the extent to which each of us believes and/or wants to believe. We meet in a dark back alley within the convention hal…
 
What happens when a movie series becomes not just your favorite or your religion, but literally forms the basis for all of your thinking and imagination and everything for your ENTIRE LIFE! Such is the power of the Star Wars franchise. This week, we dive into the murky depths of Star Wars fandom through the documentary The People Vs. George Lucas t…
 
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, …
 
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