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The Classical Ideas Podcast

Simply stated, religion matters. Religion matters not only for personal reasons, but also for social, economic, political, and military purposes. Unfortunately, studies suggest that religious knowledge and cultural literacy for any religious tradition is either in decline or is non-existent in the United States, despite being one of the most religiously diverse nation on earth. Today, religion is implicated in nearly every major national and international issue. The public arena is awash in religious explanations and arguments for nearly every issue. The goal of The Classical Ideas Podcast is to empower students with the core knowledge of major world religions to improve citizenship and agency in a diverse society. Welcome to the show!

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EP 139: Brad Warner on Letters to a Dead Friend About Zen

Ordained as a Soto Zen priest, Brad Warner is also a punk bassist, filmmaker, and blogger. He is the founder of Angel City Zen Center in Los Angeles and the author of Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up, and several other books about Zen Buddhism. His writing appears on SuicideGirls.com and in Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, and Alternative Press. He lives in Los Angeles.  You can visit him online at https://www.hardcorezen.info


15 Nov 2019

Rank #1

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Ep 126: The Epic of Gilgamesh w/Dr. Stanley Lombardo

Stanley Lombardo is Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Kansas. His previous translations include Homer's Iliad (1997, Hackett) and Odyssey (2000, Hackett), Hesiod's Works & Days and Theogony (1993, Hackett), and Sappho, Tao Te Ching (1993, Hackett, with Stephen Addiss), Poems and Fragments (2002, Hackett), a PEN Center USA 2003 Literary Award Finalist. Buy Lombardo's Epic of Gilgamesh from Hackett here. 


22 Jul 2019

Rank #2

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EP 93: Tao Te Ching with Sean Michael Wilson

Sean Michael Wilson is an award-winning Scottish graphic novel/comic book writer. He has written more than 30 books, published by a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers and translated into 12 languages. His books are of two broad types: 'western' style graphic novels, including original story ideas and various books on social issues; and a unique line of manga style books on Japanese themes, unmatched by any other English language comic book writer.  His latest book is an adaptation of the Tao Te Ching in collaboration with Cary Kwok and William Scott Wilson. Find him online:  https://seanmichaelwilson.weebly.com/ https://www.instagram.com/seanmichaelwilson/ Buy the book: https://www.shambhala.com/authors/u-z/sean-michael-wilson.html

1hr 13mins

6 Feb 2019

Rank #3

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Ep 130: The First Amendment and "Our Non-Christian Nation" w/Jay Wexler

Jay Wexler is a professor at the Boston University School of Law and is the author of the new book, “Our Non-Christian Nation: How Atheists, Satanists, Pagans, and Others are Demanding Their Rightful Place in Public Life.” The book is out from Stanford University Press. Visit Wexler online at https://www.jaywex.com Visit Wexler on Twitter here Buy "Our Non-Christian Nation" here.  Follow Classical Ideas on Twitter here


17 Aug 2019

Rank #4

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Ep 112: Eric Ripert on Buddhism, Adventures, and Cooking Ethics

Eric Ripert is chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin on 7th Avenue in Manhattan’s Theater District, author of the autobiography “32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line” from Random House, numerous cookbooks, and host of the television series AVEC Eric. Buy Eric Ripert's books: Eric Ripert Books Follow Eric Ripert on Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ericripert/ Follow Eric Ripert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericripert Visit Le Bernardin: https://www.le-bernardin.com/


5 May 2019

Rank #5

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Ep 51: Shulem Deen on leaving Hasidism and "All Who Go Do Not Return"

Shulem Deen is a writer, journalist, and author of the award-winning memoir "All Who Go Do Not Return." He is a regular contributor to the Forward, and in 2015 was listed in the Forward 50, an annual list of American Jews with outsized roles on political and social issues. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, Salon, Tablet Magazine, and elsewhere. He serves as a board member at Footsteps, a New York City-based organization that offers assistance and support to those who have left the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Follow Shulem on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/shdeen Buy his book here: All Who Go Do Not Return


6 Apr 2018

Rank #6

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Ep 88: Hiking as Pilgrimage with Dr. Chris Ives

Dr. Christopher Ives teaches in the area of Asian Religions at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. In his scholarship, he focuses on modern Zen ethics. In 2009 he published Imperial-Way Zen, a book on Buddhist social ethics in light of Zen nationalism. Currently he is engaged in research on Zen approaches to nature and Buddhist environmental ethics. He is the author of "Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage," out now from Wisdom Publications. Find the book here: Zen on the Trail from Wisdom Publications

1hr 10mins

6 Jan 2019

Rank #7

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Ep 77: Witchcraft and The Holy Wild w/Danielle Dulsky

Danielle Dulsky is the author of “The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman,” out now from New World Library. Visit her online: https://www.danielledulsky.com https://www.instagram.com/wolfwomanwitch/


31 Oct 2018

Rank #8

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Ep 100: The Epistle of James with Dr. Alicia Batten

Alicia Batten received her BA in Humanistic Studies from McGill University, and completed an MA and PhD in Theology, with a focus on the New Testament, at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses upon the origins and development of early Christianity, with particular emphasis upon the ancient Mediterranean cultural context (s), including material culture. She also thinks it important to study the shifting manner in which biblical texts are interpreted over the centuries, and is currently writing a commentary examining the text reception and impact of the Letter of James. Beyond her academic interests, Alicia enjoys gardening, art, and reading works of fiction and poetry. Visit her Waterloo faculty profile: https://uwaterloo.ca/grebel/people-profiles/alicia-batten


14 Mar 2019

Rank #9

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Ep 33: The Life of Alan Watts (Part Two with Anne Watts)

Anne Watts is one of the co-editors of the new book, “The Collected Letters of Alan Watts,” released in January 2018 from New World Library. Anne Watts is a facilitator and educator who is committed to creating a world where everyone wins.  She honors each individual for the gift she or he is, and believes that love and nurturance are the most important aspects in human healing. She regularly leads workshops at the Esalen Institute and you can find her upcoming events online at www.annewatts.org.

1hr 5mins

18 Jan 2018

Rank #10

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Ep 95: Japanese Buddhist WWII Internment w/Duncan Ryūken Williams

Buy American Sutra from Harvard Press here Bio from: https://www.duncanryukenwilliams.com/ Duncan Ryuken Williams was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Japanese mother and British father. After growing up in Japan and England until age 17, he moved to the U.S. to attend college (Reed College) and graduate school (Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D. in Religion). Williams is currently an Professor of Religion and East Asian Languages & Cultures and the Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture. Previously, he held the Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair of Japanese Buddhism at University of California at Berkeley and served as the Director of Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies for four years. He has also been ordained since 1993 as a Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen tradition and served as the Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University from 1994-96. He is the author of a monograph entitled The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan(Princeton University Press, 2005) and co-editor of seven volumes including Hapa Japan (Kaya Press, 2017), Issei Buddhism in the Americas (U-Illinois Press, 2010), American Buddhism (Routledge, 1998), and Buddhism and Ecology (Harvard University Press, 1997). He has also translated four books from Japanese into English including Putting Buddhism to Work: A New Theory of Economics and Business Management (Kodansha, 1997). His latest book is American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press, 2019). He has previously received research grants from the American Academy of Religion, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, the Japan Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Numata Foundation/Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. In 2011, Williams received a commendation from the Japanese government for deepening the mutual understanding between the peoples of Japan and California.


16 Feb 2019

Rank #11

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Ep 54: Michael Downing on Zen in America, Shunryu Suzuki, and S.F. Zen Center

Michael Downing teaches creative writing at Tufts University. This conversation features a deep dive into Michael’s nonfiction book "Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center, hailed by the New York Review of Books as a 'dramatic and insightful' narrative history of the first Buddhist monastery outside of Asia, and by the Los Angeles Times as 'a highly readable book, important for the healing it invites in giving voice to the thoughts and feelings of Zen Center members who have remained silent until now.'" Visit: www.michaeldowningbooks.com for more information. 


20 Apr 2018

Rank #12

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Ep 65: Sita's Ramayana with Samhita Arni

Samhita Arni is the author of the NYT Bestselling graphic novel, Sita's Ramayana, (collaboration with Patua artist Moyna Chitrakar) available from Tara Books. She is also the author of The Mahabharata-A Child's View and The Missing Queen.  You can find her online here:  https://www.samarni.com https://www.samarni.com


18 Jul 2018

Rank #13

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Ep 85: Dr. Charles Haynes on the Religious Freedom Center and the First Amendment

Charles C. Haynes is vice president of the Freedom Forum Institute / Religious Freedom Center and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. Haynes is best known for his work on First Amendment issues in public schools. Over the past two decades, he has been the principal organizer and drafter of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in schools, endorsed by a broad range of religious and educational organizations. In January 2000, three of the guides were distributed by the U.S. Department of Education to every public school in the nation. These are “A Parent’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools,” “A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools,” and “Public Schools & Religious Communities.” Haynes is the author or co-author of six books, including First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America, and Religion in American Public Life: Living with Our Deepest Differences. His column, Inside the First Amendment, appears in newspapers nationwide. He is a founding board member of the Character Education Partnership, and serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and the American Bar Association Advisory Commission on Public Education. He chairs the Committee on Religious Liberty, founded by the National Council of Churches. Widely quoted in news magazines and major newspapers, Haynes is also a frequent guest on television and radio. He has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal and on ABC’s “Evening News.” In 2008, he received the Virginia First Freedom Award from the Council for America’s First Freedom. Haynes holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Emory University.

1hr 5mins

18 Dec 2018

Rank #14

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Ep 59: Middle Eastern Archaeology and the Historical Jesus with Dr. Carrie Duncan

Dr. Carrie Duncan is an Assistant Professor of ancient Mediterranean religions at the University of Missouri. She is a senior staff member on the following projects in Jordan: the Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project, the Petra North Ridge Project, and the Madaba Plains’ excavation. She teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, the Jesus of history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and more.


22 May 2018

Rank #15

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Ep 76: Mary Magdalene w/Dr. Margaret Arnold

Margaret Arnold is the Associate Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Medford, Massachusetts. She received her PhD in Religious and Theological Studies from Boston University. Her new book, “The Magdalene in the Reformation” is out now from The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Get the book here:  The Magdalene in the Reformation from Harvard University Press


25 Oct 2018

Rank #16

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Ep 55: Dr. Pablo Mendoza on Taoist Practice

Dr. Pablo Mendoza is Assistant to the President for Social Equity at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD from the University of Missouri and was previously the Director of the Mizzou Multicultural Center. He has taught Cheng Man-Ch'ing (Zhang Manqing) Yang-style Tai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan). This form is based on martial applied defensive moves that are synchronized to breathing patterns that assist with relaxation and meditation. 


26 Apr 2018

Rank #17

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Ep 23: Confucius and Confucian Values with Dr. Li Dan

Dr. Li Dan is professor of Chinese Literature in the College of Humanities and Communications at Shanghai Normal University, China. She was appointed the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at the University of MIssouri from 2015-2017. She is the author of 44 academic articles and one book, Approaching to the Poetics. We spoke at the University of Missouri Confucius Institute on November 21, the anniversary of the death of Confucius.


30 Nov 2017

Rank #18

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EP 150: Staying Grounded in Uncertain Times w/Deborah Eden Tull

DEBORAH EDEN TULL is the founder of Mindful Living Revolution. She is a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, public speaker, author, activist, and sustainability educator. She trained for seven years as a Buddhist monk at a silent Zen monastery in Northern California, and she has been traveling to, living in, or teaching about conscious, sustainable communities internationally for the last 25 years. She is the author of two books, The Natural Kitchen, which came out in 2010, and Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening our Connection with ourselves, each other and the planet, out in 2018 from Wisdom Publications. She lives in North Carolina and offers retreats, workshops, and consultations nationally. Classical Ideas on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/classicalideaspodcast/ Classical Ideas on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Classical_Ideas Deborah Eden Tull http://deborahedentull.com/ Buy "Relational Mindfulness" by Deborah Eden Tull: https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/relational-mindfulness


17 Mar 2020

Rank #19

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Ep 22: Brad Warner on Soto Zen, Writing, and Dogen

Brad Warner is most recently the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other titles including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, There is No God and he is always with you, Sex, Sin, and Zen, Hardcore Zen, and Hardcore Zen Strikes Again. A Soto Zen priest, he is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. You can find him online at www.hardcorezen.info


25 Nov 2017

Rank #20