While religion and science often seem at odds, there’s one thing they can agree on: people who take part in spiritual practices tend to live longer, healthier, ...
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When’s the last time you actually heard silence? We’re flooded with noise everyday, so much so that we don’t even realize it. And it's not just bad for our ears, it's not great for our health or wellbeing either. We’ll take a look at how noise (and its absence) affect the workings of our mind and our emotions. Why silence can make us feel more connected to ourselves and one another, and how spiritual traditions seek to create silent spaces for contemplation and growth. We’ll also ask the question: If college is supposed to prepare students for a better life, should universities take inspiration from their monastic origins and teach students to cultivate silence as one way to grow in mind and spirit?
Justin McDaniel is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Visit his website to learn more about his work.
Justin Zorn is the co-author, with Leigh Marz, of the book Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise. Visit his website to learn more about the book and Justin’s other work.
Season 5 of How God Works is Coming
How God Works is coming back to your feed on September 24th! Tune in this season as we tackle topics like the value of silence, how different faiths view gender and sexuality, the power of mystical experience and connecting to the breath, and much more.
And in the meantime, feel free to catch up on older episodes, and rate and review the show wherever you listen.
Is Burning Man a Party or a Pilgrimage? (2022)
Every year, thousands of people head to Nevada's Black Rock Desert for a week at Burning Man. And while from the outside, it might seem like a place for partying, drugs, and debauchery, to many, it offers something deeper, even life changing.
We’ll ask neuroscientist Molly Crockett and Episcopal minister Alex Leach, both burners themselves: Is Burning Man a new type of spiritual gathering? How and why does it deeply move people? And should more traditional faiths aim to have a bit more Burning Man in them? After all, Jesus went to the desert to find himself. Maybe we should too.
For more on Molly’s research, visit her website or read her article in The Guardian. Alex Leach’s camp at Burning Man is Religious AF. Special thanks to Alex for recording interviews and ambient audio for this episode at this year’s Burning Man.
The lights are dimmed, candles are lit, bodies begin to sway together as the voice from the stage says a spirit-lifting, soul-stirring affirmation…and then screams “Now sprint for 10!”.
Group fitness classes have, for many, become something more than just a good way to get the blood pumping and pounds dropping. On this episode we take a look at why exercise classes from Soul Cycle to Crossfit have become some of the most fervent venues for secular spirituality and how some religious leaders and institutions are re-discovering this age-old symbiosis of body and spirit -- ones that use the body to change what we feel, how we connect, and what we believe.
And we'll learn some of the science behind why sweating together brings us closer together.
Casper ter Kuile is the author of the book The Power of Ritual. Find out more about his work on his website.
Emma Cohen is a Professor of Cognitive Anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she leads the Social Body Lab.
Rabbi Jaymee Alpert is the co-creator of Neshama Body and Soul, a practice that combines exercise with prayer.
What’s Old is New Again
It's not news that the US is becoming more secular. People have been drifting away from religion for decades, and that trend is accelerating right now in people under 40. But there is a small but growing trend in those same generations of people who are seeking just the opposite. These people are looking to older and more orthodox forms of faith to find meaning, purpose, and community even in the face of what many might consider to be more sexist and less tolerant ideas.
Join Dave as he talks to two Millennials who have converted to more traditional forms of faith about the reasons for their choice, how it affects their lives, and why they believe these more ancient forms of religiosity have value… perhaps now more than ever.
Kelsey Osgood is a writer and convert to Modern Orthodox Judaism, currently working on a book about religious conversion among women, scheduled to be published in 2024. Find out more about her on her website.
Julia Yost was raised Catholic, but transitioned to a more traditional form of Catholicism as a young adult. She is a senior editor and regular contributing author at First Things magazine. She also authored this opinion piece about young converts in The New York Times.
While religion and science often seem at odds, there’s one thing they can agree on: people who take part in spiritual practices tend to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. The big question is: Why? In the “How God Works” podcast, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out – one that combines cutting edge neuroscience with ancient wisdom.
He’ll speak to leading scientists, spiritual teachers, and religious leaders to explore what we can learn from faith practices ranging from meditation and prayer to psychedelics and fire-walking. He’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs -- including none at all.
By working across boundaries that usually divide people – science versus religion, one faith versus another – we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.