Reading Our Times is the podcast that explores the books and the ideas that are shaping us today. It is hosted by Nick Spencer, Senior Fellow at the think tank, Theos. We’re going to be talking to some of the world’s leading authors about issues like meritocracy, justice, populism, human rights, the brain, liberalism, and religion. Above all, we'll be exploring what these books have to say about the times we live in and about the people we are. So listen with us, and we’ll introduce you to authors, books and ideas that illuminate ourselves and our world today. For more information about the people and ideas behind the podcast, visit https://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/about/who-we-are or follow us on Twitter @theosthinktank and @theosnick.
Why are Pentecostals taking over the world? In conversation with Elle Hardy
42:42Pentecostalism is the fastest growing religious movement in history, with nearly 600 million Pentecostals worldwide. How did the movement originate? What does it involve? And how will it change Christianity, society and politics in the 21st century? Nick Spencer talks to journalist and author Elle Hardy about her book Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity Is Taking Over the World
How much does Britain cost? In conversation with Paul Johnson
38:26We raise over a trillion every year in tax, and spent a hundred billion more than that. But where do we get it from? Where do we spend it? And is it used fairly, efficiently and wisely? Nick Spencer talks to Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, about his book Follow the Money: How much does Britain cost?
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What are the risks of going green? In conversation with Henry Sanderson
31:36We need to decarbonise, and fast. But 'going green' is not straightforward, not only practically but ethically. There is great potential there, but also huge risks. What are they? Who will win? And who might lose? Nick Spencer talks to journalist and author Henry Sanderson about his book Voltrush: The Winners and Losers in the Race to Go Green
What's happening to journalism? In conversation with Alan Rusbridger
34:11Journalism is bit like politics. As a rule, we say we don’t really trust either profession, and neither seems to be in particularly good health at the moment. But we definitely can’t live without them. Nick Spencer talks to former editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, about his book Breaking News: the remaking of journalism and why it matters now
Can science make sense of life? In conversation with Prof. Sheila Jasanoff
37:29The ability to manipulate genetic material has never been greater, and is increasing all the time. With it comes the claim that genetics can makes sense of life - controlling, directing, shaping who we are? Can it? Nick Spencer talks to Prof. Sheila Jasanoff about her book Can science make sense of life?
What is the future of money? In conversation with Eswar Prasad
37:32Money is changing – and its changing fast and in a way that many of us find bewildering. Is cash on its way out? What is fintech? What actually is a cryptocurrency, or stablecoin, or a CBDC? Are they the future? Nick Spencer talks to Prof. Eswar Prasad about his book The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance
Whatever happened to the human mind? In conversation with Marilynne Robinson
36:23The death of the self, of the soul, of the mind: time and again, science (or parascience) has declared the demise of a core dimension to human nature. But can we live without such concepts? And can they be rescued by religion, philosophy and literature? Nick Spencer talks to Marilynne Robinson about her book Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self
Science and religion: what's the story? In conversation with Nick Spencer
46:29Science and religion have a long history. According to some, it's a history of warfare; to others they are (or at least should be) non-overlapping. Nick Spencer argues that neither view is right, and that the two have long been entangled, especially over the questions of what do we think of the human, and who gets to say. Buy a copy of Magisteria here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/9780861544615
Why tax is fun: In conversation with Michael Keen
34:30The late great American novelist David Foster Wallace, who had worked in a tax office, once remarked, “The whole subject of tax policy and administration is dull. Massively and spectacularly dull.” But he was wrong, massively and spectacularly wrong. Tax is ultimately about the different ways we live together, and express our values - and there is nothing more interesting than that. In this episode, Nick Spencer talks to Michael Keen and his book Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue.
Do Prime Ministers do God? In conversation with Mark Vickers
33:51The UK has a religoius Prime Minister - yet again! Rishi Sunak is the first Hindu to occupy the role, but there have been plenty more of the faithful before him - even in the more secular atmosphere of the 20th century. Who did God most? Who least? Who was most sincere? And for whom did the divine actually make a difference? In this episode, Nick Spencer talks to Mark Vickers about his book God In Number 10