Interviews about culture, religion, and more with brilliant people who will fan the flames of your curiosity.
Joy, with Ross Gay
1:10:16Ross Gay is a New York Times bestselling author of essays and poetry. His latest book is ‘Inciting Joy,’ which argues that “joy is something like what we feel like when we help each other carry our sorrows, what we feel like when we sort of realize we're practicing our entanglement, our belonging to one another.”Transcript at our website, firesidepod.org/episodes/gay.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Invisible, with Meghan O’Rourke
4.4.2023Meghan O'Rourke is a citizen of what she calls the invisible kingdom. Anyone can become a citizen. Even you. All you need is a debilitating chronic illness that doctors can't easily understand or treat—autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic Lyme, fibromyalgia, and a bunch of other conditions at the blurry edges of medical knowledge. As doctors tried to pinpoint Meghan’s diagnoses, she decided to create a record of what she was learning about chronic illness from doctors, scientists, and patients along the way.Transcript at our website, firesidepod.org/episodes/orourke.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
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Transitions, with Susan Stryker
1:35:22When she was born, Susan Stryker’s parents thought they were welcoming a baby boy. She knew they were wrong by the time she was five years old, but it took decades to let them know who she really was. Being trans raised a lot of questions for Susan—practical questions of course, but also theological, philosophical, and historical questions. So she went searching for answers. Transcript at our website, firesidepod.org/episodes/stryker.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Mission, with Kathryn Gin Lum
21.2.2023Race and religion have been intertwined throughout American history. Christians believed they could detect so-called “heathen” unbelief by the color of someone’s skin or the state of a foreign landscape. Over time, the word “heathen” dropped off, but historian Kathryn Gin Lum says the ideas behind it are alive and well in the United States today, even beyond religion. Transcript available: firesidepod.org/episodes/ginlum.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Shell Play, with Toni Jensen
7.2.2023Toni Jensen grew up around guns. As a girl, she learned to shoot birds in rural Iowa with her father. As an adult, she’s had guns waved in her face near Standing Rock, felt their silent threat on the concealed-carry campus where she teaches. Toni is a Métis woman, with mixed European and Indigenous ancestry. She's no stranger to the violence enacted on the bodies and lands of Indigenous people, especially women, and the ways violence is hidden, ignored, forgotten.This episode was incidentally recorded on May 24, 2022, the day of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It is dedicated to the memory of those destroyed by gun violence.Transcript available: firesidepod.org/episodes/jensen.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Hope, with Tom Whyman
24.1.2023When Tom Whyman started thinking about becoming a father, he worried. Would he and his partner be able to make a living to support a child? What about political upheaval in the UK, or the increasing threat of climate change—not to mention all the little daily ways having a child could change his life. Then a global pandemic shook things up even more. As a philosopher, he asked: What reason is there for hope? Transcript available: firesidepod.org/episodes/whyman.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
The Fire, with Danté Stewart
1:29:37Coming up out of the waters of baptism at a new white Christian church, Danté Stewart envisioned leaving his blackness behind, washing away his boyhood Black Pentecostal baptism, and rising to a colorblind world where all lives matter. But as time passed, as he witnessed more bodies of Black Americans being killed, he felt rage growing inside. An unexpectedly holy kind of rage that prepared him for yet another baptism—this time, by fire.Transcript available: firesidepod.org/episodes/stewart.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Heritage, with Masha Rumer
8.11.2022Masha Rumer immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union when she was thirteen. At first, her nationality made her self-conscious; she wanted to blend in with her new American peers as fast as possible. But over time, Masha discovered her love for her homeland never really went away, and she wanted to share it with her own children. Which turned out to be complicated. Transcript available: firesidepod.org/episodes/rumer.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Monsters, with David Livingstone Smith
1:06:01David Livingstone Smith has studied dehumanization for decades. He's spent a lot of time researching horrific genocides, lynching, massacres, and other brutalities. Real humans pull the trigger. Real humans administer the poisonous gasses and drop the bombs. People not entirely unlike me and you, although it's a lot more comforting to imagine they're monsters. And in fighting monsters, we risk becoming the very thing we’re fighting against.Transcript at our website, firesidepod.org/episodes/smith.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.
Voices, with Jeff Chu
58:01When Rachel Held Evans unexpectedly died in 2019, the thirty-seven-year-old Christian writer left behind a husband and two young children, as well as an unfinished book manuscript. Rachel's husband Dan knew she would want that book out in the world, so he enlisted their good friend Jeff Chu—a writer, reporter, and editor—to put all the pieces in place. The technical logistics made it hard enough, but Jeff also had to reckon with his own grief at the loss of such a dear friend.Full transcript available at firesidepod.org/episodes/chu.Buy the book and other merch at firesidepod.org/store.