In the third installment of our "Keywords" series with C. Derick Varn, we focus on a single term with a long and diabolical history: Cultural Marxism. The theory that truth-denying, postmodern Marxists are seeking to undermine society has been around for a while and most recently has been popularized by such intellectual luminaries as Jordan Peterson. What many people don't know, however, is the deeply anti-Semitic roots of this conspiracy theory. What are the historical roots of the term? How was a marginal conspiracy theory mainstreamed by people like Pat Buchanan? Why are conspiracy theories more prevalent on the right than the left? All this and more!
**UPDATE: Varn wishes to make the following correction: "I made one error in this, I got Horkheimer and Axel Honneth confused on ethnic background. Horkheimer was Jewish and Honneth isn't as far as I know."
Diet Soap Podcast. Doug Lain interviews Mark Fisher
Danny and C. Derek Varn continue their exploration of language in part II of the ongoing series "Keywords: A Vocabulary of Barbarism and Stupidity." In this episode, Varn dishes on the following words: Intersectionality, Cultural Appropriation, Human Bio-Diversity, and Snowflake. Have any words for future episodes? Contact the show on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.sectarianreviewpodcast.com
The inaugural episode of a new, ongoing series called "Keywords: A Vocabulary of Barbarism and Stupidity." C. Derick Varn joins Danny to discuss a series of words that have become pervasive in our political discourse, yet have been divorced from their original meanings in many ways. The series will probably offend liberals, conservatives, and leftists alike at some point, but we at the Sectarian Review think it's important to be honest about our language. In this episode, Varn dives into the history and transformations of the following Keywords: "Woke," "Gaslight," "Privilege," and "Millennial."
A fun walk down apocalyptic memory lane. 30 years ago, Edgar Whisenant published 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. The short pamphlet was one in a long line of "save the date" apocalyptic literature, predicting that Jesus would return in September of 1988. While the date of Whisenant's prediction came and went and his book drifted into obscurity, he did publish and distribute millions of copies of his opus in churches all over America. For this episode, Coyle Neal of the City of Man Podcast and Nathan Gilmour of the Christian Humanist join Danny Anderson to discuss the history, theology, and rhetoric of conspiratorial prophecy like 88 Reasons. The book provides a template for how these fringe ideas operate and Danny tries to make a case for how that template applies to our political discourse as well.
88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988
Since the 2016 election, a racial tension within white Evangelical churches has been made apparent. Donald Trump's election, for better or worse, has become a seismic event in American history. This episode explores how, since 2016 Race has emerged as perhaps the preeminent problem for Evangelicalism, to the point where we need to acknowledge that much of what we have called Evangelical Christianity is really better thought of as WHITE Christianity. Joining the show today is Tamara Johnson, who recently wrote a piece for The Witness titled "For Those Who Stay." In this essay, she recounts her own reasons for leaving her largely white church and returning to the traditions and social spaces of the Black Church. Johnson answers the following questions: "How did you find yourself in a largely white church and how did the events of 2016 affect you in that space?" "What is the scope and scale of this "Black Exodus?" "Why do white people, and not their black friends, bear the responsibility for educating themselves about structural racism?" "What role did Charlottesville play in your Exodus?" "How does abortion serve as a wedge issue when dealing with racial justice in the Church?" "Why the distinction between White Church and Black Church?" "How has MLK been misused?" "What is your advice to Black people who stay in White Churches?"
"For Those Who Stay"
"If You Love Me, Do Your Homework"
"A Quiet Exodus" - NY Times
"Pass the Mic" Podcast
"Truth's Table" Podcast
Cloak and Dagger on Hulu
James Cone's The Cross and the Lynching Tree
Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop
Ed Simon joins the show again to discuss Trump, Putin, and Russiagate. Liberals, eager to find a way to impeach Trump have been focusing on the investigation in all its minutiae, valorizing the American intelligence community, and finding conspiracy around every corner. Leftists, on the other hand, have been largely dismissive of the story, accusing Liberals of losing sight of more tangible, more structural issues. This episode, while agreeing that Liberals have gone a bit over the top, questions whether the Left is too dismissive of possible collusion between Trump and Putin’s forces.
Ed Simon’s home page
Michael Kazin’s “Five Reasons Why the Left Should Care About Russiagate”
“It Matters Yes But How Much,” by Nathan A. Robinson - Current Affairs
“Russiagate Can’t End Well for the Left,” by Seth Ackerman - Jacobin
“Trumpism It’s Coming from the Suburbs,” by Jesse A. Myerson - The Nation
In this episode, Danny Anderson is joined by Rob Osborn to discuss a recent article in Comment by Rosalyn F.T. Murphy called “The Fellowship of the King: A Social Church for a Lonely World.” Murphy’s article, explores the growing problem of Loneliness, both in society and in the Church as well. Huge numbers of elderly and homeless people suffer from chronic loneliness with terrifying social and physical ramifications. But this problem affects people from all demographics as well. The article also explores the growing moving of “new monasticism” as a reaction against this social problem. Danny and Rob discuss the article and some of the ways in which the Church fails to provide community to people most in need of it. Also, how does our modern economy lead to alienation? Why Genesis 2 is about more than marital relationships. What is Danny’s plan for the Starbucks coming to his town? Plus, lots of listener feedback! All this and much more.
“The Fellowship of the King: A Social Church for a Lonely World”
The UK has a “Minister for Loneliness”
Hidden Brain Podcast: “Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men”
Recovery Boys on Netflix
Recently, President Trump spoke about his intention to create a sixth branch of the military, the “Space Force.” In typical Trump fashion, the unveiling was bombastic and rather silly (with Trump even going so far as to casually drop the phrase “separate but equal” into his speech somehow). And in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, a lot of jokes were made on social media (see links below). However, to Danny’s surprise, there were a lot of ostensibly Serious Media People who approved. What did the SMP’s see that we missed? To discuss the idea of militarizing space, Todd Pedlar, Professor of Physics and co-host of the Book of Nature podcast joins Danny on this episode. What are the technical difficulties of doing work in space? What are we fighting over in space in the first place? What are the legal, and more importantly, ethical ramifications of militarizing space? Plus Danny makes a 2001 analogy.
“Space Force Theme Song”
Al Jazeera’s critique
Chicago Tribune’s editorial
The Hill’s glowing support
Today we’re going to be exploring, maybe reminiscing a bit, the long gone days of yore when if you wanted to watch a movie at home that wasn’t on television, you had to drive your lazy butt over to a video store and scope out your options. Blockbuster is of course the big symbol for this era, but there were tons of local places to go as well. Joining the show today is Seth Lancaster, who is a regular listener of the show and who sent me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to an article by Kate Hagen called “In Search of the Last Great Video Store.”
Some of what we’ll be doing today is romancing that era, but is there a lesson to be learned beyond the commerce of movie consumption? Has the American Church undergone its own for of Netflixization? What can the bygone days of video stores teach us about community, liturgy, and tradition?
“In Search of the Last Great Video Store” by Kate Hagan
“Stop Trying to Make Church Cool” by Rachel Held Evans
Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate by John J. Thompson
Immeasurable by Skye Jethani
Seth Lancaster’s “Wine and Vinegar” blog
The Ritual on Netflix
Since its release last year, DC’s “Justice League” has been heavily maligned, with some critics going so far as to call it the worst superhero movie ever made. This show is meant to dispel that ridiculous claim. Joining Danny for this episode is Coyle Neal of the City of Man Podcast. Coyle suggested the show and Danny took him up on it, watching it twice in two days. Much to his surprise, Danny thought the movie was not only “not bad,” it was actually “quite good.” Why does this tale of Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and a resurrected-Superman not connect with critics and audiences as much as Marvel’s Avengers-based universe? Certainly the residual hatred of Batman Vs. Superman had something to do with this consensus, but Danny has a different thesis: “Everyone loves Marvel and everyone hates DC right now.The outsized adulation for Infinity War is even more galling when paired against the snarky dismissal of Justice League. My theory is that people love what Marvel is doing because it is perfectly in sync with our current liberal democratic ideological state. Marvel is, in Gramsci’s (or is it Althusser's? Sorry it's been a while) terms, an ideological state apparatus, reflecting and perpetuating our shared values of equal rights for individuals and drone strikes for American military hegemony. DC, on the other hand is offering a decidedly pre-modern, even religious ideology. This is what the critics really hate about it.”
Agree? Disagree? Listen to the show for more. And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and other podcatchers. Plus, please go to Facebook and like the show there for much more content.
Alan Moore’s Watchmen forever changed the way we view superheroes. Ultimately, the argument of that graphic novel is that the superhero is an inherently fascist figure. Thinking about this got Danny to wondering what on Earth a socialist superhero might even look like. Well, to answer that question, Danny called on Wayne Wise and Chris Maverick from the Vox Popcast. Wayne and Mav both recommended that Danny read Alan Moore’s earlier exploration of this subject, Miracleman. In this podcast, we explore the really complicated publishing history of the most important comic you’ve never read, and then we dive into the book to find out what it is about superheroes that makes socialism a seeming impossibility. Plus, a discussion about postmodernism and Moore’s aesthetic, and the profound religious implications of Miracleman. Plus a major dose of comic book recommendations!
Finally, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the show, please do so and also leave us a positive review. Subscription info is available at www.sectarianreviewpodcast.com
An article on Coates’s Black Panther
The October Faction
The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man
Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain
East of West
The Wicked + The Divine
In this episode, Danny is joined by Dr. Tony Dragani, Professor of Religion at Mount Aloysius College. Listen for an informative, though-provoking exploration of a form of Catholicism you may not even know exists: Eastern Catholicism. Learn about the initial fracture between Rome and the East and how some Eastern traditions eventually made peace with the Pope of Rome. In addition, learn about what the ancient, even alien, traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism offer to the modern subject. And what on Earth is an “Uberdox” Christian? As always, remember to subscribe to the show via iTunes and leave a review. Danny will read your feedback on air. In addition, like our Facebook page and add to the conversation there.
Dr. Dragani’s website about Eastern Catholicism
Dr. Dragani’s fantasy writing community: Mythic Scribes!
If you've ever wondered about the creative process, this show is for you. Fan favorite C. Derick Varn joins the show to discuss his new book of poetry, Apocalyptics, just released by Unlikely Books. Learn about how Varn’s Marxist politics and unique religious background come together in this collection of poems that “reveal.” Varn’s book is a fascinating adaptation of traditional religious themes and in this episode, he tells us about his process and the formal exploration of intersections between politics, history, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.
Unlikely Books page for Apocalyptics
Apocalyptics Facebook Page
On May 22, 2018, American Novelist Philip Roth died at the age of 85. His passing marks the end of an era in American literature, when “serious” fiction and popular celebrity were not entirely distinct, and “important” books had a broad cultural impact. This week, the podcast looks back at the career of one of America’s most important artists. What does Newark, NJ and American Jewishness have to do with Roth’s work? Should he have received that Nobel? What was distinctive about his style and subject matter? What exactly have we lost as a culture, and how might Roth’s approach to fiction help us find it? Michial Farmer of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Matthew Shipe, President of the Philip Roth Society join for this humorous, enlightening discussion about an seminal figure in American letters.
Philip Roth Society
“Remembering Philip Roth: A Giant of American Literature,” by Adam Kirsch
“The Day the Genius Died,” by Megan Garber
“The Plot Against America,” by Chris Gehrz
“What Roth Didn’t Know about Women Could Fill a Book,” by Dara Horn
One more dive into the philosophical and moral depths of Marvel’s Infinity War. For this episode Kristen Filipic and Kim Anderson join the show to discuss Thanos’s utilitarianism against the ethical and theological backdrop of Pope Francis’s encyclical about consumerism and the environment, “Laudato Si.” Tune in to hear: highlights from the first Infinity War episode, some context about “Laudato Si” and how it relates to consumption and Christian ethics, an exploration of the motif of self-sacrifice in the Avengers: Infinity War, the role of Wakanda in this moral play, the difficult realities of a truly “pro-life” politics, and some thoughts about Distributism. As always, please take the time to respond to what you hear!
Kristen Filipic’s “Perfect Balance”
William Cavanaugh on Pope Francis and Economics at Saint Mary’s College
Pope John Paul II “Centesimus Annus”
In 1988 John Carpenter, auteur of genre classics like Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China, wrote and directed a powerhouse cult classic movie called They Live. Starring professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, the film crossed the sci-fi, horror, action, and lowbrow comedy genres while making a potent political statement about Ronald Reagan’s America and capitalism in the late Twentieth Century. The film follows an unemployed construction worker who discovers sunglasses that reveal the subliminal messages in our advertising and the alien invaders who are manipulating mankind’s fate. Now, thirty years after its release, what does the film have to say about our world?
Zizek on Ideology and They Live - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVwKjGbz60k
William Cavanaugh on Religious Violence - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS2VVLpDyWE
William Cavanaugh on Consumerism - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh22rJpL7zM&t
Special thanks to the band They Live Exclamation Point: Find them and their stuff at the following links:
Live show link:
Recently the United States Congress has passed a law that mandates all podcasts to do an episode on Infinity War (Disney’s pernicious influence, no doubt).
So for this episode, good patriot Danny Anderson is joined by Nathan Gilmour and Kristen Filipic to discuss the biggest superhero movie of them all. Why is it that this movie has struck such a powerful chord with moviegoers? What are the theological questions it asks? What does death really mean in this universe? Plus, Pope Francis makes his way into this one!
In 2013, the late Mark Fisher wrote an essay that immediately became a lightning rod in Left politics. “Exiting the Vampire Castle,” took aim at a leftism which Fisher saw as replacing class interests with a moralizing, liberal identity politics. In many ways, the essay predicted the aftermath of Trump’s election and the Clinton/Sanders debates. More importantly, however, it offers us a chance to think about how political discourse is changed by social media. Joining the Sectarian Review Podcast for this episode is C. Derick Varn. In addition to his long history of being involved in leftist political debates, Varn has special insight into this particular essay, as he was one of the editors who originally commissioned it in the first place. Sit back and take a deep dive into a fascinating conversation about political discourse.
“Exiting the Vampire Castle,” by Mark Fisher
“Out of a Castle, Into a Pit,” by C. Derick Varn
Russell Brand Versus Jeremy Paxman on the BBC
For this special May 1 edition of the show, Danny Anderson and Nathan Gilmour discuss a new book by Plough Publishing. In celebration of his upcoming canonization, Plough has published a series of homilies by Archbishop Oscar Romero called The Scandal of Redemption. Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 for his outspoken defense of El Salvador’s economically and politically oppressed citizens, was a divisive figure in Catholicism in his life. His political work, inspired in large part by the murder of his friend, Father Rutilio Grande, identified him with Liberation Theology for many Christians, who feared this movement’s association with Communism. The truth about Romero’s beliefs is much more nuanced and complex, however. Through his homilies (delivered as radio addresses to the nation’s poor), the truth about Romero’s political beliefs, and their intricate relationship to Catholic Theology, is revealed. The show wishes to thank Plough Publishing for providing exam copies of this wonderful book.
Also, don’t forget to submit a proposal to the upcoming Mount Aloysius College Conference on Teaching. If you want to learn more about effective teaching methods, this conference is a wonderful opportunity, and Danny Anderson would love to meet you in person! Proposals due by May 18 (see link below).
The Scandal of Redemption, by Oscar Romero
Torture and Eucharist, by William T. Cavanaugh
The Ministry of Special Cases, by Nathan Englander
Mount Aloysius Conference on College Teaching
Happy Earth Day, 2018! For this special episode, Danny is joined by his brilliant wife, Kim Anderson for a conversation with Brett Chamberlin from the Story of Stuff Project. Founded in 2007 with Annie Leonard’s film of the same title, which has received more than 50 million views, the Story of Stuff Project seeks to provide educational and organizational resources for combating the damaging effects that consumerism has caused the planet and the economy. Included in the discussion: the deep problems our consumerist mode of capitalism causes to our planet; how Nestle is able to put untold millions of gallons of water into its plastic bottles; what citizens can do to break these destructive cycles; and what role Christians and other people of faith can play in providing better stewardship of the planet.
Story of Stuff Project website
Story of Stuff Video
Videos about the Nestle water extraction
Faith-based Program for Christian Teens
Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s divisive 2011 novel is the subject of this episode. Jordan Poss of Piedmont Technical College and Nathan Magee of Mount Aloysius College join Danny for this discussion. Cline’s novel, though initially beloved suffered the scorn of critics in the wake of Gamergate. How has Spielberg’s adaptation addressed those concerns? What is it about the 1980s that fosters such nostalgia right now? What political position does this film take on consumerism and corporations? Exactly what kind of an artist is Spielberg and why is he obsessed with Stanley Kubrick? All this and much much more!
Constance Grady, “The Ready Player One
Inkoo Kang, “Ready Player One Is a Feat of State-of-the-Art Pop Culture Navel-Gazing”
Yuval Leven The Fractured Republic
Warren Ellis Transmetropolitan
If you’ve been following political news lately, you probably know that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has redrawn its congressional map after finding the previous version to be illegally gerrymandered. This was hailed as a victory for democracy in most circles, but lost in the celebration was the chaos that the decision brought to this year’s congressional races. Candidates who had been running for the better part of a year in one district were suddenly thrust into completely different districts just weeks before the primaries. Joining Danny to discuss this is Tom Prigg, Democratic candidate for Congress, who has lived this chaos first hand. Learn about Tom’s unorthodox background (neuroscientist, sniper, stuntman, iceberg climber), his motivation for running, and what the re-districting experience has been like for him and his campaign.
FiveThirtyEight on PA’s new districts
Controversial Politico article about Johnstown
Johnstown’s response to the Politico article
Tom Prigg’s response to the Politico article
Tom Prigg’s Campaign site
Listen to this episode to learn all about Chaim Potok's classic novel The Chosen. The book, which investigates the intricate tensions between religion, faith, and the intellect, follows the story of Danny Saunders and his move away from Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. What does this story have to say about faith and the life of the mind? Is there a way for the intellect to contribute to faith? How might post-Christendom Christianity think about these intersections? All this and much more on the latest Sectarian Review.
An all-star lineup of geeks from the Christian Humanism Radio Network for this one. David Grubbs of the Christian Humanist Podcast and Charles Hackney of the Book of Nature Podcast both join Danny for a lively discussion about Quatermass and the Pit. The 6-part BBC miniseries aired in 1958/59 and has been an enduring classic in the sci-fi genre ever since. Furthermore, the influence of this series cannot be overstated, clearly inspiring artists like Stephen King and John Carpenter, and works like 2001, The X-Files, and a great deal of the “Ancient Alien” phenomenon. What makes this serial so effective? What are the philosophical and religious implications of its storyline? What are the connections with Dr. Who? What did Hammer Films do with these same tales? Are we all really just “Nazi Space Bugs” as Charles Hackney puts it?
Bonus: don’t forget to check out the upcoming Mount Aloysius College Teaching Conference! Details here: https://www.mtaloy.edu/teachingconference/
Quatermass and the Pit on YouTube
The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort
In this episode of the podcast, Danny is joined by Rob Osborn to discuss an essay called “Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: A Scandal of Self” by Martyn Wendell Jones, which recently appeared in the Weekly Standard. By using the story of the Bakkers’ rise and fall, Jones introduces us a form of religious devotion called “Religious Enthusiasm.” Learn how the Bakkers’ PTL Club fits into a long tradition of Christianity which emphasizes personal experience over liturgy and theology. What does the Bakker story tell us about televangelism? How does the apocalyptic imagination of Jim Bakker’s new show help us trace a shift in Evangelical culture? Are there other ways in which “Religious Enthusiasm” lives on, unnoticed, today?
“Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: A Scandal of Self” by Martyn Wendell Jones
Mount Aloysius College Teaching Conference info