#155 | An American Religion: Pioneer Prophets & The Colonization Of The West w/ John G. Turner

In this episode, I speak with author and historian of American Religion John G. Turner. We discuss the origins and development of the uniquely American religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or as it is more colloquially referred: the “Mormon Church”), explored in John’s biography of the Church’s influential second president in ‘Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet’ and in his more recent book ‘The Mormon Jesus: A Biography’ which covers the Church’s theological underpinnings and place within the tapestry of American Christianity.

As someone that grew up as a member of the LDS Church (and having left the Church officially years ago), my fascination with the roots of this religion continues to the present day. I can’t shake my interest in examining the roots of religion in the broader sense, and while I’ve explored various topics that point to my interest in this subject, I had not yet given much time yet in discussing the role the LDS Church has played in such topics as: the colonization of the West; the cultural and historical context that gave rise to the cultural and political prominence of the Church in American society; American Exceptionalism and the role it’s played in the development of the theological underpinnings of Mormon faith and cosmology; the antagonistic relationship the Church leadership had with the United States government, primarily in the 19th century under Brigham Young; what recent controversies surrounding the Church and its leadership mean for the future of the organization and its members.

This is where John’s work comes in. His sober and detailed examination of the roots of the LDS Church sheds a light on the personalities of the individuals (Brigham Young and Joseph Smith) that made the most crucial and influential decisions in the history of not only the Church, but also in the westward expansion of the American Project (e.g. Manifest Destiny), as well as the colonization of the North American continent more generally. By understanding the roots of this religion, we can further understand the history of the United States and its expansionist program, as well as the role the Church played in that project. We get into these subjects and more in this episode.

John G. Turner is professor of American Religion at George Mason University, with a special interest in Mormonism, Evangelism, and the history of Colonial New England. John is the author of ‘Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America,’ ‘Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet,’ and ‘The Mormon Jesus: A Biography.’ John is currently next project is a history of Plymouth Colony, scheduled for publication in 2020 (the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower).

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about John and his work at his website: https://johngturner.com

- Purchase ‘Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet’ here: http://bit.ly/BrighamYBio

- Purchase ‘The Mormon Jesus: A Biography’ here: http://bit.ly/MormonJ

- The song featured in this episode is “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Source: https://youtu.be/QSiVjlknuSw

#120 | This Is America: The Apocalypse Of Settler Colonialism w/ Gerald Horne

In this episode, prolific author and historian Dr. Gerald Horne discusses some of the themes and details presented in his most recently published book 'The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean.' 

In the 17th century, major European powers were undergoing a massive colonization project on the North and South American continents, which inevitably resulted in the mass genocide and enslavement of countless indigenous peoples. Simultaneously during this same period, millions of Africans were kidnapped from their respective homeland, transported across the vast Atlantic Ocean, and then sold for staggeringly high profits, resulting in one the most economically profitable periods (for the major European powers involved) in human history. 

In this conversation, we explore how these monumentally disruptive events in the 17th century informed the initial formation and development of capitalism as the dominant socio-economic system of our time. Also, we explore the socially-constructed and institutionally-enforced concept of race, and how the historical development of both of these concepts, capitalism and race, are inextricably connected to the "apocalypse of settler colonialism" that arrived on the shores of the American and African continents during this time period. 

In essence, we explore these questions: How do the events presented above ultimately inform what is occurring presently in the world today? What is this thing we call "America" - and what was it founded on? Also, how can we begin to grapple with implications of this information on an individual, and collective level? We get into this and more in this episode.

Dr.  Gerald Horne holds the Moores Professorship of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, is the author of more than thirty books and one hundred scholarly articles and reviews. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of relations involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University. 

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about Dr. Horne at his university web page: https://bit.ly/2k7gJC8

- Purchase Dr. Horne's book 'The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism' here: https://bit.ly/2klqDzG

- Read a segment of 'The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism' here: https://bit.ly/2rPANNs

- The song featured in this episode is from the "This Is America" music video by Childish Gambino. Source: https://youtu.be/VYOjWnS4cMY

#114 | Suppressed Histories: Uncovering & Reclaiming What Has Been Lost w/ Max Dashu

In this episode, I speak with Max Dashu, founder of the Suppressed Histories Archive, and author of 'Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700 - 1100.' 

Through a lifetime of research and documentation, Max elaborates on what can be understood about ancient mother-right cultures, what we can possibly understand about the worldview these ancient peoples may have held, as well as the important and necessary roles women fulfilled in these ancient societies. Max also expounds on the kinds of knowledge and traditions of wisdom (passed on through women) that have been suppressed and largely lost in our collective transition to modernity. By developing an understanding of the forms of knowledge and wisdom that have been lost in the long-unfolding suppression of ancient traditions (which have in large part have been carried by women in mother-right cultures) what can we can ultimately understand about our modern mode of existence on this planet? 

In this interview, Max draws on a lifetime of historical research - of documenting and interpreting the art and artifacts of ancient cultures from around the world.  Max Dashu is the founder of the Suppressed Histories Archive, a project she founded in 1970 to research and document women's history from an international perspective. Max is the author of ‘Witches and Pagans:  Women In European Folk Religion, 700 - 1100,’ one volume in an ongoing series to uncover and document the forgotten roles of women in ancient human cultures from around the world. 

Episode Notes:

- Find everything you need to know about Max's work at the Suppressed Histories Archive website: http://www.suppressedhistories.net

- Learn more about Max's book 'Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700 - 1100' here: http://www.veleda.net

- Purchase the book: https://bit.ly/2HJs8oU

- Follow updates on the Suppressed Histories Archive on Facebook: https://bit.ly/2K20X7j

- Follow updates on Max's work on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaxDashu

- Follow updates on 'Witches and Pagans' on Facebook: https://bit.ly/2K20X7j

- The song featured in this episode is "Northwest Tribal Drums" from the album Drums of the World: African, Samba, Taiko, Chinese and Middle Eastern Music.

#106 | Caliban And The Witch: The Body In The Transition To Capitalism w/ Silvia Federici

In this episode, Silvia Federici goes over many of the details and themes in her groundbreaking book "Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation," an extensive history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Silvia discusses the conditions that lead to the witch-hunts in medieval Europe, and the lasting impact these events have had on the trajectory of capitalist development into the modern era. Silvia provides a description of the social and economic system, feudalism, that governed societies in medieval Europe and how the events and struggles that occurred during that time period led to the economic and social system, capitalism, we currently exist in today. "Caliban and the Witch" is an incredibly important and relevant work, and provides a much needed context of how capitalism did not merely emerge naturally out of feudalism, but was enacted piece by piece through systemic acts of state violence over hundreds of years against the landless, the poor, and in particular women. Silvia goes over the details of her work in this episode.

Silvia Federici is is a scholar, teacher, activist, and the author of numerous books, including "Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation" and "Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle." She is a professor emerita and Teaching Fellow at Hofstra University.

Episode Notes:

- Check out Silvia's book "Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation" here: https://www.akpress.org/calibanandthewitch.html

- Also, check out Silvia's book "Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle" here: https://www.akpress.org/revolutionatpointzero.html

- Learn more about Silvia's most recent book "Wages for Housework: The New York Committee 1972–1977" here: https://www.akpress.org/wages-for-housework.html

- The songs featured in this episode are "Jstowee" and "Nvrending" by Knxwledge from the album Hud Dreems.

#80 | The Psychedelic Gospels: The Forgotten Roots Of Christianity w/ Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown is the co-author of The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity. Jerry, as well as his wife and co-author Julie Brown, began their journey into the psychedelic history of early Christianity after noticing telling depictions of psychedelic mushrooms on display in the frescoes and architecture of the many chapels and cathedrals that exist across Europe. 

Jerry tells the story of how he and his wife Julie first made this baffling discovery, and also explains as to why it has not been documented and researched until very recently. We examine the possible role psychedelics would have played in the early centuries of Christianity, and more broadly, the origins of religion itself, as well as how our own personal experiences have led us toward having an open minded exploration of this subject. What does it mean for there to be these depictions of psychedelic mushroom in early Christian art? How does this subject and research fit into the broader "Psychedelic Renaissance" that is currently underway in multiple scientific disciplines?  Jerry and I discuss this and much more in this episode.

Episode Notes:

- Learn more about the Psychedelic Gospels, as well as Jerry and Julia's work: https://psychedelicgospels.com

- Purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/Psychedelic-Gospels-History-Hallucinogens-Christianity/dp/1620555026

- Get updates on the Psychedelic Gospels:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/psygospels
Twitter: https://twitter.com/psygospels

- Some of Jerry's bio:

'Jerry B. Brown, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, author and activist. From 1972-2014, he served as Founding Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University in Miami, where he designed and taught a course on “Hallucinogens and Culture.” The course examines the use of psychoactive plants by tribal and classical cultures, including Ancient India and Greece, and by and discusses the discoveries of the modern mind-explorers, the “psychonauts of the twentieth century.”

Dr. Brown is co-author of Sacred Plants and the Gnostic Church: Speculations on Entheogen-Use in Early Christian Ritual, Journal of Ancient History, May 2014.

He received a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Religion from Antioch College and a doctorate degree in Anthropology from Cornell University.'

Source: https://psychedelicgospels.com/authors

- The music featured in this episode comes from "The Lily & The Lamb: Chant & Polyphony from Medieval England" (https://youtu.be/jpe6-oXa0ZQ) as well as the tracks "White Dresses" and "Symphony #69" by Pogo from the album Broken Beats.