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 Season 2

In this podcast I explore how images influence our understanding of reality and the sacred through conversations with thought leaders on art, visual culture, and religion. Each episode delves into a different area of visual theology, opening to spiritual wisdom while deconstructing an image-saturated world.

You can also access all episodes in Radix Magazine. The podcast is also featured on the website for the Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts.


Gregory Price Grieve

Video Games and Theology

Gregory is Head, and Professor of the Religious Studies Department at The University of North Carolina Greensboro. As the Director of UNCG’s Network for the Cultural Study of Videogaming and a founding member of the International Academy for the Study of Gaming and Religion, Gregory is at the forefront of advancing scholarly understanding in this emerging field.

In this episode, Gregory and I discussed how video games challenge and reinforce societal perceptions of religion. We talked about ways religious studies can critically analyze and interpret these representations in popular gaming culture. We also delved into how video games influence personal beliefs, the symbolism of violence, and the role of games in relation to complex moral and philosophical concepts.


Brent Rodriguez-Plate

Technology and Embodiment

Brent has presented their research at museums, cultural centers, and universities across Asia, Europe, and North America. Recent books include Religion and Film: Cinema and the Re-Creation of the WorldA History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects, and the co-edited Routledge Handbook of Material Religion. They are the Executive Director of  the Association for Public Religion and Intellectual Life, otherwise known as APRIL, editor of the 70-year-old journal CrossCurrents, and Board Member of the Interfaith Coalition of Greater Utica, NY.

In this episode, Brent and I discussed the profound interplay between spirituality and tangible objects. We explore how material culture has shaped and continues to influence religious practices, rituals, and beliefs. Brent offers valuable insights into the historical significance of religious artifacts, shedding light on their role in preserving and transmitting spiritual traditions. 



Stefanie Knauss

Religious Identity in Media

Stefanie is Professor of Constructive Theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. Her teaching and research focus on religion, media and gender, the role of body in religious traditions, issues of gender and sexuality in theology, and the theological engagement with visual arts, film and other visual media. Stefanie has served on ecumenical juries at film festivals in Fribourg, Locarno and Venice. She is the co-chief editor of the Journal for Religion, Film and Media and coordinator of the editorial board of the book series Research in Contemporary Religion.

In this episode, Stefanie and I delve into religion, spirituality, and their interaction with media representation. We explored the importance of challenging prevailing narratives, talked about how contemporary artists and filmmakers influence the mediascape, and considered strategies for promoting accurate depictions of spiritual life in media.


Philip Bess

Urban Design and Sacred Space

Philip is Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, where he specializes in urban design and theory, with a particular interest in Catholic and classical humanist intellectual and artistic traditions in the context of modern American life and the contemporary culture of architecture and urban design. Philip’s research has been supported by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Graham Foundation, The Historical Society of Boston University, and the Notre Dame Tocqueville Program.

In this episode, Philip and I discussed the complex and fascinating connection between urban planning, spirituality, and the profound shifts brought by modernity, including the influence of the automobile on cityscapes. We explored ways to reintegrate the sacred into contemporary city design in order to enhance well-being and spiritual fulfillment.


Gary Vikan

Exhibiting Sacred Art

Gary was director of the Walters Art Museum from 1994 to 2013; from 1985 to 1994 he was the museum’s chief curator. Before moving to Baltimore, Gary was senior associate at Harvard’s Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. A native of Minnesota, he received his BA from Carleton College and his PhD from Princeton University. He serves on the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts of the Salzburg Global Seminar. He has been an advisor to the Getty Leadership Institute, Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology, and the Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics at Johns Hopkins University.

In this episode, Gary and I discussed how to preserve the spiritual impact of Orthodox icons in a museum setting. We talked about the challenges of conveying the unique power of sacred art to a diverse audience while respecting its spiritual intent. Additionally, we discuss the intersections of art, culture, and religion in the context of pilgrimage.



Rachel Hostetter Smith

Religion Through Contemporary Art

Rachel is Gilkison Distinguished Professor of Art History at Taylor University. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome on two occasions, a participant in NEH Summer Seminars on Medieval Art in Paris and York, has been a seminar leader for artists and scholars in the US and abroad, and has taught in South Africa, China, Italy, and British Columbia. Rachel is a founding director and current President of the Board of The Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art. The recipient of the Best Article of the Year Award from the journal Explorations in Renaissance Culture, she publishes on a wide range of topics in the arts.

In this episode, Rachel and I discussed questions around the place and role of spirituality in contemporary art. We talked about her recent book on the subject and her various projects across a broad range of projects and exhibitions. We also explored how diverse artists navigate spirituality, cultural differences, and environmental consciousness through their artwork.


Ali Hussain

The Arts Through Sufism and Christian Mysticism

Ali Hussain is a musician and poet. He has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan, Department of Middle East Studies. His research focuses on the image of Jesus in the writings of Muslim polymath Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi and later Muslim scholars. His other research interests include Islam and Sufism in America, art and creativity in Islam and the creative engagement that Sufi mystics have with Arabic through the mediation of the Quran. In 2018, he founded "The Adhwaq Center for Spirituality, Culture and the Arts", a nonprofit organization focused on spirituality and creativity in contemporary culture.

In this episode, Ali and I explore the intersection of Christian mysticism and Sufism in the realm of art and spirituality. As representatives of Christianity and Islam, we share a love of the mystical schools in each tradition, and we had an amazing interfaith dialogue. We discussed everything from the mystical nature of the creative process, to the influence of the great Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi, the search for the sacred in everyday life, and the role of representation in visual art and popular media.


Robert Covolo

Theology and Fashion

Robert is a cultural theologian residing in Los Angeles. He currently serves as an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, and as a Tutor at the Honors College, Azusa Pacific University. He directs the Center for Pastoral Residents, Christ Church Sierra Madre, and works as the Director of Vocational Discipleship at the Center for Faith + Work Los Angeles.

Robert’s 2020 book “Fashion Theology" was nominated for the Grawmeyer Award in Religion. In addition, Robert has over 70 publications, including the newly released “Neo-Calvinism and the Arts” in the T & T Clark Handbook to Neo-Calvinism.

In this episode, Robert and I discuss the intriguing relationship between fashion and theology, exploring their historical intersections, the symbolic aspects of fashion, and the impact of clothing on spirituality.


Petra Carlsson-Redell

Aesthetics and Radical Theology

Petra is professor of systematic theology and head of the Center for Theology, Ecology, and Culture at Stockholm School of Theology. She does research in the borderland of theology, art, performance, and environmental activism. She is co-founder of a surrealist and theology collective called The International Congress for Infrathin Studies. She is the author of "Mysticism as Revolt", "Foucault, Art, and Radical Theology: The Mystery of Things" and "Avantgarde Art and Radical Material Theology: A Manifesto". Petra is also an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church of Sweden.

In this episode, Petra and I discuss the intersection of aesthetics, spirituality, and theology. From 20th-century philosophers bridging the gap between art and theology to the use of diverse imagery in representing religious beliefs, we navigated the complex terrain where radical theology, mysticism, and political artistic activism converge.



Saurav Mohapatra

Theology and Comics

Saurav is a writer and filmmaker primarily known for his work on the crime-noir graphic novel Mumbai Confidential and his collaboration with Deepak Chopra for the comic book series Deepak Chopra Presents India Authentic. He is also the author of the essay “Echoes Of Eternity” for the Graven Images anthology that examined Hindu reincarnation motifs in American Superhero comics, especially in the work of Grant Morisson’s “Animal Man” and Alan Moore’s “Supreme.”

In this episode, Saurav and I discuss the intriguing intersection of religion and comic books as we compare aspects of Hinduism and Christianity. We explored how themes like sacrifice, morality, and resilience in superhero narratives resonate with theological concepts from these two traditions, revealing the universal aspects underlying both religions. Whether examining parallels with ancient religious art or the modern dilemmas of comic characters, we navigated the rich landscape where theology and comics converge.


Christina Maranci

Armenian Religious Architecture

Christina is the author of four books and over 100 articles and essays on medieval Armenian art and architecture, including most recently, "The Art of Armenia." Her 2015 monograph, "Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia" won the Karen Gould Prize for Art History from the Medieval Academy of America as well as the Sona Aronian Prize for best Armenian Studies monograph from the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. She has worked on issues of cultural heritage for over a decade, with a focus on the at-risk Armenian churches and monasteries in what is now Eastern Turkey.

In this episode, Christina and I discuss the distinctive traits of Armenian religious architecture, its significance in Christian and architectural history, and the interplay between exterior and interior elements in creating sacred space. From their reflection of Orthodox theology to the unique history of Ani, we delved into how Armenian churches differ from other traditions.


David William Brown

Architecture, Worship, and Imagination

David taught for fourteen years at Oxford and for seventeen at Durham before becoming Professor of Theology, Aesthetics & Culture at the University of St. Andrews in 2007. In recent years he has focused on interactions between theology and the arts and indeed culture more generally. This resulted in a series of five books for Oxford University Press: "Tradition and Imagination," "Discipleship and Imagination," "God and Enchantment of Place," "God and Grace of Body" and "God and Mystery in Words." David was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002, and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012. His most recent book is "Gospel as Work of Art: Imaginative Truth and the Open Text."


In this episode, David and I discuss architecture, worship, and imagination. From the symbolism of stained glass to the impact of architectural design on the worship experience, we draw parallels between Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues, and churches as we explore the nature of sacred space. We also talked about how aesthetic and religious experience overlap but also differ in important ways.

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