Sacred Tension

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March 5, 2019  

FrazzleDrip, Satanists, and Other Moral Panics

The history of the United States is dotted by moral panics: delusional mass hysterias over complete fictions like the Illuminati, 9/11 trutherism, Stranger Danger, and Pedophilic Satanists. Now, in a climate in which the fertile jungle of the internet seems to produce new conspiracy theories by the day, we need to understand the importance of moral panics, how they warp minds, and destroy lives.

Joining me today is Chelsea Webber-Smith, producer of the excellent podcast American Hysteria. In this conversation we explore the causes of moral panic, the current moral panics in our culture, what led Chelsea down this strange path of studying conspiracy theories and moral panics, and what frightens her the most about moral panics. This was a great conversation, and I had enormous fun.

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Other Rock Candy shows: Eleventylife

February 18, 2019  

The Theology of Heaven’s Gate

In March of 1997, Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicide to the astonishment and horror of the world. Over 20 years later, we are still piecing together the mystery of this fringe UFO religion: who were they, what did they believe, and why did they end so horribly? Joining me for today’s Sacred Tension podcast is Benjamin Zeller, widely considered the leading authority on Heaven’s Gate.

Zeller walks us through why he calls Heaven’s Gate a religion and not a cult, the theology of Heaven’s Gate and how it is, at its most basic level, Christian, whether we will ever have society without religion, and much more. I found this an incredibly thought provoking conversation, and I hope you do too.

Benjamin Zeller is a researcher and teacher of religion in America. He focuses on religious currents that are new or alternative, including new religions, the religious engagement with science, and the quasi-religious relationship people have with food. Dr. Zeller holds a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, an M.T.S. from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester.

Other Rock Candy Podcasts: Eleventylife

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February 12, 2019  

A Theist and a Nontheist Have a Conversation

Our culture is rife with unproductive conversations about God and religion. Donald and I attempt to rectify this by sitting down and talking about our belief and unbelief in God. 

February 4, 2019  

When Maggie Met Molly

Despite the social taboo against certain psychedelic and psychoactive drugs, the medical world is now experimenting on previously forbidden drugs with promising results. In this episode of Sacred Tension, I speak with Maggie Eli about her clinical trial on MDMA, AKA Molly or Ecstasy. We talk about PTSD, living with mental illness, religious trauma, Christianity, and how MDMA helped her heal from debilitating mental illness.

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Other Rock Candy shows: Eleventylife

February 1, 2019  

On Not Believing in God but Experiencing Him Anyway

May 21, 2018  

Exploring Satanism, Pt. 1: Satan the Outsider

In this episode of Sacred Tension, I talk to Greg Stevens, a leader and spokesman of the Satanic Temple. In part one of this interview we discuss nontheistic religion, worship, atheism, the 7th tenent of the Satanic Temple, and much more. 

You can find Greg at You can find the Satanic Temple at

March 12, 2018  

Living With Doubt, Pt. 2: The Nontheistic Option

In part two of our series on doubt, Matt Langston and I continue our discussion of Science Mike's Axioms. In the process, we talk about hell, salvation from a scientific perspective, how we relate to the Bible, and how nontheism might be the way of the future. 

Find Matt's new album here


February 26, 2018  

Telling Better Stories

After growing up in Northern Ireland, storyteller Gareth Higgins understands better than most how stories shape society, conflict, and change. In this episode of Sacred Tension, Gareth shares his wisdom with my listeners about how to tell better stories in a world that seems overrun with fundamentalism, violence, and totalitarianism. 

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