Mandatory World Religions Course? [further reading]

If you didn't get a chance, check out my video on Modesto, CA's mandatory religious studies course. In this video I give an overview of what a mandatory high school class in religious studies might look like and offer a few reasons why we need curriculum like this. Advocates for religious literacy frequently laud Modesto's school district as a model for other schools to adopt, though most people have probably never heard of it. As I say in the video, this world religion course has met with reasonable success. Students over the past decade since it was implemented have exhibited a stronger appreciation for religious diversity and the First … [Read On...]

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buddha ritual

What is Ritual? [vlog bibliography]

Jonathan Z. Smith and Catherine Bell (who tragically died in 2008) have both heavily influenced scholarship on ritual studies over the past three decades. Ritual used to be viewed as “an outward expression of inward faith”—actions that reflected deeper mythologies, sincerity, belief, or symbolism. Smith and Bell (along with a few other key scholars) helped to turn the […]


Gospel of Judas Bibliography

This was a very difficult video to produce simply because of how much research is out there. The academic discipline of ancient history moves VERY SLOWLY. So when new data appears on the scene, scholars immediately jump on it.   I’ll make it easy for all of you and provide the monographs and articles I relied […]

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Did Emperor Decius Specifically Target Christians? [bibliography]

Because Christian persecution is such a volatile topic, I approached this video with a measure of trepidation. Tempers can flare when you try to vet the historicity of martyrdom accounts. Dr. Candida Moss, for example, received huge amounts of hate mail for her book The Myth of Persecution back in 2013 for applying the historical critical […]

What Did Marcion Believe? [video bibliography]

The Demiurge glaring at you silly humans

Researching for my Marcion video was actually pretty tough. Not because of the scarcity of sources, but because of the huge glut of scholarship on the topic. Marcion is pretty popular among scholars, and I needed to distill all of their research into a 10 minute video. Coincidentally, I had just read a recent monograph […]

Invisibility Spell Episode Bibliography


The first episode of the “Magic/Science/Religion” series on YouTube features my favorite invisibility spell! I’ve loved this spell since I discovered it in my first semester of graduate school. It is just so bizarre. Why would an ancient person need to turn invisible? How did they think this actually worked? Did anyone actually try it? […]