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Ritual Podcast

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Ritual is a podcast about how humans make patterns of meaning in a maddening world.The rituals we discuss will span centuries and civilizations. They will run the gamut from the ornately performative, to the relatively mundane. Season One focuses on the quest for immortality and how we cope with our own expiration dates.






Ep. 10: Heroes & Humans

The first story ever written, the Epic of Gilgamesh, tells the story of a quest for immortality. This quest for meaning affects the lives of our current listeners as much as the heroes of epic. In the last episode of the season, you get one more chance to savor my dramatic storytelling, and a few more questions I don't have answers to.

Duration: 00:23:48

Ep. 9: Resistance & Rights

Vodou is a much maligned and often misunderstood religion. We’ll begin to unpack vodou’s complicated role in Haitian history and learn about loa. I’m joined by Dr. Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University, who comes to us live from the Chicago airport, complete with boarding announcements.

Duration: 00:30:54

Ep. 8: Rabbis & Remembrance

Mourning the loss of a loved one is never an easy thing. Shiva is a Jewish practice that gives mourners time and space to process their grief. In this episode, I speak with a rabbi about why he's not concerned about the afterlife. Also, I try very hard to make a metaphor about Spiderman.

Duration: 00:20:09

Ep. 7: Spirits & Sunflowers

Ghost stories are sometimes more comforting than scary. In this episode, we'll examine Spiritualism through the life of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. I'll also introduce you to a modern Spiritualist minister, and tell you all about my fool-proof retirement plan.

Duration: 00:21:25

Ep. 6: Mercury & Magicians

It's a surprisingly fine line between magic and science. Along that line lies alchemy. In this episode, I dive into historical attempts to create the philosopher's stone, and the philosophical arguments for its existence. Also, I question whether maybe text messages are magic.

Duration: 00:21:29

Ep. 5: Grace & Glitter

Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed by a number of Christian denominations. Catholic ritual and theology shows the role death can play in the path towards immortality. Along the way, I learn more than I expected about a ritual I actually practice, and come up with an idea for next year's hottest new app.

Duration: 00:20:37

Ep. 3: Marching & Marble

At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, a Sentinel walks the mat 24-hours a day, seven days a year. In this episode, we move beyond superstition, but look deeper at the kind of repetition that can echo across generations. I introduce you to an essayist from Wyoming with a knack for tradition and a past life as a guard that feels very present.

Duration: 00:17:55

Ep. 2: Sacrifice & Sangre

In the Inka child sacrifice ceremony of Capacocha, we see ritual in its most brutal form, as the lines between statecraft and spirituality blur. This week’s episode takes us to South America, to learn about an empire that spanned the Andes mountain range. I learn what a huaca is and I become acquainted with the wine selection at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Duration: 00:19:10

Ep. 1: Proxies & Polyester

Our exploration of immortality starts with the Mormon Baptism for the Dead, a controversial ceremony designed to give all people who ever lived the chance to convert to Mormonism. I learn the difference between the spirit and the soul. Also, I discover the Mormon Church’s 24-hour hotline and a hot new fashion trend.

Duration: 00:18:33

Introduction: This is Ritual

Coming March 22.

Duration: 00:01:26