Sacrilegious, a podcast with Gary Laderman

Religion is more than churches, temples, and mosques, and not always concerned with bibles, dogmas, and God. This podcast explores religious and spiritual life in other terms, and seeks to turn your understanding of religion upside down. 

Topics include death, sexuality, drugs, science, music, and other sacred realms that are often overlooked, but are deeply powerful religious sources of meaning and ritual. This is not another podcast offering opportunities for spiritual growth, or interfaith dialogue, or religious literacy. It is, rather, a public forum to subvert common perspectives about religion; raise critical questions about conventional understandings of the sacred; and play with the conceptual boundlessness of spirituality in human cultures.

Sacrilegious Episode 13: Rick Strassman MD

  Rick Strassman is the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule and the recently published, The Psychedelic Handbook: A Practical Guide to Psilocybin, LSD, Ketamine, MDMA, and DMT/Ayahuasca, among other books. A critical, pioneering figure in the recent, so-called “Psychedelic Renaissance,” Strassman is known around the world for his studies and writing, and is an inspiration to many. He spoke with Gary about his journey researching DMT, an early psychedelic experience, his time in a Zen monastery, medicalizing the psychedelic experience, and a whole lot of stimulating related topics.  

Sacrilegious Episode 12: Dr. Sunil Aggarwal

      In this Sacrilegious podcast, Gary‘s guest is Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a physician and medical geographer who is among other things at the forefront of the legal fight to allow terminally ill patients Right to Try access to psychedelics. The discussion also covers integrative medicine, death anxiety, Darwin’s Pharmacy, the value of a Religion minor, the entheogenic reformation, and other scintillating topics.  

Sacrilegious Episode 11: John Schewel

In this episode of Sacrilegious, Gary hears from John Schewel, someone brought into the orbit of Timothy Leary as a young man in the 1960s and who became an integral part of the early psychedelic scene, including as one of the founding members of the League of Spiritual Discovery. The two discuss psycho-accelerators and life at Milbrook; The Tibetan Book of the Dead and “muddy waters”; and a range of other psychedelic related topics.

Sacrilegious Episode 10: Religion and Drugs

In this episode of Sacrilegious, Gary flies solo and discusses his growing interest in religion and drugs, and how the two fit together, fall apart, and often overlap, in his mind. He touches on the nuances, and messiness, of religion and its relation to American life, and how drugs may be primed to play an increasingly obvious role in the spiritual lives of Americans in the future.

Sacrilegious Episode 09: Michael Elliot; Me, My Dean, and Moby Dick

  In this episode of Sacrilegious, Gary has a whale of a good time with his friend, colleague, and boss, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English, and Dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Michael Elliott, talking about Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The entire episode. While we focus on the religious currents in this epic, seafaring story, we also celebrate its sacrilegious qualities and sacred standing in American culture. Some of the topics they touch on include death, drugs, friendship, men without women, meaning, meaninglessness, the white whale, and even a mention of God.  

Sacrilegious Episode 8: Deepak Sarma

  What are some of the topics covered in the latest episode of Sacrilegious, you ask? Pharmaceuticals and religion; brain trauma and memory; yoga and charisma gone awry; and a recurring, particularly popular topic for the host: religious studies in public spheres. Professor of Indian religions and philosophy, Deepak Sarma, from Case Western Reserve University, is the guest with Gary in this conversation. Sarma’s wide-ranging experiences, as a guest museum curator, as a cultural consultant for projects at Netflix, as a survivor of a serious brain injury while rock climbing, contribute to a lively time and a free-flowing vibe. 

Sacrilegious Episode 07: Jeffrey Harris

  In the latest episode of Sacrilegious, Gary delves into religion and …. fast food–vegan fast food to be exact–with guest Jeffrey Harris, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of the new vegan food phenomenon, Plant Power. Vegan fast food? A sacrilege to many Americans who worship at the golden arches and ritually consume a host of animal-based, fast-food products morning, noon, and night. On the other hand, vegan fast food may provide spiritual as well as dietary nourishment to many who are backing Plant Power’s not-so-modest, but certainly modestly religious, goal of “changing the world, one burger at a time.” Plus, Jeffrey is a friend Gary’s known all his life, so he had some damn good fun conversing about religion, food, business, branding, spirituality, and his early years.  

Sacrilegious Episode 06: Dr. Ali John Zarrabi

  Religion, death, health, drugs–these topics and more are included in Gary’s conversation with Sacrilegious guest, Dr. Ali John Zarrabi, assistant professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Emory University. Dr. Zarrabi’s clinical work and research focus on palliative care, including but not limited to cannabis and psychedelic treatments for cancer patients. How do we understand a mystical experience? Is the Church of Cannabis legit? Can psilocybin ease anxieties about death? Just a few of the questions raised in this episode of Sacrilegious.

Sacrilegious Episode 05: Anthony Pinn

  In this episode, Laderman converses with guest Anthony Pinn, Agnus Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, Department of Religion, Rice University. Some of the topics they cover include atheism, death, music, Afro-Pessimism, and the pandemic. A brief conversation but it packs a punch.  

Sacrilegious Episode 04: Kathryn Lofton

  Kathryn Lofton, Religious Studies scholar and Dean of Humanities at Yale University, joins Gary in this freewheeling but religion-focused episode of Sacrilegious. In under 60 minutes they tackle a variety of topics, including Bob Dylan and Beyoncé; religious literacy and canon wars; public scholarship and the pandemics, all with an eye on the shifting power dynamics driving academic and public understandings of “religion.”  

Sacrilegious Episode 03: Who?

  Who on earth studies religion? What are the forces that motivate someone to take up religion as a calling–not in terms of faith, but in terms of teaching and study? This episode explores some of the answers with reference to the host of Sacrilegious, Gary Laderman, who shares some of his perspectives and experiences on coming to the study of religion, being saved by education, and what he hopes to achieve in this enterprise.