Thinking Religion

A podcast (theoretically) about religion, life, experience, and adjacent topics

About the show

Thinking Religion is a podcast hosted by Rev. Sam Harrelson and tackles various topics that deal with the intersection of religion, the Bible, faith, and culture.

Thinking Religion on social media


  • Episode 160: Gesticulating Wildly

    February 7th, 2020  |  45 mins 28 secs
    acts, bible, bultmann, canonization, colossians, ephesians, luke, matthew, mitt romney, nancy pelosi, new testament, old testament, paul, politics, prayer breakfast, trump

    This week we take a look back on a fascinating week of religion news and discuss how to talk to people who don't think the same way you do before closing out with a little history lesson on Acts 4-5.

  • Episode 159: You Can't Get a Babysitter For Church

    January 31st, 2020  |  24 mins 6 secs
    baptists, bible study, childcare, church, jesus, micah, old testament, sex, worship

    Merianna and Sam discuss church schedules, life of the pastor's spouse, missing Sunday morning worship, Micah 6:8, and high church baptists.

  • Episode 158: We Don't Talk About That in Church

    January 24th, 2020  |  1 hr 8 mins
    bible, documentary hypothesis, doomsday clock, interpretation history, jonah, new testament

    This week, Revs. Merianna Neely Harrelson and Sam Harrelson discuss canonization, the politics of commentaries, Jonah's Whale, interpretation history, Doomsday Clock, Harrowing of Hell, and masturbation lessons from Sunday School.

  • "The Next Day" Sermon

    January 22nd, 2020  |  24 mins 5 secs
    david bowie, gospel of john, john the baptist, new testament, sermons

    Bonus episode here as the main show will be coming out a little later this week. This is audio from Sam's sermon on John 1:29-42 this past Sunday at Garden of Grace UCC in Columbia, SC about sin, community, identity, and why he started going to church.

  • Episode 157: Talking To Our Younger Selves about Religion

    January 16th, 2020  |  1 hr 4 mins
    acts, bible, bultmann, canonization, colossians, ephesians, luke, matthew, new testament, old testament, paul

    Sam is joined by The Rev. Merianna Neely Harrelson to discuss babysitters, how she approaches Acts in church Bible studies, canonization, ascension vs resurrection vs transfiguration, the problem with a seminary education, and 4 listener questions.

  • Episode 156: You Miss 100% Of The Shots You Don't Take - Wayne Gretzky - Michael Scott

    January 6th, 2020  |  1 hr 10 mins
    acts, facebook, galatians, hebrew bible, james, new testament, north dakota, saskatchewan, shale oil, twitter, wayne gretzky

    Sam is joined by Matthew Klippenstein this week to discuss fracturing of denominations, late dating of biblical texts, what an American has to learn from a Canadian, why the Dalai Lama might want to consider the lilies, and why ACTS might be the best book in the New Testament.

  • Episode 155: Back to Weekly

    December 25th, 2019  |  2 mins 40 secs
    christmas, newton, podcasting

    Big news in this one… we’re coming back weekly for 2020! Starting around New Year’s Day, we’ll be back with all new guests and voices (and voices of guests) as well as some fun book giveaways, and a number of insider downloads drawing from the show’s past (and present and future).

    Merry Christmas from Merianna, Sam, and the Harrelson family and more soon!

  • Episode 154: What's the Point?

    May 10th, 2019  |  35 mins 55 secs
    churches, culture

    Merianna and Sam discuss cultural transitions and how churches of all sizes and shapes are positioning themselves in the midst of societal shifts.

  • Episode 153: The Myth of Needed Experience

    May 2nd, 2019  |  59 mins 34 secs
    bible, chronicles, old testament, trump

    Merianna and Sam discuss the notion of generational divides in politics, mattress buying, and church attendance.

  • The Moral Checklist

    February 28th, 2019  |  49 mins
    asbury hills, bible, southern baptist, united methodist church

    Merianna and Sam discuss old friends, new parenting techniques while attempting to figure out what makes the church different from the garden club.

  • Episode 151: Debating Narrative Preaching

    February 22nd, 2019  |  39 mins 13 secs
    bible, narrative preaching, obama, preaching, united methodist church

    Merianna and Sam (and newborn Baby Girl) discuss insider language in denominations, the LGBTQ question facing the United Methodist Church, narrative preaching, and the difficulties of studying for a sermon in 2019 in the age of unlimited entertainment.

  • Episode 150: True Love Waits For Instagram Stories to Load

    February 13th, 2019  |  42 mins 56 secs
    #metoo, facebook, instagram, jesus, kris kristofferson, southern baptists, willie nelson

    Merianna and Sam tackle Instagram Stories, performative social media, and generational gender divides in reading the Scripture.

  • Episode 149: Insta Bible Study

    February 8th, 2019  |  44 mins 45 secs
    bible, bible study, new testament, old testament

    Merianna and Sam discuss Instagram Bible studies, reading the whole Bible in a year, and the search for authenticity in a time of societal shifts.

  • Episode 148: Faith Is a Boomerang

    August 21st, 2018  |  48 mins 34 secs
    bible, demythologizing, dialectical, genesis, gollwitzer, religion podcast

    The Rev. Lauren Larkin joins Sam to discuss birthing pangs in Genesis, the merits of demythologizing, and Dialectical Theology in the 21st Century.

  • Episode 147: Thinking Religion Again

    July 28th, 2018  |  4 mins 22 secs

    Ready for the next episode? Here we go! THINKING RELIGION is coming back in August :)

  • Episode 146: And In the End

    April 9th, 2018  |  29 mins 45 secs

    Dr. Thomas J. Whitley and The Rev. Sam Harrelson discuss things we pass down and the best way to sign off.