Thinking Religion: Our Quest For A Historical Jesus


Prof. Thomas Whitley and Sam Harrelson attempt to bring some thoughtfulness to the discussion of religion again this week with a discussion of Obama’s views of Christianity, Buddhist concepts, Mary Magdalene, and the Historical Jesus.

This Week’s Topics

  • Is Obama working on his legacy image with remarks on religion?
  • Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics join together… good or bad?
  • Does exposure to Buddhist concepts make you more “prosocial” and less likely to be prejudiced towards others?
  • Finding Mary Magdalene: How close were Jesus and Mary?
  • What are “Facts” when religion is concerned?
  • Who Was Jesus and Why Did He Get Crucified?

Show Notes

Religion In the News

Religion In the Ancient World

Thought Piece

Thinking Out Loud 60: Remembering the Little People

Elisabeth and Merianna launch into another NaNoWriMo marathon and discuss an exciting new project this week in their show about writing, reading, publishing, and editing (and life).

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading










A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel










Hild: A Novel

What Merianna is Reading




















Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Thinking Religion: It’s Always About Money and Power


Thomas and Sam attempt to bring some thoughtfulness to the discussion of religion again this week with a discussion of April Fool’s Day jokes, the Bible in Hollywood, Indiana’s new religious liberty law, tax exemption, and more about Finding Jesus.

This Week’s Topics

  • April Fool’s Jokes (about beards)
  • Religion and the public / private transcript in “The Crossroads of America”
  • Does reading the Bible help you understand Christianity more (or not)?
  • Should churches and religious organizations be tax exempt?
  • The threat of America’s Civil Religion
  • Finding Jesus: The True Cross review

Show Notes

Religion In the News

Religion In the Ancient World

Thought Piece

Showtime: 1 hour 15 minutes

ThinkingOutLoud 59: Getting to the Finish Line

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how hard it is to finish your manuscript even when you have 50,000 words in the bank. They talk about the fear of the unknown and how hard it is to overcome in order to keep working on a project.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading 

Thinking Daily 33: Life Isn’t a Cereal


Why I love marketing and why marketing should be an “experience” rather than something you put into a box.

Life was popularized during the 1970s by an advertising campaign featuring “Mikey,” a hard-to-please four-year-old-boy portrayed by John Gilchrist. His two older brothers were portrayed by his real-life brothers, Michael and Tommy. The commercials featured the catchphrase “He likes it! Hey Mikey!” The ad campaign ran from 1972 to 1986, becoming one of the longest-running television advertisements. As recently as 1999 the commercial was included in a list of “memorable ads”. A subsequent commercial repeated the identical dialog and scenario, using lumberjacks instead of children. Earlier when Life cereal was first introduced, the original slogan was “The most useful protein in a ready to eat cereal”. the original mascots (in commercials) were little munchkin-like characters.

Life (Cereal) Wikipedia Article

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Thinking Religion: Oleaginousness of a Ted Cruz


Thomas and Sam attempt to bring some thoughtfulness to the discussion of religion again this week with a discussion of presidential politics, ISIS, and what’s wrong with CNN’s Finding Jesus show.

This Week’s Topics

  • Could an atheist become president?
  • America is surprisingly religious, Israel is surprisingly not.
  • Is ISIS forging the destruction of antiquities?
  • What’s wrong with CNN’s Finding Jesus and pop Jesus shows?
  • Ted Cruz announces that he’s running for president. What does this have to do with religion?

Show Notes

Religion In The News

Religion In The Ancient World

Thought Piece

Showtime: 1 hour 31 minutes

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ThinkingOutLoud 58: Getting Through the Static

Elisabeth and Merianna reconnect after Elisabeth’s vacation in Hawaii and Merianna’s travel. They talk about how to train yourself to write every day, especially how to get through the static of the to do list and sit down and write. They also talk about Fan Fiction writing and how to get started developing your readership.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

Thinking Daily: March 17, 2015 How Can I Build My Own Website?







Today, Sam is thinking about ways for you to build your own site if you don’t want to go through an agency or development company (if you do, Harrelson Agency would love to help) and offers up some tips for you. Don’t get locked-in to a Facebook page or a terrible site building software that won’t let you scale and grow for the future.

Domain Name Providers

Places to Build a Possibly a Site if You Don’t Need Much

Where to Build Your Own Site if You Need Good and Reliable and Willing to Pay a Few Bucks 

Geomagnetic Storm

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Thinking Religion: The Desire to Police Religious Boundaries

Thomas and Sam attempt to bring some thoughtfulness to the discussion of religion again this week.

This Week’s Topics:

  • Religious Freedom and Political Correctness
  • What is discrimination?
  • What Did Jesus Look Like and Does It Matter?
  • The Desire to Police Boundaries
  • Vikings and Muslims
  • The Rise of Christianity
  • The Problem of Religion in the Mainstream Press
  • Struggling Over Religious Definitions Is Not Just a Pointless Thought Exercise

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Show Notes:

Religion In the News

Religion In the Ancient World

Thought Piece

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Thinking Daily March 16 2015: McDonald’s, Putin, and Roman Museums

Today, Thinking Daily is testing out something a little bit different. A few current event pieces, a couple of design and tech stories, and a few bits of news on the ancient world to wrap things up. We’ll be doing this daily (somewhere in the 10 mins range for length). Let us know what you think.

Your Links to Think About Today:

Current Events

Tech and Design

Ancient World


Thinking Out Loud 57: The Couple That Podcasts Together Stays Together

Elisabeth is enjoying a holiday this week, so Merianna is joined by Sam to discuss Kindle Unlimited, reading and writing in the age of notifications and Skinner Boxes, the benefits and pitfalls of assisted navigation in both reading and driving, whether listening to an audio book is actually “reading,” and if the podcast Serial will change the way publishers produce popular books.

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Show Notes

What Merianna Is Reading









Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

What Sam Is Reading









Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson









Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke


Thinking Religion: Objectivity And Mosul

Thomas Whitley and Sam Harrelson cover the current tensions between Israel, the USA, and Iran, Fred Craddock’s death, CNN’s attempt to find Jesus, and examine the cultural debates regarding religion, sexuality, and gender identification. This week’s thought piece is a riveting conversation regarding the nature of objectivity and how the attempt to save (and mourn) the destruction of antiquities in the “Middle East” might have more to say about us than about ISIS.








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Show Notes:

In The News

Ancient Religion and Thought Piece

ISIS Destruction of Antiquities in Mosul:

Thinking Daily: When Are You Guys Having a Baby?


(these fish have manners)

Is it polite to ask a woman if they are pregnant? What is the etiquette involved in satisfying your curiosity about a woman or couple’s child bearing status and possible due date? How does Facebook ruin our manners?

Show Notes

BuzzFeed’s “6 Ways To Ask Someone If They Are Pregnant”

8 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Ask A Woman If She Is Pregnant

Discussion on Etiquette Hell Forum: A Polite Way to Find Out If She’s Pregnant! 

ThinkingOutLoud 56: The Glue that Holds It Together

Elisabeth and Merianna  talk about the glue that holds the writing life together. They talk about all the ideas that get lost on scraps of paper, unknown files names, and journals stored in closets. They talk about rhetorical devices, sestinas, and stretching yourself as a writer.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

Thinking Religion: Everybody Should Be Listening to Jodi Magness or The Buzzfeedification of Biblical Archaeology

What is the nature of religion’s role in the history of ideas? Should atheists or people of other faiths talk about a faith community in which they don’t participate? Is there a looming backlash against critical thinking in regards to religion? How is bibilical archaeology hurt by the need to validate itself?

And what does Stephen Colbert have to do with Lent?

Thomas Whitley and Sam Harrelson tackle these questions and many more in this week’s Thinking Religion.

Show Notes

Colbert and Lent

Rameses Tablet

Jesus’ House is Found?!

Libnah is Found… wait where is Libnah?

Oh Say Can You Sea of Galilee

Giving Biblical Archaeology a Bad Name with Pop Lists

Jodi Magness Presents Masada’s Seige

Religion’s Role in the History of Ideas

Bart Ehrman and Teaching About Confessional Ideas and Critical Academic Work

Hunger Games, Fragile The System, and Religious Extremism

Review of Zealot

Thinking Out Loud 55: Stick-To-Itiveness

Merianna is out for the week, so Elisabeth is joined by Sam Harrelson on this week’s episode. In 45 minutes, they discuss the notion of how reading and writing are counter-cultural acts in a time of persistent Candy Crush and Facebook notifications, and why you should make a conscious act to stick to both. Elisabeth goes into detail about her own daily writing schedule, as well the need to write even if you know that no one will ever read your words (and why you shouldn’t brush your teeth first thing in the morning.) Sam shares his emotional ordeal of going through NaNoWriMo with a writer wife.

And do you ever hear character stories in your head that come out of nowhere? You’re not alone!

Show Notes

What Elisabeth and Sam Are Reading This Week


Thinking Religion: The Problem with Rob Bell and C.S. Lewis

This week, Thomas and Sam rekindle the Thinking Religion flame with an hour long look into the pressing religious issues of the day in a candid talk that doesn’t shy away from the things you were told not to discuss at the dinner table.

Show Notes:

Obama and Islam

The Obama Prayer Breakfast ’15

Obama’s Statements About Violent Extremism Part 1 and Part 2

Burning Effigies For Lent! (or Art and Resistance)

Does Lent Mean Giving Up or Taking On?

Rob Bell on Gays and Church Relevance

Truett Prof Roger Olson Asks Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to Drop Moderate Label


Art Repatriation?

  • Ethical concerns?
  • Provenance
  • Who “owns” the artifacts? Who should?
  • How does the history of colonialism play into this?
  • How does digitization play into this?
  • Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

The show runs an action packed 65 minutes long and will be sure to stimulate your brain and your faith.

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ThinkingOutLoud 54: Shedding New Light

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about their upcoming weeks and how they are both putting themselves out there. Elisabeth will be attending a Writer’s Meet Up and sharing some of her writing. Merianna will be leading a break out session on publishing. They also talk about winter weather and how it’s inspiring.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud53: Away from the Glow

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how getting away from the glow of the computer screen can provide fresh insight and perspective to their work. They talk about the impact of nature on inspiration. They also debate whether rereading a book is worth it when there are so many books they haven’t read.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud 52: The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the pros and cons of working from home. Elisabeth also tells the story of how Writing Refinery began. They talk about half marathons and vacation days as well.

Show Notes

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud 51: Standing at the Edge

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about what it takes to continue to decide to give up what seems to be good work opportunities in order to be business women. They also talk about Elisabeth’s upcoming half marathon and what it takes to go the distance. You never know what you might learn when these two are involved!

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud 50: Vision Boards and Overhead

Elisabeth and Merianna reminisce about the year gone by and how much they have changed and grown. They talk about where they see themselves not only in the next year, but also in the next five years. They discuss whether being an author is worth it when margin of royalties is so tight and why people continue to write and try to be published when they get paid so little.

Show Notes

 What Elisabeth is Reading 

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud 49: A Dream Come True

Elisabeth and Merianna interview Stacy Sergent about her new book Being Called Chaplain and what it means to be a published author. Stacy talks about submitting your writing, your heart and soul, to an editor and then to the public. Of course, they talk about dogs and books as well.

Show Notes 

What Stacy is Reading

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingOutLoud 48: Professional Persona

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about developing a persona as you grow your own business. They talk about the decisions you have to make as you present yourself to new people. They talk about writing process and how it doesn’t end when you get a publishing contract. They talk about how the publishing process can seem like a never-ending story and of course they also talk about running and recipes.

Show Notes 

What Elisabeth is Reading

What Merianna is Reading

ThinkingDaily 29: The Future of Affiliate Marketing and Glamping with Lisa Picarille


Lisa Picarille, a well-respected veteran in the online marketing world, joins Sam in an exploration of affiliate marketing’s past, present and future.

They explore the idea of affiliate marketing’s approachability and profitability in 2015 compared to 2005 as well as the evolution of outsourced program managers as marketing agencies, Shareist, subscription models, and Swiftmas.

Plus, Lisa teaches Sam about the wonders of glamping and why affiliates can still follow their passions and possibly succeed.