The Sacred

The Sacred

A podcast about the things we hold sacred, and how to talk to people different from ourselves.

#77 Helen Lewis

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Helen Lewis is a journalist, staff writer at The Atlantic and former deputy editor at The New Statesman. She is the author of ‘Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights’.

In this episode she speaks about feminism, her parents Catholicism, navigating online backlash, and why she looks forward to the day when British media is more representative.

#76 Jules Evans

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Jules is a writer, speaker and practical philosopher. He’s a research fellow at the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary University of London. He’s also the founder of the London Philosophy Club and co-founder of the first Stoicon, festival of Stoicism. He’s also the author of ‘Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations’, ‘The Art of Losing Control’, ‘Holiday from the Self’ and most recently ‘Breaking Open: finding a way through spiritual emergency.’
In this episode he talks about his boarding school hedonism, near-death experiences, foray into charismatic Christianity and why he thinks our society needs more space for ecstatic experiences.

#75 Sophia Smith Galer

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Sophia Smith Galer is currently working as the BBC World Services’ first ever visual journalist in faith and ethics. In this episode Sophia speaks about her experience as one of the first journalists in the UK to be experimenting with Tik Tok, why good religion reporting is so vital, and why journalism and opera singing have a surprising amount in common.

#74 Mark Vernon

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Mark is a psychotherapist who writes, lectures and broadcasts on philosophy with a focus on insights that illuminate our inner lives. He was formerly a priest in the Church of England and has written books on friendship, agnosticism, consciousness and love. His most recent book is ‘A Secret History of Christianity’ which is based upon the ideas of Owen Barfield.

In this episode he speaks about why he left the Church of England, his time as ‘nearly an atheist’, and how he found his way back to experiencing the presence of the divine.

#73 Myriam Francois

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Myriam Francois is a journalist, filmmaker and senior fellow at the Centre for Global Policy, an American think tank working on the intersection of American foreign policy and Muslim geopolitics. She has made radio and television documentaries for the BBC, Sky and others, and presented a range of programmes related to religion. She is currently running the website and podcast ‘We need to talk about whiteness’.

In this episode she speaks about the process which led to her embracing Islam after university, her experiences as a white woman in a headscarf, and why she will no longer take part in debates which she calls religious bear–baiting.

#72 Ed West

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Ed is a journalist. He’s worked on Nuts Magazine, The Catholic Herald and as a columnist for The Telegraph and The Spectator. He’s currently deputy editor at Unherd and the author of a recent book called ‘Small Men on the Wrong Side of History: The Decline, Fall and Unlikely Return of Conservatism’.

In this episode he speaks about his diverse career in journalism, his Catholic upbringing, why he thinks we are on a trajectory to greater progressivism and what he would like people to understand about conservatism.

#71 Willie Jennings

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Willie Jennings is a theologian and associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale University. He’s an ordained Baptist minister and the author of ‘The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race’, ‘Acts: A Commentary’ and many other titles. His next book is entitled ‘After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging’ and is out later this year.

In this episode he speaks about his love for the seasons, growing up with a racially divided church, why anger can be a force for good and why and how to understand the concept of whiteness.

#70 Adam Wagner

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Adam is a human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, a visiting professor at Goldsmiths University, Chair of the human rights charity EachOther, and host of the Better Human Podcast.

In this episode he speaks about why he is nervous of the concept of the sacred, his Jewish religious practice, how human rights frameworks temper our worst selves, and why he is still a fan of Twitter.

#69 Mary Harrington

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Mary is a writer and columnist for Unherd. She writes about how we navigate family life in an age of radical individualism, the emerging backlash against the regressive left and the crisis in modern democracy.

In this episode she speaks about the influence of her Steiner school, the negative impact of post-modernism on her mental health, the challenges of speaking about motherhood in public, and what drew her to post-liberalism.

#68 Jay Hulme

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Jay is an award-winning transgender performance poet, speaker and educator. Alongside his writing and regular performances he teaches in schools and speaks at events and conferences on the importance of transgender inclusion and rights. This year Jay contributed a chapter to 'The Book of Queer Prophets' a collection of 21 essays on the intersection of LGBT+ identity and religious faith, curated by previous guest Ruth Hunt.

In this episode Jay speaks about why poems give us permission to really feel things, why he thinks debates about transgender issues are currently so fraught and how he found faith after swearing at God in a cathedral.

About this podcast

The Sacred is a podcast about our deepest values, the stories that shape us and how we can build empathy and understanding between people who are very different.

Each episode features a conversation with someone who has a public voice, from academics to journalists, playwrights and politicians. We ask them where they have come from, what they are trying to do and what might help heal our very divided public conversations.

The Sacred is hosted by Elizabeth Oldfield, former director of Theos think tank.

For more information about the people and ideas behind the podcast, visit or follow us on Twitter @theosthinktank, @sacred_podcast and @ESOldfield.

by Theos think tank


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