How do you like it so far?

Academics Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay use their combined knowledge to dig deeper and ask more ambitious questions than most pop culture podcasts out there – not doing recaps or just remaining on the level of entertainment coverage. For them, popular culture offers resources for asking questions about who we are and where we are going, questions that can be political, legal, technological, economic, or social, but often cut across all of the above.


episode 72: Religion, Sports and Popular Culture Are The Same / Seeking Sanctuary During the Apocalypse with Varun Soni

If you like religion, sports or popular culture, this episode is for you, dear listener… and if you think you’re not interested in them, it is even more definitely for you! We are joined by Varun Soni, USC’s Dean of Religious Life and the first Hindu to serve as the chief spiritual officer of an American university. We traverse pandemic-driven transitions in higher education, acknowledging potentially lasting harms to students and others. We back out to the way the pandemic challenges our human need to look ahead, noting that we have not yet dealt with the present and wondering what our new stories of the future will be. That takes us to popular culture, which confronts polarization and isolation, giving us unique frameworks to talk in a way we can’t elsewhere. The conversation launches into an exploration of sports as religion and the activist role of sports – especially the WNBA and NBA – in this period of change. From the connection between fandom and religion, we end with powerful insights on Bob Marley as musician… and prophet. 

Varun's Essay: How Universities Can Think About Community-Building Through the Coronavirus Pandemic
Loneliness Report and related resources
USC Mindfulness classes

COVID as an event is responsible for the 4th largest number of casualties in American history

Varun hosts the Religion of Sports Podcast
Catherine Albanese offers a definition of religion in America, Religions, and Religion

Derrick Bell: Interest-Convergence is a principle of critical race theory

Recent social activism in the NBA:
How the NBA Is Quietly Becoming the Most Progressive Pro-Sports League in America
NBA "Players' Strike" as a new form of athlete activism
NBA players "sit out" the playoffs

Longer history of activism in the WNBA:
WNBA players urge 'Vote Warnock' against Senator Kelly Loeffler
How The WNBA Paved The Way For The NBA Strike : Code Switch
The WNBA made the NBA strike possible.
Perspective | Taking a stand isn’t new for the WNBA. It’s a way of life.
The One Name the W.N.B.A. Won’t Say

Selected activists in Sports:
Bill Russell
Muhammad Ali
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
LeBron James
Megan Rapinoe
Colin Kaepernick

Religious services rescheduling around AYSO soccer

Famous image of MLK kneeling in prayer
Tomahawk chop

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”

Ep 18: Diane Winston on religion and the entertainment media
Origin of the word “fandom”
Varun's Essay: How the LA Clippers Made Me a Better Hindu

Human stories about sports:
ESPN: 30 for 30
HBO: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Varun’s Essay: What We Can Learn From Bob Marley's Spiritual Legacy
Varun's book: Natural Mystics
Bob Marley: How He Changed the World
Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan
Basics of Rastafari

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry, Colin and the How Do You Like It So Far? account! You can also email us at!

“In Time” by Dylan Emmett and “Spaceship” by Lesion X.
In Time (Instrumental) by Dylan Emmet
Spaceship by Lesion X
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
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Free Download / Stream:
Music promoted by Audio Library

“Is This Love?” by Bob Marley and the Wailers


 2020-10-15  1h2m