The Sectarian Review Podcast


Well this may be it.

I’ve found myself less and less interested in writing for this medium lately. And a quick perusal of this blog will demonstrate that.

It should also reveal that I’ve been aiming my non-teaching efforts toward podcasting instead. There is something truly rewarding about having live conversations with people about the broad range of topics I’ve tried to cover in the blog. If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to check it out. Here’s the link to our Facebook page:

Also, I’ve created a dedicated website to the podcast where you can learn more about it and link to all the episodes.

If you do, please let me know what you’re thinking. What makes that thing so much fun is the dialogue with our listeners. Here’s the link to the site:

If you’ve been reading this blog, thanks so much. I hope you’ll listen to Sectarian Review and talk back!

Be well.

The Problem(s) With Trumpism

SR Trumpism

The Sectarian Review Podcast is back.

If you haven’t done so yet, please think about subscribing to the show at iTunes, Stitcher, etc…We would love to expand the conversation. No iPod? Just follow this link:

Join Danny Anderson, Ed Simon, and new contributor Jordan Poss as they fret over the disturbing rise of Donald Trump. What does the rise of Angry White Populism mean for a post-Trump America? Are there historical precedents for this moment? What might a political realignment look like in America’s winner-take-all electoral system? Two English and Cultural Criticism types are joined by a historian to hash it all out. Please enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on iTunes.

The Football-Industrial Complex


Hello dear reader. I wonder if you might allow me to call you “dear listener,” tonight.

As you may have seen from previous posts, I’ve gradually transitioned my blogging energies into podcasting. My podcast, Sectarian Review, offers me the chance to actually speak to other people about ideas and culture, and that has been a lot of fun and really gratifying. If you listen to podcasts, I hope you’ll check us out as well. We’re on iTunes and Stitcher and you can find a link here:

There is no real reason these platforms can’t co-exist for a while, though. Below, find the introduction to our latest episode, a hostile inquiry into America’s (and Christendom’s) obsession with football. Drew Van’tland and Todd Pedlar joined me for a pretty lively discussion.

And I’m always looking for new collaborators. If you’d like to join us from time to time, please do let me know. This week, I had a philosopher and a physicist on the show. I’d love to include historians, economists, seminarians…anyone. Now for the intro:


Hello everyone. Thanks for downloading another episode of the show. Danny Anderson here. Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, PA.

I want to give fair warning that this episode might be contentious, uncomfortable, and even unfair. This is my hope at least. Football occupies a gigantic space in our cultural consciousness and I think we should at least notice that. In doing so, we’re kind of going to be picking at scabs, an icky image, I know.

I should confess upfront that I have some personal issues with this subject, so I’ll have to work to avoid making this all about me and my psychology. I’m from Cleveland, a huge town for sports fandom, and spent almost all my youth utterly obsessed with the local teams, primarily the Browns. Now maybe it’s because the Browns’ terribleness makes it easy, but as I’ve gotten old and decrepit, I’ve come to a point where I don’t care much at all about it anymore.

Except that I do. I care that we as a society Recklessly engage in what I’ve come to know as the idolatry of my youth. I’ve watched, largely from a distance now, as Cleveland neglects almost every other part of its civic life for its obsession with trying to overcome the heartbreak of “The Drive” and “The Fumble.” I’m also disturbed as a person of Faith at Christendom’s dangerous conflation of the values of sport with the values of Christianity.

So these are my reasons for recording this episode. I know that as you listen, you might say to yourself “he’s ignoring all the positive things about football…teamwork, discipline, whatnot.” If this is the case, know that I’m not ignoring them, I’ve spent much of my life uttering those defenses myself. I’m simply rejecting them for the purposes of this discussion. As always, I want to encourage your angry or supportive responses, either at the Facebook page or our email I even booted up a Twitter account, hopeless as I am in that medium.

Question 1: Idolatry – I just mentioned the term Idolatry in my prologue. I stand by it, but I’m open to debate. What is idolatry and how might it be related to American Football?

Question 2: Economic – I already threw Cleveland under the bus for what I think is a misappropriation of economic resources. Let’s talk with some specifics about the economics of the sport in America. What are some positive arguments one might make for our investment in this game. Why are those arguments silly?

Question 3: Cultural – Everyone knows that Marx called religion the opiate of the masses – something to keep the proletariat content in an oppressive system. Certainly he would replace that with football today, no? What cultural impact does the Football Industrial Complex impose on us?


So that’s it. Have a listen and get in touch!


The Ethical Imagination of Horror


Sectarian Review episode 3 has just been published.

Follow this link to listen and weigh in:

In this Godzilla-sized episode, Danny Anderson and Drew Van’tland are joined by Ed Simon to talk about the intersections between horror, religion, and ethics. This month’s Sectarians talk horror films, Nietzsche, H.P. Lovecraft, Flies, Babadooks, and, James Robertson’s The Testament of Gideon Mack. Also, Danny interviews Dr. Jamie McDaniel of Pittsburg State University about horror, liminality, and Disability Studies. Also listen for a couple of aural surprises!

Sectarian Review Picture Logo

Sectarian Review: A Manifesto

Sectarian Review Picture Logo

Well episode 1 of Sectarian Review is in the books and you can have a listen here:

The next episode will be on the broad topic of voice. In that spirit, I wrote a manifesto to open the next show with:

Sectarian Review: A Manifesto

A voice cannot exist without ears. No word ever spoken since “God said” came from nothing. They say ashes to ashes, dust to dust; we say ashes from ashes, dust from dust.

Sectarian Review is hearing.

Sectarian Review is not knowing.

Progress strives to get things right, when getting things wrong is our perfect form. In wrongness we listen and our voices struggle to rise from forward-moving machines that finish the unfinished.

Sectarian Review is not speeches.

Sectarian Review is not a pounded desk.

We will fight against the terms “mansplaining” and “feminazi,” but will not ban them.

Sectarian Review rights no wrongs.

If you say “fixed in your privilege,” we understand the privilege in being fixed.

I don’t care what you have to say,

It makes no difference anyway.

Whatever it is.

I’m against it.

Sectarian Review is Groucho Marx.

Sectarian Review is chaos.

Sectarian Review listens to the weary wisdom of yellow wallpaper.

Sectarian Review speaks back into its madness.

Sectarian Review is a voice,

not in

but to

the wilderness.

Sectarian Review: A Call For Contributors


Mark Greif recently published an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education that considered the importance of Partisan Review in American intellectual life:


What Greif identified as important about PR, its intellectual cultural contribution, many listeners of the Christian Humanist network of podcasts desire to experience in our own historical moment. This is why we listen.

As a sometimes-contributor to The Christian Humanist Podcast, ( I’ve found great satisfaction and excitement in engaging with my co-hosts and listeners in conversation about the life of the mind in all its complexity and variousness. So when Farmer, Grubbs, and Gilmour offered me the chance to begin my own podcast, I was honored, and would now like to take them up on their kind offer. I had initially intended to begin this project  last year, but unforeseen circumstances drew my time and attention and I had to hold off (long story short, I will be starting a new job as Assistant Professor of English at Mount Aloysius College this Fall). Now seems the time to begin this project.

I have no interest in hosting, as Michial puts it, The Danny Show. My own intellectual inspiration largely springs from New York Intellectuals like Lionel Trilling, who was a central figure in the Partisan Review crowd, and he worked within that larger, vibrant intellectual community. So the idea I have is to imagine Partisan Review in the CHP network. Nathan Gilmour suggested the name Sectarian Review, and this is what I’ve gone with.

The idea is to have a large pool of scholars from a variety of disciplines contribute regularly or semi-regularly and to aim for an episode once a month (at least at first). Topics are solicited, and might include subjects such as: the role of the artist in society, Disney and Culture, The Christian Imagination, political commitment in the age of Twitter, etc… In short, whatever strikes the contributors as worthy of discussion.

In the tradition of PR, I welcome contributors from across disciplines. Economists, rhetoricians, sociologists, historians, philosophers, literary scholars, mathematicians, musicologists, and gender studies, as well as professionals from law, clergy, and medicine would bring a diversity of intellectual perspectives that would, I believe, prove to be an enlightening hour of conversation. (I’m sure I left disciplines out of the above list, so please forgive me and take it as a sign of my openness to a variety of perspectives).

If you are interested in participating, please feel invited to contact me at

I look forward to developing something great with you.

Danny Anderson

Teaching Conversation with Kifi

My best teaching has always sprung from a spirit of creativity. And creative teaching means taking risks and wildly experimenting. Sometimes my little experiments succeed and become regular classroom practices, and sometimes they crash and burn. Swings and misses, strikes and gutters. That’s my motto.This past semester, I had a success that both helped my students and drove home an important aspect of teaching and learning for me.

I’ve long used discussion posts on in-house online learning platforms in my classes. I value the act of expanding the classroom space beyond the constraints of our 50 minute hour, and these posts have been one way in which to accomplish that.

I’ve also long been underwhelmed by results. I feel like students benefit from regularly writing, but I also feel as though it becomes a rote activity that sometimes doesn’t encourage the kind of dialectical process I want to see my students engage in.

This past semester, I stumbled across a social bookmarking website that perhaps offers an antidote to these monological failings.

Kifi ( came to my attention through a Facebook ad and I was initially intrigued by its uses as a bookmarking site to rival my Pocket account. I have the tendency to throw everything that interests me into my bookmarking service and then God sort it out later. Over time, this has become a burden when it comes time for retrieval. Kifi allows users to create discreet, topical libraries for their “keeps” and I welcomed this with great enthusiasm.

As I played around a little, some of the platform’s other features began to strike me as potentially valuable teaching tools, and I soon saw the potential to improve on my traditional discussion board posts. What follows is by no means an exhaustive how-to. Go to Kifi’s own website for that, please (here). I just want to talk about how the service encouraged an ongoing dialogue between readers, writers, and their ideas.

Kifi allows users to share online articles with other people through its browser extensions. In addition to this, the browser extension opens up an on-screen space in which to comment directly on the article in question, and even provides the means to quote specific passages of interest. This all has the feel of a Facebook conversation, but one targeted to users with specific, detailed interest in the article at hand. Trolling and hyperbolic posturing are therefore reduced.

Having asked my students to join the experiment with me, I quickly incorporated Kifi into our research process. Here’s how it worked:

My students’ semester-long research projects were focused on controversies within higher education (of their own choosing). This is, of course, an interest I share, so when I found an article that struck me as useful for a particular student or group of students, I would:

  • send them the article through Kifi.
  • use the “look here,” quotation feature to draw their attention to specific passages of interest
  • explain how I think the article contributed to their projects
Students were then able to respond to my comments and our conversations were recorded in the Kifi interface.

To say I was pleased with the results is an understatement. Students who participated in my experiment maintained an amazing amount of engagement with their projects, and I can only attribute this to the ongoing conversation, the dialogue, that Kifi facilitated. I should also mention that Kifi also has smartphone apps that allow for use in the classroom as well. As I develop this tool for my classes, this versatility is welcome.

I have no financial stake in this company or this product (it is a free service at this point), but I have had the opportunity to speak with some of its developers and it is clear to me that they are interested in Kifi’s potential as a classroom tool, among its other uses.

Kifi has been a great find, but there has been a deeper lesson in this for me as a teacher. I always know that conversation is a vital element of learning, but this experiment has tangibly demonstrated it for me. If we are to be worthy of all our whining about disengaged students, it is our responsibility to find ways to engage them in conversations larger than themselves. Making use of resources like this is how I attempt to do so.

I will heartily continue this experiment in the classroom, and, in addition, I welcome any reader of this blog to connect with me through Kifi and continue our own conversation. My Kifi link is