Student podcast explores contemporary theology

The podcast started in a closet.

Crunched in a small, dark closet with their legs bent and laptops on their laps, senior religion majors Maggie Oberg and Taylor Vaughn created the podcast “Doormat Theology” in April 2019.

Now, they record in an office on the second floor of the Humanities building surrounded by encouraging quotes, blue string lights, and religious books.

The duo wrestles with topics such as evil, suffering, rest and self-awareness.

“We are very contemporary but also theologically sound,” Vaughn said. “We are relatively well read in theology for our age.”

Oberg said she finds most podcast ideas through Instagram posts that spark her interest. However, as part of the Recreational Services leadership staff, the co-hosts attended the Global Leadership Summit, which they said inspired them to discuss self-awareness in their fifth episode “Enneagrams and Strengths.”

Their recording process begins with a conversation, Oberg said, sipping a cup of tea from her adviser Ann Pederson’s office. Oberg and Vaughn “get the fluffy stuff out and then start recording” once they hit deep ideas.

In terms of discussion, Vaughn says her brain is more “linear” while Oberg describes hers as “circular.”

Vaughn disagrees.

“You’re more like this,” she says as she scribbles random lines in the air with her finger.

When an episode runs long, Vaughn signals to Oberg that they should close by aggressively winking, which Vaughn jokes is “the essence of Doormat Theology.”

“We don’t get paid and don’t have anything to lose,” Oberg said. “We’re just doing it for kicks and gigs.”

The name “Doormat Theology” stems from the hosts’ Seminar in Contemporary Theology course. The two grew close to their classmates and created a group chat named “Doormats.” According to the co-hosts, the class studied theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who called for people to not let themselves get walked on.

Even though the name started as a joke, the word “doormat” has become much more to them. For Oberg, part of not being a doormat is realizing one’s place and overcoming complacency when it comes to getting walked on.

Their religion classes continue to influence their podcast, according to senior Jordan Beck, who regularly listens to “Doormat Theology.” He enjoys that the co-hosts “dive into the history, philosophy and theology of the topics they cover.”

Oberg and Vaughn both admit they struggle with the technology required to create a podcast. Furthermore, they said as full-time college students with opposite schedules, they find it difficult to find time to meet. Oberg said each podcast equals about two and a half hours of work.

For Vaughn, the hardest part is evident in the first fifteen seconds of their first episode.

“I can’t say my own name,” she laughs after fumbling for the correct words.

For students interested in supporting the podcast, they are looking for a third person to assist with social media or technology, the co-hosts said. Students can also purchase “Doormat Theology” T-shirts and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Doormat Theology is available on SoundCloud.

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