I have a lot of sitting-at-loose-ends time in my life. Time between one activity or commitment and another; time spent twiddling my thumbs in a doctor’s office and driving hither and yon. Being the task-oriented person that I am, I dislike feeling this time is being wasted. I have become an expert cultivator of zombie killing plants, but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to try to put this time to better use. So I took to Facebook and asked for some podcast recommendations. Below I have reviewed a few of them for your listening pleasure.
This American Life: Given that, according to its website, This American Life airs on more than 500 stations to about 2.2 million listeners and is “often the most popular podcast in the country,” it probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. But in case you have been living in Wi-Fi-less cave for the last ten years or so, here is the basic concept behind TAL: “There’s a theme to each episode…and a variety of stories on that theme. Most of the stories are journalism, with an occasional comedy routine or essay.” Pretty sure this was the first podcast I ever listened to. It is my Saturday morning, headphones-in-walking-through-the-grocery-store listening fare. I have made a fool of myself mid-aisle laughing to the point of snorts and awkwardly holding in sobs as well as boring my family and anyone who will sit still to listen to me recap the various episodes. A must-listen to for anyone.
The Phil Vischer Podcast: Being a huge Larry and Bob fan, I was predisposed in favor of Phil Vischer’s podcast, but sadly what works in the produce aisle isn’t nearly as successful without the funny voices and catchy songs. With so many recommendations to get through, I confess that I only listened to this podcast once. It lacked focus and the hosts, Vischer, Christian Taylor and Skye Jethani, seemed more concerned with having a conversation with one another than they did with engaging the audience. I only have so much time and frankly this podcast didn’t seem to respect that fact. Get to the meat and cut out some of the chit chat. The topics covered do seem very interesting though, so maybe I will give it another chance…after I run out of new episodes of This American Life to listen to.
Pass the Mic: Pass The Mic is the premier podcast of the Reformed African American Network which includes “discussions and high profile interviews addressing the core concerns of African Americans biblically.” Hosted by Jemar Tisby and Tyler Burns, this podcast was out of my comfort zone which can be, well, uncomfortable. I don’t like the current trend to constantly segregate people to categories, by race, gender, economic class, political affiliation, etc., but then my race hasn’t defined me in the same way it has defined others so it’s easy for me to say “Can’t we just all be people rather than black people or white people; female people or male people?” I intend to keep this one on my subscribe list. I may have some one-sided arguments with it every now and then, but hopefully listening to the perspective of others will keep me from seeing the world from too narrow a vantage point.
Sheologians: I have really enjoyed this podcast despite the cheesy affirmations and giggles of the hosts, Summer White and her co-host Joy (I worked for about 45 minutes to find her last name and finally gave up.) Their tagline is “Theology for women, no doilies allowed,” and that is a pretty good summary of the show. Jane Austen references abound amidst discussions of a variety of cultural topics including feminism, atheism, and Hollywood’s portrayal of love and atheism. It’s one I am especially looking forward to listening to with our daughter. Love the idea of her hearing strong and well-reasoned women unapologetically expressing their views on important issues. The overall whimsical tone of the podcast balances the seriousness with which they approach the issues discussed and makes it clear that while Summer and Joy don’t take themselves too seriously, they are on a mission to inform and challenge.
The Briefing: Hosted by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary and Boyce College, The Briefing is a “daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations.” The Briefing is like a shorter version of All Things Considered for conservative evangelicals. I like seeing current events through Mohler’s lens and particularly appreciate his thoughtful and rational analysis. Wouldn’t use this as my only news source, but makes for a quick and informative listen.