The Australian radio service ABC Radio National has had somewhat piecemeal religion reporting since they canceled The Religion Report, but they’ve recently had an interesting series on religion and ethics with staffer Scott Stephens and various guests. I would like to recommend the recent appearance [link] by academic Marcia Pally as part of her book tour for her recent The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good [link].
There’s a fair amount of condescension here toward us evangelicals, as if we’re finally getting our collective act together and joining the human race by rethinking some issues that have historically been important to us and have framed a lot of our political choices, etc. but Pally is basically right in saying there are some of us who have a sort of “post-Bush depression” where we’re having to reconsider what we’ve become, allegedly on the basis of Christian principles. I recommend listening to the whole thing, especially since it clocks in at under fifteen minutes.
Here’s a handful of other religion-related podcasts that didn’t make the previous post:
- For a while I listened to Catholic Answers Live, primarily because I live in Catholic country and occasionally listened to Sacred Heart Radio in my car, but also because it was an interesting counterpoint to Issues Etc. Even after two years of listening to Issues Etc. I can’t shake the feeling that the LCMS (and to varying degrees, some of the conservative Reformed, Presbyterian, and Anglican/Episcopal denominations) is a tiny satellite in orbit around the medieval Catholic church, and I was hoping to get a Catholic perspective on that relationship. What I got instead was a perspective from a post-Vatican II, post-sex-abuse-scandal, post-Mother-Angelica American Catholic church. I heard a fair amount of discussion of canon law, guidelines for practicing the Catholic faith, discussion of pro-life issues, and not much else. About the only way the two groups corresponded to one another was that they tended to treat converts from one group to another (Evangelical-Catholic, Lutheran-Catholic, Evangelical-Lutheran, whatever) as authoritative on whatever they had left. They rarely seemed to be. I couldn’t judge the Lutheran-to-Catholic converts very well, of course, but when they talked about the failings of sola Scriptura I couldn’t make any sense of what they said, either about what they used to believe or what they believe now.
- For a couple of years I listened to the ABC Radio National Religion Report, hosted by Stephen Crittenden. This was a product of the publicly-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and it was top-notch up to the point it was canceled in October 2008. Crittenden did great interviews, often with top-notch interviewees, asked great questions, etc. The show dealt with various religions in Australia, but mostly with Christianity. I got the impression that Crittenden was a Christian, too; on occasion I would hear a coherent presentation of the Gospel on that show; I very rarely hear that in secular media in the States, public or private.
- I still listen to the National Public Radio Religion podcast; it’s just a collection of NPR stories from various outlets. It’s really about “religion and society” or “religion and culture” or “religion and politics,” with the accent always on the second noun in the conjunction. It can be a bit jarring to hear these stories side by side; stories involving Christianity are almost always about scandals, while stories about Islam are almost always about how misunderstood Muslims are in the States.
- For a while I listened to Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett, an American Public Media (not NPR) product hosted by an Ivy League grad who grew up a Baptist in Oklahoma. Tippett is an eloquent but fairly typical educated post-Christian seeker type; I got tired of hearing perfectly serious discussions of the spirituality of [fishing, play, gardening, whatever] and dropped the show after a year or so. I definitely got the sense that Tippett was one of those people who had bought into the basic narrative that religion is something that can contribute to the modern narrative about social progress, but was left with spiritual needs that progress doesn’t address.
This is a pretty mixed bunch; I suspect I was looking for something that wasn’t so dogmatic as to be circumscribed, nor so ecumenical as to suggest that the primary narrative was somewhere else. That’s probably asking for too much.