Podcasts for Formation
This list has been updated for Spring 2023.
The summer can be a time to enjoy reading or other things we haven’t had time for during the rest of the year. Whether you’re heading out of town or enjoying a staycation, here’s an opportunity to check out some podcasts, gain new perspectives or find support in your devotional life. There’s something about podcasts that can slow us down and increase our ability to pay attention: one study found that while the average attention span for most online media is barely a minute, podcast listeners will listen for hours. Podcasts can also have properties that stimulate empathy and imagination. Below is a short and eclectic list of podcasts that frequently explore aspects of the Christian faith. There is a dearth of Canadian content in this area, so I’m putting what I have at the top.
Introduction to New Testament History and Literature – Open Yale Course
The Open Yale Course is a free online video course by Dale Martin. Dr. Martin is an excellent teacher and the course is highly recommended to anyone who wants to know what sort of things they teach at seminaries, or for anyone who has been to a seminary and wants a “refresher.” There are 26 videos each around 40-50 minutes. https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/introduction-to-new-testament-history-literature-video/id341652026
Talking Theology (Durham University)
Talking Theology is a collection of short audio podcasts (under 30 minutes) sponsored by Durham University. It is a fascinating collection of theological oriented discussions, covering such topics as “What does Psychology have to do with theology,” “How can Tradition Help Us?,” “What does millennial faith look like?,” and more. http://podcast.cranmerhall.com/
Ask NT Wright Anything
Every two weeks, Justin Brierly brings listeners' questions to NT Wright, a Christian apologist often considered the heir to CS Lewis. Tom Wright, prolific author, lecturer, and New Testament scholar, offers well-researched viewpoints that can resonate with progressive Christians as well as traditionalists. The conversational style of the podcast offers an accessible, succinct window into his thoughts and convictions, leaving listeners much to reflect upon.
The Bible for Normal People
Hosted by college professors and pastors, the mission of the podcast is a conversation that explores questions about the Bible, contemporary life, and meaning. Sessions include many diverse guests to offer insight into wide-ranging topics like the art of translation, the gift of the black church to biblical preaching, transgender Christians and Scripture, the stories of Exodus and David, anxiety and faith. You can listen to it here: https://peteenns.com/podcast/
A weekly podcast conversation of preachers and profs discussing the upcoming readings for Sunday. No need to be a preacher to listen, the podcast delves into the texts, their historical contexts, and the relevant questions they ask of our lives today. Listening can be a way to prepare for reading and studying the lectionary. You can listen here: http://www.workingpreacher.org/brainwave.aspx.
The Distillery from Princeton Seminary
This podcast showcases scholars and ministers talking about their current study in theology, mission, church, and faith formation. It’s more academic, but if you want to stay abreast of the latest thinking in Christian theology and practice, this is a place to start. From race to disability, from testimony to biblical studies and with scholars from a range of ecclesial traditions, there is a lot of diversity in the speakers and topics. You can listen to it here: https://thethread.ptsem.edu/the-distillery
The Vicar's Crossing
Hosted by a couple of Canadian Anglican priests and a talented teenager who produces the podcast, this program interviews Christian leaders from all over including Archbishop Mark MacDonald, John Pavlovitz and Nadia Bolz-Weber. They also hear stories of everyday Christian life and explore where faith matters intersect in the public square. https://www.thevicarscrossing.com/
The Sacred Teachings Podcast
This is an exciting intitiative from the Anglican Church of Canada. The podcast gathers indigenous elders from across the land to share their insights, wisdom, traditions, and stories about the sacredness of creation. A new episode is released each week. Speakers include Archbishop Mark MacDonald, Dr. Martha Many Grey Horses, and Canon Ginny Doctor. You can listen here: https://podcasts.anglican.ca/
A Canadian resource from the CBC, Tapestry is a radio show you can listen to in podcast form that explores basic existential questions (Why are we here? What is a good life?) through conversation with a diverse number of guests. The podcast is multi-faith, and often includes perspectives from philosophy and psychology as well. It’s hosted by Mary Hynes and you can listen to it here: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/arts-culture/tapestry/
Along similar lines, is the NPR podcast, On Being, with host Krista Tippett: https://onbeing.org/series/podcast/
Forward Day by Day
Produced by the Episcopal Church ministry Forward Movement, these are daily prayers for morning, during the day, and evening.
The Compline Podcast from St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle WA.
Complete with Cathedral vault echo, the choir of the cathedral offers the office of compline or night prayer each Sunday evening. https://complinepodcast.org/
Morning Prayer from the Episcopal Church in Garrett County, MD
A daily podcast of morning prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (1979). The podcast includes a complete reading of the office with psalms, new testament, and gospel readings. Listeners can subscribe here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-episcopal-church-in-garrett-county/id1191115260
Religion and Spirituality (University of California Television)
Religion and Spirituality is a diverse collection of audio podcasts addressing a variety of topics from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim experts. Topics covered range from the question of science and religion to the science of mindfulness. There are podcasts on ethics, death, consciousness, interpretation, religious experience, aging, theology, history, the Bible, religious pluralism, politics, and more. Speaker include the Dalai Lama, John Polkinghorne, Robert Alter, Reza Aslan, Father Gregory Boyle, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Karen Armstrong, Michael Fishbane, Paula Fredriksen, Brian McLaren, Bart Ehrman, and many more. Each episode is between 55-90 minutes. https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/religion-and-spirituality-audio/id252342164
A number of podcasts to connect popular culture, daily life, and faith. The production team has a Gen-X/Millenial flavour and the tone can range from irreverence to heartfelt devotion. You can check out the range on this webpage. To give you a flavour of the content they produce, here's a subject listing: https://mbird.com/new-here/
Everything Happens with Kate Bowler
Everything Happens with Kate Bowler is a collection of audio podcasts where Kate Bowler interviews a wide range of people. Dr. Bowler, an associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School, was studying the prosperity Gospel when she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, causing her to re-evaluate her theology. She is relevant and engaging, and these podcasts are thoughtful and inspiring. https://katebowler.com/podcasts/
The Way of Love with Bishop Michael Curry
A brand new podcast featuring presiding Episcopal Church Bishop Michael Curry. The podcast teaches seven core practices to follow Jesus: learn, pray, worship, bless, go, rest, turn. It’s based on the ancient Christian form of the Rule of Life. He’s a very engaging teacher and there’s many additional support materials for the Way of Love. You can listen to it here: https://wayoflove.episcopalchurch.org/ and see the related website here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love
A lively, African-American woman led podcast on creating shalom (peace, well-being) in everyday life. A recent series had a great, loving address and conversation about white privilege and peacemaking. Other episodes focus on romantic relationships, parenting, and books. Listen here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shalom-sistas/id1088696262?mt=2
The Renovaré Podcast
An ecumenical organization that offers a weekly podcast that interviews people on a range of spiritual disciplines including fasting, contemplative prayer, simplicity, retreat-making, and justice-seeking. Listen here: https://renovare.org/podcast
We Wonder: Contemplative Bible Story-telling
A 10 minute podcast that speaks gently and respectfully to children and families guiding them through stories and daily examens (prayerful reflection on the day). Podcasts are daily through the seasons of Advent and Lent and there's introductory material for parents in the first episodes. https://www.wewonderpod.com/
Hosted by Cindy Wang-Brandt, a mother and writer, this podcast explores how to raise children in a progressive, justice oriented faith. The host interviews authors and thought leaders from progressive faith spaces, hosts monthly listener question shows, and offers strategies for parents and grandparents. She is particularly committed to exploring and dismantling fundamentalist religious trauma and whiteness. https://parentingforward.libsyn.com/