#1 The Bible Project - Tim Mackie & Jon CollinsI got into the Bible Project because we started using some of their videos for Confirmation. Since our focus for this year is on the New Testament, we've used the series on the books of the Bible. Each video takes a book and dives deeper into what's really going on, other than what you see when you just read it at face value.
So, I didn't accidentally put a YouTube channel on my podcast recommendations. The Bible Project actually uses a variety of platforms to reach people and help make the Bible accessible to people no matter which denomination they are. They describe it as a "desire to help other understand the scriptures and all their complex themes in a way that is engaging, approachable, and transformative."This includes taking into account the literary design and the historical content that is also within the Bible.
The podcast is used as a way For Tim and Jon to talk through the premises of the videos they want to make. For instance, the current video series they are working on is literary tools used in the Bible. This includes setting, characters, and design patterns. So, before you get your 6 minute video on design patterns, there are 3 podcast episodes on the topic, where they discuss the idea for a total of almost 3.5 hours. So, in essence, if you want the just get "Spark Notes" version of these topics, check out the videos. However, if you want an in depth look, the podcasts do a great job of diving deep into these topics.
#2 The Bible for Normal People - Peter Enns and Jared ByasThis podcast has a similar approach to the Bible Project - trying to find a way to get the best Bible knowledge out to normal people. The biggest difference I've noticed between The Bible for Normal People and The Bible Project, is that the latter's main demographic is to young adults (18-45), while the Bible for Normal People has broader appeal. They also like to say at the beginning of each episode that they are the only God ordained podcast on the internet (I'm still waiting the fact check on that one).
So what do they actually talk about in their podcast? In the available 45 episodes, they cover a variety of topics including deeper looks into books in the Bible and the bigger themes they relate to (Understanding Deuteronomy & the Story of Israel’s Kings), how the Bible relates to current events, (“Moving Beyond Patriarchy,” with Carolyn Custis James), and other issues that Christian face in their faith (Faith and Doubt: No, You’re Not the Only One).
This podcast does a really good job of addressing both sides of an issue they discuss. Let's take "Moving Beyond Patriarchy" as an example. When reading the title, you would probably assume its a podcast with a far left, feminist agenda discussing why the patriarchy ruins the Bible. However, James does a great job of explaining how patriarchy is the backdrop of most of the Bible, and while that may not be what we strive for in today's society, it's something we need to take into account when we read the Bible. The idea is similar to why lambs are such an important symbol in Biblical society, even though in today's agricultural standards we depend more on pigs, cows, and chickens. It was just different then, but we need to understand that difference to get to the root of these stories.
In short, this podcast is great if you're looking more focused on how to apply our Bible knowledge and faith into the "real world." Sometimes we struggle with how our faith can be incorporated into our everyday lives. For instance, the Bible never directly tells us how we should relate our faith to science, so how do we make that connection?
The other thing I really like about this podcast is that they make a point of saying that The Liturgists are not just the hosts of the podcast - it's everyone in the conversation. They have Facebook groups, live meetings, and a whole lot of different ways for this community to connect with one another to keep the conversations going. In this day in age, it's really easy for each of us to stay in our lane and keep our ideas to ourselves rather than truly collaborating. This group and this podcast really challenges this idea and strives to make it a true community.
Inglorious PasterdsThe only reason this isn't in the top 3 is because it has such bad language and talks about some pretty inappropriate things at times . While it doesn't bother me, I know there are lots of people out there for whom it does matter. So, if you are sensitive to foul language or discussion topics that are necessarily "church appropriate," this is not the podcast for you. However, I will say, this podcast will make you go through all the emotions in every single episode. While they are some of the funniest guys I've listened to, they also talk about real topics and get deep into the issues that people face every day.
The premise of this Podcast is that it's 3 burned out, former pastors who all come from conservative Christian backgrounds who explore new, more open-minded ways to experience faith. They talk about current events, their own church experience, and bring in guests to talk about various issues within the church today, all while enjoying beer or other adult beverages.
The only reason I don't have this as part of the top 3 is because its a much more specific topic than the other 3. However, this is probably my favorite podcast to listen to right now. I started listening to this since I am continuously becoming more of a fan of Steve Austin's work, who is a former host of this podcast. (I read his book From Pastor to a Psych Ward in one sitting, something I don't think I've done since I was a kid) My appreciation of his work comes from his story hitting a little to close to home. For those of you who don't know, I lost my best friend to suicide, so being able to listen to Steve Austin about his struggles has really helped me understand my friend's struggles so much more and has helped me cope a lot.
So, even though Austin is off working on other projects, Robert Vore still continues the important conversations about mental health and where the church comes in on those conversations. Vore will bring in different mental health experts and Christian leaders. Topics include things like grief, trauma, self-care, and family. While this podcast talks about specific diagnoses, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, it also talks about struggles everyone has to deal with, like self-image or recognizing our own emotions. Everyone can get something out of this podcast. I believe mental illness is something we don't discuss enough in the church, and I think this podcast does a great job of getting that conversation started.