Eastern OrthodoxReviews

Podcasts in Review

I’ve fallen into a routine of listening. Not to background music, not even to audiobooks—although I enjoy both—but shorter form podcasts. These present information in an episodic and serial manner, which can be completed without as much fear of getting lost in either the length or the breadth of the material. As I’ve formed the routine, the podcasts have lined up naturally for me in basic time slots and order. These podcasts are not all religious in nature, but they all incorporate some form of journey—actual walking, or into a text, or into God himself.

Sounds of the Trail – how thru-hiking affects one’s life

The first podcast, in the morning as early as I can take sounds into my ears without constant interruption, is literally a get-up-and-go story: stories of thru-hikers on the three trails that bisect the country longitudinally. Sounds of the Trail is in it’s second season, and can be found here: http://www.soundsofthetrail.com/

Why I’m Listening:

I’m listening to this because I like the idea of walking alone(ish) for a long time, and because my almost 13-year-old son and I are planning to do a day or so on the Appalachian Trail in the fall of this year. Hearing firsthand from folks doing this is an encouragement to me to remember my goal and work toward it. In addition, it adds to my knowledge base about the trail, and what I might encounter outside and inside myself on it.

Why You Should Consider Listening:

The Sounds of the Trail Podcast tries to remind us in a visceral way that life, on or off the trail, is a journey that we are walking. The people they talk to are learning life without anything in the way, and are able to share the wisdom they are encountering as it impacts them.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – a “spiritual but not religious” exploration

After Sounds of the Trail, I turn on Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This is an unusual approach to the Hogwarts universe conceived by a couple of Harvard divinity students. One chapter at a time, they explore the book as though it were Scripture, drawing out lessons by reading through a particular theme, and then applying the Lectio Divina method of approaching and applying a text. The podcast website is: http://www.harrypottersacredtext.com/

Why I’m Listening:

I’m listening to this because Andy is currently reading through the Harry Potter books, and I’ve just read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I thought was a worthy addition to the canon). I’m a big fan of the alchemical underpinnings to the series, which was a medieval method of seeking union with God through a specific series of experiments in the material world. I doubt this podcast will go there, but it uses another contemporary medieval concept in it’s exploration of the text.

Why You Should Consider Listening:

The Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast’s method of approaching a text isn’t a bad one to learn for approaching any worthwhile piece of literature—including the Christian Scriptures, for which the method was originally developed. If you are a fan of the Harry Potter books, this will deepen your appreciation of them. If you are not, after listening to this podcast, you may find you are after all.

Worship in Spirit and Truth – an exploration of the Divine Liturgy

The final podcast of the day for me, usually starting around lunchtime, is by the late Fr. Thomas Hopko, formerly dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary. He had a number of podcasts and lecture series while he was alive, but this particular one spent 4 years walking us through a single Sunday morning service worshiping God.

Why I’m Listening:

I’m listening to this because I’m hoping to soon start studies for the diaconate, and as a deacon, my primary duties will involve liturgical action in this service. The more I can understand why we do what we do, the better I’ll remember what I’m supposed to do. But since starting to listen, I’ve realized that Fr. Tom does everything from trace the development of worship in general, to explain what worship must look like in our own lives. This will impact not only my hopeful vocation, but inform my avocations as well.

Why You Should Consider Listening:

The Worship in Spirit and Truth podcast is literally about one very important thing: worshiping God in spirit and truth, as Christ said God will be worshiped. While the primary source material Fr. Tom is drawing from is the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom as used in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the biblical concepts behind the development and motive of this liturgy are essential to worshiping God period. No matter what your background, if worshiping God is important to you (and I hope it is) the truths you will learn in this podcast will change your life, and I don’t mean that in a trite throwaway manner.
Do you have a podcast routine? Share it in the comments below, and let others have the benefit of your time well spent. If you have time, give these a listen and let me know what you think.

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

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