Two podcast suggestions for Lent

For the past few years my Lenten practice has been to give up fiction and read spiritual/religious/vexing nonfiction instead. It’s not the biggest challenge in the world because I love reading in all forms, but it helps me center my thoughts for the duration of Lent during times I’d rather be lost in another realm. I’ve already read Searching for Sunday and The Great Divorce, and now I’m re-reading No Wonder They Call Him Savior, which I read in college but am eager to read it again nearly 20 years later and see how it relates now.

In addition to reading nonfiction I’ve included two podcasts in my daily practice that I want to share with you. The first is The Word on Fire by Bishop Robert Barron, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I discovered Bishop Barron on YouTube when one of his videos popped up in the suggestions section. Surely he’s more well known in Catholic circles than in Protestant ones, but that means little to me in this context. Bishop Barron tackles tricky subjects in a manner that provokes discernment (which is the point), as well as highlights the glorious mercy of God and how He moves throughout this troubled world. I’m particularly enjoying the daily Lent Reflections. Today’s reflection reminds us of Joseph’s commitment and devotion to a plan he knew little about.

The second podcast I’m enjoying is Let Us Reason: A Christian-Muslim Dialogue with Al Fadi, an educational outreach effort from the Center for Islamic Research and Awareness. Al Fadi is a former Wahabbi Muslim from Saudi Arabia whose mission is to reach Muslims for Christ.

I enjoy the podcast in particular because Al Fadi strives to teach Christians the elements of Islam, which is something I’ve felt convicted about since last year’s election cycle. Short of the Five Pillars of Islam, I knew nothing. While standing firm in my own beliefs about Christ, Let Us Reason creates space to understand Islam from someone who was born and raised in it and possesses a deep passion and concern for those who still believe.

Both podcasts are thoughtful, faithful companions while I go about my daily activities and, like the books, bring me to a place of discernment and conviction during this time of Lent.

Favorite thing: Criminal, a podcast

After letting go of Serial, I had some strange yearning to listen to crime stories. I wanted to hear about murder and robbery and weird crap that has nothing to do with my circle of influence.

Criminal feeds that curiosity. It’s not a gratuitous, vulgar unboxing of random evidence but rather succinct synopsis of a crime – bloody and not bloody – with either the people involved or experts on the case. In addition, the host and guest rehash lessons learned and the glaring hindsight that shows up afterward.

criminal podcast

For an extra-creepy listen, try Episode 25: The Portrait.

Three things I love: favorites logo

  1. Great audio. The host, Phoebe Judge, has a voice that’s so easy to listen to. Some podcasts do not have this quality, so when a podcast has fluid audio and a female voice with no vocal fry, it’s all good.
  2. Diverse stories.  It’s not just obscure murders or weirdo tales. There’s white-collar crime, multi-generational crime, and more. If you don’t like the bloody stuff, there are other stories for you.
  3. Short and sweet. Some podcasts require an hour or more from you, but many of Criminal’s stories hover around 20 minutes. Perfect for folks with a short attention span.