Listening Lately

I had a small cold and we spent time with family over the weekend, so I’m catching up on my listening. I do want to note a few pods that I found interesting, and you might as well.

I listen regularly to The Bible for Normal People, hosted by Peter Enns and Jared Byasse. The most recent podcast (11/10/2019, Episode 107, 46:43) featured Cindy Wang Brandt on raising children in the [Christian] faith. Brandt is author of a book called Parenting Forward, and hosts a podcast of the same name. You can see her bio and make connections at I follow Brandt on Twitter and find many of her tweets a bit more compelling than the conversation on TBFNP.

The conversation reminded me of a more general conversation I’ve had with myself for several months. This pod, as well as Jonathon Martin’s The Zietcast, often feature stories of “ex-vangelicals.” Many are part of the “Evolving Faith” community, whose most notable member was the late author, Rachel Held Evans. What I find somewhat gripping is the ongoing story of pain, rejection and punishment these folks share as they have moved away from American Evangelicalism. Brandt shares another in that series of stories.

I am reminded of how little my faith tradition scarred me with manipulation, coercion and abuse. While these stories are the most searing for women and people of color coming out of such traditions, it seems that no one has left unscathed.

I am grateful that I did not experience such faith traumas. I wonder sometimes if that was simply because the life of faith was a tangential feature in my growing up years and not really a central part of my identity. I was perhaps spared the trauma at the cost of missing out on the passion. That being said, I listen to these stories with astonishment and admiration.

The latest episode of Hidden Brain, hosted by Shankar Vedantam (11/11/2019, 27 min.) was titled “Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus: The Psychology of How We Eat.” The episode features a conversation with psychologist Paul Rozin ( He has researched human food choice from a variety of perspectives. He tells stories about his research that even include dog doo flavored with chil flakes. What’s not to like about that?

I appreciated the broad framework of Rozin’s approach. From the title I thought perhaps the episode would be another exploration of the neuroscience of dieting. It was, however, a more holistic exploration of food in the fabric of culture.

Brenda and I adopted a whole food, plant-based died about fifteen months ago. We worked our way toward that diet in several stages and are quite happy with our choices at this point. The experience caused us to reflect on how eating habits and food choices are determined far more by our communities than by our cravings. So I found this pod interesting and affirming.

New Podcast of the week must go to Finding Fred. The pod is hosted by Carvell Wallace on and has been picked up by IHeartradio podcasts. Wallace also hosts the Closer Than They Appear pocast. He is a popular culture and sports journalist and author. See more on him at

In the midst of the Mister Rogers media boom fifty years after we met him in his neighborhood, I find this pod to stand out. I am three episodes in to the ten episode series. Already we have heard a full and sensitive treatment of the relationship between Rogers and Francois Clemmons, including some extensive conversation with Clemmons (episode 2). Episode three takes Rogers’ Christian faith and ministerial vocation with the seriousness it deserves. I really appreciated that conversation, done from the perspective of a person of faith.

What have you found worth a listen lately?

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