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My Podcast Role Call: Movies and Controversial Topics for Feather Ruffling Christians

I discovered podcasts in 2019. Once I caught the podcast bug, though, the curious toe dip in the water became a daily immersion that I now can’t imagine being without. Part of the fun of this relatively new media format is that if you look hard enough, there is a podcast about almost anything, no matter the interest. Like many people, I started by listening to true crime podcasts, such as Serial and S-Town, ready and eager each day to get in the car for my daily commute to find out what happened next. Once I binged these finite series, however, I needed to find new audio streams to make my car rides more meaningful.

For me, podcasts go beyond simple entertainment and allow me to find my people and work through moments of confusion as I adapt and change on my faith journey. There are seasons as a Christian that I find myself experiencing growing pains and my mindset begins to contemplate if what I have believed is true or if I’m just a puppet absorbing man-made traditions blindly. Times like this can be lonely, and it’s important to seek community. While there’s no substitute for in-person interactions, listening to podcasts allows a safe space to connect with other humans who think like you or talk about the issues you are struggling with now.

My podcast role call includes content in a variety of interest areas, but in this article I will share the ones that especially allow me to explore the topics I am most passionate about from a faith lens and challenge me to think outside-the-box, instead of just going with the flow. Read the list and consider subscribing to one of these worthy podcasts today. 

The Holy Post

Phil Vischer (co-creator of VeggieTales and other media), Skye Jethani (pastor and author), and sometimes Christian Taylor (filmmaker and producer) converse about current events, theology, controversies impacting the church, and occasional “News of the Butt.” For me, a person who grew up mostly being near card-carrying Republicans, the Holy Post serves as a place to hear views that differ from the narrative of my past. The group has bravely navigated divisive topics, such as racism, purity culture, complementarianism, and culture wars, while also peppering the serious talks with humorous segments. Most episodes include an interview between Skye and a special guest, speaking about a timely topic. The central question of this show seems to be what does it mean to espouse Biblical values -- how do we love God and other people well -- in what they call a post-Christian culture. As someone who doesn’t enjoy political discussions and often feels confused about where I fit, I appreciate how the Holy Post approaches these topics in a balanced, intelligent, and faith-centric way, without taking a partisan side.  

Try this episode: Episode 414: Religious Power vs. Religious Liberty with David French. 

More Than One Lesson

Professor of film Tyler Smith, who also co-hosts another podcast called Battleship Pretension, brings years of experience as a critic, teacher, and love of film in his deep dives into secular movies, examining what spiritual truths they offer for those who choose to look beyond the surface. While I’m a relatively new listener of this podcast, his loving analysis of Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night, which examines not just the film itself, but also how it shines a light on regrettable things Christians do in the name of self-protection, convinces me that he’s a voice worth following.

Try this episode: 229: The Vast of Night

Neighborly Faith

Although this podcast hasn’t released an episode since the beginning of May, Neighborly Faith is dedicated to a cause I feel most passionately -- finding common ground between Evangelical Christians and people of other faith, with a focus on Muslims. Too often, people of different religious faiths are treated with hostility and thought of as enemies. The hosts bring on a variety of guests that observe different faiths from non-profits and houses of worship to find common ground and stimulate conversation on topics of mutual interest. At the center, the hosts come back to the fact that Jesus called us to be good neighbors to everyone, regardless of faith or creed and assert that it is to our advantage that all should be granted the right to assert their faith freely. This podcast challenges me to look past my personal prejudice and think of people who believe differently as fellow images bearers of God.

Try this episode: 6/23/2019: Creating ‘Salaam’ With Our Muslim Neighbors and Fighting Islamophobia

Say Goodnight Kevin

Kevin McCreary, a freelance purveyor of both video and sound production of all kinds, hosts this conversational podcast with a fascinating genesis. On his popular YouTube channel Say Goodnight Kevin, Kevin has dabbled in a variety of topics, but found his stride in creating humorous, detailed reviews of faith-based films. Using a unique combination of sarcastic riffing, playing on insider knowledge of Christian and homeschool culture, and a jam-packed toolbox of video and audio effects, Kevin’s videos are popular with people for many reasons. After movie directors began expressing an interest in conversing with Kevin about the points he raised, Kevin started a podcast to archive those talks for interested audiences. While his videos often play like RiffTrax or MST3K videos, in the podcast, Kevin strikes a more sincere, inquisitive approach as he allows guests in the film industry to share their side of the story, citing their intentions, reasoning, and struggles in creating their movies. The conversations are respectful, insightful, and pleasant. As a Christian and lover of cinema, I had honestly written off the faith-based market as not worth my time, but Kevin’s podcast has reignited my hope that one day things can be better. 

Start with: Episode 2: Alex Kendrick: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of the Christian Film Industry

Seeing and Believing

Wade Bearden (author, pastor, and adjunct professor) and Kevin McLenithan (writer and editor) search for the sacred on screen in their movie-centric podcast, which sometimes analyzes two recent feature films and sometimes studies a particular director, rating their entire catalog of work. Wade and Kevin look past the trimmings Christians often focus upon, like language, violence, or sex, to find the spiritual treasures found in well-crafted films.

Start with: April 17, 2020: Auteur Series - Christopher Nolan