Intelligent spiritual and religious podcasts
February 25, 2016 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in religious and spiritual matters - both from an intellectual point of view and as a way toward living a better life. I'm looking for interesting podcasts. No limits on specific religion (Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, spritual-not-religious), but a few special snowflakes inside. Also, please no answers about religion being stupid, flying spaghetti monsters, and whatnot.

1. No materialism disguised as spiritualism - so no prosperity gospel or law of attraction.
2. I'm trying to figure out a way to categorize my intense dislike of people like Carolyn Myss and Eckhart Tolle. No New Age gurus? No feel-good spirituality?
3. No anti-LGBT, pro-Republican, anti-gun control politics, belief in American exceptionalism, discussion of who is and isn't going to hell.
4. Intellectual/scholarly bent is preferred.
5. Decent production values (I quit listening to one Buddhist podcast over this).
5. Pro-vegetarianism, veganism is terrific, but not required.

Thanks so much!
posted by FencingGal to Religion & Philosophy (20 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have a hunch this meets many of your requirements. it has been on for sometime--previously called 'Speaking of Faith".
posted by rmhsinc at 8:18 AM on February 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Echoing rmhsinc, the program is now called "On Being" and is available via weekly podcast here. The website has well-written blog posts and articles related to similar themes. For Buddhist perspectives, Tara Brach is lovely.
posted by thenewbrunette at 8:20 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: NPR's Interfaith Voices may be up your alley.
posted by General Malaise at 8:27 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shtetl on the Shortwave is primarily a (Jewish) arts and culture podcast, but I've found a lot of the discussion to be intellectual/scholarly.
posted by northernish at 8:43 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Seconding Interfaith Voices. It's fantastic.
posted by OrangeDisk at 8:46 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Several prominent Buddhist teachers have their talks collected online. I really like Thanissaro Bhikkhu who is a prolific writer and translator as well as the Abbot of a monastery in California. He is a smart, incisive person who is 100% not "new agey" or whatever. His talks tend to be focused on practice but if you look at his talk collections there's a variety. (His books tend to get into history/theory a bit more)

In terms of production values; it's going to vary. His older talks are a bit rough due to recording equipment but the newer ones are fine. Obviously being in a completely silent and non-echoey place helps a lot.
posted by selfnoise at 8:46 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The BBC's Beyond Belief podcasts tend to be very good -- quite cerebral, but offering a range of religious perspectives on different issues in each episode. And Ernie Rea has a lovely voice to listen to.
posted by Aravis76 at 9:16 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: I haven't listened to any episodes in nearly ten years but I remember the Catholic Insider podcast being good. It was one of the shows Adam Curry used to namecheck a lot in the very early days of podcasting. Its host is a Catholic priest and what I remember is that he'd talk about some of the nuts-and-bolts details of priesthood and the Catholic church in general. Having been raised in a no-frills protestant church I found it pretty interesting, and I don't recall him touching on any of the divisive issues you mention in your criteria. (I have no idea how the show may have changed or evolved, but my overall memory is that it was a pleasant, interesting listen.)
posted by usonian at 9:16 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: (Ah, it looks like it's been dormant since 2014, but still... there's about nine years of back episodes out there!)
posted by usonian at 9:18 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Covenant Theological Seminary puts a lot of their lectures on Itunes U. The production values are pretty excellent considering that they are recording in a lecture hall, and the courses are EXTREMELY thorough. Even their history courses have a strong Calvinist bent which can start to bug you, but I learned more about church history from "Ancient and Medieval Church History" than I have learned from anywhere else.
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Yale Divinity School's Introduction to New Testament History and Literature (available on iTunes).

Stanford's Historical Jesus course (available on iTunes).
posted by Hypatia at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Religion for Life is another locally-produced (Portland Oregon) public radio program with a liberal religious orientation that likely fits all your criteria.

Bill Moyers has had a well-regarded show on religion and faith for decades called Faith & Reason.

I'm also a fan of Ernie Rea and Beyond Belief.

Your interest seems to be mainly in reflecting intelligently on religion, but consider also the many great podcasts of actual religious services, as communal worship itself is central to many faiths. The music and liturgical texts are deeply traditional and often profoundly poetic and can be a transcendent experience even for nonbelievers. As an Episcopalian, I like to listen to the King's College Choir (Cambridge, UK) Evensong podcast once or twice a week. I'd also highly recommend The Birthday of the World, Part I (Rosh Hashannah) and Part II (Yom Kippur), narrated by Leonard Nimoy, which explore traditional Jewish liturgical music for the High Holy Days. (I think I may remember Nimoy more fondly for this than for his portrayal of Mr. Spock.)
posted by tully_monster at 12:10 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tapestry a CBC radio program available as a podcast that might be interesting to you. Various religious people including, the last one I listened to, a fundamentalist Christian climate scientist. I think the host, Mary Hynes, is one of the best interviewers I've ever heard. I have no idea of her background or current beliefs but she asks very thoughtful, knowledgeable, and respectful questions with a little bit of humour.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:45 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Boston College has a variety of podcasts available through two venues; some are explicitly religious, while others are less-so.

First, the "Church in the 21st Century Center" distributes lots of stuff via iTunes:

Second, all the campus programming -- lectures, events, etc. -- is listed on their "Front Row" web site; the ones tagged "With podcast" are available at this link:
posted by wenestvedt at 1:25 PM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: If you don't mind swearing, the Bad Christian podcast might be up your alley. They discuss Christianity a lot, but they are definitely not like mainstream Christians.
posted by tacodave at 3:13 PM on February 25, 2016

Best answer: Nthing Interfaith Voices, and not only because I used to produce it.
posted by parmanparman at 4:20 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not sure if the production values are up to your standards, but Audio Dharma talks are outstanding, especially those by Gil Fronsdal.
posted by ReginaHart at 5:42 PM on February 25, 2016

Response by poster: Wonderful. These all sound great. Thanks so much.
posted by FencingGal at 7:27 PM on February 25, 2016

One of the foremost orthodox Christian theologians (small "o") is NT Wright. iPad is making it tough to link, but search for NT Wright podcast. He's a heavy duty NT scholar.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:43 AM on February 26, 2016

Also, check out the religion section of BBC's In Our Time, which is amazing.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:45 AM on February 26, 2016

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