I have some miscellaneous and enthusiastic recommendations. They may not be everyone’s cup of java but they sure grabbed me, each wonderful examples of the reach of compelling content being extended by digital tools.
1) The first is outright embarrassing: Because, for a guy who at least tries to convince himself that he is wired, it turns out that this “new” discovery from American Public Media has been around since 2001.
Many of you farther along on the “wired” continuum already know about Krista Tippet’s Speaking of Faith, an American Public Media production billed as “public radio’s national conversation about belief, meaning, ethics, and ideas.” Well, I had no idea. And I simply want to pass on that, if you are someone who at least contemplates matters of the spirit, God, holiness, and compassion, you must give Krista’s broadcast a listen. It moves back and forth between many of the world’s religions and, rather than working the typical extremes of the age of fundamentalism, most of the discussions take place in the messy, complex middle where most of us actually live.
One broadcast worth downloading is a panel discussion with Krista, David Brookes and EJ Dionne discussing the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr..
Another program on German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is riveting.
2) I also recommend a new on-line version of a class entitled “Justice: What is the Right Thing to DO?” at Harvard taught by Michael Sandel that has long been one of the University’s most popular courses. The entire course, filmed elegantly with multiple cameras capturing student reactions and questions, can be seen here.
3) A great guide to all of the podcasts and courses and provocative discussion freely available for download can be found at http://www.openculture.com/.
4) Finally, and I will understand if you are a little skeptical, is the incredibly rich and fun Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Each week they will send you a podcast of one of the biographical entries read aloud. I can only tell you that they are amazingly absorbing, incredibly entertaining. Yes, I used the word “fun.” One week it is the famed, hard-living UK footballer George Best. And then comes poet Phillip Larkin. These are not standard reference entries. They are brilliantly written short takes on lives, they have a point of view and — sometimes if the subject calls for it — they are hillarious.
Their podcast of the biography of spy Anthony Blunt is a great place to start.
5) Finally, to hear some extraordinary true-life story-telling from an organization doing all it can to keep the spoken, performed story alive, check out the podcasts from The Moth. Real people. Real Stories. Performed live. And a lot of laughter, pain, and everything in between.