While intentionally seeking more daily silence, I’m also grateful for the invention of earbuds. They’re not not entirely a blessing, of course. Earbuds can further the ever-growing problem of isolation. They can override the “still, small voice” by drowning it in mindless noise.
But selective listening, fully present to the voice that’s speaking, is a gift. Plugging in to the right sources can enrich the mind and lift the spirit, giving us greater control over moments when we’re already surrounded by noise we don’t appreciate. I’m always in search of podcasts that will enrich these moments, allowing thoughtful minds to accompany me in the car or at the kitchen sink.
“Intentional Earbuds,” an occasional Sparrowfare feature, will link to the best listens I’ve discovered. I hope these offerings will help you find an unforgettable voice, a great suggestion for reading or viewing, a beautiful thought to contemplate or an inspiration to feed your soul.
Sparrowfare’s podcast criteria: Thoughtful, civil presentation of cultural trends, interviews with thinkers, book discussions and/or intelligent, inspiring discourse on faith.
Intentional Earbuds #1: The Word on Fire Show and the Bishop Who Refuses to Dumb Down the Faith
When Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron sat for an interview with Dave Rubin on The Rubin Report earlier this year (see “Dialog in a Divisive Time: Bishop Barron, Dave Rubin and the Space Between”), a number of atheists commented that this was a man they could talk to. Bishop Barron is the embodied antithesis of the dorky Bible-thumping Christian so often portrayed on TV sitcoms. His wide-ranging erudition, joy in finding God’s truth throughout the popular culture and his loving, reasoned articulation of orthodox Christian belief have made The Word on Fire Show the one podcast I never miss.
What you’ll discover (if you haven’t already): The variety of topics Bishop Barron discusses with host Brandon Vogt week by week is refreshing. In the first episode (Pope Francis and His Four American Heroes), Barron discussed the life and work of each of the four Americans (Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton) highlighted in Pope Frances’ address to a joint session of Congress in September of 2015. Barron’s lively discussion of Cohen brothers films is a must-listen for movie lovers (Episode 76: Caesar, The Dude and a Serious Man). His episode on the work of Michelangelo (Episode 42: Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Artist) sent me straight to the visually stunning video episode of his series Catholicism: The Pivotal Players to view the art discussed on the podcast episode. Here is a short preview.
A two-part episode (Episodes 43 and 44: Faithful and Intelligent?) is a profound reflection on the depth and intellectual cohesion of Christianity. This episode is a recording of Barron’s lecture to Duke University students in an event hosted by the Duke Catholic Center. I listened to Episode 44, Part 2 of Faithful and Intelligent? several times to absorb Barron’s reflection on the nonviolence of God (see also “Christian vs. Christian: Stop Tearing Each Other Apart”). You don’t hear such depth of thought every day, and you’ll never hear it if you don’t search for it. It is a feast for the mind and the soul.
A Bonus: A further feast awaits those who go to The Word on Fire Show’s show notes each week. Barron has been producing books, articles, video series and Youtube videos on Catholicism, popular culture and contemporary issues for almost twenty years. If a particular episode piques your interest, the show notes offer much more to explore.
For a quick content take, check out Bishop Barron’s Twitter feed. You’ll find links to new articles and Youtube videos and get an overview of the content he offers. It is a consistent presentation for all lovers of goodness, truth and beauty.
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