6 Podcasts for diverse perspectives on current events

How do you get your news?

Most of us don’t really think about it. We turn on the television and get fed whatever the networks think¬†we ought to hear. Podcasts offer a different experience entirely. It’s like stepping back in time, to the era when people used to sit by the radio and listen to¬†news, comedy, and music together each night. However, podcasts give you the added ability to¬†choose¬†the source of your information — and that can be a¬†very valuable thing.

I talk a lot about changing your perspective on this blog, so here are a few of the podcasts I listen to regularly to help me hear about news and current events from several different vantage points.

The Briefing – Albert Mohler

If you want the conservative evangelical perspective on today’s current events, then¬†The Briefing¬†is the place to go. Mohler offers a 20-minute¬†daily¬†podcast covering three or four current issues or events in the news. Even if you don’t agree with everything he says, he must be admired for the sheer determination and discipline he has displayed in writing out (he reads his podcasts from a script) a 2,000-word summary of relevant news events, every day, for the past several years.

The Ezra Klein Show – Ezra Klein

If you want a perspective that is clearly,¬†undeniably¬†from the other end of the political spectrum, please listen to Ezra Klein. Again, though you may not agree with everything he says, there is plenty of reason to respect Klein — Klein, for his ability to put together interview after interview with prominent political personalities. Especially good was his¬†interview with Brian Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Here’s the Thing – Alec Baldwin

If you’re like me, and you watched the NBC sitcom¬†30 Rock¬†at all, then it’s hard to listen to Alec Baldwin’s voice for any length of time without breaking into laughter. That’s a compliment, not an insult — he may be one of the funniest actors I’ve ever watched. But this podcast is good — especially for it’s interviews with some great singers and musicians from the 20th century. If you want to check it out, listen to this¬†incredible interview with the great American singer/songwriter¬†Gordon Lightfoot.

Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell

What can I say? This may truly¬†be one of the greatest podcasts ever produced. If you’ve¬†read¬†Outliers,¬†David and Goliath,¬†The Tipping Point, or any of¬†Gladwell’s other books, you¬†know that¬†Gladwell can put together facts like no one else on earth to make you truly understand trends and events from a¬†new perspective. Please listen to the unbelievable story of Brown v. Board of Education from a surprising angle in the episode “Mrs. Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment“.

The Robcast – Rob Bell

It is important to listen to people, even if you don’t agree with everything they say. As I near the end, I’m going to recommend Bell’s podcast for his positive message and his committment to¬†keep communicating.¬†Bell offers a very good treatment of The Sermon on the Mount and tackles something he calls “The Lie of Redemptive Violence” — and it is worth listening to.

Gospel in Life – Tim Keller

And as we end the list, it wouldn’t be complete without Tim Keller. For foundational truth, there is nowhere better to turn but here. It is primarily sermons, as Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Church in Manhattan, but the length of each episode is generally shorter than Klein, Gladwell, or Bell — about 40 minutes. I have episodes that I will listen to over and over again. If you’ve never listened to Keller, here’s a good place to start: “Absolutism: Don’t we all have to find truth for ourselves?”



Giving makes the season brighter

This season we’ve chosen to ask our students to bring clothes and help us collect something to give away to poor families in our community. Through our church we have obtained a list of people who are in need in the community, and we will be using the things we collect to help make the season a little brighter for a few families here. Praise God that we have enough to give away, and praise him that our students are generous — they have brought a lot!

At a time when there is so much tragedy in the world, I have been gripped by the importance of giving. I think the most important thing to acknowledge is not how much we can do for others by our giving, but how much God can change our spirit through the decision to behave generously. If we allow him to take control over our possessions (I know, he already has control, but follow me here), then those possessions no longer have control over us, and we are freer to serve him with the things he has entrusted to us.

And I think there is another principle¬†at work here as well. If we are able to loosen our grip on our wealth and possessions, it allows us to see more clearly just how much it must have cost our Lord Jesus 2,000 years ago, when he gave up everything to enter into human history and redeem mankind through his life, death, and resurrection. From his great high place he descended to be born among animals, work as a common carpenter, die a criminal’s death, and be buried in a borrowed tomb. He is truly the greatest giver of all, and in giving we get to identify with him just a little bit, this Christmas. It kind of makes you want to give stuff away all the time, I think.

This year I’m looking for ways to give to help those in Syria who have suffered so much.

I don’t yet know to which charity I will end up donating, but here is some information I’ve found so far:

  • The British Red Cross. They are already supporting 1,000 families forced to flee their homes. This includes providing essential food, shelter, water and medical care.Teams are providing medical care and ambulances to transport emergency cases to specialised facilities.
  • The Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets due to their distinctive hard hats, is a volunteer civil defence non-governmental organisation which works to rescue people from the rubble of destroyed buildings.¬†Donations to their ‚Äúhero fund‚ÄĚ are used to pay for medical care for injured White Helmets, to help them get back on their feet, as well as supporting families of volunteers killed in action.¬†https://www.whitehelmets.org
  • Doctors without borders. Very few doctors remain in Aleppo and, despite enjoying a protected status under international law, many hospitals and other medical facilities have been destroyed.¬†MSF supports eight hospitals in the city of Aleppo. It runs six medical facilities across northern Syria and supports more than 150 health centres and hospitals across the country, many of them in besieged areas.¬†MSF is no longer able to get into the city but continues to try to help the facilities it supports.¬†http://www.msf.org/donate
  • I would also recommend using a website like charity navigator, a site that you can use to find charities that are helping with different causes. Just go to http://www.charitynavigator.org and search for Syria.

Have you found any ways to give and help the cause of civilians in Syria? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook.

3 Questions To Ask When Watching the News

Sit down. Turn on the tv (or the tele for you non US). Flip over to CNN, Fox, or BBC. Listen to their account of current events.

Pick up your phone. Open Facebook, tap on this article and that, and read about how the President is corrupt or good, or how our society has forgotten this or that custom, or whatever.

Sit in the car and turn the radio dial to the “news” station. Listen to traffic reports, headlines, and some talk show that you mostly agree with.

I bet¬†that these are the main ways in which we follow what we call “news”.

Here’s the problem: Good things in life require that we go out and get them. Why should we think any differently about news?

What’s the goal in watching the news? How do we resist being¬†tossed about amid the various winds of what we perceive to be current events?

Things to consider:

  1. Things portrayed on the news programs as important are often insignificant in relation to the myriad of other things happening in this world.
  2. Stories we are shown on such programs may shrink our perspective on the world, instead of expanding it.
  3. We sometimes forget to distinguish between facts and opinion in the channels we follow, and we end up taking on opinions of others without realizing it.

3 good questions to ask

  1. What are they NOT saying? What is the reporter, writer, or news network trying to communicate with their coverage of this story? Can we see an agenda behind their reporting, or are they simply reporting pure facts? People rarely report events without some basic agenda that they are trying to advance. Having an agenda in itself is not bad, but we run the risk of being manipulated if we are unaware of them.
  2. Is this really worthy of my time? I believe stories about Ryan Lochte’s escapades, for example, are inconsequential and unworthy of our time. However, most of CNN‚Äôs broadcast in the closing days of the Olympics was devoted to this story. When the news becomes a soap opera, don‚Äôt complain ‚ÄĒ just turn it off.
  3. Does this make me better? Many times, we take in stories gossip and conflict, and we are no better informed about the world than we were before. Many stories are in fact distractions, taking our limited time and energy away from the things on which they should be focused.

What then do we do?

As I said before,¬†if something is important, we’ve got to go get it. I think that information¬†is the same way. Rather than an end in itself, the news¬†should be thought of as part of the means by which we journey toward truth. So, perhaps, as we watch the news that does come in front of us, we ought to ask ourselves, does this help me grasp the truth of what is happening in the world around me?

Here are some stories that may help:

Over 100 Children Among 338 Killed in Aleppo Attacks This Week, W.H.O. Says 

Many of us seem to have forgotten, or at least lost our concern for, the civil war that still rages in Syria. Just days after things were supposedly dying down, the country continues to be torn apart by war.


ISIS Crucifies 11 Christian Missionaries, Cuts Fingertips Off 12-Y-O in Front of Preacher-Father Before Killing Them

Christians are still being tortured and killed in areas controlled by ISIS, an area that has not seen peace in a long time.


After Hurricane Matthew, Devastation in Southern Haiti

While Americans get back to business after the hurricane, people in Haiti are devastated. We ought to ask many questions; Haitians have endured much suffering over the decades.


Bosnian Elections A Triumph For Nationalist Parties

Unfortunately, nationalism still prevails in many Eastern European nations, which stifles the economy and keeps people from working together.


Thousands Fasting After Russian President Putin Signs Law Banning Evangelism Outside of Churches

Many of my friends have been nervous about this situation in particular.