I listen to a lot of podcasts. The content varies. Some are news. Some are true-crime stories. Some are religious.
For a very long time, religious podcasts seemed to fall into a few categories.
They were podcasts of church sermons. That was not what I was looking for.
They were so heavy into philosophy that I couldn't understand them. This was supposed to be background noise, not a college philosophy course.
They were extremely conservative. I listen to some of those. I think it valuable to have an understanding of what other people are thinking, even if I don’t believe it.
I don’t believe what they’re saying. These are the podcasts that continually assure me that I'm doomed to hell because: I belong to a church denomination that ordains women and homosexuals, and performs same-sex marriages; my priorities are in the wrong place if certain social issues aren't the reason behind every vote I make; and if I was really a Christian I would be more interested in making people self-sufficient than providing handouts.
There's more, but those are the issues that come up consistently.
They don’t make me feel better but listening to them does help me understand some of what I hear on television. And what I hear on TV is not my experience with Christianity.
Despite what I'm told on cable TV, nothing has ever kept me from practicing my Christian faith. Saying “Happy Holidays” is not a denial of my Christian identity. No one keeps me from reading a Bible in public. In fact, lately, we've been doing Wednesday Bible study at BrewHaHa. I don't believe that life is so clear that one issue is enough to guide my political vote. I don't think that the term liberal Christian is an oxymoron.
Because of cable TV, radio, podcasts, newspapers and court cases, many people are only familiar with conservative Christianity. More and more people are growing up without any exposure to religion other than through the media. And conservative Christians have been very good at being media savvy.
Generations of non-religious people have grown up with a picture of religion which says that "Because I am Christian, I am politically conservative." I know that's not the truth. I know it’s not the truth because I'm on the inside of a Christianity that focuses on practice rather than politics.
Lately, though, I'm hearing different voices talking about faith and politics. There are more podcasts presenting a non-conservative perspective of being religious. They offer rational and calm discussions between people who disagree. They talk about the Christian teachings and practices of providing for those in need. They talk about the negotiations that occur in multi-faith families. They talk about faith beliefs driving political action in a different direction. They portray a Christianity that is more my experience.
It’s nice to know that my Christianity is finally getting a voice.
As an individual my options are limited. But as a church body we can be heard. We can participate in Peace Week to raise awareness and hope for peace. We can support the artistic efforts of groups like FourYouth Productions, which works with underprivileged youth. We can hit the streets with our Walk for Justice. We can talk about the work the greater church does in the community, feeding and tending to God’s people.
As a church, we can be heard and make sure that a new generation doesn’t have a one-sided view of Christianity.
- Ann Warner