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Edify Yourself

June 9, 2011
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"dog looking at and listening to a phonograph" by Francis Barraud

Sadly, we cannot spend all our time reading.  Sometimes we have to wash the dishes, fold the laundry, workout, walk the dog, etc.  It can be pleasant to do these activities quietly, but if one  would also like to take the time to edify one’s mind, there are a number of useful podcasts to choose from.

Buddhism

Buddhist Geeks – This podcast launched in 2007 and “became an instant hit among tech-savvy Buddhists looking for a fresh perspective on being a modern-day Buddhist practitioner.”  Their original slogan of “Seriously Buddhist, Seriously Geeky,” was recently replaced with the much less fun, in my humble opinion, but perhaps more accurate “Discovering the Emerging Face of Buddhism.”  It is hosted by Vince Horn and has expanded to include a digital magazine.  In full disclosure, I should say that Buddhist Geeks regularly advertises for my University and we are hosting their first ever conference in July.

Zencast – An archive of weekly talks mostly by Gil Fronsdale at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California.  There are also talks given by Alan Watts, Jack Kornfield, Noah Levine, and others.  These talks are more practice oriented with topics like “Keeping it Real,” “Mindfulness and Emotions,” and “Our Attachments.”

IDPodcasts – This is the audiovisual section of The Interdependance Project, founded by Ethan Nichtern.  The IDP folks are very active in New York City, so if you’re in the neighborhood, this is especially worth checking out.  In addition to weekly teachings and lectures, they include “artful explorations of Buddhist teachings in the form of sound collages, and spoken word pieces.”

The Secular Buddhist – Self described as the “modern secular application of early Buddhist thought,” there are sixty-some podcasts on file.  Now, the very idea of “secular” Buddhism may be puzzling and possibly offensive for some, but for that very reason it’s probably worth checking out.  For more information on the secular perspective, check out the Mission Statement (a Buddhist rarity) on their site.

New Books in Buddhist Studies – For the seriously nerdy Buddhist studies scholar, this new podcast only launched on June 3, but is off to a running start.  The podcast is hosted by Scott Mitchell and Amod Lele and features interviews with academics and authors.

The DharmaRealm – This twice monthly podcast is also relatively new and one of the few to adhere to a traditional allegence, in this case Jodo Shinsu.  It is hosted by Rev. Harry Bridge and Dr. Scott A. Mitchell out of Oakland, California.

Amaravati Podcasts – Here for all the Theravadans out there, talks from Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in the UK “in the tradition of Ajahn Chan and Ajahn Sumedho.  Lectures are mostly from Luang Por Anek.

In addition, iTunes has a full list of podcasts on the topic of “Buddhism” available for download (if you are willing to get iTunes), mostly free.  The blog dirrectory at the Blogisattva awards site also has a list of podcasts at the very bottom.

Religion

Being (formerly On Faith) – This wonderful show hosted by the gentle-voiced Krista Tippett explores “meaning, religion, ethics and ideas.”  I can’t say enough about this podcast.  Krista conducts a weekly interview with a religious thinker, philosopher, ethicist, scientist, or other interesting person that is always worth a listen.  Being also includes a blog and often posts the unedited interviews for further listening.

Interfaith Voices – This podcast bills itself as “a public radio show promoting religious harmony and interfaith understanding.”  It uses the ‘magazine’ format usually featuring two to four segments per show.

Culture

Culturetopia & Pop Culture Happy Hour – Both of these fabulous weekly podcasts are part of NPR’s Monkey See blog.  Culturetopia is a roundup of culture related features usually played as part of NPR’s normal programming (i.e. Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, etc.)  Pop Culture Happy Hour is a loose and funnier round table show about recent happenings in books, music, films, comics, television, plays, etc., and other topics of interest.

This American Life – A collection of interesting weekly stories in a magazine-like format with a central theme.  Hosted by Ira Glass.  Recent titles include “The Old Boys Network,” “The Psychopath Test,” “Ifidelity,” and “How to Create a Job.”

Fresh Air – Another wonderful NPR offering hosted by Terry Gross.  This podcast is a “Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues.”

The Writer’s Almanac – This is a short, but exceedingly lovely podcast from Garrison Keilor (of Prairie Home Companion, see below) who resonantly reads a daily offering of poetry.

Humanities Desk – From my one and only home, which makes it extra special.  “A weekly audio special that looks at life and culture in Nebraska through history, literature, religion, and art. “

Flotsom

Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me – “The weekly NPR news quiz!”  This hillariously funny show is hosted by Peter Segel and involves a rotating panel of comedic guests as well as a interview segment with a famous person who is asked to answer questions on topic they know nothing about.  Always worth a listen and a laugh.

Prairie Home Companion – The podcast that made Garison Kielor a household name.  Recorded in Minnesota, this show truely is a tribute to times gone by, gentle commedy, music, and the radio fiction.  It features regular bits including The Lives of the Cowboys, Guy Noir Private Eye, and the New From Lake Wobegon, as well as various musical guests and actors.

On The Media – A meta-narrative reporting about reporting.  For the nerds among us it’s a facinating look at the forces that shape the news and how it is delivered.  This will open your mind about the importance of information, bias, prejudice, honesty, logistics, context, manipulation, and simple happenstance.

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