About a year and a half ago, my doctor suggested to me (rather firmly) that I really needed to lose some weight. I fortunately took his advice seriously and decided to make some changes in my lifestyle. One of the key changes that I made was to become much more active. The activity that suited me best and that gave me the most pleasure was walking. I bought a step tracker and over time set a goal of walking about fourteen and a half kilometers a day.

I have greatly enjoyed it and feel much better and healthier overall. But I might not have stuck to it as well as I have if had not had something to stimulate my mind while I was exercising my body.

Walking with other people has its own rewards, of course and I love those times. But I also look forward to those times when I am walking alone because I tend to listen to podcasts.

I was realizing the other day that these podcasts I have been listening to pretty much every day have been an extraordinary blessing to me. They have helped me to grow and learn. They have made me laugh and cry. Sometimes, when I am walking, it is like I have an intravenous hooked to my ears and it is feeding me a constant drip of wisdom, hope and new perspectives. I have grown to love my podcasts.

I do have one problem, though. I listen to them so often that I run out of fresh podcasts on a regular basis and end up going through old reruns. So I thought I would take the opportunity to share the podcasts that have been a particular blessing to me with my friends so they might have the chance to try them out. I’m also selfishly hoping that others will take the opportunity to share their favourites with me so that I might find some new ones to love.

Here are the podcasts that have been a consistent blessing to me. I know that many of them are already well known and popular, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has heard of them. I myself hadn’t heard of some of the best known until recently. Hope that they might be the blessing to you that they have been to me:

Canadaland, Canadaland Commons, Canadaland Shortcuts

This trio of podcasts is always interesting, engaging and challenging. Canadaland exists primarily to engage critically with Canadian media and often has very important comments to make on how our media works (and fails to work) in this country. It also generally helps to keep me informed of what is going on in our country and what the challenges and needs of the day are. Sadly, I often don’t seem to get this awareness from anyplace else.

The Liturgists Podcast

The Liturgists do very good work raising and discussing issues in progressive Christianity. They will push you to think about your Christian faith in new and challenging ways. Some of their episodes on topics like LGBTQ issues and Racism have been extremely moving and uplifting.

Ask Science Mike

Science Mike (Mike McHarge) is one of the liturgists on the Liturgists Podcast and I enjoyed his wisdom for the longest time before I realized that he had his own podcast where he answers people’s questions on science, faith and life. He has a marvelous perspective as a science geek who has a very thorough understanding of things like physics, neurology and sociology. He started out as a deacon in a Southern Baptist Church, when through a time as an atheist before returning to faith as a sort of a post-orthodox Christian mystic. All I can say is that it all make for very interesting podcast episodes.

The Robcast

I am assuming that Rob Bell’s Robcast is the best known of all the podcasts mentioned here so I probably don’t need to say too much about it. Let me just say that I haven’t enjoyed all of the episodes I’ve listened to, but the ones that I just loved have been so amazing that they would make up for listening to many many hours of less inspiring stuff.

History in the Bible Podcast

 Okay, I just love how Garry Stevens says, “All the history in all the books in all the Bibles.” He is mostly just running through the narratives of the Hebrew Bible – retelling the story in ways I can relate to. It is helpful because he will often remind me of something in those narratives that I have missed or forgotten. From time to time he will launch into an explanation of the critical work that has been done on the Bible from a scholarly point of view. A lot of this is what I learned in my studies, of course, but I never mind the review and, often enough, I learn something that I missed or have forgotten.

The Memory Palace

Nobody but nobody can tell a story from history better than Nate DiMeo. I mostly listen because I’d love to be able to learn to tell a story like him.

So there they are, the podcasts that have most helped me to learn and grow over the last year or so. I am so thankful for the work that these people do and how they make it available to everyone to just download and listen.

So what are yours? What do you listen to and how have they changed your life?