Podcasts you might enjoy during social distancing

March 25, 2020

I enjoy podcasts and find them to be a valuable part of my daily rhythms. During this season of social distancing, I think this flourishing new media can help fill the gap and get us out of our own heads.

Growing up, I remember riding in my dad’s truck to and from school listening to Paul Harvey in the morning and talk radio in the afternoon. What I loved then with radio is what I appreciate now with podcasts. I cherish those memories not for the news and weather reports but because I share them with my dad. I think I felt it intuitively then but I know now, all these years later, that it was the shared experience of a father and son with a radio host we never met, but felt like we knew, that made listening to Paul Harvey a “good day.”

Today I listen to podcasts and feel connected, especially when I talk about them with friends who also listen weekly. I tune in while driving, on the metro back when I had a commute, walking my dog, exercising, cooking dinner, and cleaning our home—something we do more often during the COVID-19 quarantine. I use podcasts to pick up news, relax for entertainment, and dive deep into the political, cultural, and spiritual issues of our day. I enjoy all kinds of shows, from interviews to monologue, investigative journalism to friendly banter good for nothing but laughs.

There are at least 850,000 active podcasts right now with well over 50 million episodes produced. If you haven’t listened to podcasts yet, now could be a great time to join the fun with the 62 million Americans regularly listening to shows each week.

Here are some of my family’s favorite podcasts that I think you might enjoy too. I’ll offer three recommendations in each of the following three categories: podcasts to inform, to encourage, and to entertain.

ERLC’s podcasts

But first, I want to be sure you know of the ERLC’s suite of podcasts, starting with Signposts with Russell Moore. On this podcast, Dr. Moore talks with guests about the latest books, cultural issues, and pressing ethical questions that point us toward the kingdom of Christ. 

Next, check out our weekly show from Washington, D.C., Capitol Conversations, hosted by me, featuring our policy team: Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, Steven Harris, and Travis Wussow. The conversations cover the policy debates and news shaping our world as we aim to foster a new way for Christians to engage in politics. 

Next, tune into the The Way Home with Dan Darling for conversations with key Christian leaders on church, community and culture. 

Finally, you don’t want to miss our newest show, the relaunched The ERLC podcast, featuring Josh Wester, Lindsay Nicolet, and Brent Leatherwood. The team in Nashville highlight ERLC content from the week and cover insights into the moral, cultural, and ethical issues of our day.

Podcasts to inform

The Daily from The New York Times: This is the standard-bearer for daily news in a podcast format. Michael Barbaro’s podcast is at the top of the charts for a reason. It’s impressive what this team of journalists do every weekday by 6 a.m. to make listening to the news fascinating.

SBC This Week with Amy Whitfield & Jonathan Howe: Whitfield and Howe are some of the top communicators in our convention of churches. Their weekly roundup of news from SBC national entities, state conventions, and local congregations is a great service to all of us.

The Dispatch Podcast from The Dispatch: The Dispatch is a new media venture built to swim against the tide of the tribal clickbait model dominating today’s news scene. This is their flagship podcast. Host Sarah Isgur is joined by Steve Hayes, Jonah Goldberg, and David French for weekly conversations on the news. They are disruptors and deep thinkers, doing real reporting from a conservative outlook.

Podcasts to encourage

This Cultural Moment from Bridgetown Church & Red Church: Few podcasts have spurred as many ah-ha moments for me as this one from pastors John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers. Their insights into ministry in cities in the 21st century are precious and prescient for followers of Christ in this post-Christian world.

Pastor Well with Hershael York: York’s interviews with other pastors and ministry leaders will make you feel like you’re in his living room catching up with friends who came back to town for a visit. The conversations in this podcast renew my love for the local church.

Knowing Faith: Jen Wilkin, J.T. English, and Kyle Worley are excellent teachers linking up around a podcast table to remind Christians that our faith is not mindless or irrational but rooted in sound doctrine found in Scripture. This team in North Texas is bringing rigorous theological education to the local church. 

Bonus recommendation: A lot of churches upload their sermons as a podcast. These weekly sermons will grow increasingly meaningful as most Sunday gatherings are suspended while our country fights the coronavirus. Here are my churches’ podcasts: my home church in Lake Jackson, Texas, Brazos Pointe FellowshipThe Austin StoneCapitol Hill Baptist Church.

Podcasts to entertain

How I Built This from NPR with Guy Raz: Guy Raz is a talented storyteller who takes you on the journey innovators and entrepreneurs took to start companies that would grow to become integral to our daily lives. As America shuts down for a while, our economy reminds us just how fragile businesses really are. Now is a good time to relearn the risks and rewards of starting a business to meet the needs of real people.

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: This is one of the podcasts on my wife's phone that I also enjoy listening to when we’re on road trips. Jamie’s show is meant to feel like you are hanging out with her friends. Chelsea tells me she enjoys The Happy Hour because in it she hears about the Lord’s faithfulness in the lives of so many different women.

Whistlestop: Presidential History and Trivia from Slate with John Dickerson: This would be one of many podcasts on my phone to fall in the category of “shows my wife is not interested in listening to on our road trips.” I love stories of American history and the quirkier the better. John Dickerson is one of America’s finest journalists. His narration in this show brings the stories of the fascinating figures who’ve lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, like Reagan and Ike, Truman and Kennedy, into full color.

Jeff Pickering

Jeff Pickering is the director of the Initiative on Faith & Public Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is a leading public policy think tank in Washington, DC and the initiative exists to equip Christian college students for faithful engagement in public life. Jeff moved to Washington … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24