Thursday, July 21, 2005

On the iPod: A Different Perspective Podcast

Podcasting is a new phenomenon, and it's something of a daunting challenge finding some quality audio. Apple's iTunes podcast directory is pretty undescriptive but the newly operational Odeo is well-designed and clearly organized. I was able to find a number of podcasts, some promising and others clearly a crapshoot. You can count on the numerous NPR podcasts to have high production quality, but there's an elitist snobbery that oozes from NPR productions that I can only stand for so long (made all the more obnoxious by the fact that they are clearly oblivious to their own biases and effete aires). So, the intrepid must dig for hidden gems.

Being a Christian and yearning for some solid Christian thinking that goes beyond your typical recorded evangelical sermon, I have been pleased to discover A Different Perspective podcast by former pastor/web host/aspiring actor Alan Hartung. Alan is active in the Emerging Church movement, which I confess to know little about having spent my Christian life (14 years as a youth and the last twelve as an adult) in mainstream churches, Catholic and evangelical. I'm sympathetic to the basic premise that the church (as in universal) is emerging from modernistic times and needs to return to the teachings of and experience of Jesus. Turned off by whatever in mainstream churches is not speaking to them, younger Christians are experimenting with new ways to form communities, worship, teach, and seek the face of God. It certainly has positive potential from my point of view, and I am sympathetic to many of their grievances, especially regarding expositional sermons. I don't think I can tell you the subject of more than maybe ten of my pastor's sermons over the last seven years. I love the man dearly, but his sermons were never why I showed up to church. And given that sermons form the bulk of the typical evangelical service... well, I doubt that I'm alone in my lack of interest (though in fairness, my pastor is an acknowledged speaker and is well loved and respected by his congregation and peers).

Alan Hartung's podcasts are definitely not mainstream evangelical, but there is no doubt that he is a sincere believer and is passionate about Scripture. In one podcast, he relates how he once taught an entire year's worth of Wednesday evening services from Colossians. The first chapter of Colossians.

Alan's podcasts are clearly a work of love and not a pro effort. Audio levels are uneven; the intro music is easily twice as loud as his voice, and even when he's speaking I find I have to adjust the volume to follow him. It also sounds like he uses a cheap mike or highly compresses the audio, as it has that tinny timbre to it. None of this is relevant to the quality of the content, which is quite good. It's just part of the new amateur audio broadcasting phenomenon. It's manageable, and I'm sure Alan's production skills will evolve.


At 3:49 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Zeke -

Thanks for the comments on my podcast!

Production values will be improving dramatically starting with the next podcast... I have a microphone to use instead of the built-in mic on the Mac. I know I shouldn't have been using it to begin with...

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

Alan, I would hope that the last takeaway you would have from my post would be about the production quality... but congrats on the new microphone. And the level controls on Garage Band are your friend. :)


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