Best Podcasts of 2012

The following are the podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to the most consistently since this time last year. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun:

Buddhist Geeks – A short podcast, averaging only about 20 minutes: “after a few years, and well over a million downloads of the show, it became clear that Buddhist Geeks was something closer to a movement or community, rather than just a podcast.” In the last two years, the Buddhist Geeks have expanded beyond the world of “digital Dharma” into an annual conference.

Filmspotting – A reliable resource for finding new additions to your Netflix queue, motiving yourself to catch up on classic cinema, or separating the wheat from the chaff among current releases.

Filmspotting SVU (“Streaming Video Unit”): a new podcast, birthed from the mothership of Filmspotting “Original Recipe.” Motivation to ditch cable and make full use of all Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, et al have to offer: “a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Alison Willmore and Matt Singer focusing on the world of online movies.”

Freakonomics – I appreciate the unusual, left-brained, rational perspective of economics meets culture.

NPR: All Songs Considered – An incredible source of new music I might otherwise never hear.

NPR: Religion – A few years ago my car radio was almost always tuned to NPR. More recently I have taken to listening selectively to my favorite NPR segments. Since I’m a huge religion nerd, I love being able to listen to the religion-themed excerpts of “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and other NPR programs without having to listen to each of those hour-long shows each day.

Real Time with Bill Maher – Maher is tendentious on the topics of Western medicine, religion, and marijuana use; however, he has original opinions on almost every other subject. An entertaining way of keeping up with politics.

Slate’s Culture Gabfest – Be a fly-on-the-wall each week for a wide-ranging conversation on the latest current events.

Sounds True: Insights at the Edge – Tami Simon taps into her years of experience as founder of Sounds True to interview a diverse spectrum of spiritual teachers. I find the interviews to be about 1/3 profound, 1/3 mediocre, and 1/3 hokey (sometimes all in the same interview!). But the interview subject’s personal experiences challenge my preconceived notions of what is true and possible. As Shakespeare wrote, “therefore as a stranger give it welcome. / There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


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The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@carlgregg

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