Philosophy for Beginners | Oxford University If more people studied philosophy, social media would be much more interesting. Why? Because philosophy trains the mind to think clearly and deeply, and to avoid bad arguments. Philosophy won't solve our problems, but it can help us think through what we believe and why we believe it. And as we learn to understand our own thinking, we are better equipped to engage and learn from others, without being swept up in new fads, and without fear of the unknown. In Philosophy for Beginners, Dr. Marianne Talbot makes philosophy accessible and easy to understand. You'll take "a romp through the history of philosophy," learn about logic, ethics, politics, language and more.
The God Delusion Weekend | Oxford University Most of us have a few favorite pundits we get our information from, or at least a community of like-minded thought leaders who help guide us through controversy. So when Richard Dawkins' bestselling book, The God Delusion came out, most religious people probably turned to their faith leaders for advice on what to make of it. In this short series, two Oxford philosophy professors, an atheist and a deist, use reason and logic to engage Dawkins' arguments. The God Delusion is old news now, so use your own judgment on whether or not this series is useful to you. I included it in this list because it is a powerful example of how to learn from others outside your own tradition.
Critical Reasoning for Beginners | Oxford University Mastering the basics of logic is essential for clear thinking, speaking and acting. Whether you are trying to get your own point across, understand the strengths and weaknesses of a political stance, or weigh the advantages of a business decision, reason and logic are the fundamental tools necessary for the job. Dr. Marianne Talbot makes critical reasoning fun, engaging, and easy to grasp.
Understanding Islam | TED Conferences Would you be comfortable with a Muslim explaining your beliefs to his or her mosque after coalition drones had killed one of their family members? Yet, many people don't think twice about accepting what politicians, pundits or pastors have to say about Islam post-9/11. In these lectures from the TED conferences, Muslims speak for themselves about their culture and their faith. Hear what they have to say, and take it at face value just like you would want them to listen to you.
A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright | Wheaton College Few theologians have been more polarizing in our lifetime than Bishop N.T. (Tom) Wright. A scholar of scholars, Wright is a prolific author with countless academic and popular level books to his name. In 2010, Wheaton College hosted a conference in his honor, inviting scholars from across the U.S. to engage in public dialogue with Wright. These lectures and question and answer sessions are worth listening to whether you are already acquainted with Wright, or are just encountering him for the first time. Friends and foes alike will benefit from hearing him explain his theology in his own words, while answering questions from other theologians.
On Being | Krista Tippett What does it mean to be human, and how should we live? These are the questions On Being seeks to answer through interviews with an incredibly diverse array of people. From scientists and theologians, to musicians, monks and even police officers, Krista Tippett explores the human experience from every imaginable angle. On Being is currently offered in two formats: a produced version that airs on NPR, and an unproduced live-interview version. I typically start with the produced version, and if it sounds particularly good, revert back to the full length interview. On Being is currently my most listened-to podcast.
More Perfect | Radiolab How much do you know about the Supreme Court? Chances are, your knowledge ends somewhere around "9 justices, appointed for life (not elected), last court of appeals." Listening to this podcast miniseries, you'll see that the facts and details are incredibly intriguing. How many times have you heard the result of a case and thought "How could they rule that way? The facts are OBVIOUS!" After listening to this podcast, you may find yourself thinking differently.
Hardcore History | Dan Carlin History should never be boring, and after listening to Hardcore History, it never will be again. Dan Carlin is a gifted storyteller (although not a trained historian), with a knack for uncovering fascinating historical themes and events that will leave you wanting more. For example, in one of my favorite episodes Carlin traces the logic that brought us from the "gentlemanly wars" where colorfully dressed soldiers faced each other on a battlefield, to the acceptance and use of the atomic bomb, where civilian casualties far outnumbered military. Human history is complex, and simplified narratives are misleading. Hardcore History offers a complex and nuanced view of the past that can clarify your understanding of the present.
Serial | This American Life If you missed the bandwagon on this one, download it now so you can catch up before season 2 begins. Serial tells the true story of a reporter's investigation into the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed is in prison for the crime based on the testimony of one person. But the facts don't quite add up, and Syed maintains his innocence. Starting October, 2014, reporter Sarah Koenig began a live, ongoing investigation which she presented week by week in this podcast. Serial is gripping, as only true crime can be, and reveals the complexities of the justice system and the ambiguous nature of many criminal cases.
Librivox Free Public Domain Audiobooks (Note: Readers are volunteers, some sound professional, others like a good friend or grandmother)
The Trees of Pride | G.K. Chesterton With the profundity and wit that only Chesterton can muster, The Trees of Pride is a mystery that calls us to rethink the relationship between science and the wisdom of tradition. "Three trees, known as the Peacock trees, are blamed by the peasants for the fever that has killed many. Squire Vane scoffs at this legend as superstition. To prove them wrong once and for all, he takes a bet to spend the night in the trees. In the morning he has vanished. Is he dead, and if so, who killed him? The poet? The lawyer? The woodsman? The trees?" -Maria Therese
The Man Who Was Thursday, A Nightmare | G.K. Chesterton "A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather." So begins the poem that introduces what is perhaps Chesterton's greatest mystery masterpiece. The poem itself is worth reading on its own (click here), but the book is a thrilling, mind-blowing adventure that builds and builds into a spectacular climax of imagination. Download it, listen to it, and let your mind be boggled. The Man Who Was Thursday will make you feel like a kid again.
Lilith | George MacDonald A dark fantasy exploring life, death and redemption. When Mr. Vane follows the raven through the mirror, he winds up on a journey of cosmic significance in a parallel universe that includes battling skeletons, children who never grow up, giants, and of course, Lilith herself. Fun fact: C.S. Lewis was so enamored with this Victorian novel that he references Lilith as the ancestor of the White Witch in Narnia.
Netflix Movies and TV shows
Happy Valley | (2014-2016) Your typical well-crafted, slow-burning British police series, only this time, it's a female officer, Sergeant Catherine Cawood, at the center of the story. Watching a female police officer deal with problems typically solved by males in the tv/film world adds a unique and refreshing flair that is missing in many similar shows.
Daredevil | (2015-) Season 1 is phenomenal. Don't be turned off by the Ben Affleck version. Vincent D'Onofrio as Kingpin is mindblowingly awesome.