Reflections on the Orthodox faith and life in this crazy 21st century world by an Orthodox priest and a few of his friends.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
For the first several years after I began driving, I listened to nothing but music in the car. Like most young people, I had no interest in listening to anyone talk about anything, unless it was someone announcing the name of the next song.
A couple of years after I graduated from college, however, I began to have an unquenchable thirst for learning. While I still enjoyed listening to music, I found that I wanted to spend my time in the car more profitably. I wanted to learn things, to broaden my education; because of this, I began to occasionally listen to books on tape. Still, books on tape in those days were (at least to my knowledge) not widely available, and I didn’t have much time to go searching for them. Because of this, I turned to another source of learning: talk radio.
While in seminary, I listened to a great deal of talk radio, in two major forms. First, I listened to a great deal of preaching and other Christian talk programs, such as Focus on the Family. Gradually, however, I found myself less and less interested in listening to preachers and more interested in politics (shame on me, but that’s just what happened!). Before long, I found myself regularly listening to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, and other talk show hosts while I was in the car and while I was at work.
During our five years of mission service, Jennifer and I weren’t able to listen to much of anything. Occasionally, someone would send us tapes of great preachers, and we would enjoy them. After we returned home from the mission field, with conversion to Orthodoxy as our goal, I no longer had any interest in listening to evangelical preachers. So, I turned back to talk radio. I resumed listening to Rush, while adding Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and several local hosts to my “playlist.”
Before long, however, I grew weary of talk radio. I began to tire of the shrill tone and the constant repetition of the same old arguments (even if I agreed with them most of the time). The negative tone of the shows began to grate on me. I found that listening to talk radio often raised my blood pressure and put me in a foul mood. And it was certainly not contributing to my spiritual growth. In fact, it may have been doing just the opposite. I longed to hear great preaching and spiritual teaching. But where could I find it?
Enter Orthodox Christian Cassettes. This fine mom-and-pop business, based in Arkansas, produces tapes and CD’s of sermons and lectures by many of the world’s greatest Orthodox speakers and teachers. They both sell and lend out their tapes and CD’s. I borrowed many tapes from them (still no CD player in the car at the time!), but I started feeling guilty that I wasn’t sending them any money. I assuaged my guilt by buying a few of the tapes. Unfortunately, I eventually had to stop, because the tapes and CD’s are not cheap; a whole lecture series can cost up to $60 or more. This is quite a bit to spend, especially if you may only listen to the tapes once or twice (and if you are living on a teacher's salary!).
Then, I discovered that our local library has a large selection of lecture series and audiobooks on tape and CD. I went through dozens of these, and I learned a great deal. Again, I soon found that although these tapes and CD’s were very interesting, they did not help me to grow spiritually. I longed to be able to spend the enormous amount of time that I spend in my car growing close to God, but without having to pay a lot of money to be able to do so.
(By the way, in case you are wondering: Yes, I do spend some of my time on the road in prayer. But I still have so much to learn that I need the teaching tapes).
Finally, I found the solution to my problem. What is it? Check back tomorrow, and you will find out!