Right around the same time the Being Human team here at the Evangelical Alliance launched the second season of our podcast, our friends over at Theos brought us their first installment of Reading Our Times with host Nick Spencer.

And since we’re in the podcast business these days, it’s only fair for us showcase one of our favourites. Spencer hosts some smart humans on the show who are writing interesting and influential books that shape our public conversations. 

In fact, if you were listening to Being Human alongside Reading Our Times, you might have even gotten the idea realised that we coordinated. (Spoiler: we didn’t!) But we’d love to introduce you to this great show, and to point out a few places of resonance between their podcast and ours. 

The series starts with Michael Sandel and his new book, The Tyranny of Merit. Sandel observes that there are unexpected consequences to the widespread belief that you can make it if you try. A recent populist backlash has shown that underneath all our optimism is a deep reservoir of shame and bitterness compounded by rising inequality. What’s the solution? A little more humility, and a lot more gratitude. This episode is a great reminder of how stories shape us.


Listeners of Being Human have probably learned by now that Peter Lynas’s favourite book is A Secular Age by Charles Taylor. Well, even if it’s not his favourite, it takes the prize for the most referenced book on our show (other than the Bible, of course). If you’re wondering what the fuss is all about, you can get it straight from the source when Taylor himself talks about it on episode 2 of Reading Our Times.

Then Spencer interviews the novelist Nicci Gerard, who wrote a gripping book called What Dementia Teaches Us About Love. This is a heartbreaking personal memoir of Gerard’s journey with her father’s long battle with this cruel disease. But along the way we learn so much about whose lives matter.

Continuing the theme of inequality, economist Thomas Piketty has an episode about the rising gap between rich and poor, which seems to be widening every day. One of the things that seems to be missing, Spencer and Piketty observes, is a deep sense of how being human binds us in relationship with one another. That’s something we’re thinking about a lot these days. 

In the episode with Professor Nigel Biggar, we start to think about the role of rights and how they actually function to both unite and divide. And in an episode with author Jonathan Sumption this is connected with political cynicism and an increasing reach for litigation to solve our problems. Of course, as we’ve been working through the God story over here, we’ve been considering what it means as humans to pursue justice as we continue to clash over imbalances in society. 

In a fascinating interview with psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, we learn about how the human brain, with its left and right hemispheres, offers something of an analogy to how people have been divided over how to approach the world in different cultures and at different periods in history. While this isn’t something we’re directly talking about on Being Human, it is an extension of what we see as the different ways we as humans try to give an answer to what’s wrong with our world?

The first season of Reading Our Times ends on a conversation with Professor Cécile Laborde about the role of religion in liberal politics. This is at the root of so much of what we’re about at the Evangelical Alliance; we continue to explore what it means for us to live as Christians in private and in public. 

So while we promise there’s no grand conspiracy linking our podcasts, our friends over at Theos have produced a great series that listeners of our podcast will certainly enjoy as a way to delve deeper into what it means to read our times while being human.