Virtue in the Wasteland Podcast

Little known fact: the original name of Virtue in the Wasteland was “Jeff and Dan’s Vanity Project to Explore Their Hobbies” but we decided to go a little more broad and talk about society and religion and stuff…

Maybe that’s not exactly how it played out, but there is a funny bit of guilt we feel whenever we dive head first into a topic that is seemingly just tickling our fancy as mass entertainment and thus unworthy of critical reflection. But on this show we will argue that R.E.M. is not just one of our favorite bands, but the most important American band of all time. Sound hyperbolic? Check out the show and see if we can pull off the argument and join in on

We recorded this show from the RV somewhere between Athens, GA and Charlottesville, VA after our pilgrimage to the mecca of R.E.M. fan sites. We got to discussing the band, its evolution and role in 80’s and 90’s pop culture. On this show, which was recorded moths ago and feared lost until only a few days ago, we make the audacious argument that R.E.M. is the most significant rock band in U.S. history.


3 caveats: this is not “the best R.E.M. songs” podcast. In fact, if it was, it would suffer from being terribly mundane and uninventive as a “best of”. Doing that, using commercial success and air play to judge significance, would make this super lame and obvious. So the tracks we pick are the hits, but the ones that are indicative of the band, and tell us something about them and the society they reflected.

Caveat # 2: There is a lot of music on this episode! About a minute or so of each song we talk about. Using all the actual music is allowed under the Fair Use Act, as we are playing it to comment on, and use for teaching purposes. In case you were concerned.

Caveat #3 We do not discuss R.E.M. post New Adventures in Hi-Fi. This is not because we dislike later R.E.M. (listen to our show with Dave Zahl, he convinced us to give late R.E.M. more attention in our own lives. We could argue that R.E.M after New Adventures is a different band, as Bill Berry suffered an aneurysm on tour and retired, giving way to a rotating list of drummers and (unfortunately, in this case) drum machines. I have recently picked up an article I’ve been working on ,which ranks every R.E.M. song. Late R.E.M is well represented. On the Spotify list below, you can see some of our picks for post Hi-Fi R.E.M. songs.

Direct download: REMLOSTSHOW.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Andrew Syed (formerly Andrew Paquin) visited Jeff recently, during which time Dan was in Dallas related to the new 1517 Academy (check it out). Andrew was Jeff's colleague at a previous institution, until politics and conceptions of Christian political beliefs resulted in a controversy. Andrew and Jeff explore this backstory, which several news outlets picked up a decade ago. Andrew discusses the negative effects the events and how he sought healing through recognition of the long term effects of trauma. 

Direct download: Jesus_the_Academy_and_Politics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

Christmas movies and carols and traditions and….. we could go on and on. And in fact, we have gone “on and on” for over 5 years now doing a special Christmas show.  On today’s show the guys are back together again in the comfy confines of the ViW Irvine studios and it felt like old times. The thesis of today’s show is that the strange “thrill of hope” we all experience this time of year is no coincidence. 

In fact, we are not thoroughly entangled in any other holiday like we are Christmas. And while we might bemoan the commercialism, or creeping secularism (still not sure what that is, though) or stress, we might also recognize that our grocery store aisles are filled with the music proclaiming good news. While the general tenor of the yer can be rough and go-it-alone, this is the time of year when we soften, the time we become like a child again in the very season God deigned to do the same thing.

Direct download: 2018xmasBetter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT

I don’t have any naked baby photos. Frankly, I don’t have any baby photos. I blame either a house fire or parental indifference. Nonetheless, I wonder if I might not start subtitling my talks as “naked baby photos” not because there are, but because when I overshare, that’s the closest thing I can relate to how I’ll probably make you feel when I share publicly about my life.

Like naked baby photos, they are harmless, but show you a side we don’t always put on display. As a matter of fact, you aren’t supposed to be hearing this talk! the deal was that it was only for those in the room. My wife convinced me to figure out a way to edit it in such a way to take out some detail which might frustrate a minor side story, but not the big picture. So, I took my editing fingers to my LogicPro X (the official editing software of ViW!) and I cut out some proper names.

As I was editing it just now, I was listening to it and thinking, “dang, I shared quite a bit, maybe I should edit out that story that doesn’t make me look that good in retrospect” but I didn’t…. This isn’t the story of my delinquency, that’s just a side avenue where we see God at work shining some grace on me in Jesus. This is a talk about EGBOK (everything is going to be ok) and what it means. It’s the most in depth we’ve ever gone into that thing we say at the end of every show.

If you are so inclined to want me to speak at your event, or you want to hear or read or watch more of me you can go to my website HERE

Check out Jeff HERE (and listen to last week’s show wherein we play his HWSS talk)

Oh. please go HERE too and give, if you’re so inclined.

Direct download: The_Theology_of_The_Cross_and_EGBOK_from_HWSS18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00pm PDT