How do you explain the Christ to a child?” This was the very first question we asked Richard Rohr on the first season of our flagship podcast, Another Name for Every Thing. Packed into that question were hours of reading, pondering, and Paul playing with his kids. This personally intense question was asked in such a sparse way because Fr. Richard knows Paul and is the type of spiritual teacher who needs but a whiff of a question to follow its tracks. Fr. Richard has this unique ability to synthesize the complexities of the Christian tradition as he understands it and put it into a language that lights the wick of the heart and warms the mind. He’s been teaching with this illuminating effect since his first cassette tapes were published when he was a fresh-faced Franciscan in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Prior to Another Name for Every Thing, podcasts at the CAC existed only intermittently via Homilies, which were recorded as Fr. Richard gave them at Holy Family Catholic Church in Albuquerque. Before Corey’s arrival at CAC, Fr. Richard recorded these himself with a handheld recorder that rested on the podium while he preached. By the end of 2018, these Homilies only had 280,000 downloads. When we set out to create Another Name for Every
Thing in 2019, the idea was to help unpack the themes of The Universal Christ. However, during the production of that show, we had the idea of creating Turning to the Mystics with James Finley, and quickly began developing plans to form an entire podcast network comprised of the wisdom of our faculty and extended community.
The CAC podcast network was intentionally designed to serve multiple purposes. Given the advantages of podcasting, we wanted to use it as a tool to expand CAC’s teachings on the Christian contemplative traditions. Later, it would also become a tool to showcase and connect listeners to other programs by the CAC. Lastly, our hope with the podcast network was to build a broader circle of teachers and practitioners who exemplify the multiple expressions of contemplation. Our podcast network is currently living into its purpose as we offer teachings on exploring the Christian contemplative traditions, learning new ways of seeing beyond ourselves, and exploring our shared cosmic belonging. In this way, the podcast network reflects the growing edges of each of the CAC’s faculty and extended community of teachers.
Each podcast in our network walks into the world on the sturdy legs of a pedagogy that honors wisdom through teaching, practice, and relationship. This is true in the input as well as in the output. Corey, the mastermind of the network, has let Paul tag along in the cocreation of the CAC network that leads with the strengths of the animating charism of each teacher’s podcast. With the pedagogy in mind, we collaborate with the teachers on a format, structure, and themes that will support their unique calling in service to the world.
As we look to an eventual future without Richard Rohr, this program has shown that it is possible for a movement to sustain itself by relocating Fr. Richard from the center to joining the circle of a broader community. As Another Name for Every Thing came to an end in 2021, the network’s offerings expanded to contain our entire lineup of faculty members and began including partnerships with our extended community.
Currently, all of CAC’s active offerings are presented by our other faculty members—Dr. James Finley (Turning to the Mystics), Dr. Barbara Holmes (The Cosmic We), and Brian McLaren (Learning How to See)—and extended community members such as the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis (Love. Period.). Keep an ear out for Fr. Richard to reenter the podcast network later this year as we explore the archives of his teachings. 2021 concluded with over 3.5 million downloads across 202 countries and territories around the globe. We have enjoyed watching our new shows grow and carry the network and the CAC into its future.
PAUL SWANSON is a Senior Program Designer at the CAC, where he supports the creation and curation of podcasts, online courses, and the Living School. He is a jackleg Mennonite and member of Our Lady of the Tall Trees. Paul lives in New Mexico with his wife Laura and their two feral children.
COREY WAYNE produces the podcasts for the CAC’s podcast network. Prior to his time at the CAC, he produced several chart-topping shows in the arenas of religion and spirituality and society and culture. When he’s not at work, he’s either out hiking or working to finish his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology. Although he calls Nashville his home, he currently lives in New Mexico.
This reflection appears in the Spring 2022 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.