My husband and I were introduced to the writings of R.J. Rushdoony and the Chalcedon Foundation back in 1984 and met Rush and his wife Dorothy shortly thereafter. We visited regularly to attend the services at Chalcedon Chapel and often vacationed in Vallecito. In between visits, we would wait for the Easy Chair cassette tapes to arrive in the mail so that we could hear Rush, Otto Scott, Mark Rushdoony, and others discuss world events, books they had read, and a host of other topics. These were the original podcasts and we waited a month or two to receive them.
At the end of 2017, I found myself talking with my students, as well as those I mentor, and found that the question(s) they were trying to answer were often not the real questions they were struggling with. Rather than look for what the Bible said on a particular subject, they were asking a question that would produce an inadequate answer because a Biblical premise was not their starting point. That is when I began to use the phrase, “Let’s look at the question behind your question” to help them realize there was a more significant underlying issue that needed to be addressed.
At about the same time, those who had been listeners to some of my previous podcasts asked me to consider starting one up again. So, in January of 2018, the Out of the Question Podcast began with Rev. Charles Roberts as my cohost. The name “Out of the Question” was a play on words that wasn’t meant to signify that something was off limits, but rather that the podcast would attempt to draw out of a question the Biblical implications of what needed to be asked. Both Charles and I felt like we were walking in Rush’s footsteps and hoped that we could come close to being as relevant and helpful as he had been with the Easy Chair series.1
It proved to be easy to come up with topics to discuss as I had a pulse as to what was on the mind of people I interacted with. I knew the issues that had them thinking. While our discussions were not rehearsed, I did devote a fair amount of time to derive Biblical perspectives that would shed light on matters of concern; I didn’t go into these discussions without preparation. The goal wasn’t to be the “final word” on any subject, but to present an examination that would prompt further investigation and consideration with our listeners.
Charles continued through episode #40 when pastoral duties and family matters made it difficult for our weekly recordings to work into his schedule. Rev. Steve Macias cohosted with me up through episode #113. Along the way, I interviewed guests who were invited, not because they were famous or had a huge following. I selected people to interview who were knowledgeable in a particular subject matter and could present a Biblical world and life view. These were people I knew personally or had become a “fan” of from social media or from their affiliation with Chalcedon.
In looking back, as I endeavored to mature as a host and hone my skills as an interviewer, I sought out and regularly received feedback from individuals whose opinions I valued. Their insights helped me relax and be more myself and taught me not to focus on trying to script things in advance. I learned that it was best not to spend too much time talking with my guests about the topic prior to beginning the recording. I discovered that I missed a lot of the “good stuff” when we began our discussion prematurely before I hit “record.” I intentionally only give my guests a general idea of the topic we are going to address. This makes the podcast more spontaneous and conversational, similar to people meeting over coffee.
I also spent a fair amount of time watching and listening to other podcasters and people who interviewed guests for a living. Many times I remember saying to myself as I did this, “Be quiet and let your guest speak!” Too often the interviewer was more interested in his/her point of view than the guest’s. I determined to ask questions or begin a discussion and then let my guest do the talking. After all, these persons had been selected because I thought they had something of value to contribute.
I also learned to hone my skills as a sound engineer and audio editor. I always endeavor to edit and remove the barking dog, the ringing telephone, or anything (on either end of our Zoom call) that would not be useful to listeners. And I always purpose to make my interviews and discussions friendly. There is a place for combative discussions, but the Out of the Question Podcast isn’t one of them.
My greatest reward is feedback from listeners who tell me how encouraged they are to hear of others who are working to further the Kingdom of God. At a time when genuine community is often lacking, giving Christians a window into what is possible and offering the experiences of others as examples has forged some relationships between my podcast listeners and my guests. I consider my role “enzymatic” in that I love to start godly reactions much like enzymes in our bodies do.
Many times after a recording session, my husband asks me how a particular podcast went. I’m never sure until I go through the editing process and hear it for a second time. I am amazed at how when you pose a question and listen for an answer, you bring out the “gold” from a person. Nothing is more pleasurable than to hear a guest say, “That was really fun. You brought out things that I don’t usually talk about when I do interviews.”
Now (as of this writing) 129 episodes later, I have had the opportunity to discuss important topics and interview some amazing people. There have been some standout episodes that I look back on as having a great impact on me personally. They are often with people I had not met previously. Either I had read their books or watched them pursue callings that inspire me. I always have to make sure I don’t gush because I’m so grateful that they say “yes” to my request, usually the first time! Additionally, I get to appreciate the family of God in an entirely new way. These men and women are regular people who have responded to God’s call on their lives and are willing to share with listeners who may never get to talk with them personally.
Discussion topics have delved into things like: government overreach, Christian education, divorce, child-rearing, health and medical issues, addiction, American history, entrepreneurship, jury duty, debt, homelessness, and a host of other topics.
Over the three plus years of the OOTQ Podcast, I have had the honor of speaking with George Grant, Jeremy Walker, Roger and Marcy Oliver, Mark Rushdoony, Tim Yarbrough, Rob Monster, Vishal Mangalwadi, Hal Shurtleff, Andrew Dionne, Roger Schultz, Martin Selbrede, Bill Evans, Elizabeth Lurvey, James Nickel, Paul Dorr, Leah McHenry, Steve Christenson, Mark Robinette, Gabe Rench, Charl Van Wyk, Joseph Morecraft, Jerri Lynn Ward, Joseph Graham, Caryl Ayala, Chris and Savannah Zimmerman, Brittany Duggan, Shawn Mitchell, Walter Hoye, Neil Mammen, John Whitehead, and Bradley Pierce.
There have been a number of personal growth experiences as I’m recording a podcast. I was having a discussion with one guest and I posed the question about why certain pastors were not preaching the full counsel of God to members of their congregation, specifically in matters of abortion, lockdowns, etc. I pointed out that many of these ministers were in agreement with the Biblical stance, but didn’t teach about them because they did not want to rock the boat. He pointed out, “That’s when you find out who are the hirelings and who are the shepherds.” His remark catapulted me into understanding something that I had recently experienced. I had to be careful not to allow myself to drift off to ponder his words, failing to keep my podcast host hat on. When I went back to edit the episode, I found myself with a deeper understanding of why so many churches act cowardly rather than boldly. So, you see, I, too, benefit as a listener. I also sometimes listen to something insightful I said during the course of a discussion and say to myself, “You should listen to that woman!”
I am often encouraged by the deep faith and commitment of my guests. Many of them face very significant blowback for standing for their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, there is a joy that exudes from them, showing me that as obedient servants of our Lord, they possess a peace that surpasses understanding. I know that I am the one receiving the greater blessing in all of this, and I am grateful to the Chalcedon Foundation for allowing me to participate in this podcast along with the monthly Chalcedon podcast with Chalcedon President Mark Rushdoony and Vice President Martin Selbrede.
The Out of the Question Podcast has been picked up by other radio networks including Rushdoony Radio and Reconstructionist Radio. I’m always gratified when I hear that many listeners look forward to Mondays when the podcast airs. More than a few parents express hope for the future for their families as a result of hearing the consistent message of victory that is the thrust of all the episodes.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll run out of things to discuss or people to interview. I strongly doubt it, because one of the hallmarks of Christian Reconstruction is the call to apply the Word of God to every area of life and thought. Since our families, churches, and civil government are far from getting an A+ in applying the Bible faithfully, I imagine that there will remain the need to address situations and issues as they arise. It is for this reason that I end most episodes with asking my audience to contact me at [email protected] for any comments, suggestions, or questions they may have.
And now for some breaking news: Rev. Charles Roberts, my original cohost, will be joining me periodically to discuss topical, timely issues. It will be beneficial for regular discussions to be augmented with his knowledge and insights. So, look forward to hearing him again, with his perspective as a minister of the gospel, a husband, father, and someone who has become a good friend to me as he has been to Chalcedon over the years.
All the episodes are available for free download and can be found on the Chalcedon website in the audio album Out of the Question.2
1. 430 of these are still available at https://chalcedon.edu/resources/audio/easy-chair
- Andrea Schwartz
Andrea carries out a number of administrative duties at Chalcedon, putting much attention on promoting Chalcedon through social media and conferences. A main focus includes her direction of the Chalcedon Teacher Training Institute (ctti.org) -- online classes in Biblical law for women. She began working for Chalcedon as a volunteer in 1987 and has been on staff since 1992.