Blithe joviality & some occasional greatness
Review of The Happy Rant podcast.
The Happy Rant is a podcast that discusses Reformed celebrity pastors, books and pop culture in the style of a frothy, tabloid gossip show. Hosted by Ted Kluck (co-author with Kevin DeYoung of Why We’re Not Emergent, among other things), Ronnie Martin (former member of Christian electropop group Joy Electric), and Barnabas Piper (author, and son of John), the show touches on current events and Christian talking points with a blithe joviality that’s refreshing for the Christian podcast sphere. Full of running jokes about hipster churches, celebrity pastors, and John Piper’s lack of fashion sense, it’s mindless fun for listeners with a distinctly Christian spin.
While The Happy Rant is certainly entertaining, the show lacks a diversity of perspective, which makes me hesitant to recommend it to others. This is not lost on the hosts, who occasionally discuss topics like feminism, white privilege and toxic masculinity with the indifference of those who have nothing at stake.
Additional consideration would deepen the content of the show, but the hosts seem content with maintaining their current status quo; that is, three middle-aged white men joking about niche Christian content and how anti-establishment they are, while doing very little to challenge each other and their listeners.
It’s unfortunate, since the show’s at its best when covering more serious topics. In Episode 246 Ted, Ronnie and Barnabas pay tribute to the late Rachel Held Evans, who they previously lampooned on multiple occasions, acknowledging that she witnessed to demographics that the three of them don’t reach. Similarly, Episode 257 is about I Kissed Dating Goodbye’s Joshua Harris, his divorce, and the complexity of being a public figure, with Barnabas opening up about his own divorce. It’s moments like these where the superficial veneer cracks and the show finds greatness in its humility.