Batman, Willam Shatner and God? Podcast with Mississippi roots blends religion, pop culture

Published 6:10 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

Angie Rains Farris and her husband, Tim Farris, live in Hendersonville, Tennessee, north of Nashville. They were high school sweethearts way back in 1980, when Angie graduated from Tupelo High School.

In those pre-digital days, podcasts weren’t even a thing. Now, Angie and her younger brother, Frank Rains, Jr., are the hosts of a weekly podcast of their very own: “History Through The Eyes of Faith,” which recently wrapped up its 30th episode.

With titles like “Bill Shatner and Batman” and “Nazareth on the DL,” the podcasts are geared to an audience that may not have put the pieces of history together through the “eyes of faith.” Farris said she and Rains, who also lives in the Nashville area, make a good on-air duo.

“I asked Frank if he’d host because he’s funny,” she said. “He’s got a really good delivery and he’s entertaining. He’s a comedian, really. His son, Wes, runs the machines and produces the show.”

Rains said his sister does the “heavy lifting” on air, while he tries to keep things fun and relatable.

“It’s really important not to be hungover,” he said with a laugh. “Angie does all the prep work. I just put on a headset and try to come up with something silly to talk about at the beginning. I make a lot of Star Wars and Game of Thrones references, because I know more about those things than I do the Bible.”

Farris, on the other hand, is a careful student, both of the Bible and of the culture that she says the Bible helped to create.

“A lot of people say we’re a ‘Christian nation,’” she said. “But we don’t even know what that means. The church has been written out of history, but what people don’t understand is that the church wrote history for hundreds of years. Western history was written by the church!”

Farris said learning to see history in this way can help prevent mistakes, or at least help prevent repeating them.

“A lot of what we’re going through now is because we don’t understand history,” she said. “If we knew history, we could look at patterns and learn not to take the wrong approach. We could see what leads to the light and what leads us down a dark path.”

She may struggle a bit with the tech side of podcasting, but Farris is on firm footing when it comes to content mastery. With an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Southern Miss, a master’s degree in Christian education from Scarritt Graduate School in Nashville, and decades of experience teaching faith-based history to church groups, Farris is a confidence-inspiring teacher.

“You have to bring your mind to it,” she said. “Don’t tell me you’ve reached a conclusion if you don’t know the story. I’m telling the story from a certain point of view, of course. But you can decide for yourself what you believe.”

Farris always “brings her mind” to the podcast, and sometimes she brings her husband’s mind as well. Farris said she invited her husband, Tim, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Ole Miss, and a PhD in physics from Vanderbilt, on air to talk science.

“I love the science conversations,” she said. “We’re not afraid to get into it; I try not to leave anything out. I want to include all these elements that help us understand what faith is, and how it informs our view of history. I believe it all fits together.”

While the podcast approaches history from a Christian perspective, Farris said her hope is that it will reach a wider audience.

“We’re trying to play down the idea that it’s just for Christians,” she said. “Over half of our listeners are under 30, and some of them have never heard this story. My hope is that now or later, people who’ve never heard the gospel will hear it.”

Thirty episodes into the podcast, Farris said she is just getting to the “good stuff.”

“We’re just now getting to the center of the faith,” she said. “I’m just curious to see where it goes. I have to remind myself that God’s good at making the point. I just need to put the story out there.”