God Help Us – Privileged Grief


Privileged Grief

That, to me, was so redeeming – this picture of my kids just loving Paula and going, that’s how God sees her too.

Jonathan Williams, lead pastor of Forefront Church in Brooklyn, New York, and author of She’s My Dad: A Father’s Transition and a Son’s Redemption joins Annie to talk about what it was like to have close loved ones come out to them while they were still deeply entrenched in their evangelicalism.

They decide that their lack of grace and understanding was not only a function of their privilege, but very tied to their inability to grasp God’s grace for them. And they also see this playing out politically in the US, in particular in white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Both conflicts stem from a mindset that says, who do you think you are? You better get in line and start doing things the way I want you to do them.

Jonathan and Annie believe we’re only able to extend grace to others insofar as we’re willing to receive it. Have a listen and see what you think.

For more from Jonathan, watch his TEDTalk with his dad, Paula Stone Williams, read his book, She’s My Dad, visit his website at jonathanswilliams.com and check out his church at forefrontnyc.com. Another resource Jonathan recommends is churchclarity.org and Annie recommends the book SoulTypes: Matching Your Personality and Spiritual Path.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Support God Help Us with a financial contribution at patreon.com/anniemesaros and get monthly bonus content!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

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God Help Us – Coming Out


God Help Us - Coming Out LGBTQ with Amber Cantorna

When I came out, and I chose to go a direction of saying, “I believe God loves me just as I am, without caveats, without conditions,” that was the moment I broke free.

Author and advocate Amber Cantorna visits with Annie to talk about her new book, Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians. Amber is the daughter of a Focus on the Family executive and she’s also gay. Unashamed is a culmination of her own experiences and the stories she’s encountered in her work helping people find freedom from shame and reconcile their faith and sexuality.

Find both of Amber’s books at ambercantorna.com and her current recommended resources at ambercantorna.com/resources. Follow her on social media @amberncantorna.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Support God Help Us with a financial contribution at patreon.com/anniemesaros and get monthly bonus content!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Remembering the Most Vulnerable


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Who’s story’s getting left out? What story’s getting trampled on? How can I be part of lifting those voices to the surface?

In this episode of God Help Us, Kelsey Wallace, a PhD student in the Bible and Cultures program at Drew Theological School, joins Annie to discuss the biblical story of Jephthah’s daughter as told in Judges 11:29-40.

One of the many nameless women in the Bible who suffers terrible and senseless violence, Jephthah’s daughter has been largely forgotten by many of us. We offer a feminist reading of the story and relate it to the #MeToo movement and family separation at the US/Mexico border and even slip in an anecdote from Lindy West’s book, Shrill.

For further study on our topic, Kelsey recommends the Women’s Bible Commentary, a series of biblical commentaries by Bloomsbury Publishing called “The Feminist Companion To…”, and publications by the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. For more from Kelsey, visit kelseyerinwallace.com and follow her on Twitter @kwall03.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Support God Help Us with a financial contribution at patreon.com/anniemesaros and get monthly bonus content!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Q & A


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This very special bonus episode of God Help Us was recorded with a live audience at Cedar & Spokes Coffee and Bar in Seattle on March 2nd at an event we called Undoing: Decolonizing our Bodies and Sexuality. This is the audience Q&A session with Gabes Torres, Annie Mesaros, and Tina Schermer Sellers.

In this episode, Gabes recommends Just Hospitality by Letty M. Russell, Making Room by Christine Pohl, and Friendship at the Margins by Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl. Follow Gabes at gabestorres.com, on social media @GabesTorres, and contribute to her work at patreon.com/gabestorres.

Tina recommends her book, Sex, God & the Conservative Church, as well as Pure by Linda Kay Klein and Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber. Follow Tina at tinaschermersellers.com, @drtinashamelesssex and @instituteonintimacy on Instagram, and @TinaSSellers on Twitter.

And I recommend reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes -it’s a great read on its own and even better with a group of trusted friends. 

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Support God Help Us with a financial contribution at patreon.com/anniemesaros and get monthly bonus content!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Politics of Purity


Politics Of purity

Something was shifting in culture – we started pumping money into abstinence-only education in 1980 and it peaked in the early ‘90s, the same time that we unrolled the purity movement. It happened across the country – this was a sociopolitical movement, it wasn’t just a church movement.

This very special episode of God Help Us was recorded with a live audience at Cedar & Spokes Coffee and Bar in Seattle on March 2nd at an event we called Undoing: Decolonizing our Bodies and Sexuality, co-hosted by myself and Gabes Torres.

This episode is the God Help Us segment of the evening in which I discuss the politics of the evangelical purity movement with sex therapist Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers. Tina is a professor in Seattle Pacific University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program, founder of the Northwest Institute on Intimacy, and the author of Sex, God & the Conservative Church.

In the course of our conversation, Tina recommends Sex, Mom, and God by Frank Schaeffer, Not Under My Roof by Amy Schalet, and The Male Brain and The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. Follow Tina at tinaschermersellers.com, @drtinashamelesssex on Instagram, and @TinaSSellers on Twitter.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Support God Help Us with a financial contribution at patreon.com/anniemesaros and get monthly bonus content!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Power & Spiritual Authority


Power & Spiritual authority

As I get to walk alongside folks in a congregational setting, that God is doing this miraculous, beautiful thing – new life that is happening – that has nothing to do with me.

In episode 13, Ryan Mather and I discussed the harmful beliefs we all hold. In many ways, this episode is a follow-up to that one – in which I talk with Liz Kearny about power and spiritual authority. Liz is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA, who serves in southwest Washington state as both a parish pastor and a hospital chaplain.

While Liz and I both get frustrated with people who say they just want to do “what the Bible says,” we realize we also have put our hope and responsibility into the hands of a different kind of spiritual authority – our political heroes. I personally have let my privilege drive my naivete about the realities of injustice in our country, so I’m grateful that Liz is here to talk about owning her power as a pastor, our shared, inappropriate devotion to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and learning how to be our own political heroes.

In this episode, Liz suggests learning about the enneagram as a tool for better understanding our own power and how we wield it. Two books she recommends are: The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, by Richard Rohr and The Road Back to You, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

For more content from Liz, follow her on Instagram @LizAnneLemon and follow Longview Presbyterian Church on Facebook.

And if you’re in the Seattle area, I hope to see you at our upcoming live show on Saturday, March 2 at 6pm at Cedar & Spokes! More details are available in the Facebook event.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Gender Equity


Gender Equity

“It’s allowing people who have a different kind of take on the universe into positions where their personality affects the culture of the tribe. And that’s a very good thing.”

A couple weeks ago, the US Supreme Court lifted injunctions on Trump’s ban on transgender people openly serving in the military, making it possible for the ban to go into effect as it’s challenged in lower courts. I wanted to hear Dr. Paula Stone Williams’s views on this issue, so on today’s episode, she shares a sociological perspective on creating enemies where none exist and the idea that egalitarian leadership models will save our species and our planet.

Paula recommends some resources for further learning – Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea, The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, and a PBS documentary on Edward O. Wilson. For more content from Paula, watch her 2019 TED Talk, her 2017 TEDx Mile High talk, and check out her blog at paulastonewilliams.com.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Our Harmful Beliefs


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“These things that people do seem nonsensical, and we may never understand it on an individual level, but they’re doing it for a reason that makes sense to them – even if it causes them physical, emotional, spiritual pain. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it.”

In this episode of God Help Us, I talk with clinical psychologist Ryan Mather about why we believe things that are not in our own best interest – Christianities that are patriarchal or homophobic, or voting in ways that don’t seem to benefit us at all. Ryan talks about attachment theory and psychological defenses as tools for understanding ourselves and others – and invites curiosity and compassion.

Ryan recommends two books by Dan Seigel: Parenting from the Inside Out and Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence as well as Nancy McWilliams’s work.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Women with Authority


women with authority

Throughout the history of Christianity, people have used the Bible to try to ban women from leading. In this episode of God Help Us, I talk with Pastor Kari Olson about what the Bible says about women having authority in the church and over men and what those implications might be for our social and political lives as well, in a country steeped in Christian heritage.

Originally from Seattle, Kari has her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, is the pastor of East Falls Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA, and serves on the board of Young Clergy Women International. In this episode, she mentions the books Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans and Junia: First Woman Apostle by Eldon Jay Epp. For further reading, she recommends Young Clergy Women International’s online magazine and the Women’s Bible Commentary.

You can find more content from Kari and reach out to her via fallspres.org and by following East Falls Presbyterian Church on Facebook.

Two sites I mention in this episode are The Junia Project, a progressive site about egalitarian leadership – and Desiring God, a site by John Piper that promotes hierarchical gender roles.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Decolonization


Gabes Torres On God Help Us

In this episode on decolonization, I speak with Gabes Torres – researcher, artist, theologian, speaker, and therapist-in-training about her experience growing up in the Philippines and moving to the United States and her work as a theologian and artist who creates space for more generous and equitable hospitality.

Find more from Gabes at gabestorres.com or on Twitter @gabestorres. Find her music at soundcloud.com/gabestorres and support her work at patreon.com/gabestorres.

In this episode, Gabes recommends listening to the Failed Missionary podcast by Corey Pigg and reading Just Hospitality by Letty M. Russell.

Like God Help Us on Facebook and subscribe via iTunes or Google Play. You can also stream episodes here. Have a request for future guests or topics? Send me an email!

Thanks for listening! Until next time, God help us.

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