God Help Us – Together


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On today’s episode of God Help Us, I talk with Derek McNeil about systems theory, the idea that from our families to our workplaces to our global communities, we are shaped and influenced by the systems in which we live and work and play.

This is part two of three in a series of episodes focused less on particular theologies and more on being conscious of our relationships and relational dynamics. As you’ll hear, Derek is an advocate for thoughtful engagement in gritty work that is deeply meaningful. He has his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a PhD in counseling psychology from Northwestern University. I know him personally as a professor and mentor and in his role as the senior vice president of academics at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

In this episode, I recommend the book Immunity to Change by Lahey and Kegan and Derek recommends everything by Meg Wheatley. You can find more content from Derek on The Seattle School’s podcast, Text.Soul.Culture.
Do you have a topic or a guest to recommend? Send me an email at godhelp.podcast@gmail.com.

Subscribe to God Help Us via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. Have a request for future episodes? Send me an email! Thanks for listening, and until next time, God help us.

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God Help Us – Shame


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As you may know, the intention behind God Help Us is to better understand the ways that our country’s Christian heritage informs our present-day politics. But I’ve also been carrying another intention with me as I’ve worked on this podcast, and that’s to not only inform the political conversation in this country, but to change the nature of the conversation itself.

My hope is that no matter what our beliefs or politics, that we could become a country of people who value understanding over being right and working together for the greater good than having our preferred party in power. Hopefully each episode supports this ideal, but I really want to emphasize that intention in today’s episode as well as the next two that are coming up.

Really, this whole podcast is very experimental, but this little miniseries is even more so – three guests and I will take a look at some themes that are less about specific theological issues and more about things to be aware of in ourselves and the world we live in if we want to change our political culture.

To start off this little series, writer, podcaster, theologian, and therapist Matthias Roberts is here to talk about shame – what it is, how it functions interpersonally, and how we might work with our own shame to seek resilience and healing in order to stop putting it on other people.

The next two episodes in the series will be on systems theory and practicing presence in the midst of disappointment, so there’s lots to look forward to. Thanks for being along for the ride!

In this episode, Matthias recommends Brene Brown’s audio course, The Power of VulnerabilityYou can find more content from Matthias at matthiasroberts.com, everywhere on social media @matthiasroberts, and on his podcast, Queerology.

Subscribe to God Help Us via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening, and until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – The White Savior


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Today I’m talking with Aileen, a public defender in the juvenile court system, about troubling beliefs that pervade our country’s criminal justice system. A particular point of interest is how the white savior complex comes into play and fortunately, the current season of the Serial podcast has a great example of this.

In season 3 episode 2, they profile Judge Gaul and his court, and Aileen and I discuss him quite a bit in this episode, so you may want to hop over to Serial and give that episode a listen too.

In this episode, Aileen recommends following the Washington Defender Association and the National Association for Public Defense on Facebook. She also recommends reading Let’s Get Free by Paul Butler, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

Subscribe to God Help Us via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening, and until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Badly Behaved Women


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In this episode of God Help Us, I talk with Jennie Spohr, a preacher and author who is currently writing a historical novel about Jezebel – our favorite scapegoat, life ruiner of men through the ages.

And of course, this topic lends itself well to the current events of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. We recorded a few days before his and Ford’s hearings and so can only address what was going on in the story up until that point. As of the episode release date, the hearings are behind us and the FBI investigation is underway.

This episode is dedicated to Dr. Blasey Ford and the thousands of women who have come forward in the past year of #MeToo to bravely tell their stories privately and publicly. Thank you for your courage. No matter what happens in the coming days, in the telling of your story, you have made room for women to tap into their strength, find their voice, and change our collective narrative.

We believe you and we stand with you.

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In this episode, Jennie recommends womenandthechurch.org as a resource for finding feminist theologians to read. She also recommends reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, and anything by Octavia Butler and Alice Walker. You can follow Jennie (and find out when her book comes out!) on Facebook, Twitter, and at jennielspohr.com.

Subscribe to God Help Us via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening, and until next time, God help us.

God Help Us – Prophets for the Revolution


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One of the best teachers I’ve ever had is Dr. Angela Parker, a brilliant womanist new testament scholar who challenges me to interrogate my reading of the biblical text and to question where I place myself in the narratives I find there. This week on God Help Us, she and I sit down to talk about the Bible’s relevance to our 2018 world – both as a tool of torture used to colonize bodies (thank you, Jeff Sessions and Roy Moore) and as a collection of stories of ancient people connecting with each other and the Divine.

In this episode, Dr. Parker recommends a number of resources for further exploration – Racializing Jesus, by Shawn Kelley; Postcolonial Feminist Interpretations of the Bible, by Musa Dube; podcasts she has recorded with Dan Allender such as this one on power and hierarchy in biblical Corinth; and “Can’t Stop the Feelings: Anger and Identity in Mark 6:17-29,” an article she published in The Other Journal.

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening!

God Help Us – The Common Good


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On today’s episode of God Help Us, I sit down with former Seattle City Councilmember (and former Mayor) Tim Burgess to talk about what it means to work for the common good – as a Christian, as a public servant, as a person with strong convictions who is open to opposition and conversation.

In the course of our conversation, Tim mentions and recommends two books: The Death of Democracy by Benjamin Carter Hett and Costly Grace by Rob Schenck.

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening! If you enjoy this episode, please share it!

God Help Us – Homophobia


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Christianity is (supposedly) all about love and acceptance, yet some of the loudest homophobic groups in our political arena are Christian. Today on God Help Us, Heather Juul – a lesbian Christian woman – shares her coming out story and reflects on her faith.

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening!

God Help Us – Episode 1, Evangelicalism


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In episode 1 of God Help Us, I sit down with pastor and former evangelical Dave Rohrer to discuss what it means to be an evangelical – in both the religious and political senses of the word.

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play or stream episodes here. To let me know what you think and suggest future episode topics, send me an email. Thanks for listening!

God Help Us – Episode 0


Logo 2 - 1920 x 1080Here it is! The very first episode of my new podcast, God Help Us – in which I have conversations about the curious, frustrating, and sometimes baffling relationship between Christianity and US politics.

This is a podcast especially for people who are politically engaged but don’t have a religious background and might feel at a loss to understand where the religious right is coming from. Every two weeks, I’ll dive into the issues with a special guest to try to unpack the pertinent theological themes and pervasive beliefs at play.

Carissa Leone joins me in this very special introductory episode to ask the questions she’d like me to explore in future episodes. Thank you for joining us!

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or listen to episode 0 here.

Coming Home


This short creative piece from my Master of Divinity thesis was recently published in Lit, The Seattle School’s literary magazine.

“When God began to create heaven and earth, the earth was unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”[1] God contained the chaos of both the deep and the dark, but their presence and power linger, just as potent, even now. The two are bound to one another, and like that deep, ancient ocean, darkness is vast, unfathomable, and dangerous.

The awful power and wisdom of the darkness arouse both our greatest fears and our most fantastic hopes—and perhaps inextricably confuse the two. Its potential is appropriately terrifying, but if we can muster the courage to pause long enough to witness the abundance of its true character, we may find that also like the ocean, darkness is beautiful and full of life.

Being able to see or reach out and touch the edges of a thing offers a sense of security and assuredness that both the ocean and the darkness refuse us. And whether by our own wandering, a violent tide, or unknown currents, one day we will find ourselves far out to sea, looking back for the shore, and it will no longer be there.

The land that God called out for us to stand on becomes a distant memory and the light that cannot be overcome[2] is extinguished. Here, among the crushing waves, we may confirm our belief in God while simultaneously losing our faith. We may discover that Judas did not betray Christ after all, but that is was, in fact, the other way around. We may begin to ask not whether God can forgive me, but whether I can forgive God.

In this most immense and horrible place, I am forced to reckon with the questions I have carried with me, hidden, for too long. I must contend with beliefs I built while safely on land, where I quietly stifled my doubts and welcomed voices that happily explained away nagging uncertainties. Beliefs I have taken too great of pains to protect. Beliefs I have made room for by making myself smaller.

One by one, the promises that have been handed down to me—that God is good, that God is for me, that God will never leave me—become deeply suspect.

When God began to create heaven and earth, the earth was unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep. And that roiling, chaotic deep, shrouded in darkness, was full of monsters. From before the beginning, it has held nothing less than my most fearful desires—my hopes that I have bound up with disgust. The darkness I long to escape can only be met head on, deep inside my heart—and like the ocean, I am beautiful and full of life. This is the place God makes a home and invites me to come find God there.

[1] Gen. 1:1–2 (Jewish Publication Society).

[2] “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” John 1:5 (New Revised Standard Version).

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