God Help Us Replay – Complicating the Narrative


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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.

Photo by Alex Ronsdorf on Unsplash

God Help Us Replay – Empire


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Christianity becomes a power complex and so it’s no longer used as a tool for love, but for domination.

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. In this episode of God Help Us, she and I sit down to talk about the Bible’s relevance to our 2018 world – both as a tool of empire 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.

Angela is an assistant professor of biblical studies at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Angela has a PhD in Bible, Culture, and Hermeneutics with an emphasis on the New Testament. In this episode, she 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.

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 Replay – Church


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How do we move into a place of wholeness and then desire? And then what I love about the church is the collective power it has for good.

Jen is a great person to talk to about church: the good, the bad, the unexpected. She has no illusions about the institution and yet she loves the body of Christ and leading within it. I always learn something new when I talk with Jen, so here’s her episode once again on church: what it is and what it could be. Enjoy!

For more from Jen, check out her sermons at Left Hand Church, particularly their series called “We are Family.” You can also follow Left Hand on Facebook and find Jen’s blog at jenniferjepsen.org. Great resources for finding affirming, egalitarian churches in your area are The W/ Collective and Church Clarity.

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.

Photo by Rishav Banerji on Unsplash.

 

God Help Us – Church Clarity


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Non-affirming policies are, I think, harmful. But there’s an extra level of harm when those policies are covered over and revealed only after a significant level of investment.

Can women and queer people be church leaders? Christian congregations hold a wide variety of beliefs on both counts – but all too often, people experience a bait-and-switch, attending a church for months or even years before being denied a leadership role due to their gender and/or sexuality.

Church Clarity is a crowd-sourced database that scores congregations based on their level of transparency. My guest, Sarah Ngu, is a co-founder of the site, and for her, clarity is a political act of redistributing power and holding industry leaders accountable.

In addition to her work with Church Clarity, Sarah is a writer, speaker, ministry leader, and host of the Religious Socialism podcast. Resources she recommends are: churchclarity.org’s FAQ page and resource page as well as this specific blog post on North Point Ministries. Find more content from Sarah at religioussocialism.org, at sarahngu.com, and by following her on Twitter @sarahngu.

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.

Photo by John Cafazza on Unsplash

God Help Us – Interfaith Collaboration


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The more I’m studying this book that I’ve been told my whole life to study, the more it’s actually causing me to drift away from the world that told me to study it.

In this episode, Annie talks with Michael Hidalgo, lead pastor of Denver Community Church. He’s the host of the Changing Faith Podcast, and the author of two books: Unlost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For, and Changing Faith: Questions, Doubts, and Choices about the Unchanging God.

Michael is also involved with the Interfaith Alliance – which is pretty much what it sounds like, a group of individuals and faith communities from a variety of religions (and also traditions within those religions) that work together to address problems in their community, whether that be advocating to stop gun violence or finding creative solutions to Denver’s housing crisis.

Interfaith work is particularly significant for Michael because, although he’s not anymore, he used to be a conservative evangelical. He and I both grew up with a similar understanding, which is that because Jesus is The Way, all the other ways are ultimately not the way. And that kind of belief can make it very difficult to form genuine and loving relationships with people of other faiths in which you can fully appreciate and respect the other person’s beliefs.

As Michael’s faith shifted, so did his ability to join people of other faiths in working toward their common desires for the life of their communities and their city. So we talk about what that looks like for Michael and hopefully what that could look like for the rest of us who are interested in taking a similar approach to community activism.

Michael recommends reading The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, by M. Scott Peck and Mending the Divides, by Jer Swigart and John Huckins. You can find more content from Michael at michael-hidalgo.com, on Instagram @michaeljhidalgo and on Facebook at Michael Hidalgo.

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 – Civility


Civility

We need strong leaders who can try to set a different agenda, regardless of what the political consequences might be.

That takes some courage.

In this episode, presidential historian Mike Purdy joins Annie to talk about about civility in civic discourse and his new book, 101 Presidential Insults: What they Really Thought about Each Other and What It Means to Us.

Mike is the founder of presidentialhistory.com, which includes his award-winning blog and other presidential resources. He writes, speaks, and podcasts on presidential history and politics and has been interviewed by and quoted in a variety of national and international media outlets including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reuters, Bloomberg BNA, The Huffington Post, and BBC. And he is a regular opinion contributor to TheHill.com.

We talk about historical presidential relationships, the current president, and what it will take to successfully oust Trump in the upcoming election, ideally while truly living into our values for equity, justice, and care, not only in our actions, but maybe especially in our words.

In addition to his own book, Mike recommends reading The Soul of America by John Meacham and The Case for Civility – and Why Our Future Depends on It by Os Guinness. Follow Mike’s work and find links to his contributions to national media outlets at presidentialhistory.com, follow him on Twitter @PresHistory, Facebook, and Instagram @PresidentialHistorian.

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 – Augustine


Augustine

It’s not just my experience – it’s my experience and your experience and somebody else’s experience and how they interact with each other.

 

This episode is dedicated to the great Rachel Held Evans who passed away on May 4, 2019. Please hold her family in your hearts in the wake of their deep loss.

In this episode, Annie is joined by Lauren D. Sawyer to talk about a curious and problematic figure in Christian history: Augustine. His legacy has perpetuated some harmful beliefs about original sin, and in particular sexuality and desire and that’s why he’s worth knowing about.

Lauren is a Ph.D. student in Christian Social Ethics at Drew Theological School. Her current research focuses on how women and LGBTQ folks develop moral agency under the constraints of white evangelical purity culture. And she also works as Submissions Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.

Lauren recommends Feminist Interpretations of Augustine, edited by Judith Stark; Desire and Delight by Margaret Miles; and Confessions by Augustine – translated by Sarah Ruden. Follow Lauren on Twitter @ldsawyer and find her work at laurendsawyer.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!

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 – Inherent Value


 

inherent value

As we become more aware of our inherent value, we’re going to start respecting the inherent essence of everybody else around us.

Isaac Archuleta – therapist, writer, speaker, founder of iAmClinic, and executive director of spiritual and relational formation at Q Christian Fellowship – joins Annie to talk about desire, its relationship with shame, and embracing our inherent value as a way of transforming our political world.

Follow Isaac on Instagram @isaacforte and get in touch at info@iamclinic.org.

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 – 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.

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.

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