Earlier this fall, I had an extended conversation with Blake Chastain, host of the podcast Exvangelical. Exvangelical is a weekly podcast that shares stories of people who grew up or converted into Evangelical Christianity and have since built lives of faith and beyond faith outside of the subculture.
Episode 14, “A Safe Place for Questions,” runs a little over an hour long. In part 1, Blake and I talk frankly about the history of Adventism in the UK and Jamaica, my family’s relationship to our denomination, my process engaging my questions about our tradition, and some of the social issues I’ve been working on lately.
There was a lot of concern about the appearance of righteousness, and less concern about whether people internalized the ethics. And I think that’s probably one of the easiest pitfalls for a traditional community to fall into, where compliance is enough: as long as people appear to be fitting the box, then you don’t need to really engage them beyond that, because they appear to be in compliance with your rules.
But I think the higher value for religion is that it—well, and any kind of philosophical system, really— is that it transforms the way that you’re thinking about and situating yourself in relation to the world, so that you’re not just in external compliance with something, but you’ve figured out what the rationale is, and if the rationale is logical and benefits you or the people around you, then you can internalize it and express it in appropriate ways regardless of whether your environment allows you to do something or not.” —Me, on Exvangelical, episode 14
In part 2, you’ll hear me talking about just as much—just more tired and less filtered. Blake also invites me to recap one of my recent talks and share my theological vision:
I want to motivate people to imagine a world where we’re not struggling for resources. Because I think that it’s possible. A world where we don’t have this kind of intra-human competition over power and authority; I don’t think that’s necessary. Thinking about a world where our words and our actions are healing and not destructive. Those are the kinds of questions that I find engaging [from] the scriptures, from the teachings of Jesus in the gospels, some of the writings of Paul… and some of the visions in Revelation. And I think this ability to recognize the ambivalence in those voices is something that people of color have always had to do and women have always had to do in relation to the text. So I’m not breaking any new ground there in recognizing that there are some images that do seem to produce good fruit and other images that don’t.” —Me, on Exvangelical, episode 14
The episode is not transcribed, but there are some brief show notes that link to three of the books we mentioned during the show: James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, and Benjamin Barber’s Strong Democracy. Also mentioned are Kelly Brown Douglas’ book Sexuality and the Black Church and Lynn White, Jr.’s essay, “The historical roots of our ecological crisis.”
Blake gets a little affiliate commission from the book links on his page, so if you appreciate his work, buy a book through his links or tip him on Patreon. If you appreciated my contributions, send your affirmation through Paypal.me. Enjoy the show!