• Terra McDaniel: Rediscovering Lament as a Practice of Hope

    We talk with spiritual director Terra McDaniel about how to rediscover the lost practice of lament, so we can heal and hope again. Most people don't know how to process personal or communal mourning and instead struggle to honor our tears, vulnerability, and the full weight of these disillusioning times. But tending our grief is exactly what we need to reimagine a way forward.

    Terra's book Hopeful Lament: Tending Our Grief Through Spiritual Practices makes space for the powerful act of crying out before a loving God and offers provoking reflection questions, embodied practices, and applications for families with children. Learn how to journey gently through suffering.

    Terra McDaniel is a spiritual director for adults and children. She spent two decades as a pastor and ministry leader and earned her MDiv at Portland Seminary. McDaniel wrote More Than Ordinary with Doug Sherman and is a regular contributor to the Companioning Center blog. She lives with her husband in Austin, Texas, with her twin grandchildren nearby.

    You can connect with her and her work on her website.

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    59m - May 21, 2024
  • The Truth About Deconstruction From Someone Who's In It Now

    Matt posted something on Facebook recently about people who attempt to "police" those going through deconstruction, who seem to:

    1. equate deconstruction with de-conversion,
    2. say people deconstruct so they can sin,
    3. say people deconstruct to 'be cool or hip or trendy or for street cred',
    4. criticize 'giving up' on the local church, and
    5. blame deconstruction on bad teaching.

    Matt received a response from Aaron Gardner, a friend who is right in the middle of a painful deconstruction process, and we decided to record a podcast conversation about what it's actually like to be right in the middle of deconstruction.

    You can connect with Aaron on his Facebook page for further conversation.

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    1h 21m - May 14, 2024
  • Jon DePue: Liberating the Gospel from Mere Justification

    In their new book Beyond Justification: Liberating Paul’s Gospel, Douglas Campbell and Jon Depue address a growing frustration among many Christians of how to understand what seems to be contradictory messages from Paul about the Gospel.

    On one hand, Paul usually talks about a participatory, transformational good news full of freedom, resurrection, love, and being ‘in Christ’. On the other hand, about 10% of the time Paul’s language speaks of retribution, punitive justice, and a conditional transaction at the cross. What to make of this disjunction in Paul’s thought?

    Jon Depue joins us for a provocative conversation seeking a way through this quagmire that has consistently confounded Christians for many years. Making use of historical backgrounds and utilizing a close reading of Paul’s rhetoric and argument in the book of Romans, Doug and Jon propose a compelling and unifying way forward to a clear articulation of Paul’s Gospel.

    Jon DePue is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and has served churches as director of Christian education for several years. He currently works as a learning community support specialist for Indianapolis Public Schools.

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    1h 33m - May 7, 2024
  • Scott Coley: How Christian Leaders Became Ministers of Propaganda

    The fact that "good evangelical Christians are Republican" seems obvious means the propaganda is working.

    Professor and author Scott Coley helps us understand how evangelicalism became fused with right-wing politics and now presses evangelical theology into the service of authoritarian politics, which he outlines in his new book Ministers of Propaganda: Truth, Power, and the Ideology of the Religious Right.

    Scott M. Coley is a lecturer in philosophy at Mount St. Mary's University. His research interests include philosophy of religion, moral epistemology, and political philosophy.

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    1h 6m - Apr 30, 2024
  • Shai Held: Why Judaism is Actually About Love (Not Law)

    A dramatic misinterpretation of the Jewish tradition has shaped the history of the West: Christianity is the religion of love, and Judaism the religion of law. In the face of centuries of this widespread misrepresentation, Rabbi Shai Held, in his book Judaism Is about Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life, recovers the heart of the Jewish tradition, offering the radical and moving argument that love belongs as much to Judaism as it does to Christianity.

    Rabbi Shai Held--philosopher, theologian, and Bible scholar--is President and Dean at the Hadar Institute. He received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the fifty most prominent Jews in the world. Rabbi Held is the author of several books, and is the host of Hadar's newest podcast, Answers WithHeld.

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    1h 1m - Apr 23, 2024
  • Susannah Griffith: Forgiveness and Healing After Trauma

    In her book Forgiveness After Trauma: A Path to Find Healing and Empowerment, Christian minister and scholar Susannah Griffith explores what the Bible says--and doesn't say--about the biblical call to forgive. She helps readers understand a "trauma-informed forgiveness" that is healing and restorative, framing forgiveness within broader concerns around lament, anger, accountability, release and rebirth, and reconciliation.

    Susannah Griffith (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is an independent scholar whose work focuses on the intersection of biblical studies and trauma. She is also a licensed minister of the Mennonite Church USA, a role she embodies to advocate and care for the marginalized outside the walls of the church. Her first book, Leaving Silence, was a Christianity Today Book Award finalist for Christian discipleship. Griffith resides in Northern Indiana with her husband and three young daughters.

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    1h 4m - Apr 16, 2024
  • Elesha Coffman: How Pivotal Events Shaped the American Church

    American history has profoundly shaped, and been shaped by, Christianity. In her book Turning Points in American Church History: How Pivotal Events Shaped a Nation and a Faith, Dr. Elesha Coffman tells the story of Christianity in the United States by focusing on 13 key events over four centuries of history. Elesha helps us understand our faith and the landscape of American religion.

    Elesha J. Coffman (PhD, Duke University) is associate professor of history at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She previously served as the editor of Christian History magazine and has taught at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. She spent a year as a fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. Coffman is the author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline, Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith, and numerous articles on American religious history.

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    1h 0m - Apr 9, 2024
  • Ryan Post: Communities Formed by the Beatitudes

    The Beatitudes are some of the most-quoted and least-understood words of Jesus. Pastor and author Ryan Post helps us hear the Beatitudes anew as good news to form us into Christlikeness.

    Ryan Post is the lead pastor of Village Church in Burbank, CA and the author of Healthy Prayer: Integrating Structure, Silence, and Spontaneity and the book we talked about in this converastion, Jesus People: Communities Formed by The Beatitudes.

    You can connect with Ryan and his work at ryanpost.com.

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    50m - Apr 2, 2024
  • Michael Rhodes: Practicing Justice-Oriented Discipleship

    Many Christians and churches are rediscovering that God cares deeply about justice, but opinions abound as to what an approach to biblical justice might look like in contemporary society. We talk with biblical scholar Michael Rhodes about justice-oriented discipleship that is critical for the formation of God's people, which is the theme of his new book Just Discipleship: Biblical Justice in an Unjust World.

    JUST DISCIPLESHIP BOOK GIVEAWAY: In partnership with IVP, we are giving away two copies of Michael Rhodes' book Just Discipleship. Go to gravitycommons.com/justdiscipleship to register.

    Michael J. Rhodes (PhD, Trinity College/University of Aberdeen) is the lecturer in Old Testament at Carey Baptist College. He is the author of Formative Feasting: Practices and Virtue Ethics in Deuteronomy's Tithe Meal and the Corinthian Lord's Supper; Practicing the King's Economy: Honoring Jesus in the Way We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give (with Brian Fikkert and Robby Holt); and numerous articles in popular outlets such as Christianity Today and The Biblical Mind. Rhodes has spent more than fourteen years involved in community development and urban ministry work, and is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. He currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife, Rebecca, and their four children.

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    1h 9m - Mar 26, 2024
  • Ryan Stollar: Child Liberation Theology

    Children are marginalized in our churches, dismissed into Sunday school or silenced for lengthy sermons aimed at adults. Ryan Stollar has spent his career advocating for the rights of children, and in his book The Kingdom of Children: A Liberation Theology, he proposes a liberation theology of the child, whereby we can avoid stunting their spiritual growth and passing on trauma.

    Ryan Stollar is a child-liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. He holds an MHS in child protection from Nova Southeastern University and an MA in Eastern classics from St. John's College.

    You can connect with Ryan and his work on his website rlstollar.com.

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    52m - Mar 19, 2024
  • Trey Ferguson: Imagining Our Way Into a Bigger Faith

    Pastor, podcaster, and public theologian Trey Ferguson knows that faith can get messy. In his book Theologizin' Bigger: Homilies on Living Freely and Loving Wholly, he encourages us to re-engage our imaginations and construct theologies that speak to our current contexts. Our conversation covers topics like how we read the Bible, our inherited traditions, accountability, our value, and what the gospel is.

    Trey Ferguson is a minister, writer, and speaker, with an M.Div from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. You can find him podcasting on Three Black Men: Theology, Culture, and the world around us and New Living Treyslation, writing in The Son Do Move newsletter and Substack, and tweeting (@pastortrey05 on the social media platform formally known as Twitter). He lives in South FL with his wife and three children.

    You can connect with him and his work on his website pastortrey05.com.

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    1h 7m - Mar 12, 2024
  • Pete Enns: How the Bible Actually Works

    We talked with biblical scholar Pete Enns about how the Bible actually works, what to do when your faith takes turns you never saw coming, and lots more. This is kind of a mashup conclusion for our past series on the Bible and our series on deconstruction.

    Pete Enns is the Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, and the host of The Bible for Normal People podcast. He is the author of The Sin of Certainty, The Bible Tells Me So, Inspiration and Incarnation, and the book we're mostly chatting about two of his latest books today today, How the Bible Actually Works and Curveball: When Your Faith Takes Turns You never Saw Coming.

    You can connect with Pete and his work at thebiblefornormalpeople.com.

    Show Notes:

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    1h 6m - Mar 5, 2024
  • Lamar Hardwick: How Albeism Fuels Racism

    As a Black autistic pastor and disability scholar, Lamar Hardwick lives at the intersection of disability, race, and religion. He wrote How Ableism Fuels Racism: Dismantling the Hierarchy of Bodies in the Church to help Christian communities engage in critical conversations about race by addressing issues of ableism.

    Lamar Hardwick is the lead pastor of Tri-Cities Church in ATL, GA, and the author of Disability in the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion. He is a grad of Yale Divinity School Clergy Scholar Program and a 2017 grad of Georgia Forward's Young Gamechangers program. He's written for the Huffington Post and BioLogos, regularly writing and speaking on disability inclusion in the church.

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    1h 19m - Feb 27, 2024
  • Angela Herrington: Deconstructing Your Faith Without Losing Yourself

    There are lots of misconceptions about "deconstruction" (i.e. it's the "easy way out" or a way to avoid accountability). But Angela Herrington, in her new book Deconstructing Your Faith Without Losing Yourself, defines it as healing from religious trauma by releasing harmful beliefs, and accompanies people on that journey in her work.

    Angela Herrington is a Lark's Song Certified Life Coach and hods a BA in biblical studies from Indiana Weslyan and an MA in leadership from Wesley Seminary. She helps those deconstructing their faith heal from their religious trauma and cultivate healthy spirituality.

    You can connect with Angela and her work on her website: angelajherrington.com.

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    1h 0m - Feb 21, 2024
  • Terry Wildman: Hearing the Scriptures in an Indigenous Key

    Many First Nations tribes communicate with the cultural and linguistic thought patterns found in their original tongues. Terry Wildman joins us to talk about The First Nations Version (FNV), his indigenous translation of the New Testament, which recounts the Creator’s Story—the Christian Scriptures—following the tradition of Native storytellers’ oral cultures. This way of speaking, with its simple yet profound beauty and rich cultural idioms, still resonates in the hearts of First Nations people.

    Terry M. Wildman (Ojibwe and Yaqui) is the lead translator, general editor, and project manager of the First Nations Version. He serves as the director of spiritual growth and leadership development for Native InterVarsity. He is also the founder of Rain Ministries and has previously served as a pastor and worship leader. He and his wife, Darlene, live in Arizona.

    Show Notes:

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    1h 21m - Feb 13, 2024
  • Jon Ward: How the Evangelical Movement Failed a Generation

    Jon Ward's life is divided in half: two decades inside the evangelical Christian bubble and two decades outside of it.

    In his book Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Failed a Generation, Ward tells the engaging story of his upbringing in, and eventual break from, an influential evangelical church in the 1980s and 1990s. Ward sheds light on the evangelical movement's troubling political and cultural dimensions, tracing the ways in which the Jesus People movement was seduced by materialism and other factors to become politically captive rather than prophetic.

    Jon Ward is the chief national correspondent for Yahoo News. He has covered American politics and culture for two decades, including as a white House correspondent traveling aboard Air Force One and as a national affairs correspondent writing about two presidential campaigns. He is the author of Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party and hosts The Long Game podcast. Ward has written for the Washington Post, the New Republic, Politico, Vanity Fair, HuffPost, and the Washington Times, and lives in D.C.

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    1h 2m - Feb 6, 2024
  • Learning to Disagree in Love Through the Fruit of the Spirit

    What does it look like to love someone you disagree with? In Loving Disagreement: Fighting for Community through the Fruit of the Spirit, Kathy Khang and Matt Mikalatos share how the fruit of the Spirit informs our ability to engage in profound difference and conflict with love.

    Kathy Khang is a writer, speaker, and yoga teacher. She's contributed to More than Serving Tea and Voices of Lament, as well as the author of Raise Your Voice.

    Matt Mikalatos is an author, screenwriter, and speaker. He's the author of Journey to Love and the YA fantasy series The Sunlit Lands. He has written for Today.com, TIME Magazine, Relevant, Nature, Writer's Digest, and Daily Science Fiction. 

    Kathy and Matt co-host The Fascinating Podcast together.

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    1h 8m - Jan 30, 2024
  • How Jesus Uses "Good" Shame to Call Oppressors to Repent

    Most of us assume that all shame is toxic shame (feeling bad for the person I am). But can shame be "good"? In this episode we continue a conversation we started a few episodes ago in our Christmas episode, where we wondered about the way Jesus seems to leverage shame to seek repentance and restitution from oppressors. We received some excellent reflections from Naomi, a member of the Gravity Community, and we wanted to address some of what she said.

    Show notes:

    Here are Naomi's comments in full:

    "Hey all - I’m just in the middle of the Christmas episode and the shame chat. I’ve done so much thinking about shame in the past 18mths or so. I also agree there is a form of shame that is healthy, which is different to guilt. I think guilt is linked to rules - I did something wrong that broke a societal rule. You can feel guilt outside of a relational context, because it is about our social rules. But shame is about broken relationships. Toxic shame says, “I am a bad person and am worthy of being expelled from the group, if people saw the true me they would reject me.” Healthy shame is about recognising that my actions can break relationships and hurt people, and therefore (hopefully) keeps me from doing those things. Part of our problem, I think, is that we haven’t learnt how to repair damage we do to others, so we fear our shame will lead to permanently broken relationships. My understanding is that in honour shame cultures this is more codified, so there are clear ways to restore honour if relationships are damaged. Thoughts?

    "Eg. I feel guilty that I ate an extra cookie. I broke a perceived rule, but no one else is hurt. I may also feel some (toxic) shame about my weight because I believe it makes me somehow unacceptable and an object of judgement from others. I feel a combo of (healthy) shame and guilt when I yell at my kids, because it both breaks one of my parenting rules but I also see that as an abuse of my power and damaging to our relationship, but I know how to repair it. If I didn’t (yet) understand that, a friend may need to help me recognise my actions as “shameful”, hopefully without exiling me from the community. But if it was severe and I was unrepentant, then that may be necessary for the safety of others. 

    "Also, if my yelling at my kids is unchecked, they are likely to internalise toxic shame. I think often our toxic shame comes from someone else being shameless, and the shame therefore ends up on the wrong person (ie on the one with less power). Because it wasn’t theirs in the first place, there is no way back for them, other than putting the shame back to me, it’s rightful 'owner'."

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    46m - Jan 23, 2024
  • Why We Changed our Name and Rebooted Gravity as a "Commons"

    We started Gravity in 2015, and up until recently the official name of the organization was Gravity Leadership. But we recently changed our name to Gravity Commons. Why?

    Show notes:


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    22m - Jan 17, 2024
  • Julie Faith Parker: Feminist Readings that Upend our Bible Assumptions

    In her book Eve Isn't Evil: Feminist Readings of the Bible to Upend Our Assumptions, the Rev. Dr. Julie Faith Parker reads biblical texts through a feminist lens, discussing how vital our readings of the Bible can be as a source of strength, guidance, and joyful defiance.

    Julie Faith Parker lives in NYC where she is a visiting scholar at Union Theological Seminary and biblical scholar in residence at Marble Collegiate Church. She has taught biblical studies at General Theological Seminary, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and also at NY Theological Seminary, where her students were incarcerated in Sing Sing Prison.

    Show notes:

    Here's the article we mentioned in the introduction (Chris Green, prompted by a conversation between Bono and Franklin Graham, posts a conversation between Rowan Williams and Philip Pullman on what makes art art and what makes art Christian:

    You Can't Actually Show the Resurrection

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    1h 5m - Jan 9, 2024
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