In this episode feminist and trauma theologian Karen O’Donnell shares her experiences of repeated reproductive loss. Describing the physical, emotional and spiritual impact, she explores the complexity of faith from the perspective of the miscarrying person. Karen brings thoughtful sensitivity to a reality that has often been ignored and offers her responses to some of the many questions we are likely to encounter in the face of trauma, suffering and grief.

Interview starts at 16m 06s

Image used with permission

PERMISSIONS

Breath Prayer One: During a Miscarriage by Karen O’Donnell from the book The Dark Womb used with permission from SCM Press

BOOKS

The Dark Womb: Re-Conceiving Theology through Reproductive Loss

Feminist Trauma Theologies: Body, Scripture & Church in Critical Perspective

Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology

QUOTES

“If God isn’t to blame for a miscarriage – because God doesn’t make that happen – then conversely and perhaps challengingly, God isn’t to be praised for a successful birth either.”

“Rather than these big thunderbolt interventions into the world, I see much more of a gentle remaining and persuasion of ethical action amongst humans.”

“I find it really difficult to imagine a church space that would be a safe space for post-trauma remaking. It would need to be informed and inclusive. It would need to be based in hospitality and generosity of spirit. It would need to be open to questions and doubts. It would need to be a place that loved people first and foremost and sought their full flourishing – and put that before everything else. And I haven’t found that place. I’ve found good places, but I haven’t found that place.”

Philip Carr-Gomm is a Druid, psychologist and writer, who has a particular interest in combining psychological understanding with spiritual perspectives to help people lead richer, more fulfilled lives. Although his spiritual practice is rooted in Druidry, he believes we have entered an era in which we can move beyond attachments to labels, drawing instead upon the Perennial Tradition, being inspired by the wisdom in all spiritual paths and teachings – following the way of the Universal Mystic.
So he seemed like the idea person to speak with about the ancient tradition of Druidry, and what Christians might learn from it.

Interview starts at 18m 40s

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Philip Carr-Gomm

The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

The Druidcast

BOOKS

What Do Druids Believe?

Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century

Seek Teachings Everywhere: Combining Druid Spirituality with Other Traditions

QUOTES

“One of the main ideas in religion and spirituality is, ‘things aren’t what they appear to be.’ However gloomy, uninteresting, or unattractive – apparently – there’s something splendid and glorious and magical and wonderful going on.”

“If you want a living spirituality that works for you and brings you closer to deity or to the deeper truth – or however you want to term it – then it makes sense to me that we don’t want to get stuck on the forms that may have existed in the past; one wants to touch the living heart – as it were – of the spiritual tradition.”

“The closer you get to truth, the more paradoxical it becomes. So, my sense is that at the heart of the universe – the source of all life and spirituality – is love.”

“When you open yourself to the mysteries of nature and the wonders of the natural world, that engenders in itself a sense of humility that comes from that wonder.”

Faith Van Horne left the fundamentalist Pentecostal tradition that she’d grown up in as a young person. Years later, after exploring various spiritualities, she was surprised to find herself drawn back to her Pentecostal roots, allbeit on very different terms. In this podcast we talk to Faith about her academic studies in atonement theories, embodied spirituality, and healing from traumatic experiences. This episode involves themes of trauma and abuse.

Interview starts at 11m 03s

Image used with permission

QUOTES

“If we’re going to talk about healing and the atonement, what happened to Jesus when he was abused in his body? If there’s a connection there with healing, what does that look like?”

“All of our theology lives in our body, but only a tiny bit we can get out into words. There’s a lot of mystery there that can’t be expressed.”

“It’s only when you have the community of God – the body of Christ – understanding themselves as this universal working in the world that you can really even talk about reconciliation with God. The individual’s always being reconciled within the community and toward the end of bringing Christ’s reconciling work to a bigger space.”

Priest Karen Rooms and transgender poet, author and educator Jay Hulme describe what it’s like for them to be part of an ancient and LGBTQ+ affirming church. As they recall the story of their developing friendship, their conversation guides us through the pandemic, Jay’s early faith experiences and Karen’s reflections on being a cisgender heterosexual woman entrusted with the care of a diverse and fully inclusive congregation. With humour, insight and creativity they offer a unique perspective on what it could mean to be church.

Conversation starts at 18m 23s

Images used with permission

WEBSITES

Jay Hulme

St Nicholas Church

BOOKS

The Backwater Sermons

Clouds Cannot Cover Us

The Book of Queer Prophets

PERMISSIONS

All of This is Worship by Jay Hulme from the book The Backwater Sermons used with permission from Canterbury Press

QUOTES

“‘Coming out’ as a Christian is also part of our discipleship and part of our journey of owning what we really think. And coming out about not conforming, or changing what you think, or thinking differently to the teaching of the church – that’s a constant re-evaluation in my experience of being on this way.” – Karen Rooms

“What makes LGBT Christians feel safe in church? Flags and symbols is the thing that’s at the top of the list.” – Karen Rooms

“I have this whole thing about poetry being indefinable, and not the words, and the space around the words; poetry is the blank page, not the words on it…the words just lead you to the truth of the blank page.” – Jay Hulme

“Liturgy is people doing their best to reach out to something beyond, which is just what a poem is in its own way.” – Jay Hulme

We chat with author of With All Your Mind: Autism and the Church, Erin Burnett about her personal experience and research into autism and the unique ways Christians with autism understand and experience God.
We ask her why she was initially attracted to more fundamentalist expressions of Christianity, what triggered her deconstruction, and why she’s now more at home in progressive christian spaces. And we explore what neurotypical people can learn from the ways people with autism experience the world and spirituality.

Interviews starts at 13m 45s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Erin Burnett

BOOKS & ARTICLES

With All Your Mind: Autism and the Church

Religious, but not Spiritual: The link between Autism and Progressive Christianity

Different, not less: Pastoral Care of Autistic Adults within Christian Churches

QUOTES

“A lot of the core characteristics like social difficulties and intense interests will be relatable to almost everyone with autism, but at the same time, it’s also really important to emphasize that I can only speak about my own experience. It’s often said that, ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.'”

“Some people like what’s called ‘identity first’ – which is ‘autistic person’ – because that means autism is a part of their identity; it’s who they are, it’s not something to be ashamed of. whereas ‘person first’ language – which is ‘person with autism’ – it recognize that autism is just one of the many things that can make up an individual; so, it’s part of them but doesn’t define them.”

“Whenever I try to describe precisely how I view religion, I often flip the phrase, ‘spiritual but not religious,’ and instead I say, ‘I am religious, but not spiritual.'”

“Churches that aren’t afraid to ask hard questions – that aren’t afraid to use human reason when interpreting scripture – can be a lot more freeing for autistic people.”

In this Devotional podcast, psychologist and theologian Richard Beck explores what it means to take sides without becoming hardened, and how he remains hopeful in a world on fire.

Nomad produces devotional podcasts like this one every month. To access them simply make a small monthly donation through Nomad’s membership platform or Patreon.

We also produce group discussion questions to help you and your community dig deeper into the issues raised in the devotionals.

Image used with permission

SONG LYRICS

Sing o Hills

Sing o hills
Quietly goes it

Let the groans
Under the winds
Turn to chanting
Plain and long
Long and meandering

Do you feel it 
Through the ground
Through your two knees
There is a sound
Beneath all hearing

Do you feel 
The hidden heartbeat 
Of the ground
As you lay down
Upon her earthen chest

Ready, she, to
Open the 
Abyss for all the 
Violence that
Amasses

Gaping wide to
Swallow up
The torrents that have 
Hammered every 
Woman

Gaping wide to
Take back all the
Beasts that 
Tore the oil from her
Bosom

Gaping wide to
Take down into
Fire the armoured
Chariots of
Conquerors

Gaping wide to
Sing a new song
Up into the
Skies toward the
Leaves on the trees

And the old sea roars and everything in it
And the teeming world and all who live in it
And the waters clap their fierce ancient hands
Let the hills sing the song they have been keeping
And the waters clap their fierce ancient hands
Let the hills sing the song thats down there sleeping
Because it’s coming

WEBSITE

Experimental Theology

BOOKS

The Slavery of Death

Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age

Stranger God: Welcoming Jesus in Disguise

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted

QUOTES

“One thing I’d like to say about taking sides is it’s inevitable. Life is a moral drama and we are constantly discerning the light in the darkness. And that’s for the religious and the irreligious. Everybody steps into the day – looks at the news, looks at world events, looks at their own choices in life – and is asking themselves, ‘What’s the right thing to do here?’”

“Even though we make strong moral discernments about what is good and evil – what is right and what is wrong – our response to those choosing sides has to be a posture of love.”

“Hope is a virtue that has to be formed; it’s hard-earned. It’s not just me waking up in the morning and trying to reach for a silver lining. It’s not me engaged in some sort of wishful thinking. It flows out of character. So – hope has to be practiced.”

“I think things like artistic expression help us. They help us expand the bandwidth. They help us see hopeful things: the flower growing through the crack of the concrete. That allows us to re-sacralize our experiences. So, we push against the disenchantment of the materialism through re-sacralizing our lives through different attentional processes.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

“Hope in a World on Fire” Qs

Nomad hosts Anna Robinson and Joy Brooks have a conversation about the challenges of joys of experiencing a shifting faith, their ambivalence to the word deconstruction, the deconstruction groups they’ve been hosting and what they’ve learnt from them. 
If you’d like to be part of one of these group, contact Anna through her website.

Images used with permission

WEBSITES

Anna Robinson

Joy Brooks

QUOTES

“When our faith feels like it’s unravelling, the reason we come to that place is so unique –  the stories, the process of getting there. There might be that there are themes that draw us all together, but every single story is so different. And I find that fascinating, that we find ourselves in a similar place together, but there are so many different reasons that brought us there.” – Joy Brooks

“There aren’t really words for that kind of connection that you end up forming with people when you’re able to be vulnerable and feel safe.” – Joy Brooks

“I don’t know where I’d be if there weren’t people in my life that had that ability and skill to be able to accept me in my anger and in my rage, as much as in my disappointment and frustration and sadness, and also in my joy and happiness. Having people who can just accept me as I am – a place to belong authentically – is so important.” – Anna Robinson

“It’s difficult to lead people or facilitate people if you haven’t at least thought, grappled, dwelt in a certain place, and if you haven’t embraced mystery and you’re not comfortable with doubt, then it’s hard to create spaces for other people to feel safe.” – Anna Robinson

In this episode we chat with native American, author, songwriter and storyteller, Terry Wildman. Terry was also the lead translator and general editor of the First Nations Bible, a fascinating project that produced a translation of the New Testament that reflects the language, symbolism and rituals of native peoples.
So we ask Terry to unpack indigenous spirituality for us, and to reflect on how the Church has historically treated native peoples, how this triggered his deconstruction and the role an indigenous worldview and spirituality played in the reconstruction of his faith.

Interview starts at 17m 56s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

First Nations Version

BOOK

First Nations Version

QUOTES

“In our weakness – that’s how we connect to each other.”

“Native American stories and storytellers told the stories in traditional ways, but the stories were always told in a way that was unique to the storyteller and meaningful to the listeners. They drew from history, from tradition, and from their own experience. A storyteller ensures that the essence of the story is preserved – without the need to present a strict word-for-word recital of that story. And so I began to see that all four Gospels all presented the story of Jesus that way.”

“The ‘Good Road’ is a way of life; it’s a way that has been marked out. That’s what a road is – it’s a path that has been established. And we walk our lives in harmony with the Creator and with one another by walking in these ways.”

“I’ve seen a lot of places where reconciliation has taken place, and sometimes with differing successes. What I want to see long-term – it’s not just making an apology, it’s not just making an acknowledgment, it’s how do we restore these relationships?”

In this episode we speak with author and director of creative writing at Alma College, Sophfronia Scott. We speak with Sophfronia about how her faith has been shaped by the author, monk and mystic, Thomas Merton.
Having struggled to connect with Merton through his autobiography, Sophfronia immersed herself in his journals, and there she found a mentor, friend and kindred Spirit. So we ask her what we can learnt from Merton about being “spiritual but not religious”, the relationship between action and contemplation, inner work, sexuality and more.

Interview starts at 15m 36s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Sophfronia Scott

BOOK

The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton

QUOTES

“‘Church’ is not one thing. It is about finding a space where you feel supported in your faith and in the exploration of your spirituality. That search is not going to be easy. But I think it’s worth the effort.”

“That is a key aspect of meditation – to recognize your thoughts and to see what it is, to look at it, and to let it go.”

“They say children are more resilient than we realize; it is true. If we get out of the way and listen to them – and help them on the path that they are already walking – we can just learn so much.”

“I don’t think it’s valuable to look at the quality of a death. It’s important to look at the life and what we learn from the way that someone lived their life.”

In this episode we chat with clinical social worker and a trauma-informed coach, Brian Peck. Brian grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church and upon leaving he began to realise the trauma this had caused. He now specialises in helping people work through their experiences of religious trauma.
So we talk to Brian about why religious spaces seem predisposed to traumatic experiences, what red flags we should be looking out for, how we can protect ourselves, how we can navigate relationships if we feel we have to leave, and many other things.

Interview starts at 10m 52s


WEBSITE

Room to Thrive

QUOTES

“Christianity shaped much of my early life, but the label is no longer valuable to me. I think, somewhat ironically, I’m more Christ-like now than I was as a believer. It’s interesting how when you no longer feel compelled to behave or believe certain things you can more fully embrace your humanity. And for me that is a more affirming, compassionate way of being in the world.”

“When we think about how we believe, it’s how tightly are we holding to these beliefs? Are we able to believe something with some flexibility? Are we able to consider how a belief functions in the world versus is it true or not?”

“‘Adverse religious experiences’ we define as any experience of religious belief, practice or structure that undermines an individual’s sense of safety or autonomy, and/or negatively impacts their physical, social, emotional, relational, or psychological well-being.”

“Resolving trauma is completing that unresolved survival response.”

In this episode we speak with former church pastor, author and teacher Keith Giles. Like many evangelicals, Keith inherited a dispensational understanding of the End Times. If you’re not sure what that is, think anti-Christ, mark of the Beast, the rapture, Jesus’s return, and the New Jerusalem.
Keith slowly became aware that this was a relatively new, ill-informed and damaging way of reading the bible. So he set about discovering a healthier ‘End Times’ vision.

Interview starts at 11m 40s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

Jesus Unexpected: Ending the End Times to Become the Second Coming

Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb

Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible

Jesus Unveiled: Forsaking Church as We Know It for Ekklesia as God Intended

Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment

Jesus Unarmed: How the Prince of Peace Disarms Our Violence

Jesus Unforsaken: Substituting Divine Wrath With Unrelenting

BLOG

Keith Giles

QUOTES

“I call it the ‘slow motion’ second coming of Christ. In other words, there is more of Christ in the world today than there was 2000 years ago. But it’s an ongoing thing, it’s a continual thing, it’s gradual.”

“The longer Christians hold onto this fantasy of this end times rapture dispensational theology, what it does is paralyze us. We sit around waiting. And we’ve been doing this since 1830 in large part. Any Christian church that embraces this doctrine, what it encourages you to do is to sit and wait for Jesus to come and fix everything.”

“We are the second coming of Christ.”

“Is the body of Christ physically present in the world today already? Yes. How? In us. Christ is here. He has returned in his church; in his body.”

Merry Christmas to One and All from Nomad Podcast. 

In this devotional episode, Fr Azariah France Williams recalls the story of Viraj Mendis, who sought sanctuary in the UK from Sri Lanka. He lived for several years in a room in the Church of the Ascension, in Hulme, Manchester, being protected by the community. In 1989, the police raided the church and he was forcibly deported.

This episode also features the poet and artist Steve Beal. And David Benjamin Blower performs the medieval traditional Christmas carol, Coventry Carol.

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Steve Beal

David Benjamin Blower

QUOTES

“The church…should be a place of home and a place of safety and a place of sanctuary.”

“When we own our convictions, when we take that step of faith, and when we feel that there’s nothing and no one for us, that is just the moment which proceeds another community; that is just the moment that proceeds a sense of ‘tribe’ gathering around.”

“It’s far easier to be fearful, to hide, to privatize our angst, our trauma; it’s far easier to hide. But actually to speak up, to step out, to step up – initially there is the fear of what you’re encountering and what you’re challenging. But then behind that, there’s a whole community of people for whom you will spark something within.”

“That sense of ‘God with us’ as companion, when we today feel that we are judged by what we can produce – that we are just a number and not a name – that particular person at that particular point in history says that God is with us and that’s all that matters. Our matter matters to God and that’s all that matters. We can be. We can breathe.”

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams carries a lifelong love for the theology and practice of the Eastern Church. His recent book, Looking East in Winter gives a window into the beautiful contemplative practices of the Eastern tradition.

In this conversation we explore the life of contemplation, political solidarity, simplicity, and “the natural process of becoming natural.”

Interview starts at 16m 32s

Image used with permission.

BOOK

Looking East in Winter: Contemporary Thought and the Eastern Christian Tradition

RESOURCES

The Space Between – Rowan Williams and David Benjamin Blower

QUOTES

“It’s always important – in any context of conflict or debate – to stand back at some point and say, ‘What’s the real question and why does it matter?’”

“One of the things which I think any spiritual tradition worth its salt has to say to you at some point is, ‘Get used to it. You are a material being. You just are something that changes, something that grows, something that can be hurt. Get used to it.’ Because anything else is going to be a really dangerous myth.”

“Insofar as we become simple in the life of faith, it’s that we shed some of the tangles and knots that stop us responding as we should to the truth of God – God’s life.”

“To be truthful about God, you don’t have to try and tell the whole truth about God – because you can’t.

When Hannah Malcolm was approached to write a book on climate grief, she chose, instead, to edit a book compiling voices from across the global church. The resulting picture is an extraordinary collage of very different experiences, all of which begin to suggest the many different ways in which everything is connected. 

In this conversation we glimpse the church as something far richer and more diverse than we thought; we discover the marks of colonialism and extractive capitalism everywhere; and we explore how the crises of the present is drawing us back to land, to one another, and to our own bodies.

Interview starts at 12m 16s

Image used with permission

BOOK

Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church

Reading List

Ecology for Your Theology Bookshelf

QUOTES

“If grief is an expression of love, then our grief takes the shape of the places and the creatures to which we belong.” 

“If the places we inhabit or visit are always shared places, then if we listen to experiences other than our own, then our attention becomes more genuine. And I think with greater attentiveness comes the possibility of greater love.”

“Grief done well teaches us compassionate attention.”

Claire Gilbert is a theologian, writer, and founding director of Westminster Abbey Institute. When she discovered that she had Myeloma – terminal cancer in the blood – she began her way by writing letters to a circle of trusted friends. The journey drew her home to nature, to her body, and to her long love for the mystic, Julian of Norwich. The letters are now published in the book Miles to Go Before I Sleep.

Interview starts at 16m 15s

Image used with permission.

BOOK

Miles To Go Before I Sleep: Letters on Hope, Death and Learning to Live

QUOTES

“The thing I always come back to – and why I think I do call myself ‘Christian,’ although with some tentativeness – is the love.”

“Contemplative prayer – really from the age of ten when I was taught to meditate – has always been very, very important. And that has stayed. But it changed; the nature of it changed. So, I became much less somebody who sought, if you like, to transcend the body and go to some ‘spiritual’ place other than my body, and the contemplation became very much more almost physically interior.”

“You have to go through the pain to find the joy. You can’t avoid the pain. You can’t avoid the suffering.”

“This understanding that I have had to learn about putting my body first is the understanding we all have to learn about putting the Earth first.”

Cop26 is a gathering of world leaders, meeting this November in Glasgow to review agreements to reduce carbon emissions. While the meeting was being confirmed, the Young Christian Climate Network planned a relay pilgrimage from Cornwall to Glasgow. 

In this podcast Rachel Mander talks to us about what’s at stake in this historic gathering, about faith and activism, about how poorer countries are being pushed into debt to the bigger carbon emitters, and about the trials and joys of the political pilgrimage.

Interview starts at 22m 06s

Image used with permission.

RESOURCE

Young Christian Climate Network

Climate Justice event with Rowan Williams and David Benjamin Blower

The Future We Choose – Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac

Outrage + Optimism podcast

Positive News

MUSIC

The closing music is Gentle Strong by David Benjamin Blower

QUOTES

“I never want to say it’s too late, because this isn’t a binary situation. Climate change isn’t binary – it’s just a matter of degrees. And so, we want it to be better rather than worse, but it’s never a line that’s crossed that’s too late.”

“I think it’s a good instinct to always be a bit wary of anyone saying, ‘this is the only place where this decision can happen,’ or ‘these are the only people who can make a difference.’ That’s just not true. At the same time, I find it difficult to be cynical without it leading to paralysis. And so I have decided – at least for myself – that my responsibility is being faithful to what I believe is right, and the outcomes are kind of beyond me. And that’s okay.”

“I think there’s value in doing what’s right even when it isn’t effective.”

“It’s action that builds community, but it’s community that sustains that action.” 

In this episode we listen in on a conversation between Alex Clare-Young and Sarah Hobbs about their trans experience.
Alex is a transmasculine non-binary minister with the United Reformed Church, currently completing doctoral research into trans theology. Sarah is a trans woman, who leads a consultancy business, and is a speaker and trainer. Together they co-chair the Open Table Network, a partnership of Christian communities which welcome and affirm people who are LGBTQ+.
In the conversation Alex and Sarah honestly and vulnerably share their stories of coming to terms with their identities, their transition, the reaction of their faith communities, and their evolving relationship with the Bible and the Christian faith.
It’s a beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, inspiring, hopeful conversation.

Conversation starts at 21m 25s

Images used with permission.

BOOKS

Alex Clare Young – Transgender. Christian. Human.

WEBSITE

Alex Clare-Young

Open Table Network

QUOTES

“Part of the confusion and pain around it is that the church gave me an identity before I’d chosen one for myself.” – Alex Clare-Young

“Gender stereotypes need to end and we just need to be able to exist as who we are.” – Alex Clare-Young

“Every time I’d come out to anyone in a church context before, it had really always been because I wanted some help to try and not be who I felt like I was inside. Because that’s what you do in church – you resist that ‘sin’ of being trans.” – Sarah Hobbs

“In what way – in any way at all – is a trans person hurting you? Are they affecting your life in any way? Are they causing you difficulty in any way? Absolutely not. And you can choose not to interact with people. And so why people are going out of their way to make life difficult for trans people – it just doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever. If you’re really that bothered, then just leave them alone and focus on something more positive in your life rather than trying to tear down a group of people who are just trying to survive and be happy.” – Sarah Hobbs

In this episode we’re joined by religion and contemporary spirituality commentator, Diana Butler Bass. Diana talks about her latest book Freeing Jesus, in which she tracks the evolution of her understanding and experience of Jesus. From liberal Methodist beginnings, through fundamentalist evangelicalism, to a more progressive Christianity, Diana has never lost her interest in Jesus, or her openness to mystical experiences. But how does she, and indeed the Nomad hosts, now understand titles like Lord, Saviour, Friend and Way?

Interview starts at 14m 53s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Diana Butler Bass

BOOKS

Freeing Jesus: Rediscovering Jesus as Friend, Teacher, Savior, Lord, Way, and Presence

Grounded: Finding God in the World

A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story

QUOTES

“Images of Jesus actually do matter – they matter politically, they matter racially, they matter ethically – and how we have understood Jesus has played into all these other kinds of issues. To be able to have a default of a Jesus that is about love and friendship, I think that’s a great gift.”

“The depth and the power – the multiplicity – of the salvation images of scripture has brought Jesus as saviour back to me in a way that I really appreciate. What else do we need more right now in the world than healing, liberation, and safety?”

“Mutual interrogation is holding to both – both our experience, and holding to the importance of scripture, tradition, the wisdom of the past, relationality in community, and even certain ritual. And letting these two realities speak to one another and transform one another. And it’s in that act of mutual interrogation that we move ahead into a richer and deeper images of who Jesus is.”

Every month we produce a podcast for our supporters called Nomad Revisited. In each episode Tim and Nick enter the Nomad archive and chose an episode from the last 12 years, and spend an hour or so reflecting on how their faith has evolved since then. It’s an exercise in self forgiveness and compassion, as they are often confronted with terrible interview technique, poor audio quality and very earnest, evangelical theology!
This month we thought we’d put one of these episode on Nomad’s main feed, as a free taster.
It’s a 2014 conversation with the author of the book The Evangelical Universalist, Robin Parry. At the time Tim and Nick would have considered ‘evangelical universalism’ an oxymoron, and a slippery slope to liberalism. But how do they view it now?

Interview starts at 21m 56s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God’s Love Will Save us All

The Biblical Cosmos: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Weird and Wonderful World of the Bible

QUOTES

“I don’t use the word ‘universalist,’ but I have a hope that all things will be restored, and I’ve got no interest in a religion or a spirituality that doesn’t centre around the idea that everything’s sacred, everything’s worth healing, everything’s going to be restored and transformed. I’ve certainly got no interest in a God who gives up on people, or gives up on animals, or gives up on the planet and just throws them away.” – Tim Nash

“Within my deconstruction journey, I suppose at times it’s been like a ‘liberalising’ of the Christian tradition, but then it’s become so broad and inclusive and expansive that then you start wondering where the distinctive ‘Christian’ stuff is important or not.” – Nick Thorley

“I argue that universalism sort of occupies this space that’s in between heresy and dogma. So, it’s not heretical – it’s not outside the bounds of orthodoxy – but nor is it a central issue for orthodoxy. It’s something orthodox Christians can believe while remaining orthodox.” – Robin Parry

“The bible doesn’t tell us how to hold these things together – that’s what we do as interpreters. And we always run the risk of being wrong when we do it. But I’m just saying let’s explore this option, which people tend to ignore; this possibility that maybe we should not fix down the meaning of the hell texts…but leave them open and see if they can be read in different ways.” – Robin Parry

This episode is a conversation between good friends Emma Morton and Lyn Baylis. Emma is a former pastor, art therapist and activist, whose faith led her towards pagan spirituality and community. Lyn has practiced her pagan spirituality all of her life. She’s been a priestess for 40 years, is a Multi-faith minister, and is the UK Coordinator for LifeRites and Senior teacher on the LifeRites Foundation Course.
Here they talk about how their journeys took shape, how they’ve dealt with rejection and persecution, and what they’ve learned from one another.

Conversation starts at 16m 5s

Images used with permission.

QUOTES

“With labels, it’s like drawing all these lines and all these boxes. And we put people into these different boxes to try and help us understand or presume what they think, what they believe, how they’re going to act or behave. And I’ve found that actually no labels or titles are satisfactory, because very few people are totally just one thing in any aspect of their lives.”

“Every time a line is drawn – people say who’s in and who’s out – we find that Jesus is on the other side of the line that’s being drawn.”

“Everything has that spark of the divine in it, so we’re not superior to nature; we are part of it.”

“It is all about education. It’s trying to get people to understand that the entrenched view that they’ve got is not real – it’s not reality. It is a view that they’ve been given from the past that they’ve hung onto. If they would step over that barrier to come and talk to us and be with us and share with us, they would find out that there isn’t a need to be frightened.”

Natalia-Nana is a teacher, trainer, and coach in Equity, Diversity, and Liberation. In this episode we talk about what it means to decolonise our faith, why it is important and how we can go about it. Jemimah and Natalia-Nana explore the relationship between deconstruction and the work of decolonising and dismantling. They discuss the impact of colonisation on the ways we think, relate, and the way that institutions operate including in our spiritual journeys and faith communities.

Interviews starts at 20m 57s

Image used with permission

QUOTES

“For me, I’d see ‘deconstruction’ as I guess the umbrella and ‘decolonizing’ is a particular way of deconstructing. And for me, you cannot deconstruct without decolonizing.”

“We act as if exploring is a neutral activity. We act as if exploring is a good thing, when actually it was exploring to dominate, it was exploring to appropriate, it was exploring to extract and to exploit. So, for me colonizing is looking at how white supremacy and capitalism are bedfellows, are enmeshed or entwined, are all part of the same lash, the same whip. And then you can’t divorce white supremacy and capitalism from ableism. And you can’t divorce white supremacy from patriarchy. The two go so hand-in-hand. They’re all enmeshed; they’re all bedfellows.”

“Capitalism isn’t just about money. Capitalism is about being output-driven. It’s about productivity. It’s about performativism. It’s about perfectionism – all those things that you’re trying to deconstruct but maybe don’t use language for. There’s something to me that sort of says the danger of deconstructing is that it’s so individualistic.”

On this episode we’ve invited Liz Pattison and Jim Robinson to have a conversation around their experiences of death. Jim lost both his parents at quite a young age, and Liz recently lost her partner. They share their experiences of grief and loss, how friends, family and church responded, and how their faith has evolved through these experiences.
It’s an honest, real, insightful, moving and hopeful conversation.

Conversation starts at 21m 32s

Images used with permission.

QUOTES

“With the kids, what I want for them is for them to have genuine connection with people – with me, with other adults who love them – so that they actually feel like they can talk about how they’re feeling. And if they’re not allowed to talk about the loss of their dad – not allowed to talk about death – then that basically shuts down a whole part of them, and then you can’t connect with them.”

“Generally, with people that are grieving, the worst thing is to assume you know what the other person feels.”

“One of the impacts of my own experience…is to really feel that life includes death, and death is part of life, and remembering people, and knowing that they’ve been here, and they’ve lived life is part of what we all experience. And for me, I’m trying to not fear that and to not see that as a negative thing: it is how it is.”

“People sometimes say beautiful, powerful things about people when they’ve died. But if you have the opportunity to say it to them when they’re still here, why would you not?”

Miles Irving has been foraging since childhood. Having journeyed through Pentecostalism, he returned to his first passion for wild foods, and began to discover that our relationship to what we eat bears deeply on our relationship to everything.

In this episode, Miles and David spend a day eating nothing but foraged food and talking through the joys, trials and transformations that come of eating what grows out of the soil where we live.

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

WorldWild

BOOK

The Forager Handbook

QUOTES

“The plants, a lot of them are weeds, right? And if they’re not weeds, they’re things that are overlooked – because nobody notices and nobody pays attention and nobody knows. So, it was like these marginalized lifeforms were being gathered into the centre and celebrated; they were being used like the crown and glory of dishes by these very highly renowned chefs. And that seemed like there was something going on there: the idea of the marginalized being drawn into the centre and celebrated.”

“If we look at the word ‘presence’ and then we look at the word ‘absence’ and then the word ‘abstraction,’ what I’ve realized is that faith in the mainstream is actually more about abstraction than it is about actuality, and therefore it’s not a good thing. So, in other words, what people think they have is faith – it’s something that makes them disengage, rather than something that makes them engage.”

Many of us inherited a faith that had a lot to say about life after death. But as our faith shifted and evolved we were left increasingly unsure whether these beliefs had any basis in reality, or were just fairly tales.

Well, it turns out science has an increasing amount to say on the subject. So, we interviewed Dr Bruce Greyson, a self proclaimed “skeptical scientist”, who as well as being a very well respected psychiatrist, has also spent the last 50 years pioneering near death studies. He went into this field confidently expecting to find a physiological explanation for what people were claiming to have experienced as their bodies were shutting down. But what he discovered challenged all his preconceived ideas.

Interview starts at 17m 02s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal About Life and Beyond

QUOTES

“We’re all in this together. There’s no difference between me and you. And what I do to you, I’m doing to myself as well. I feel the consequences of what I do to everybody else. In a sense, this is the Golden Rule, which is actually part of every religion we have; basically, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But near death experiencers typically say – for them – it’s no longer a guideline we’re supposed to follow, but they realize it’s a law of the universe.”

“[Near death experiences] are normal experiences that happen to normal people in abnormal situations.”

“People typically come back with much more of a sense of ‘spirituality.’ They care about relationships, not things. They become much more compassionate, much more caring, their behaviour’s much more altruistic, they tend not to care about things of this life – material possessions, power, prestige, fame, competition. And this may sound like it’s a good change, but it can actually wreak havoc in people’s lives if it’s very unlike the way they were living beforehand.”

“One of the most consistent things people say after a near death experience is that they are no longer afraid of dying – death no longer frightens them. They’ve been there and they know that it’s a pleasant experience. It’s not something to be afraid of.”

In this episode Jemimah McAlpine talks about her transformative experience of dance and her thinking about the theological significance of dancing. She and David discuss dualism and embodiment and how reconnecting with our bodies can lead to an experience of wholeness and connection with the earth and everyone around us. Jemimah shares how embodiment has changed her understanding of God and enjoyment of life.

Interview starts at 12m 32s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth

QUOTES

“Through this regular practice of dance every week, I experienced a reconnection with my self where I felt alive again and connected to my own power. And it wasn’t a practice that made me feel ‘better’ for that short amount of time and helped me cope with my life; it was an experience that changed the way that I experience myself and experience my relation to the world and other people, so that I felt empowered to change my circumstances.”

“There’s been a growing acceptance of the body as a site of knowledge – what we can know through the body – and that where we’re located contextually affects how we make meaning of the world around us.”

“The opposite of dualism isn’t non-dualism or non-dualistic thinking, it’s embodiment.”

“In a situation where you cannot change your circumstances, what are the means of defying the oppressor? One of those means of defiance is to experience joy in the face of oppression; to turn the tools of the oppressor; to subvert them. So, like in the dance moves, subverting the experiences of oppression into self-expression.”

It’s always a pleasure to have author, activist, and public theologian Brian McLaren on Nomad. This time we talk with Brian about the vital role that doubt plays in our faith development. Brian breaks down the faith journey into four stages – simplicity, complexity, perplexity and harmony. He talks about the struggles and joys of each stage, and how it’s only when we embrace our doubts that we can grow and move onto the next stage.
As always, the conversation with Brian is wise, insightful, honest and life-giving.

Interview starts at 20m 14s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Brian McLaren

BOOKS

Faith after Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian

QUOTES

“Sometimes the information that you learn comes in conflict with the simple answers you were given by your authority figures. And that becomes the big task of stage two. I would call stage one ‘simplicity’ – faith before doubt. I would call stage two ‘complexity’ – faith managing doubt.”

“It’s scary enough for ‘sinners’ to fall in the hands of an angry God. It’s much scarier for doubters to fall into the hands of angry Christians.”

“‘The way you define ‘Christian’ – that’s not what I am anymore. I don’t tick your boxes, I don’t fulfil your qualifications.’ But then I might just say something to them as an act of playfulness: ‘Whatever I am, I actually love Jesus a lot more now than I ever have. And whatever I am, I actually see more wisdom and depth in the bible than I ever used to. So, whatever you want to call me, I’ll just tell you: It’s not that I don’t love Jesus, or the bible, or even my tradition. I see depths in my tradition that I didn’t used to see. So, you can call me what you want, but I know who I am.’”

“We have some things that desperately need to be doubted; not to leave us with nothing, but so that bigger and better ways of seeing can emerge.”

In this podcast, David Benjamin Blower converses with musician, podcaster and activist Samantha Lindo on the subject of music: music as a wisened friend, music as a gatherer of people and radical energies, and music as a kind of prayer that can halt the Powers that Be, even just for a moment.

Interview starts at 23m 44s

Images used with permission

WEBSITES

Samantha Lindo

David Benjamin Blower

PERMISSIONS

The song Sing All Ye, from Hymns for Nomads Volume 2 by David Benjamin Blower, is used with permission.

The song Those Kids (live acoustic version) by Samatha Lindo, is used with permission.

QUOTES

“You can infer so much from someone’s choice of song and their reaction to it.”

“It took me leaving home to claim my heritage and to find my voice – musically and spiritually and all the rest – which is traumatic to some extent as well, to not belong, not to have those roots around you. But it also was the gateway to life as I know it now. So, that was a very creative space even though it was kind of difficult and chaotic at the same time.” 

“The songs are a jumping-off point; the songs are a platform to speak about things.”

“It’s about the gathering and what it means and the communal experience of music, which I think is how music was birthed in human history: it gathered. It has a function in human society. So, I feel like that shapes how I do things.”

In this episode we speak with Damon Garcia. Damon talks to us about how he found meaning in the God of liberation theology after questioning his beliefs and leaving the faith he inherited. We explore the importance of embodiment and community in faithful practice and how our context shapes our ideas about God. We talk about reading the Bible from the perspective of the marginalised through the example of the Magnificat and the call to listen to those on the underside of power.

Interview starts at 14m 41s

Image used with permission

RESOURCES

Damon’s YouTube Channel

QUOTES

“There are only a few things that really matter, and any conception of God that we keep in the 21st Century needs to be a conception of God that actually leads to liberation and justice.”

“The thing God is doing in the world is liberation – that is THE action of God, the deed of God; that is what God is doing. And so, to have any sort of relationship with this God means aligning myself with the work of liberation and justice.”

“So many movements for justice that may seem scary right now are actually part of the larger liberative work of God. And we should join in.”

Ched Myers is a theologian, and author of the explosive Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus.

We asked Ched to reflect on the theology and ecology of rivers for this extended devotional podcast. He takes us on a journey down the Ventura river, where he lives in California, and goes on to open up the radical political imagination of the many biblical visions of rivers, in a world where colonisation and empire habitually steal water and turn fertile places into deserts.

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Ched Myers

BOOKS

Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus

Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization

Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice

QUOTES

“The river cuts through these layers of history, exposing – if we have eyes to see – a stratigraphy tortured by the tectonic pressures of empire.”

“Water is what we take for granted most and yet it is emerging as perhaps the central issue for our planet on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Water injustice and disparity has become a global social issue as well. ‘When one person drinks while another can only watch,’ says a Turkish proverb, ‘Doomsday will follow.’”

“Our lands are parched not by nature, but by imperial hubris. In such a world, biblical visions of redemption as ‘rehydration’ – of the quenching of every thirst, especially those marginalized – continue to be compelling. Our task is to persuade our faith communities to reclaim them for our political imagination, our theology, and our practices of justice.”

Before the October Rebellion of 2019, we interviewed Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, for the Everybody Now podcast. However, the whole conversation was so utterly fascinating that we wanted to upload it in its entirety, especially at a time when the freedom to protest is under threat.
We talked to Gail about climate emergency and civil disobedience, and also about prayer and spirituality, science and wonder, sacredness, love and the radical power of women.
We talked to Gail about climate emergency and civil disobedience, but also about prayer and spirituality, science and wonder, sacredness, love and the radical power of women.

Interview starts at 19m 21s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Extinction Rebellion

RESOURCES

This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook

Three Lessons of Revolutionary Love – Valarie Kaur

QUOTES

“The price of love is grief, and grief opens the space for love. And I think that’s what’s happening right now, we’re facing what we’ve been doing to our home. And our home is heaven on earth.”

“If you are deliberately deciding to break the law, it has an element of ‘trickster’ in it as well – it has an element of mischief in it potentially – but certainly an element of sacred service.”

In this episode we talk about Jesus with the Franciscan friar and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Richard Rohr.
Fr. Richard believes Jesus is the personification of God’s constant, unfolding work in the world. Consequently, he sees faith as being less about proving Jesus was God, and more about learning to recognise the Creator’s presence all around us and in everyone we meet.

Continue reading

We live in a death and grief averse culture. Aided by modern medicine and the funeral industry, we’ve created an ever-increasing distance between us and our mortality. So we ask author of Awakened by Death Christiana Peterson what psychological and spiritual impact this is having on us, and how reclaiming a healthy relationship with our own mortality might help us live fuller and richer lives.

Interview starts at 15m 8s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Christiana Peterson

RESOURCES

Awakened by Death: Life-Giving Lessons from the Mystics

Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints

It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand – Megan Divine

Empathy vs Sympathy – Brené Brown

PERMISSIONS

Helen Dunmore, Hold Out Your Arms (25 May 2017) Counting Backwards: Poems 1975-2017 (Bloodaxe Books, 2019)

PUBLIC DOMAIN PODCASTS

In this episode we talked about a new series of public domain podcasts we’re producing. If you’d like to support these, visit our fundraising page.

QUOTES

“A hundred percent of us are going to die and not acknowledging that causes us even more pain and suffering in the end.”

“The fear of death becomes something that infiltrates our lives in ways we don’t always recognize. For instance, with the environment, as we move further and further away from the way our food is made or from nature, then we become less willing to give up the things that are harming to the environment.”

“Outsourcing death often has an effect on the way that we accept loss and the way that we grieve; that often times, maybe we limp through life without our griefs really being fully moved-through.”

Having left behind the Anglican roots of her childhood, Jennifer Kavanagh discovered the Society of Friends – better known as Quakerism – as an adult. We spoke to her about how to be a practical mystic, how to subvert hierarchies by being silent, how to be part of a Christian religion without being a Christian, how to have a church without a leader, and what not to call the Queen.

Interview starts at 13m 24s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

The World Is Our Cloister: A Guide to the Modern Religious Life

Quaker Quicks – Practical Mystics: Quaker Faith in Action

A Little Book of Unknowing

Heart of Oneness: a Little Book of Connection

QUOTES

“We gather in what I think of as expectant silence. It’s a listening. It’s a waiting. It’s passive in that we are waiting to receive, but it is not passive in that nothing is happening. And we’re waiting to be guided how to live our lives. It’s very much linked to what we do in the world. And so we may receive something directly, or from something that somebody else says. We may not feel anything at all; quite often we don’t feel anything at all. But I always feel changed, I always feel more at peace. And maybe something will happen that reverberates later. Something emerges, but comes from that time.”

“I think of it at a triangle: self, the divine, and the others in the room. And we take that out into the world, so that we work with others and through others and with the divine in terms of what we do. It’s about our connectedness – we are all connected.”

“It’s about having a sense that something exists, but not that we can necessarily say what it is; that we might all have very different experiences of the divine. And I think the moment you try to define it, it’s to reduce it to human proportions.”

Following on from our conversation with Matthew Fox, in this episode Anna Robinson leads us in a meditation that explores the spirituality of the remarkable 14th Century mystic Julian of Norwich. Anna gives us a short introduction to Julian and how she lived through a deadly global pandemic, suffered loss and yet still wholeheartedly pursued God, and received visions that Christians are still pondering nearly seven centuries later. Anna then uses a breathwork technique to help us to become present and more relaxed and then leads us in a lectio divina mediation based around some of Julian’s words. Anna then finishes with a short examen and closing prayer. 
Anna produces meditations like this each month. To access them simply sign up and make a small monthly donation to the work of nomad, either via Patreon or our own donation platform.

Image used with permission

BOOK

Showings Of Julian Of Norwich: A New Translation

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic-And Beyond

Matthew Fox is an American priest and spiritual theologian and an activist for gender and eco-justice. His work on creation spirituality and mysticism has given him the reputation of being one of the most challenging religious-spiritual teachers in America. It’s also got him into trouble with the Catholic Church, most notably for rubbing two popes up the wrong way, which eventually got him excommunicated.
We speak with Matthew about his latest book Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic-And Beyond, and ask him what this 14th Century mystic can teach us about what it means to live well in the midst of a global pandemic and climate meltdown.

Interview starts at 15m 47s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Matthew Fox

BOOKS

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic-And Beyond

Showings Of Julian Of Norwich: A New Translation

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

QUOTES

“I don’t think we could understand [Julian of Norwich] until the 21st Century – until nature was in such jeopardy as we have rendered it today. And a big reason for the eco-crisis…is that religion has abandoned nature for so many centuries in the West and has forgotten to teach the sacredness of nature and the wonder of it all; the very teachings that Julian has laid out so richly. So, we’re ready for her now.”

“A pandemic is too valuable to waste. There are lessons humanity has to learn and learn fast – lessons of wisdom, instead of just knowledge; lessons of compassion, instead of just competition.”

“The mystics are truth-tellers. They get to the heart of what real religions is supposed to be about. People are looking for experience of God, not for theologies and so forth, but experiences.”

“Even despair is a sign of hope, insofar as recognizing how time is running out. This is what gets us off the couch. I think many humans and our systems – our institutions – do not change until they have to. And clearly, we have to. Nothing’s working well today and we have to move out of this modern consciousness that is so solipsistic, narcissistic and human-centred into the real world, which is our relationship with all beings in their wonder and beauty. And there we find hope.”

Adele Jarrett-Kerr is a writer and podcaster on compassionate living. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she now lives in Cornwall where her family is unschooling and working on a small regenerative farm. We talk to her about her journey towards counter-cultural living, decolonisation, evolving faith and spirituality, and the values behind the decisions she has made for family and work. 

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Adele Jarrett-Kerr

Patreon

QUOTES

“I don’t want to be a part of the system that makes people feel that they’re only valuable based on how well they conform.”

“The word ‘revillaging’ was inspired by the word ‘rewilding.’ It’s not that humans have stopped being a part of nature, but we’ve stopped recognising that we are a part of nature. That as well is also a by-product of colonialism by the way, because that is not an indigenous way of seeing the world. An indigenous way of seeing the world is very much recognising that we are all lifeforms and we are a community of living things.”

Merry Christmas, beloved listeners!
In this episode we hear from Revd Canon Eve Pitts. Having missed Christmas in their church last year, due to repairs, the residents of Birchfield were looking forward carols and candles in their building. But 2020 being what it is, Eve wondered if Christmas might as well be cancelled all together. However, perhaps living in a time of restrictions, precarity and mess is all the more Christmassy. Eve reflects on the humanity of Mary, the messiness of birth, and the God who is found in the places where nobody wants to live.

Image used with permission

MUSIC

The Blood Magnetic – Epiphany

QUOTES

“We must remember the birth of Christ; the ‘vulnerableness’ of God. I love that: the God who is vulnerable. When I’m vulnerable, I remind myself that God made himself vulnerable, and that if Christmas reminds me of anything, it’s the vulnerability of God – the God who still sees us in all our messiness and our contrariness and still reminds us that he was prepared to be vulnerable in order to come to us.” 

“If God is not in the confusion and the messiness of our lives, then he’s not anywhere.”

Singer-songwriter and author Lisa Gungor’s life was all coming together. She’d married her college sweetheart and was establishing herself as a successful musician. But cracks began to form when her husband told her he no longer believed in God and they were asked to leave the Church she helped start, a close friend died, their baby baby girl was born with two heart defects, and her musical career began to unravel. But through the depression and despair she slowly began to let go of what she thought was true, and began to see hope and new life through these hardest of experiences.

Interview starts at 13m 45s

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Lisa Gungor

Isa Ma

Gungor

BOOK

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder

QUOTES

“It’s really hard to follow your own voice in what you know to be true. I found myself wanting to explain to them – explain to everyone – why I was doing what I was doing; explain to them how my heart really felt like it was in the right place. My experience was that I was doing everything I could to follow God, follow truth, follow goodness, follow love, and it’s such an excruciating feeling when other people view that in a completely opposite way. So, it taught me a lot about following my own heart.”

“The more stories that we were exposed to, the more we realized our story wasn’t the only right thing; the ‘truth’ that we were handed was not the truth – it was a perspective of the truth.”

“A lot of us were given this story that the core of us is evil and we need something outside of ourselves to save us. And that’s not the truth. The truth is that it’s always been good and love has always been there. You’re created from love. You can never be outside of love.”

Therapists Justin and Joy get together for a conversation about spiritual abuse and how it can present in a church environment. Reflecting on their personal experiences, they explore the impact of spiritual abuse, describing how they learnt to recognise it and what it was like to walk away from congregations they cared about deeply. They also share some of the healing and growth that has taken place as their lives changed and they began to recover and rebuild in different areas of their lives.

Conversation starts at 14m 09s

Images used with permission

WEBSITES

Joy Brooks

Justin Marsh

BOOKS

In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult

When Narcissism Comes to Church

Let us Prey

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse

QUOTES

“It’s no longer about wanting to prove that something happened, but it’s about wanting to bring something that feels so shameful into the light. And it’s about wanting to reach out a hand to anyone else who might have been in, or is in that situation and say, ‘You’re not on your own.’”

“The thing that makes spiritual abuse over just a simple power dynamic is that there’s an eternal aspect or an eternal dynamic to it, which is if you aren’t obedient, you might not get as good a place in heaven, or you might run the risk of not making it, or there’ll be some judgement attached to it. There’s a sense of you’re doing it not for the leader or for the church, but you’re working for God. So, it’s almost like the human leader is putting himself in the place of God and you can’t really argue with a deity, can you? You can’t really argue with God.”

In this episode David speaks with priest and author Azariah France-Williams about his new book Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England. Azariah reflects on his experience of racism within the church, and how sticking plasters won’t suffice, but instead a wholesale change in structure and mindset is required.
Jemimah is then joined by diversity and inclusion trainer Natalia Nana, to reflect on the interview and to speak about anti-racist habits and practices.

Interview starts at 19m 12s

Images used with permission

BOOKS

Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England

Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Is God Colour-Blind?: Insights From Black Theology For Christian Ministry

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Learning to be White: Money, Race, And God in America

Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being

QUOTES

“I would encourage people who describe themselves as Christians – people who describe themselves as Anglicans – to tap into and to engage with the type of monarchy embodied in the life of Jesus, the type of rule which empowered others (that didn’t extract from others), the type of rule that was willing to forego the material in order to embody a message, the type of rule that saw God at work in the lives and the places that many others had forgotten.”

“When I share stories and people begin to instantly minimize, or justify, or try to tell me why it’s actually not that big a thing – that it’s all in my head, or I’m overblowing it, or being too sensitive – I feel more alone in my pain than I was before. And so, an encouragement is to get out of your head, get out of analysis mode and begin to engage with this in an embodied way, and assume that the person that’s speaking to you actually knows what they’re feeling. They know what it feels like – what they’ve gone through. Suspend disbelief. Be alongside them on the journey. ”

“If you have real power, you don’t need to use it over and above other people. If you have real power, you empower others with that, and you give and receive.”

We’ve caused a turning point in the Earth’s natural history. Everybody Now is a podcast about what it means to be human on the threshold of a global climate emergency, in a time of systemic injustice and runaway pandemics. Scientists, activists, farmers, poets, and theologians talk bravely and frankly about how our biosphere is changing, about grief and hope in an age of social collapse and mass extinction, and about taking action against all the odds.

Continue reading

In this episode we speak with the director of Theos Think Tank and host of The Sacred podcast, Elizabeth Oldfield.
Elizabeth is passionate about exploring how we can build healthy friendships and societies in an age characterised by seemingly ever deepening differences, and what role faith can play in this.
So we asked Elizabeth why we find it so hard to relate to people who are culturally, politically and religiously different from ourselves, and how we can begin to overcome this.

Interview starts at 12m 40s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Theos Think Tank

The Sacred

QUOTES

“That’s one of the key sources of wisdom – when we see the world differently because we’ve actually stopped to acknowledge another human being who’s different from us.”

“If you actually want to change something rather than just looking self-righteous, go and work out how to change that person’s mind. And generally the way you change someone’s mind is them thinking that you actually give a toss about them, not that you have contempt for them.”

“It’s very easy to feel very sure about something if you’re never met someone who’s smart and nice who believes the opposite. But once you’ve met someone who’s smart and nice who believes the opposite, the sort of internal-probability-of-you-being-wrong-calculation that you do just shifts a bit.”

In this episode we welcome Rob Bell back to the podcast. Rob’s written a new book – Everything is Spiritual – within which he explores how ideas about creation, love and connection have profoundly shaped his faith journey.
We chat with Rob about what it means to embrace who we are and where we’ve come from, our wounds, our pain and our regrets, and how this can deepen and expand our sense of self and connection to the world and the divine.
As you’d expect from Rob, it’s a conversation full of humour, insight and inspiration.

Interview starts at 15m 4s

Image taken by Logan Rice. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Everything is Spiritual: A Brief Guide to Who We Are and What We’re Doing Here

What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything

What We Talk About When We Talk About God

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

QUOTES

“Doubt, rage, despair, disorientation – if you haven’t experienced those, you’re not paying attention. That’s all part of the human experience. It’s not to be denied or avoided. You feel all of it. It’s all part of it.”

“The radical is not the one who wandered away. The radical is the one who went back to the roots, to the source.”

“The real art is to own every square inch of your story. It’s all part of it; it’s all how we become who we become.”

“When you ask people about the most significant moments of their life, people always talk about pain, and loss, and heartbreak, and how they wouldn’t have wished it upon their worst enemy. And yet, when they look back, those are the very experiences that shaped them into the person that they are. It’s one of the great mysteries of life. So, I am passionate about helping people read the text of their own life – to interpret the stories of their own life through this lens: that everything is spiritual.”

In this episode we discuss radical theology with author, philosopher and storyteller Peter Rollins. Peter explores the freedom that comes when we accept and embrace the lack within us and the struggle within life. He believes that letting go of the frenetic pursuit of that which will make us whole and complete opens the way to accepting the lack within and finding enjoyment within the struggles of life. From this place of freedom we find God in the act of love, the depth dimension of our experiences, and in a continual transformative conversation.
It’s a mind bending and inspiring conversation.

Interview starts at 14m 53s

Image taken by Burt Dirkse. Used with permission.

WEBSITE

Peter Rollins

BOOKS

Insurrection: To Believe is Human; to Doubt, Divine

The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction

How (Not) to Speak of God

The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales

QUOTES

“Doubt, unknowing, complexity is part of what makes life what it is. Radical theology is more about embracing the cracks in our lives than trying to cover over them.”

“If you think of ‘God’ as what guarantees meaning – what guarantees that everything makes sense – ‘death of God’ means the moment in which we experience the loss of everything that gives us meaning; the rug is pulled from beneath us, we start to question everything about our political views, our religious views, our sense of purpose. It’s a kind of existential crisis. And in confessional church, often that experience is seen as the opposite of the religious tradition. It’s like that’s the very thing that religion protects you against. But within radical theology, the ‘death of God’ is the central moment of Christianity. This experience is not something that needs to be shored up against or defended against. It’s actually what allows for us to mature as individuals and as communities. And this is symbolized in the crucifixion of God.”

“We’re liturgical creatures. And by liturgy I simply mean we engage in regular practices. And there are liturgies that are damaging to us like going to the pub every night – getting drunk to forget about your suffering. And there are liturgies that are good for us – maybe going to the Irish pub and having a drink and talking about your problems with your friends. Those are both liturgies, but one you do to avoid the suffering and one you do and it actually helps you look at your suffering.”

“By embracing this dimension of ourselves, we find ourselves flowing with the very nature of reality: the chaos that we are is reflected in the chaos of the universe and that chaos is profoundly productive. This is at the core of existentialist philosophy.” 

Toxic masculinity is a term that seems to be cropping up more and more in academic and media discussions, as we become more aware of the harmful effects – on men, women and society in general – of men conforming to traditional masculine ideals, like dominance, self-reliance, and competition.
So we dialled up Stephen Whitehead, who is an author, researcher, consultant and lecturer on gender, sexuality and identity, and asked him where these traditional expressions of masculinity came from, what effects they are having on us, and how we can overcome them.
It’s an honest, insightful, challenging and hopeful conversation.

Interview starts at 12m 16s

Image used with permission.

BOOK

Toxic Masculinity: Curing the Virus: Making Men Smarter, Healthier, Safer – Stephen Whitehead

Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity – Jack Urwin

For the Love of Men: From Toxic to a More Mindful Masculinity – Liz Plank

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love – Bell Hooks

WEBSITE

Stephen Whitehead

QUOTES

“Do not put men’s behaviour down to hormones and genes. The world we grow up in, live in, and experience on a daily basis is much more influential.”

“Where there is a higher level of education and a greater urbanization – a greater willingness for younger men and women certainly to stand back and critique the ideologies that have been fed their ancestors (we’re seeing that now in the Black Lives Matter movement) – where there’s a greater desire to undertake that questioning, that critique, then we’re going to see toxic masculinity become more marginalized.”

“It’s impossible to be a progressive man and be fascist. It’s impossible to be a progressive man and racist. Be a feminist – be a full feminist. How few feminist men did I meet when I started doing my research? But now it’s no big deal. Nowadays, you meet so many men who are comfortable with declaring themselves as feminists, and I think that’s right and so they should. We should be allies with women in the same way we should be anti-racist; we should be anti-homophobic. I find it staggering that we can even have a problem thinking about this. Why would anyone want to be racist? Why would anyone want to hate women? Why would anyone want to be homophobic? What is going on the minds of people like this?

“The most important benefit [of a more progressive masculinity] is you won’t be fighting the 21st Century zeitgeist. You’ll be in tune with it. You won’t be fighting history, you’ll be part of history, you’ll be part of the future. And this will lead to greater calmness, contentment and improved mental health.”

In this episode we speak with artist, poet and author Emily Garcés. It’s a heart-warming, heart-breaking, inspiring and challenging conversation, as Emily shares with us her journey through life and faith, with all of its joys and struggles, as she wrestles with what it means to be fully alive.

Interview starts at 11m 48s

Image used with permission.

BOOK

Hitchhiking with Drunken Nuns (US)

Hitchhiking with Drunken Nuns (UK)

ART

Etsy.com

Facebook

Instagram

QUOTES

“What self-help so often does is it presents us with an ideal – an ideal version of ourselves. We’re told that we can be a better parent, or that we can manage our finances better, or that we should be doing something more exciting with our lives. We’re always shown this future possibility of who we could be and then we have to buy into that by trying to become something new. And this understanding that I gain – that it isn’t about becoming that version of yourself in the future but it’s about embracing the messiness of who you are now – became such a freeing part of my life.”

“Walls are the opposite of bridges.

Walls are arguments you’re determined to win.

Walls are built to keep you safe.

Walls are built to keep you in.”

“I try to see life as a dance and as a response to the music that’s playing around me. And that manifests itself in creative forms. And I’m not just talking about people who write music and people who paint and the way that perhaps we traditionally see creativity. I think a creative heart and a creative mind and a creative openness to the world around us is how I envision the future of religion and the future of community.”

“Stories are so important because when we hear people give words to things that we didn’t have words for, it is a step towards our own healing.”

In this episode we speak with therapist, theologian and author, Mark Karris. For anyone going through a faith deconstruction, prayer is often near the top of the list of things we struggle to make sense of. And Mark is certainly no exception to this. He had the kind of traumatic childhood you’d only expect to see in a film. But despite all his prayers, and the prayers of his church, the situation steadily deteriorated. So we asked Mark why so often our prayers aren’t answered? How can a God of love observe such suffering without intervening? Why does God often seem to answer quite trivial prayers, and ignore the more significant ones? Mark has a fascinating take on all our questions, and proposes a hopeful, loving and grounded vision of prayer.

Interview starts at 17m 45s.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love of God

Religious Refugees: (De)Constructing Toward Spiritual and Emotional Healing

WEBSITE

Mark Gregory Karris

QUOTES

“God’s power is God’s wise and loving ability to work through and upon co-created elements to enact powerful liberating change towards beauty, truth, healing, goodness and flourishing.”

“Conspiring prayer is a form of prayer where we create space in our busy lives to align our heart with God’s heart, where our spirit and God’s Spirit breathe harmoniously together, and where we plot together to subversively overcome evil with acts of love and goodness.”

“Sometimes I just think we’re praying to God, and God’s saying, ‘I know – I want you to do that very thing.”

Dr. Hillary McBride is a clinical counselor in Vancouver. When she’s not doing clinical work she is researching, speaking, writing and podcasting (as a host on The Liturgists), about the intersection of spirituality and mental health, trauma, embodiment, eating disorders, body image, and sex and sexuality. But we wanted to focus in on embodiment, so we spent a hour chatting about what it means to be truly embodied, why many of us feel so disconnected from our bodies, and how a greater sense of embodiment can profoundly reshape our sense of self, sexuality, spirituality, and just about anything else you can think of. 

Interview starts at 17m 41s

Imaged used with permission.

BOOK

Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are

WEBSITE

Hillary McBride

QUOTES

“Our embodiment – the way we move through the world – tells us a story about who we are, what we’ve lived through, what matters to us, what the people around us believe about ‘good bodies’ and ‘bad bodies’ and if those exist and what they look like. We’re this living, breathing autobiography telling the story about being a human in this place, in this time.”

“If thinking is really only one part of being human, perhaps I’m missing these other entry points to know and experience the divine.”

“Our thinking will often take us a million miles away from what’s happening right now. And it’s only later in our lives that we come back and think to ourselves, ‘Why wasn’t I really present when that was happening?’ When my kids were young, on my wedding day, when I was graduating, that moment when I got to witness that really important piece of art or whatever it was. I was already in the next thing I was doing. So, when we practice calling our attention back into our bodies, what we’re really doing is calling our attention back into the present moment.”

In this episode, black liberation theologian Prof Anthony Reddie and the poet Ravelle-Sadé Fairman reflect on black experience. These searching thoughts begin with the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police officers, and from there reach into a knotted web of power and oppression: the disproportionate suffering of black people from Covid19, the enduring roots of European colonial rule, the dynamics of white fragility, the experience of black embodiment, the veneration of the statues of slave traders, and the emerging anti-racism movement. 

Anthony Reddie is professor of Liberation Theology at Oxford University and the author of many books, including Is God Colour Blind? and Theologising Brexit. Ravelle-Sadé Fairman is a poet from Nottingham, UK, who performs as A Poetic Perception.

Images used with permission.

BOOKS

Is God Colour-Blind?: Insights From Black Theology For Christian Ministry

Black Theology, Slavery and Contemporary Christianity

Theologizing Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique

WEBSITES

Anthony Reddie

A Poetic Perception Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

QUOTES

“It’s interesting that the Prime Minister is going to set up another commission, in order to tell us things that many of us have known for a long time…What we need is not more analysis, what we need is structural change. And firstly to recognise the toxic and poisonous nature of white supremacy.”

“The use of extreme violence, as in the case of George Floyd…is the extreme end of the manifestations of racism. Most original white people are not involved in that. However, what they don’t notice is the way in which society is constructed on notions of white privilege, that allows a certain level of advantage of white people over black people and people of other minority ethnic identities, that is not based on anything other than a presumption of superiority.” 

“It’s interesting how the Prime Minister can promise swift justice for anti-racist protestors who pulled down a statue of what was, in the end, a racist slave trader. This, I think, is symbolic of the nature of black lives not mattering… It tells us what we’ve always known. Property matters more to white people than black people’s bodies, and our feelings, and our experiences.” 

“White people will have individual black friends. But how much of your life is still codified by living in, effectively, a white domain with white norms? You may have the odd black friend, but how many of you have immersed yourself in contexts in which you are the minority? … In what ways are you living in a multicultural nation in ways that are challenging your sense of settled whiteness?”

“There is a sense in which whiteness can only function so long as it creates distance from the other and is enabled to continue to pump up false notions of superiority and normality when compared to others.”

“George Floyd’s death has enable people to see. And once you see something and you know it, you can’t unknow it. And not bring able to unknow it means that more ordinary people, who thought this had nothing to do with them, will now realise that for the cause of peace and justice and for a better equitable way of being human in the world, change needs to happen and they will be committed to that change.”

In this episode Mark Oakley shares with us his lifelong relationship with poetry. He believes poetry is the language of the soul, and should therefore be the person of faith’s native language. For Mark poetry has put to words his deepest longing, has sustained him through troubled times, and has transformed the way he’s come to see God, himself and others. And Mark believes that in our ever more chaotic world, now more than ever we need to rediscover the language of poetry. 

Interview starts at 8m 45s.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry

The Collage of God

QUOTES

“Religious language is full of awful, dead metaphors. I do think language is a bit like water – unless it’s moving, it’s stagnant. And I think part of the problem with communicating a religious faith today is that the language that we draw on is rather dead and not resonant.”

“If you’re going to be a person of faith over the next few years, you’re going to need to be poet. By which I mean you’re going to need to take language seriously. Almost sacramentally, actually. But you’re also going to need to be prophetic, which is a slight overused word I think. Just cause you’re angry doesn’t mean you’re a prophet. A prophet is looking at how we’re behaving and reporting back to us as to what’s going to happen if we keep carrying on as if; somebody who wants to interrupt what we’re doing for restorative purposes. So, a good prophet is not condemning, but is trying to put things right and restore wholeness and so on.”

Theologian, poet and author Nicola Slee joins Jemimah to talk about when she first encountered feminist theology and its potential to challenge, inform and enrich our Christian faith and practice. 

Nicola Slee is Director of Research at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theology and Professor of Feminist Practical Theology in the Faculty of Religion at VU Amsterdam. Her research interests range around Christian feminist practical theology but also encompass poetry and theology and other aspects of practical theology.

Interview starts at 19m 22s.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Sabbath: The Hidden Heartbeat of our Lives

Seeking the Risen Christa

Praying Like A Woman

Faith and Feminism: An Introduction to Christian Feminist Theology

QUOTES

“Maybe as the world becomes a less and less safe place – with climate crisis – maybe people revert to their bunkers. And I can see the attraction of very, very clear hard and fast ideologies that people feel give them security. And feminism doesn’t really fit with all of that.” 

“One of the things about poetry is language is working very intensely and at many, many different levels. So, it’s not straight-forward scientific literal language, which is kind of flat and only has one meaning. Religious symbols. So, if we talk about something like ‘Wisdom,’ or the ‘Word of God,’ or almost any image from Scripture, it’s a rich, multivalent, multi-leveled way that language is working. And that’s exactly how poetry’s functioning. So, to me it makes absolute sense that poetry has always been a primary medium for faith.”

“We do need images, doctrines that do look like us, because if we don’t have those, we won’t get onto the page; we won’t start the journey. But if they all look like us, then we just simply become confirmed in all our own prejudices. So, also in faith, there is the whole tradition of Christ, God, the Spirit at work in the other – what’s different, what’s strange. And that’s a very common theme in Scripture.”

In this episode vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church at Trafalgar Square, London and professor of Christian ethics at King’s College, Sam Wells shares his belief that to live well is to improvise well. He defines improvisation in the theatre as “a practice through which actors seek to develop trust in themselves and one another in order that they may conduct unscripted dramas without fear.” And that, he believes, is how we should approach life. Building trust, overcoming fear, conducting relationships, and making choices – all without a script. The Bible therefore is not a ‘script’ but a training school that shapes our habits and practices. And living well is “faithfully improvising on the Christian tradition.” 

It’s a fascinating and inspiring conversation that brings to life Christian ethics. 

Interview starts at 16m 30s. 

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Improvisation

Incarnational Ministry

Incarnational Mission: Being with the World

A Future That’s Bigger Than The Past

Face to Face: Meeting Christ in Friend and Stranger

QUOTES

“None of us chose to be born. We can’t approach God or the state with a sense of, ‘I bought this life for big money and I want my money’s worth.’ We can adopt that attitude, but it’s nonsense. All of us are lucky to be here. We never knew there was such a thing as existence before we came out of our mother’s womb. It’s grace. It’s a wonderful sense of joy and grace. And it seems to me during this time of captivity – as it were – our role as churches and as individual Christians is to cultivate a sense of abundance rather than scarcity; a sense of the wondrous things in life that are still true and we’re more aware of, rather than the conventional things in life we’ve been deprived of.”

“Re-incorporating is a huge statement of abundance – that we have always got far more resources than we usually think of. Because we’re always looking for the new and the clever, we neglect what we’ve already been given.”

“To concentrate on ethics as simply dilemmas – as crises of decision – is to find yourself in the cave and say, ‘What do we do?’ without recognizing that how you resolve a situation is based on years of formation of character and training.”

We felt these unprecedented times deserved an unprecedented episode of nomad. So for the first time we recorded a remote episode, with Jemimah beaming in from Cardiff, David from Birmingham, and Tim and Nick from Nottingham. 

To help stimulate the conversation, we thought we’d ask the Listener Lounge for questions. 

So tune in if you want to know how we’re coping with the pandemic, what signs of hope we’re seeing, whether we still believe in God, what prayer means to us, the most significant thing we’ve learnt from the nomad journey, the most cringe-worthy thing we’ve said during an interview, the funniest things our kids have said recently, and much much more!

Images used with permission.

BOOKS

Letters and Papers from Prison

The Challenge of Jesus

Your Brain on Porn

QUOTES

“I think there’s huge amounts of encouragement and comfort knowing that other people are asking similar questions and struggling with similar things and deconstructing things. But then also realizing that some people are doing that within church, some people are doing that post-church, some people are on the journey having never really gone to church. So, I think that commonality but also the diversity within that is both comforting and reassuring and interesting and creative.”

“Eleven years ago, I’d have told you very clearly who I thought God was. I’d have probably talked about the Trinity, and their different roles, and how I related to them, and that sort of stuff. But now, I don’t really think about God as a being that I can identify or define – it goes beyond all that. I feel like my experience of life is my experience of God. But I do still think that’s rooted in the Christian tradition, because I still find Jesus a really compelling figure who I find really inspiring. I just don’t attempt to define God anymore – it just kind of is life.”

“Every day when I pray, in a way I’m asking the same two questions: Why is there so much senseless loss; why so much pain? And then the other question is: Why do I get to be here? Everything is beautiful, everything’s wonderful. I get to be in another day. And those two ‘whys,’ I think they’re always there. I remember asking them as a child – why am I not a rock? Why do I get to be a conscious being? It’s amazing. But they’re not questions that are asked in search of answers. The questions are the answers. To be with the questions is to be with God in some way.” 

In this final meditation of the series, Anna reflects on the power of the greeting that Jesus gave his disciples when he met them in the upper room on Easter day. She considers what Pádraig Ó Tuama shares about this greeting in his book In The Shelter: Finding a home in the World. She then leads us in a stilling exercise followed by an Ignatian style meditation, using our imaginations to enter into the scene in the locked room as told in John and Luke’s gospels. Anna then finishes with a short examen and closing prayer.

David Blower responds to the meditation with original music and ambience.

If you want a meditation like this one each month, then visit either our PayPal or Patreon membership page.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

In this meditation Anna Robinson reflects on our struggles with fear, anxiety and distress. She looks at how Jesus himself felt great fear, particularly at this time of Easter. Then, drawing on the wisdom of James Finley, Anna leads us through a stilling exercise and meditation where we can bring our deepest fears and distress to Jesus. Through this we hope together we can find freedom from our experience of the tyranny of fear.

David Blower compliments the meditation with original music and ambience.

If you want a meditation like this one each month, then visit either our PayPal or Patreon membership page.

Image used with permission.

BOOK

The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

WEBSITE

James Finley – Sink Into the Taproot of Your Heart 

In this contemplation, Anna Robinson considers the significance of acknowledging how we are feeling in these uncertain and unsettling times. She considers the importance of kindness and compassion to others and ourselves, recognising our shared human experiences. Anna then leads us into a stilling exercise to help us become fully present, after which she guides us a Loving-Kindness meditation that fosters feelings of compassion and kindness and enables us to feel more connected to those we love and those around us during this time of isolation. 

David Blower compliments the meditation with original music and ambience.

If you want a meditation like this one each month, then visit either our PayPal or Patreon membership page.

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

The Centre for Nonviolent Communication

Dr. Kristin Neff – Self Compassion

Rather than an interview based episode, we felt these strange times required something a little more meditative. 

Each month for the last year Anna Robinson has been producing some wonderful meditations for our patrons. So we asked her to produce a short series for our main podcast feed, called Meditations for Isolation

In this meditation, Anna reminds us we are not alone in finding ourselves weighed down by worry and concerns. Anna will lead us in contemplating divine presence and peace. We will then be led on an imaginative journey where we are invited to acknowledge our fears and concerns and give them to God. We will then be invited to rest in this peace and presence and receive what it is we need at this time.  

David Blower compliments the meditation with original music.

If you want a meditation like this one each month, then visit either our PayPal or Patreon membership page.


BOOK

Consenting to God as God Is

For just a few weeks we’ve all been living in a very different world. Sociologist and Baptist Minister Sally Mann reflects on how her community in London’s East End are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, and where she sees glimmers of hope amidst the grief and isolation.

Imaged used with permission.

WEBSITE

Bonny Downs Community Association

BOOKS

Looking for Lydia: Encounters that Shape the Church

QUOTES

“It sounds like crisis, but also good news. And I think that’s what I’m experiencing. You know, real adversity but unlikely heroes just being the key to get this whole thing moving. And for me it’s an example of ‘soft power’ in our community. So, we are very used to harnessing the skills of people that may be overlooked in terms of offering solutions – I call that ‘soft power’ as a sociologist. It’s often those people at the grassroots, when they’re able to contribute and not just seen as people who need care, that we see the wheels turning again.”

“I’m kind of hoping and thinking that maybe some of the more helpful social policies which reinstate a sense of community – a sense that we need to care for the vulnerable – might happen at the end of this crisis.”

Mike McHargue is the host of the podcast Ask Science Mike, co-founded of the The Liturgists Podcast and author of Finding God in the Waves. He’s a public educator who weaves together insights from science and faith to help people figure out what it means to live well.

We ask Mike the question that scientists, philosophers, theologians and self-help gurus have wrestled with for thousands of years: why do we do the things we do? Or rather, why so often do we not do the things that we want to do?! Why, for example, do we binge Netflix when we know taking a walk outside would be better for us, or why do we scroll Facebook when our real friends live just down the street. Drawing on science, personal revelation, and spiritual insight, Mike shows us how to live more at peace with ourselves and the world around us.

Interview starts at 16m 47s. 

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass): Understanding the Hidden Forces That Make You You

Finding God in the Waves: How I lost My Faith and Found it Again Through Science

WEBSITES

Ask Science Mike

The Liturgists

QUOTES

“Unfortunately I don’t think – until very recently – my faith was a positive influence on my mental health. The version of Christianity I grew up in is exactly what trained me to be co-dependent, it is what trained me to avoid my feelings, it is what trained me to participate in more toxic forms of masculinity, and is something I’ve spent a lifetime trying to unlearn and unprogram.”

“I don’t have any sophisticated answers to faith questions. I simply love and experience God, and that experience makes me feel whole in a way that I can’t articulate to people. But when I’ve tried to get away from it because of frustrations about philosophy or epistemology or these really multi-syllable terms, somehow God always finds their way back into my life.”

In another break from our usual interview format, we listen in on a conversation between Jemimah and Joy as they reflect on their experiences as women who grew up immersed in evangelical Christianity. Unpicking some of the messages they absorbed over the years, they examine what it means for them to move away from repression and reconnect with their embodied and internal experiencing. Learning to value their own voice, they also explore the responsibility that comes with agency and privilege within their respective communities.

Conversation starts at 4m 30s.

Images used with permission.

QUOTES

“The message I grew up with seemed to be having strong opinions was not ‘submitting’ in the way that we should be. I think it undermines confidence in listening to yourself, in valuing how you respond to something. If you’re troubled by something and yet told that actually this is how it is – and the leaders and the men or whoever is creating it have done it like that – and you feel a bit troubled with it, it turns the issue around onto yourself. You become the issue, rather than actually maybe I have something to offer here that could help. And maybe actually I should be valuing how I’m responding.”

“What happened in that story that I described didn’t feel like I was finally able to be a ‘true woman’; it just felt like I was able to be who I was created to be – a human. And I feel like the things we’ve been describing – systems that suppress certain aspects of our humanity – is applicable to everyone regardless of gender.”

In this episode we speak with anabaptist, anarchist and Christian animist, Noel Moules. Christian and animism are perhaps two words you haven’t heard together before, in fact you may well think that animism sounds somewhat dodgy! Noel shows us though how Jesus himself held to this ancient indigenous worldview, where rather than matter and spirit being understood as dualistic opposites, the entire natural world is sentient, personable and alive. 

So we ask Noel how this revelation has changed the way he understands and relates to God. And how he loves his neighbour now his neighbour includes everything from birds to trees?!

It’s a worldview expanding and hope-filled conversation. 

Interview starts at 15m 16s

Images used with permission.

BOOKS

Fingerprints of Fire, Footprints of Peace

Christian Animism

When God Was a Bird

The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics 

WEBSITE

Christian Animism

Workshop

QUOTES

 “Everything is alive, everything is sacred, everything is connected, everything is person, everything is nurtured, and everything is respected.”

“Personhood is an understanding which is above all things. And so human personhood, bird personhood, animal personhood, rock personhood is found as different expressions of personhood under the overarching sense of personhood. I find that really exciting and helpful.”

“The dominion that God has given us is that we are to image God in how we live our lives in the world. And when we do that, yes, we have this amazing capacity to have a huge effect. But that should be for blessing. And also, are we open for the huge effect that the rest of creation is to have on us? That to me is really, really important as well. And that’s why I find the word ‘stewardship’ difficult. I like companionship better.”

Ann Morisy is a community theologian, community worker and author who has researched and written on everything from the spirituality of public transport, through to the spirituality of ageing. Her works draws on a wide range of research and influences, including sociology, political science, economics and theology. 

We ask Ann whether in these increasingly troubled times, her community work and research are leading her to hope, what can get in the way of our discovery of hope, and what a genuinely hopeful Church looks like? 

Interview starts at 17m 2s.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Bothered and Bewildered: Enacting Hope in Troubled Times

Beyond the Good Samaritan: Community Ministry and Mission

Journeying Out: A New Approach to Christian Mission

QUOTES

“I’m of a generation that grew up with the presumption that it was normal for things to get better. And yet I think we’ve possibly got the first generation who are perceiving that their future will be less good than it has been for people in the past. That’s actually something that is really important to me about how generations provide for each other. Because if we unhitch a commitment to future generations simply by being preoccupied with the now and our own needs and desires, then that really is a measure of just how messed up the species is.” 

“I think a healthy religious environment can only ever be temporary; that decay is part of the story of existence. So, what is healthy will always decay, which is why accountability is so important.”

“I’m late to come to joy as being a powerful, transformational phenomenon. Joy is something quite profound. And you can’t guarantee it, it is not to be managed – cause if it’s been managed and manipulated, it’s something less than joy. And that joy really can only come from encounters with others. Joy is not a solitary thing. Something might come close with solitude. But joy, I think, is a relational phenomenon. And I think that our churches at their best are places which can multiply joy because of the acceptance of everybody’s contribution.”

There’s a handful of guests that have appeared on Nomad a number of times, and Steve Chalke is one. Why? Because he keeps speaking and writing about really interesting things. He was one of the first high profile evangelicals to critique the penal substitutionary understanding of the cross, and to bless a same sex marriage. Not only that, but he founded and leads Oasis, one of the UK’s largest charities, whose volunteers, activists and professionals work in 36 communities across the country.

In this episode we speak to Steve about the Apostle Paul and why he has often been presented as the champion of exclusion, when, as Steve believes, he was in fact the great includer; a revolutionary who saw a new inclusive world dawning and gave his life to help bring it in.

Interview begins at 17m 49s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

The Lost Message of Paul

The Lost Message of Jesus

WEBSITE

Oasis

QUOTES

“If pistis is ‘faithfulness’ rather than ‘faith,’ all of a sudden it’s not about me being able to intellectually ascent to everything all of the time without ever doubting – does God actually exist, did all those miracles happen, is there life the other side of death, am I a Christian? – it’s not about having faith that never doubts anything. It’s about living faithfully to a story. So, I’m relieved of the burden of thinking the right thoughts all the time or mustering the right level of saving faith. I’m just committed to live within this narrative, this story. Sometimes I find it easy, sometimes I find it hard, sometimes I’m doubting, sometimes I want to give up. But I’m living faithfully to this story, which I think’s a great release for people.”

“Paul never mentions Hell. Not once in all of his writing does he ever mention Hell. If he knew the word in terms of his Christian theology, he thought it was so unimportant that he didn’t bother to even make a note of it to any of the churches that he was writing to.”

It’s Christmas! And so we thought we’d share a festive Devotional episode with you all. Pub landlady, touring musician and anglican priest Em Kolltveit talks about community building and hospitality when there’s no room at the Inn.

We produce Devotionals like this every month. If you’re interested, you can access them by making a small monthly donation in $s on our Patreon page, or in £s on our PayPal membership page

Happy Christmas! 

Image used with permission.

PERMISSIONS

Veni Veni Emmanuelin Dulce Jubilo and In Dulce Jubilo from the album Of Kings and Angels are used with the permission of Mediaeval Baebes Ltd.

WEBSITE

Mediaeval Baebes

QUOTES

“The importance of our community buildings – our pubs, our churches, our cathedrals, our libraries – cannot be overstressed. When they’re gone, they’re gone for good. And when those buildings have disappeared and we’re cooped up in our shoebox offices and apartments – gorging on the algorithms that we are fed through social networking – I fear that the great hope of equality and justice for everyone, which I know many of us cling onto, will begin to fade. Why? Because every great revolution started in a tavern.”

“I really wonder how things are going to play out. I think, like many of us, who have at one time or another made the mistake of saying ‘no’ when we should have said ‘yes’ and met Jesus in that moment. I look to a future of justice where a global community cares for God’s planet and shares its bounty equally. And there are beds and hot meals for everyone at the inn. If Christmas is God’s conspiracy of love – as I believe it to be – if the birth, life and death of Christ is God’s plan to give us all the much needed time to reflect on what has been lost to us, then it is also about what can be found, what can be changed, and the kind of world we wish to live in. God’s world.”

Rather than our usual interview format, in this episode we host a conversation between Zoe Heming and Nick Thorley. Zoe is a priest in the Church of England and for many years has suffered with chronic pain, which often means she has to use a wheelchair. Nick works for Christian Aid and (as you may be aware) hosts Nomad Podcast. He has been visually impaired since he was a teenager. 

Zoe and Nick talk openly and honestly about their experience of disability, how it has shaped their life, faith, and experience of church, and how they’ve come to understand what it means to be whole.

It’s a challenging and inspiring conversation.

Conversation begins at 17m 25s

Images used with permission

QUOTES

“For me the kind of consistent theology that I know I can feel on firm ground with is God is here in the midst of this. When people say, ‘Why me?’ my natural reflex is, ‘Well, why not you?’ Life is how it is. And it’s a mixture of everything for everybody actually. And so the Christ figure Jesus coming and living in that and showing us that that’s not all there is and that that it’s not an end does feel like really safe ground for me. Because I’ve experienced that – God breaking into those moments when I dare to reach out when I’m in a difficult place…and nothing particularly changes, but that sense of God being with you is really transformative somehow.”

“I just think the way [Jesus] lived rather than the way he died is more interesting. And more helpful in terms of us as people trying to live a faithful life. But then the resurrection is kind of the next level of that really. So, the fact that he came back with scars means that the story’s never wasted and that our scars tell our story. That feels very real to me.”

Richard Beck is Professor of Psychology at Abilene University, author, blogger and leader of a weekly bible study for inmates at the maximum security French-Robertson unit. He’s also a big fan of the country musician Johnny Cash (who also knew a thing or two about prison).

David Blower (another Cash fan) asks Richard what we can learn from the faith of Johnny Cash, a man known for his deep empathy for the marginalised and who risked commercial success to stand in solidarity with them, but who also wrestled with deep personal pain and struggled for years with drug addiction.

It’s fascinating and challenging conversation about living out faith in a broken world. 

Interview begins at 19m 28s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel according to Johnny Cash

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

Stranger God: Welcoming Jesus in Disguise

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

WEBSITE

Experimental Theology

QUOTES

“A lot of us when we think about the cross think about it from a substitutionary atonement idea – that the death of Jesus saves us from the punishment of our sins. But another way – a supplemental way to think about it – is that the cross becomes kind of a compass. If we’re trying to locate God in the world – where is God, how do you find God? Well, if God is hanging on a cross as a convicted criminal – outside of the gates, as it says in Hebrews – then the cross becomes a way to locate God in the world. Where am I going to find God? I’m going to find God somewhere outsides the gates, and I’m going to find God – somewhat paradoxically – among the God-forsaken.”

“Solidarity’s harder, but it’s also human. It brings us into the human encounter. It’s a real relationship and real relationships are risky. Anybody who’s loved anybody knows that – to love is to bring risk. So, you can minimize your risk by just rescuing people. And I think churches do that, right? They would rather engage in charity, where it’s a one-sided giving but there is no risk in charity. That person can’t hurt me, they can’t disappoint me. But to enter into a friendship with somebody means that you bring in the risk of disappointment and disagreement and conflict. There can be heartache involved in that. But it’s worth the risk because you’re moving into the mystery of a deep, true human encounter.”

In this episode we speak with writer, speaker and researcher, Vicky Walker. Vicky conducted a survey with nearly 1500 people about their experiences of the changing nature of relationships and how, if at all, their faith and churches have helped them make sense of this. It turns out (spoiler alert!) the Church hasn’t always been that helpful. So where do we look for signs of hope in these confusing times? 

It’s a fascinating and challenging conversation.

Interview starts at 14m 5s

Image taken by Katie Garner. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Relatable: Exploring God, Love & Connection in the Age of Choice

Do I Have To Be Good All The Time

QUOTES

“I think that relational approach is probably the thing that will revolutionize the conversation, because it will just stop meaning ‘this one thing or failure,’ which is where I think a lot of people have felt pressured themselves.” 

“What we expect of church probably needs to change…we shouldn’t look to church to be the thing that fixes all of our relational needs…it shouldn’t misrepresent them either, or demand a loyalty to something that can’t work.”

In this episode Jemimah speaks with Irish poet, storyteller and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama. It’s a profoundly wise and insightful interview, touching on themes of language, story, gospel, power, community, sexuality and religion. It’s not an interview you can listen to just once! 

Interview starts at 16m 10s

Image taken by Trevor Brady. Used with permission.

PERMISSIONS

This episode features poetry from Readings from the Book of Exile and Daily Prayer from the Corrymeela Community, which is used with permission by Canterbury Press

BOOKS

Readings from the Book of Exile

Daily Prayer from the Corrymeela Community

QUOTES

“Poetry is the capacity to sacramentalize things you wish you hadn’t experienced, but by approaching them with courage and with tenderness and vulnerability – poetry puts language around something. And so, poetry for me is a practice of courage.”

“We are storied and ‘storifying’ peoples…we have an inherent narrative intelligence, where we use one’s story and use that as a doorway to go into another story to begin to make sense of our lives, and to begin to use caricature and character in order to play around with the possibility of meaning, resistance and safety and shelter. And that’s a glorious thing to do.”

When Jennie Hogan was 11 years old she had a brain haemorrhage. Then at the age of 14 she had another one. This devastating experience left her with a brain injury that would transform her life. 

So we met up with Jennie at Goodenough College where she is a chaplain, to talk with her about how her experience of trauma, illness and disability has caused her to reflect on how she relates to her body, what an embodied faith means to her, how she’s learnt to live with uncertainty, and about the emergence of a new identity through her experience of brokenness.

Interview starts at 17m 17s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

This is My Body: A Story of Sickness and Health

QUOTES

“I think the Christian faith is the most embodied faith, and yet we don’t live it out because I think we’re afraid of our broken bodies. We’re afraid of our bodies. We’re afraid of each other’s bodies. They’re frightening, aren’t they? Cause they’re messy and frail and fragile. And we don’t like that. I think if we think about the church being Christ’s body, well then we shouldn’t get so worked up about it being a mess, should we? Cause it is chaos, it is frail – and that’s okay.”

“If we think of the broken body of Christ, we have to also recognize that we are broken and we can’t always be fixed. And does it mean that because my sight hasn’t recovered means that I’m any less valid or human, or that the church has failed, or that God doesn’t exist? The notion of being fixed is a fantasy. Why can’t we just live with the brokenness and the frailty and let that be healing?”

Author, speaker and activist Brian McLaren knows a thing or two about navigating an evolving faith. He was raised in the fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren tradition, but is now a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good.

He also knows a thing or two about raising children, with four of his own, grandchildren, and he’s the author of the children’s book Corey and the Seventh Story.

So he seemed like the perfect person to talk to about how to raise your children in the faith, when you’re not sure where your faith’s at. 

It’s a must listen for anyone raising children, or who knows someone who’s raising children, or who was once a child themselves!  

Interview starts at 17m 1s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

Corey and the Seventh Story

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian

QUOTES

“It really is a very harmful statement – that many of us were taught – that the Bible is so simple, a child could understand it. That just shows that the grown-ups don’t know what they’re talking about; they don’t understand it.”

“We have to make sure every question is allowed. And one of the things I think we can do for our children that is honest and good is when they ask us a question, before we give them our answer, to ask them what they think about it. And show them that we respect them as members of the interpretive conversation.”

Fr. Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest, who in 1986 was appointed pastor of a church in one of the most deprived areas of Los Angeles, in a church that sat between two large public housing projects, which had the highest concentration of gangs in the country. 

Amidst shocking levels of violence and murder (Greg himself buried some 229 young men), Greg slowly began to make connections with the gang members, and eventually established the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. 

Needless to say, our conversation is overflowing with wisdom and challenge as Greg talks about the God he discovered on the margins.

Interview starts at 16m 12s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Tattoos on the Heart

Barking to the Choir

WEBSITE

Homeboy Industries

QUOTES

“I just find it peculiar of human beings that death is the worst thing that can happen to us, which seems pretty odd given the fact that it’ll happen to all of us. And so I don’t really get it, you know? For me, I really do have a weird sense of it’s just like birth – we’re all born and we’re all going to die. And I don’t find that a difficulty. Because you want to be anchored in the things that are more powerful than death, and you don’t want to cling to anything.”

“We don’t want message. It’s not about message and it’s not about messenger. It’s about cherishing. Can you let yourself be cherished and can you cherish? And once you do that, everybody’s returned to themselves. And if that’s not Christ, then I don’t know what it is.”

Instead of our regular show we’re treating you to a Nomad Devotional. Community development worker, Simon Jay reflects on life in his neighbourhood and his discovery of urban walking as a form of prayer and community building. David Blower responds with music and ambient sounds.

You can enjoy devotionals like this every month, along with Nomad Contemplations and access to our Listener Lounge. Simply donate $5 a month through Patreon or £4 through our PayPal membership page.

Image used with permission.

QUOTES

“If instead of driving through the main [road] arteries we were to walk to our church, no matter how long it took — and whilst walking we intentionally crossed the different boundary lines and went through different neighbourhoods — I wonder if most of us would ever reach our church. Not because it’s too far, but simply because we come across communities and neighbourhoods and stories that compel us to stay there.”

“Walking is prayer, for me. A lot of people, when they practise prayer, they speak — but for me, the very act of walking is prayer. When I walk, particularly when I am walking intentionally…I ask God to reveal himself to me within the very fabric of those places and spaces. I have this quite profound and moving encounter, of seeing God emerge through the most unlikeliest of places.”

How do we face change? How do we move through suffering? How do we receive joy? And how do we mature in service? According to psychologist, spiritual director, liturgist and author Alexander Shaia, these four questions are the central questions of our lives. They are universal, sequential, and cyclical, and are recognised by every major religious faith and school of psychology and forms the very heart of Christian belief and practice. In fact, Alexander made the startling discovery that each of the four gospels were written to address one of the four questions.

So if we long for transformation, then we need to join the gospel writers in wrestling with these questions. 

Needless to say, this is a very interesting episode!  

Interview starts at 15m 30s

Image provided by Alexander Shaia. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation

QUOTES

“…when we’re facing an abyss, when all of our tradition seems to be in doubt, when everything has been deconstructed or demolished, the first thing to know is that this has not happened as an indication that God has left us.”

“The deepest suffering is from those family and friends around us that we would most like to support us or to accompany us. And unless someone has really walked this deep journey of transformation, they are not likely to be able to appreciate, applaud, or accompany when we’re on this journey.”

Episcopal priest, professor, theologian and author Barbara Brown Taylor, joins us on Nomad.  In the early 2000s Barbara left the ministry, an experience she described in Leaving Church, the first of a trilogy of books about redefining her faith. But it’s what Barbara got up to after church leadership that we want to talk about.

Barbara spent 20 years teaching world religions, and forming relationships with local leaders from a variety of other faiths, a journey which she describe in her latest book Holy Envy. So we quiz Barbara on what she’s learnt about finding God in the faiths of others.

As you’d expect from Barbara, it’s a conversation overflowing with wisdom, humility and challenge.  

Interview starts at 18m 16s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

QUOTES

“One thing I always ask a community is, ‘What would I have to do to get kicked out of your community?’ And they’ll say, ‘Well, what do you mean?!’ And I say, ‘Well, if there’s nothing I could do to get kicked out, then what does it mean to be in communion with you?’

“I do – when I read the New Testament stories about Jesus – see him quite often interacting with religious strangers with no requirement they become other than who they are. I think we put spins on the stories about him that make it sound that way. But I’m a biblical scholar, and I don’t find it there when I actually crawl through the text. So, I still feel pretty Christian in all this; that Christianity may be the way that’s open to all other ways if we can learn how to be better theologians and biblical readers about that.”

In this episode we bring together London based sociologist, pastor and community theologian Sally Mann and Philadelphia based social activist and author Shane Claiborne. Shane had crossed the pond to join Sally and others in launching Red Letter Christians UK. So we took the opportunity to quiz them about the state of evangelicalism in both the UK and US, what lies at the heart of their faith, their concerns about post-evangelicalism, and why they see signs of hope in the Red Letter Christians movement. It’s an inspiring and challenging conversation.

Interview starts at 12m 30s

Images provided by Sally Mann and Shane Claiborne. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Red Letter Christianity

WEBSITES

Red Letter Christians UK

Red Letter Christians US

QUOTES

“People hear the word ‘evangelical’ they think anti-gay, anti-women, racist, pro-guns, pro-military, anti-environment – so many of the things I think would nauseate Jesus…I found that the deeper I fell in love with Jesus, the more I found myself at odds with evangelicalism.”

“The real place that I think Christianity is best defined is as a ‘minority report’ within a community – not people that hold coercive power. I think we need to let go of that idea that we can dictate moral programs to the nation. I think we need to embrace the idea that we are living a counter-cultural movement – which will probably always be on the edge – and to embrace the idea of small can be very effective. Small authentic community can be mustard seed, can be wheat, can be yeast. I think giving up the idea of having a kind of institutional power – a right to institutional power – it’s healthy that we’re being shaken free of that.”

Cynthia Bourgeault is a mystic, priest, and author, who is committed to teaching and spreading the recovery of Christian contemplative practices. So she’s the perfect guide for nomad’s ongoing exploration of contemplative practices.  

She’s been a long-time advocate of the meditative practice of Centering Prayer, and so that’s what we quizzed her on. The conversation is soaked in deep wisdom and insight. You won’t be disappointed. 

Interview begins at 14m 30s

Image provided by Robbin Whittington. Used with permission.

BOOKS

The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice

QUOTES

“In centering prayer, you don’t have a focal point for your attention – you’re not focussing on the breath or on a word or on an image of God. We do use a word in centering prayer to help release thoughts when we get stuck with it. But it sort of serves the function of a windshield wiper on car – it just helps sweep the screen clean. It’s not something to focus on; it’s not something you replace a thought with.” 

“A lot of people think that belief and trust are synonymous – they’re not, they’re wildly different. Belief is signing on the dotted lines to rational or irrational premises. Trust is a basic attitude of opening to life, being able to go through it – not like a little turtle with your head drawn into your shell, but like a turtle full out basking on log on a sunny day.”

Christopher Collingwood is an Anglican priest – Canon Chancellor of York Minster, no less. And…he’s a Zen teacher. So clearly he knows a thing or two about navigating an evolving faith, and the pushback that can come with it.

So we quiz Chris on his journey, and ponder how, if at all, Zen can help us on our journey of faith reconstruction.

Interview begins at 16m 30s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Zen Wisdom for Christians

QUOTES

“What Zen shows you fairly quickly is that all those ideas that we have – all those concepts, those constructs, and so on – aren’t the reality themselves. So, Zen really takes you to the reality of life. Life as it is and not as we think it should be or would like it to be.”

“If we affirm that you’re only really who you are when you’re thinking, then we would be brought to a point at some stage where we would be inclined to say, ‘Oh, well that person clearly is no longer a person.’ And yet in every other respect, they may show all sorts of signs of what it is to be a person. So, Zen takes us beyond our identification with our thoughts and our thought processes.

Tim and Jemimah sit down with David to talk through his new album – ‘We Really Existed and We Really Did This’. It’s a conversation in which David wrestles with faith and theology, and searches for signs of hope in the increasingly chaotic times we live in. As you’d expect from David, it’s a classic, full of deeply reflective, insightful and challenging observations. It’s a must listen (even if we do say so ourselves).

Interview starts at 4m 25s


BOOKS

Sympathy for Jonah: Reflections on Humiliation, Terror and the Politics of Enemy-Love

WEBSITE

Bandcamp

QUOTES

“It’s an album about living in a moment of history which feels like after one paradigm has collapsed, and before another one’s begun – a paper thin moment between worlds. There’s a sort of weird eye of the storm calm about this moment in some respects. It’s also a time of massive tension. It’s a moment of history. The demands of the past (that’s collapsing, and doesn’t want to collapse) are raging at you… Meanwhile you’re also being pulled in the other direction by the demands and imperatives of what the future’s looking like – the huge problems there are and the ways that we’ve created and done things that make the world work completely differently. You can’t dis-invent that. It’s the weird, eerie, quiet stress of this moment in history.”

“When the world doesn’t work like it used to, I think we freak out, we have this existential crisis… you have this big lurch to the right… to try and hold on to a past that’s ebbing away. It’s trying to resuscitate something that’s dying in your arms. Meanwhile the future becomes networked and integrated… and the shadow that looms over all this is that… we’ve created a climate situation that changes everything. We can’t predict what it’s going to do. We’re not sure that we can stop it … so you’re in this frozen panic moment. You’re not compelled to move yet because it hasn’t hit the fan but you also know that it’s upon you so you don’t feel able to carry on with life as normal. That’s part of the picture.”

“You can’t really have newness and life if you won’t have lament… you do hear a lot of talk about it these days… there is this sort of emotional imbalance gradually created over time that we’re not making space for sadness to happen.”

Natalie Collins is a gender justice specialist, who speaks, writes and trains on issues of violence against women and wider gender injustice.

In trying to make sense of her own experience of domestic abuse – and the fact that over the course of a lifetime over a quarter of women experience domestic abuse – Natalie began to ask questions about the patriarchal nature of our society (and Church) and how this shapes the way men view women and themselves. 

It’s an honest, insightful and challenging conversation.

Interview begins at 10m 44s

Image provided by Natalie Collins. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Out of Control: Couples, Conflict and the Capacity for Change

WEBSITE

Natalie Collins: Talking & Writing about Abuse, Exploitation & Gender

QUOTES

“So much of Christian perspectives on forgiveness are about denial. You know, Jesus says we should ‘count the cost before we follow him.’ And I think ‘counting the cost’ around forgiveness is really important. Unless we have fully acknowledged what someone has done to us, we’re not really in a position to go on that journey of forgiveness.”

“I think it would be great if we could have about 2000 years where we generally – as a consensus – all Christians decide that God’s a woman for a couple of thousand years. Then we could maybe even move onto ‘gender neutral’ God after that.” 

Rather than based around an interview, this episode is in the style of our Nomad Devotionals, which our patrons enjoy each month.

Ruth Wilde of Christian Peacemaker Teams reflects on the practice of “getting in the way”, and John-Philip Newell reflects on a spirituality deeply rooted in the material creation. And we ask what does it look like to become peace makers between humanity and creation? David weaves these reflections together with readings, music and songs.

Image provided by Ruth Wilde and John Philip Newell. Used with permission.

BOOKS

The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality

WEBSITE

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Martin Newell is a catholic priest who has been arrested over twenty times. His crimes range from criminal damage, trespass, and burglary, for which he has been to prison several times.

All of this has been the result of Martin’s non-violent protests against the arms trade and more recently the government’s inaction on the climate crisis. He believes that now more than ever we need to resist the rules and authorities, as the future of the planet is at stake.

Not only this, but Martin has formed a community with destitute asylum seekers.

So we ponder the questions, when is it right to say no to the rulers and authorities? Would we go to prison for our convictions? And how would we go about modelling a community that points to the world to come?

Interview begins at 11m 1s


Image provided by Martin Newell. Used with permission.


WEBSITE

The Passionists

QUOTES

“Poverty, chastity and obedience are disciplines in relation to power, sex and money. And all of us need to engage with those disciplines, I think: obedience to God, chastity in whatever our life situation is, and poverty – at the very least I try to live simply so that others may simply live.”

“As a Christian, for me it’s not about avoiding the suffering of the world, but about putting ourselves – as Jesus did, as God did in Jesus – putting ourselves in the middle of it in order to try and bring some kind of redemption to the world.”

On this episode we speak with theology professor and climate change activist Timothy Gorringe about the climate crisis. Towards the end of last year the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change released a pretty bleak report. In summary, the report said that the situation is much worse than we previously thought, and unless we reduce global carbon emissions to zero by 2050, then by the end of this century the earth will be a very hostile place to live. 

So we ask Prof. Gorringe how we are meant to respond? How can we as individuals radically reduce our carbon footprint? And how can we put pressures on government to move towards creating a carbon neutral society? And we ponder the theology of the potential collapse of human civilisation.

So it’s not the cheeriest of episodes, but there are some signs of hope! 

Interview begins at 22m 50s


Image taken by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The World Made Otherwise: Sustaining Humanity in a Threatened World

MUSIC

The Soil

QUOTES

“There are lots of people who think I’m right about climate change who think that denial is the key thing. And if you’re in denial, that stems from the fact that the problems are so overwhelming that there’s nothing you can really do about it, so you put your head in the sand. I’m skeptical about the denial proposition, actually. It seems to me that these other things – the priority of pleasure, the inability to understand the magnitude of the crisis that we’re facing – those things are more significant.”

“What’s incumbent on us to find ways to live co-operatively rather than competitively. As a society – as an economy – we’re organized around competition. So, the idea is that competition is good for all of us. A little bit of competition – races in primary school and perhaps even at the Olympics – [is] not such a disaster. But by in large, human beings thrive with co-operation.” 

Rather than our usual interview format, in this episode we’re hosting a conversation. We’ll be listening in on Chine McDonald and Azariah France Wiliiams as they discuss their understanding and experience of blackness and how that has shaped their identity, their place in society and the way they relate to God and Church.

It’s an authentic, moving, and inspiring conversation, and it was a real privilege to be able to listen in.

Interview begins at 10m 


Images provided by Chine McDonald & Azariah France Williams. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Is God Colour-Blind?: Insights From Black Theology For Christian Ministry

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging

Learning to be White: Money, Race, And God in America

Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being

QUOTES

“I spent a month on the island of Nevis working with the Anglican church and all the priests are Black. And so…when you’re the majority group, you just think of yourself as you. You’re just free to be a human. I was just free to be Azariah then with my other priestly colleagues. Whereas here, I do feel like I’m ‘Azariah the Black priest.’ And I’ve got to work against things.” 

“People talk about ‘code switching’…how we adjust our language, our postures to who we think is the dominant in the setting. And so I’m just aware of how often I’ve been shifting myself in order to accommodate what I perceive to be the cultural norms of a setting instead of feeling at ease and free to bring my whole self.” 

Janet Williams joins us to discuss apophatic theology and spirituality. I know, it doesn’t sound like the most riveting topic. But trust me, it’s essential listening for anyone who’s been through some kind of deconstruction, faith evolution or dark night of the soul, anyone who’s interested in mysticism, or who’s gown tired and disillusioned with the Church’s obsession with trying to tightly define God.

Continue reading

It was 10 years ago that Nomad first uploaded an episode. 10 years!! So to celebrate we’d like to give you a gift as a thank you for all your support and encouragement. But what to give the beloved listener to mark such a special occasion? A 3 hour 40 minute Q&A marathon episode, that’s what!

If you’d like to give a gift back to us, why not leave us a nice review on whichever podcast app you use and on our Facebook page.


Images taken by Dave Fry. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“I do massively overprepare. But you gotta remember, it’s not just about preparing for an interview. I’m trying to figure out, What does this mean for me? I mean, that’s kind of the essence of Nomad, really. How do I want to live my life? How am I going to respond to this? So that’s why I put so much effort into it. I want it to be a good interview. I want people who listen to benefit from it. But actually, it’s shaping my life as I go through that process as well.” 

“If I could afford it, I’d send everyone noise-cancelling headphones. I don’t spend hours editing this stuff so that someone can listen to it with earbuds on a treadmill.” 

“I feel like most people, if you talk about deconstruction, talk about their faith as really positive, exciting, discovering new things – I mean there is that dark-night-of-the-soul experience of everything kind of unraveling or the rug being pulled from beneath your feet, but then there’s also – simultaneously, often – an opening up or a discovery.”

“I don’t want to say that I’ve changed my mind on something because that implies that I’m certain about something, like I’ve changed my mind from ‘this’ to ‘that.’ It’s more like the whole way of looking at it has changed and I’m much more holding things loosely and wanting to practice rather than sort out my beliefs.” 

“When I think back to ‘Tim’ ten years ago, I just wasn’t a very good listener. … I think I kind of had my beliefs and I defended those beliefs. I think one of the big shifts for me in doing Nomad is just learning to listen to people, to hold what you believe lightly and to really listen … to think, what’s the truth here, what’s God saying here, what can I learn here, how can this move me on?”  

Edwina Gateley is a mystic, and a social activist. Her life has been a rhythm of extended periods of prayer and solitude (including 9 months of silence in a caravan in a forest!) and activism (including establishing a mission agency that has sent hundreds of people into missions work around the world, and working with prostitutes on the streets of Chicago).

Through both her radical activism and deep contemplation Edwina’s understanding and experience of God and Church has been radically challenged and reshaped.   

This is a must listen for anyone wrestling with questions around what Church and mission are, and how we describe and relate to God. 

Interview begins at 11m 50s

Image taken by Tim Nash. Used with permission.

BOOKS

In God’s Womb: A Spiritual Memoir

I Hear a Seed Growing

There Was No Path – So I Trod One

QUOTES

“Our calling is to journey on faithfully and as we do that, God grows. God gets bigger until our definitions are no longer big enough for a divine presence that we can’t even begin to understand.”

“I think we’re all here for our own conversion – wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. We’re not here to change anyone. We are not able to change anyone. We’re only able to change ourselves. Our task here, I believe, on this globe is to grow into God – is to grow into a reflection of God’s presence here on Earth. And that means that we must constantly be open to being stretched, to allowing God to give us a deeper vision – a wider vision – as Jesus had.”

Brian Zahnd is back on the show. This time we’re chatting with him about the themes raised in his book Postcards From Babylon. In it he takes aim at the toxic relationship between Church and Empire, and the religion that has emerged from it, which he calls Americanism. This religion has its own liturgies, gods and sacrificial systems, nearly all of which stands in direct opposition to how the early church understood what it meant to follow Jesus.

So how are followers of Jesus meant to respond? What does it mean to be Church? What spiritual practices can help us stay awake to what feels like an ever more toxic political and religious environment? What does it mean to be a Christian in the age of Trump?

Interview begins at 16m 26s


Image provided by Brian Zahnd. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Water to Wine

Postcards from Babylon: The Church In American Exile

QUOTES

“There’s a difference between empires and nations. God loves nations – with their diversity and their cultures and their languages and all of that – but God is opposed to empire. Because the very thing that empires claim for themselves – divine right to rule other nations, manifest destiny to shape history according to their agenda – is the very promise that God has made to His Son. So, empires always – without exception – posit themselves to be a challenge and rival to the sovereignty of God.”

“I find it hopeful that I’m meeting a new generation of energetic believers who are content to do something small for Jesus. I grew up in the era of youth rallies. You know, ‘Go out there and do something big for God.’ How about, ‘Go do something little for God.’ There’s all that ‘change the world’ rhetoric. If we say that our primary task is to ‘change the world for Christ,’ then I think ultimately we find the temptation to reach for the means of coercion overwhelming.”

It’s that time of the year again! So we thought we’d offer up a Christmas themed Devotional for you all. Brad Jersak talks a bit about how the Nativity is understood in the Eastern Church, we reflect on the feminine in the salvation story, and Danielle Wilson shares reflections on her time spent in a refugee camp in Greece. And of course, all this is woven together with music and song by David Blower.


Images used with permission.


WEBSITE

Global Aid Network

QUOTES

“The early church fathers would talk about how the life of God would encounter the curse of death in the human condition. When the two come together, instead of the human condition defiling God somehow, God heals the human condition in that first cell. And so, the saving event isn’t waiting for Jesus to die some day, it begins already in that moment when divinity heals humanity.”

“Amongst the hideous sights and smells around the camp — you’d often catch raw sewage or garbage — but amidst those smells, there’d be these beautiful smells of cooking [food], where people are eating and sharing food with one another. It’s the smell and taste of home that they’re recreating in the camp, creating community, and it was also a way that we saw they would create bridges with one another”

For many of us, the charismatic movement has been a mixed bag of bonkers and blessing. The danger is, of course, that we throw the blessed baby out with the bonkers bathwater! Especially for those of us who have been through some kind of deconstruction, we can easily end up rationalising away anything mystical.

So we asked Brad Jersak to help us think all this through. Brad is a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is deeply contemplative. But he’s also a charismatic. So we ask him what the charismatic and contemplative traditions can learn from each other, and whether contemplation can help take some of the crazy out of the charismatic.

Interview begins at 17m 32s


Image taken by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel

A More Christlike Way: A More Beautiful Faith

QUOTES

“Faith is about – first of all – the faithfulness of Jesus and us learning usually the hard way to trust that he’s faithful. And that is not drummed up in me. We come to believe that we can trust as we see the faithfulness of God in action. But it’s God initiating. Jesus shows us his faithfulness somehow and I begin to grow and trust around that. It’s not me getting enough faith to put it in the divine vending machine.”

“If God is good and life is random, what does this mean? It means that we still engage in prayer and we still step into ministries that will alleviate suffering in some way or another. But my posture in that is no longer triumphalism. It’s more contemplative surrender.”

Enneagram trainer Liz West joins us on the show to talk about this ancient tool for transformation. You may have seen the rather “dodgy” looking enneagram symbol, but don’t be put off. This is an ancient treasure that goes right back to the fourth century desert mothers and fathers who began to discern the things that blocked our relationships with ourselves, with others and with God. And that’s what make the enneagram unique. It doesn’t so much reveal who you are, as the coping mechanisms you’ve developed that have become blockages to your transformation.

If you’re still not convinced having listened to the interview, then head over to patreon where you can listen in on Tim getting enneagram-ed! 

Interview begins at 17m 9s


Image taken by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

WEBSITES

Enneagram Institute website

Enneagram Worldwide website

QUOTES

“I think we are encouraged to live in our outer world – what I think of as our outer world. It’s all about what we’re doing and it’s all about our roles and that seems to define our identity. But there’s so much more to us than our gifts and the way we choose to live. There is this inner world which I think needs exploring and the Enneagram is just one of the many tools to explore it. And the reason why it needs exploring is that there are very serious things in our inner world which get in the way of our relationship with God, with other people; and they cause us pain, which is why the desert fathers called these nine things ‘the passions.’”

“The Enneagram – rather than putting people in a box – actually describes the box that we are already in and helps us to get out of that box.”

Catholic theologian and priest, James Alison joins us on the show to discuss scapegoating. It’s a word we’re all familiar with, but as James explains, it’s through the violence of the scapegoating mechanism that civilisations are built. And, it is through the scapegoating mechanism that the cross heals. It’s a fascinating way of understanding the atonement, especially for those of us disillusioned with models of atonement that require a violent God. So tune in for a truly mind bending and inspiring conversation.

Interview begins at 18m 43s


Image provided by James Alison. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice

QUOTES

“In any society, in fact we have learnt that our default is the same: there comes a moment in the frenzy of ‘all against all’ when – if we’re lucky – mysteriously it turns into an ‘all against one.’ And no one can quite tell why. No one can tell who’s going to get it. But somebody does.”

“What we have in the crucifixion is God saying: ‘I will come into the midst of your game – I will enter that place of shame, of agony; the place where you cast out other people; the place which the accuser has set up (the accuser being the whisperer behind the lynch) – and I will undo his power by showing that it’s the innocent one that you have killed…What does my love look like? My love looks like my stepping into that place so as to get you out of this bloody scratched disc going round and round and round and playing the same bloody game.’ This is not a non-violent understanding of the crucifixion. You couldn’t have a non-violent understanding of the crucifixion. But it’s an understanding of the crucifixion which attributes no violence to God.”

Elaine Heath is the perfect person to speak to about the emergence of new expressions of Church. She’s one of those rare people who understands and can navigate the institution (she’s former Dean of Duke Divinity School and an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church), while at the same time has years of experience in small, experimental, missional communities. She’s a pioneer who through her writing, speaking and retreats, has opened up a space for many others to explore new forms of church a little more safely. So we took the opportunity to pick Elaine’s brain about the joys and heartbreaks of being a pioneer.

Interview begins at 10m 10s


Image provided by Elaine Heath. Used with permission.


BOOKS

God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church

The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach

QUOTES

“What we’re after here is relationships that help each other participate with God and the world. And it’s not fundamentally about stuff – it’s not fundamentally about money, or giving stuff, or getting stuff. It’s fundamentally about helping people be faithful to God and love God and experience God’s love and be good neighbours – whether they live in an unhoused way or a house or whatever it is.”

“If we can come together around practices rather than dogma – if we can come together around spiritual practices of prayer, discernment, caring for our neighbours – and if we can come together around a spirituality of humility and recognition that we don’t know everything – the formal language for that is “apaphatic spirituality” (what we don’t know) – if we can come together and form some community around that, then…those kinds of practices and that kind of humility are what help us to actually love each other and to be willing to give each other benefit of the doubt. And we can actually be in the world together even if we have really marked differences in our theology and our doctrines. That could help us to get through this time of polarization and it could help to heal the polarization.”

Professor Tom Wright has got another book out! If you found the 1800 page tome that was Paul and the Faithfulness of God a little intimidating, then perhaps try his mere 500 page Paul: A Biography. Or failing that, how about a 50 minute Nomad interview to bring you up to speed with Tom’s new insights on the apostle Paul. And fascinating insights they are too. Did you know, for example, that Paul struggled with doubts and with his mental health? No, we didn’t either. So tune in for this, and so much more…

Interview begins at 9m 13s


Image taken by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Paul: A Biography

Paul and the Faithfulness of God

QUOTES

“I think the main deconstruction comes through the cross. That nobody had seen – as far as we know – nobody had seen it coming; that when God would come in person to deliver his people, he would come in the form of a crucified messiah. And that is just utterly shocking. And unless we feel the shock again and again, we’re not really listening to Paul’s tone of voice, nevermind the actual words he’s saying.”

“There is no other example in the ancient world anywhere of a community that is trans-ethnic, trans-geographical, which embraces both genders, which embraces all social classes – rich, poor, slave, free, etcetera. The closest that you get of a trans-national community like this would be the Jewish synagogue community. But that’s trans-geographical but very specifically one ethnos – one ethnic group. And the closest example otherwise than that would be something like the Roman army or the civil service, where if you’re a Roman soldier of a certain rank in Antioch, you’re a mate of your equivalent in Spain or France or somewhere else. But, of course, they are all Caesar-worshipers and they’re all men and they are all basically Romans – even if they’re not Romans by birth. So, what the Christians are doing is an experiment in a different sort of family with different family loyalties and ties – and not least economic ties – of a sort that the world had never seen before. And I don’t think we can emphasize this enough.”

From just two verses at the end of Romans, Paula Gooder has gleaned some fascinating insights about Phoebe. She was likely a freed slave, who became wealthy and influential. And she was a deacon who carried Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, and most likely explained it to them. From these intriguing details, Paula has written a novel, exploring the life of this woman (and others) in the early church.
So we met up with Paula to chat about women in the early church and the church today. And as you’d expect from Paula is was a conversation brimming with enthusiasm, wisdom and insight.

Interview begins at 12m 47s


Image provided by Paula Gooder. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Phoebe: A Story

QUOTES

“One of the really interesting things about the way in which churches develop is how enculturated we become. So, we like to think that we are guided by principles other than the society in which we live and we have great vision for changing things. And that is to a certain extent the case. But if you just trace your way through church history, time and time again the church become embedded in the society in which it finds itself. And we still are today. And we just need to be clear that that is the case. So, we might want to think we’re incredibly radical, but we’re not really. Society really affects how things are.”

“The Bible tells the story of humanity from creation to the end of time. And it is a play with a missing act at the end. And what we’re called to do as Christians is to improvise. We read the Bible, we understand what it’s talking about, we understand the dynamics, and then we do faithful improvisation. So, we’re called to enter the stage of God’s love for the world and to improvise from what we know of the story of God’s relationship between God and people from the dawn of time to the end of all times.”

You’re no doubt aware that the Church has been in steady decline in the West for a number of decades now. In the UK for example, Church attendance has roughly halved in the last thirty five years. But what do we know about all the people who left? Why did they leave? And what are they doing now? Researcher Steve Aisthorpe contacted 5000 church leavers to find out more. And what it discovered revealed a much more hopeful, but no less challenging picture of the Church!

Interview begins at 8m 7s


Image provided by Steve Aisthorpe. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Invisible Church

QUOTES

“Some of the folk who we may see as – or may be seen by some as – traitors, you know, those who have jumped ship, I suspect somewhere in the future may be seen as the avant-garde of something new perhaps…I believe we’ll look back on this period and see it not as a time of decline simply, but a time of change and of transition; that the church is changing shape.”

“If we don’t recognise and engage with changes in society, then we rapidly become relevant to a situation that no longer exists.”

It’s summer and we’re feeling generous, so with thought we’d share this month’s Nomad Devotional with everyone. If you’re a patron of nomad you’ll be very familiar with our Devotionals. Each month we ask a guest to offer us a reflection. And then we unpack it with music, song and readings.
This month we asked the former Dean of Duke Divinity School Elaine Heath to reflect on the spiritual practices she sees as vital for Christians today, and the spiritual practice that has had a particularly deep impact in her own life. David Blower then responds with music and a couple of new songs.
If you want more resources like these, and opportunities to connect with the nomad community, then check out our Patreon and PayPal membership pages.


Image provided by Duke Divinity School. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“What hospitality does is it de-centres our ego, when you make room for others you don’t get to take up all the room yourself.”

“For Christians to actively engage in environmental care and environmental healing as a Christian practice can say a lot to our neighbours that care about the environment but care nothing about church or religion. It also says a lot to God whose world this really is, it becomes even an act of worship.”

For those of you who support us on Patreon, you’ll already be familiar with David Benjamin Blower’s music. Each month he responds to a guest’s reflection with music and song. And out of these Devotionals has emerged the album Hymns for Nomads, a compilation of spirituals, murder ballads and campfire songs. It’s a record that invites us to pick up an instrument, to play, sing, join hands and have some hard-won hope.

So I met up with David to talk about why we sing together, why some of us have become suspicious of singing together, and some of the themes of his record; creation, the Holy Spirit, judgement, creatureliness and messianic hope.


Image used with permission.


WEBSITE

David Blower – Bandcamp

QUOTES

“If you’re using singing together to tribalize, around what kind of vision are you tribalizing and what are the outworkings of that and how does that other – the ‘other’ – what kind of dynamics does that lead to? Does it help your tribe turn into a gift that gives and pours out to the other? Or are you kind of building musical walls around yourselves to keep the other out and to keep them alienated?”

“‘Anthem’ – that word for me is such a power word and it feels like a very top-down kind of thing…it’s like creating a tower of music that wields itself over what surrounds it. But folk music – I suppose the essence of that is that it’s music that is in the hands of everyday people. And everyday people are making it, they’re writing it and they’re reinterpreting it. I like with folk music that you take a folk song and then you re-write it.”

Christianity in the West is collapsing. Poet, peacemaker and scholar John Philip Newell believes we can either deny it’s happening, try to shore up the foundations of the old thing, or we can radically reorientate our vision and ask what new thing is trying to be born. So we ask John Philip what this new thing is that is trying to emerge from deep within us and from deep within the collective soul of Christianity.

Interview begins at 6m 3s


Image by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality

QUOTES

“We’re not creating a ‘rebirthing of God.’ If anything, we are being invited to midwife or to assist or serve a new emergence that is stirring in the human soul and in the human consciousness and in the Earth community.”

“One of the main problems I suppose with the word ‘God’ is that when we use it, we often think we know what we’re talking about. And we use it often as a proper name instead of a way of pointing to the one who is beyond names or who cannot be uttered.”

Vicky Beeching was the darling of the Christian worship scene. For a decade she wrote hit albums and toured American mega-churches, leading worship for thousands of people every week. Her songs become some of the most sung around the world. But from the age of 13 Vicky had kept a secret. She was gay.

When finally at the age of 35 she came out, the evangelical Church she loved turned on her. Boycotting her music, they ended her career over night. This was backed up with an unrelenting flood of online abuse.

We chat with Vicky about the importance of wholeness, vulnerability, authenticity and the radical and inclusive love of Jesus.

Interview begins at 8m 2s


Image by Nicholas Dawkes. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free From Shame

QUOTES

“I think part of what I want to raise awareness with this book is that often people step out in church leadership and say things to people without any thought of the pastoral implications on people’s mental health and the damage of that. And that might a truth that the Bible states, but it was not the right truth to say to me at that moment in that way.”

“The only way I’ve been able to actually keep my faith is to be able to separate the church from God and to realize that actually God hasn’t damaged me. God hasn’t, you know, thrown shame and hatred at me. Actually, the things that have happened to me that have been really painful have been by the church and by people that I think don’t represent the true message of Jesus, which I think is love and welcome and inclusivity. It’s when I hang onto that kind of Christianity – that is my faith.”

“If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then shouldn’t our activism be beautiful, kind and fair?” It’s obvious when you hear someone say it. So why is so much activism loud and aggressive? Sarah Corbett burnt out on just this kind of activism, partly because she’s an introvert, and partly because she increasingly doubted its effectiveness. So she formed the Craftivist Collective “an inclusive group of people committed to using thoughtful, beautiful crafted works to help themselves and encourage others be the positive change they wish to see in the world.”

Sarah’s is a fascinating story. And the collective she founded is a truly inspiring and challenging movement!

Interview begins at 12m 36s


Image by Jenny Lewis. Used with permission.


BOOKS

How to be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest

WEBSITES

TEDx: Activism Needs Introverts

TEDx: The Art of Gentle Protest

QUOTES

“Lots of people hold an object to disciple themselves, to anchor themselves and pray. I felt like craft was an incredible way for me to really reflect on how to be an effective activist, how to engage more deeply on a particular issue, how to empathize with the perpetrators, the victims and everyone in between. So, the process of craft really clicked with me for activism. And then it happened really organically in a way that looking back I’m like, ‘God, you work in weird ways.’”

“I’m not saying people should stop shouting. I think sometimes we do need to be above the power a bit and say, ‘What is happening here?’ But I think when you start saying, ‘This person is awful, we need to change them,’ there’s a big difference between those two things. And often sadly the angry stuff clouds our judgement; our anger gives us a hot head and we say stuff that can put us backwards rather than forwards.”

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware is considered by many to be the leading theologian today in the Orthodox Church. He is perhaps best known as the author of the book The Orthodox Church, and more recently the companion volume, The Orthodox Way.

Metropolitan Kallistos is also known as one of the great advocates of the Jesus Prayer, a prayer that countless Christians through the centuries have considered to be central to their spiritual growth. It was a prayer Rowan Williams referred to in our 2017 interview with him as being foundational to his prayer life. So we thought it was about time we learnt more.

Interview begins at 7m 27s


Image by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity

The Orthodox Way

The Power of the Name: The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality

QUOTES

“Mercy for me is not a dark or gloomy word. It is a word full of light and hope. Mercy for me means the love of God poured out to reconcile and to heal. So, in the ‘Jesus Prayer’ we have the glory of God when we think of Jesus as ‘Son of God.’ We have myself, whether I openly say ‘I’m a sinner’ or not, the fact remains I need God’s grace. And these two things – God’s glory and my own neediness – are bridged by the word ‘mercy.’”

“What do we mean by ‘silence’? It can be thought of negatively: just a pause between words, an absence of noise. And in that case, it is something negative and empty. But silence can also be understood in a positive way: not just as ceasing to speak, but beginning to listen.”

Rachel Held Evans has had quite a journey. Brought up in the ‘buckle of the Bible Belt’ she inherited a conservative evangelical faith and was a self-professing ‘Bible Nerd’. But shaken by the realities of our broken world, cracks began to form, and questions turned to doubts, doubts to cynicism and cynicism to despair. But through this journey she continued to wrestle with the Bible, sometimes exasperated by its apparent complicity with the bloody, ugly, mess of this world, and other times challenged and inspired by it. So how does she understand this book now? How, with all its contradictions, violence, patriarchy, and bewildering images of God, can she say it’s inspired? How has she found a way to love the Bible again?

Interview begins at 11m 59s


Image provided by HarperCollins. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

Searching for Sunday

Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions

Political theologian Stephen Backhouse believes that the earliest Christians tended to see patriotism as a vice – a temptation to guard against. Now it seems most Christians assume it is a virtue. Many of us, for example, don’t think twice about asking God to Save the Queen or Bless America.

So we ask Stephen whether the gospel is good news for our nations, what it means for a follower of Jesus to be a good citizen, whether we should be a blessing to our nation, or an unsettling presence, and how we should respond when loving our nation rubs up against our call to love our enemies.

Interview begins at 12m 28s


Image provided by Stephen Backhouse. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Kierkegaard: A Single Life

Essential Companion to Christian History

WEBSITE

Tent Theology

QUOTES

“The trajectory of nationalism is always trying to find smaller and smaller groups – it’s tribalism. So, you’re always trying to reduce the amount of people that you have to be allegiant to. It’s the logic that, ‘I need to be around people that look like me and sound like me as much as possible,’ which is not actually a unifying trajectory. It almost by definition means you’re constantly trying to define who doesn’t count for you.”

“The early Christians saw patriotism as a vice to be guarded against. Now, Christians see it as a virtue to be embraced…a lot of the beating heart of discipleship in the New Testament is actually retraining people to not consider their national allegiance to be their primary allegiance anymore.”

Danielle Shroyer believes that more than any other idea, the doctrine of original sin has “slowly eroded our understanding of our relationship with God”. Not only that, she believes it is unbiblical, and was rejected by Judaism and many Christian traditions, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church. So we ask Danielle how she understands sin, separation, and our relationship with God. Her answer? Original Blessing.

Interview begins at 11m 56s


Image provided by Danielle Shroyer. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place

QUOTES

“I think what Jesus defeated on the cross primarily – first of all – is death. All of the Easter celebrations that the early church had was centred around the idea that in Christ, God defeated death and that we are now given life because of it. And to devolve that into just forgiveness of sins feels like we’re really downshifting from how big of a story life and death is, and Easter is. I have to admit that I am always very skeptical of people that say that they know what the cross means. I feel that I’ve been thinking about it heavily for 30 years, and the more I think about it, the more it means. So, when somebody can say in one sentence what the cross did, that’s just not right.”

“If you really acknowledge the goodness in people, you can just see their faces being so receptive and grateful for that. And when you show in the way that you live or in the way that you explain things to that person how that has to do with this connection that we all have to this higher power – this God, this spirit in the world that is life-giving and generous and good – then we end up all kind of on the same page. It’s an act of togetherness rather than, ‘There’s something seriously wrong with you, and until you acknowledge it, you’re going to go to hell.’”

Poet and priest Malcolm Guite helps us mark the death and resurrection of Jesus with poems from his series on the stations of the cross, and with his reflections on the Messianic Event. Nomad’s David Blower responds to Malcolm’s poetry and thought in sound and song, and Kate Blower brings the Easter readings.

We produce devotionals like this every month as bonus content for our supporters. So if you’re interested in helping us pay the bills, head over to our Patreon or PayPal membership pages.


Image provided by Malcolm Guite. Used with permission.


PERMISSIONS

This episode features poems from Sounding the Seasons, used with permission by Canterbury Press

BOOKS

Sounding the Seasons: Poetry for the Christian Year

Faith, Hope and Poetry

QUOTES

“All of my thought and writing about the passion and indeed the resurrection is written in the conviction that these are not just events out there and back then, but in some sense in here and right now; that these central, generative events – in which the creator of all things comes into creation and sets things right from inside – are also always and at all times richly available to us on the inside too and to the inside of ourselves. So, we look back – yes – to this once and once only event, but we can also come to that cross anywhere and at anytime.”

“The dark nails pierce him and the sky turns black. We watch him as he labours to draw breath. He takes our breath away to give it back, return it to its birth through his slow death. We hear him struggle breathing through the pain, who once breathed out his spirit on the deep, who formed us when he mixed the dust with rain and drew us into consciousness from sleep. His spirit and his life he breaths in all. Mantles his world in his one atmosphere. And now he comes to breathe beneath the pall of our polutions, draw our injured air to cleanse it and renew. His final breath breathes and bears us through the gates of death.”

Professor Thomas Oord has spent years wrestling with the problem of evil. Why, if God is all powerful and all loving, is there so much evil in the world? This question has brought Thomas to the edge of his faith. In recent years, though, he has begun to consider a radical solution. Perhaps God can’t stop evil? As shocking as this sounds, Thomas is careful to show how biblical this idea is, and just how much it looks like Jesus. Tune in for a mind bending episode!

Interview begins at 11m 21s


Image provided by Thomas Oord. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence

God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils

QUOTES

“If God really didn’t want something and God had the power to stop it – to prevent it – then God should do so, if God is perfectly loving. And so this idea of saying ‘God won’t stop evil’ ends up making God ultimately culpable for failing to prevent it. And so I’ve come to believe that we need to take the next step and say that God really can’t stop evil.”

“Open theology says that God cannot foreknow the future in its entirety. It says that God experiences time somewhat like we do. And that means that the future is really the future for God. And God can’t know with absolute certainty what will actually occur in the future because that is not yet knowable. God knows everything that’s happened in the past, God knows everything that’s happening in the present, God knows all the possibilities for the future. But until those possibilities become actual, God can’t know them as actual.”

Georgia May’s parents had an open-door policy. Literally. Most of the time the front door of their home was left open, so that people would feel welcome at any time. Consequently, Georgia grew up with a house full of people who’s didn’t feel they had a family of their own. This radical approach to hospitality led to many lives being transformed. But Georgia also knows first hand what can happen when radical hospitality goes wrong. So we ask her, when is radical too radical?

Interview begins at 9m 14s


Image by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“I just love polarities. I think we live in a world that is so hooked on seeing everything through a binary lens, that the idea that you could have a conversation about faith in a society where we’re always trying to either avoid faith or kind of mash it into something that then loses the beauty of each tradition. I just think: amazing – come to the table, disagree and let’s talk about disagreeing well, whilst also learning what scripture means to each of us.”

“Radical hospitality is holding things in tension. Holding openness and boundedness in tension. And radical is too radical when you loose all sense of what boundaries are about. So, I think hospitality is too radical when you loose who you are in the process; when you are seeing boundaries as walls that just need to be removed. Cause then what happens is you’re trying to welcome people into a space that you can’t even define.”

Jayme Reaves grew up in a home and a church that weren’t safe environments. This later led to a passion to study and experience true hospitality. Through her studies and her experiences in the former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland, she discovered that the hospitality we’re called to goes way beyond simply welcoming the stranger. Instead we’re called to protect the stranger. Tune in for an enlightening and challenging conversation.

Interview begins at 9m 45s


Image by Tim Nash. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Safeguarding the Stranger: An Abrahamic Theology and Ethic of Protective Hospitality

QUOTES

“Hospitality has been the buzzword for evangelism or church planting as a way of getting people in the door. A tool, you could say. A trick, you could say. Where it’s like, ‘Don’t you want to be one of us? Aren’t we cool? No really. We’re cool – aren’t we?’ That kind of way of being. I think that’s borne out of insecurity. Welcoming others in order to affirm your own beliefs over another community or another way of doing church is problematic. I think hospitality isn’t a trick. It’s not a tool. It has to be genuine, it has to be authentic. Otherwise it’s not the real thing.”

“I’m convinced that if hospitality underlies how we live and operate in this world as people of faith, and if hospitality is political because of recognition, solidarity, those kinds of things, then our theology and the way in which we live and how we read the bible is intensely political too. It’s all connected. ”

Nomad favourite Brad Jersak was in town recently, so we seized on the opportunity to hang out, and quiz him about his faith journey. And it’s a very interesting faith journey, taking in charismatic evangelicalism, anabaptism, church planting among the poor and marginalised, and landing in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Despite many Western Christians being only vaguely aware of this ancient Christian tradition, the Eastern Orthodox Church is increasingly influencing our beliefs. So we asked Brad whether the Orthodox Church could be a home for spiritual nomads?


Image provided by Westminster Theological College. Used with permission.


BOOKS

A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel

A More Christlike Way: A More Beautiful Faith

The Orthodox Way

QUOTES

“By the time you get to the Nicene Creed being finalized in the 380s, they’re saying: ‘We are not trying to develop doctrine anymore. We are communicating a creed that is our memory of what was given to us.’ So, the Nicene Creed represents ‘the faith once delivered.’ That’s going to slow you down from deviations in your doctrine. And in that sense, they really have a solid claim, at least to say ‘the faith once delivered, as remembered in the fourth century.’ That’s a very, very deep well. From an Orthodox point of view, you would look at these evangelical denominations creating themselves, writing their own faith statements. What’s that? If you think you’re a deep well, what that looks like is digging puddles in the backyard.”

“Is it possible that one who has previously rejected God when [they see] Christ face to face and [they experience] the fire of God’s love, could that love be effectual? In other words, could that love purge [them] like a refiner’s fire of all our resistances to love, such that you could have a post-mortem repentance? The Orthodox Church seems to say that’s possible. In fact, some of the Fathers say that’s definitely what’s going to happen – as long as you preserve free will. Maybe a summary statement of that: Because of Christ’s conquest of death, we would say this: ‘If Christ went to such lengths to preserve our right to say “no” to him – that is the cross – having defeated death, why would the event of death be allowed to prevent us from saying ‘yes’ to him later?’” 

John Swinton is a Scottish theologian and founder of the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability. After years of work as a mental health nurse, John became an academic in order to process all that he’d learnt. And my word has he learnt a lot!

His book Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, and Becoming Friends of Time are packed full of fascinating and vital insights about what we must learn from people with disabilities about what it means to be human and a disciple of Jesus.


Image provided by John Swinton. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Becoming Friends of Time

Dementia: Living in the Memories of God

QUOTES

“When you hang around with people who see the world differently and perceive things in ways that are unconventional, you begin to see (a) that there’s a lot of truth to that way of seeing the world, and (b) that some of your established norms are just that – ‘established norms’ – they’re always open to challenge.”

“In order to have somebody who belongs, you need to love them, you need to care for them. Or the way that I like to phrase it is: ‘To belong, you need to be missed.’ So, when you are part of a community, you can only really be sure that you’re part of that community when it comes to that time when you’re not there and people look for you. Inclusion – it doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re there or not there. But belonging means that it matters to be there.”

Here’s the final part of our four-part Advent Devotional series. This time philosopher and theologian Elaine Storkey reflects on Advent in the context of those on the margins. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams finishes the Advent readings, and David Benjamin Blower closes things out with his unique style of music and songs.


Images provided by SPCK and Magdalene College. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“People on the margins don’t usually cut much ice, which is why it’s fascinating that the Nativity story focuses on these people rather than those in the centre. Sure, King Herod makes an appearance, but doesn’t get a very good press. The Roman governor gets a mention too: he’s clearly on the make because he wants to raise taxes and so takes a census, but he gets a one liner. Mary and Joseph and the coming baby is what the story’s all about: really marginalised people.”

“The margins are never margins for God. The Nativity helps us to see how God’s values challenge everyone, especially those of us who might feel we’re somewhere near the centre. God invites us to step back and see a much bigger picture, and see the world as he loves it.”

It’s week three of our four-part Advent Devotional series. This time philosopher and theologian Elaine Storkey considers how Advent might be Good News to the Poor. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams continues to work his way through the Advent readings, with the help of Kate Blower. And David Benjamin Blower continues to bring the music and songs. So good!


Images provided by SPCK and Magdalene College. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“So why were the shepherds singled out for this good news of great joy? Why did they get this wonderful but terrifying visit from the singing angels rather than the carpenters, or thatchers? And why didn’t the angels come to tell the synagogue leaders, or scribes and Pharisees? Well, we have no idea, except that’s the way God works: it’s to the ordinary people, the every-day, the ones who put up with their lot, those who know the struggles of poverty and hardship, that God does spring his message of joy and celebration.”

“This doesn’t just affect the economically poor, because we’re all poor in the sight of God, whether we have wealth or nothing, because we’re spiritually needy, often with lives we’ve messed up in one way or another. The good news for all of us is that brokenness, poverty, things we’ve done wrong, do not have the last word. God’s love reaches us through all that, and offers us forgiveness and a new sight.”

Here’s the second part of our four-part Advent Devotional series. This time philosopher and theologian Elaine Storkey bases her reflection around the idea of Peace Across Borders. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams again brings the readings along with Kate Blower, and David Benjamin Blower brings the music and songs.


Images provided by SPCK and Magdalene College. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“As the wise men travel the road from Babylon in the East to Jerusalem, they bring back the gold, frankincense and myrrh stolen so many years before from David’s House. This too, is what Isaiah would promise would happen: the same foreigners that looted Jerusalem would some day rebuild her walls, and their kings would serve her.”

“In the Gospels, there’s a huge contrast between those in come in peace in fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy, and Herod, the king, who responds with anything but peace. He belongs to the old world order: that which stands in contrast with the kingdom of God. His instinct is to murder and destroy, because he fears any new king. He fears the potential erosion of his own power base. He is not interested in the international offer of peace: his mind is set on conflict and bloodshed because that’s in his own self interest.”

If you’re one of our Patreon or PayPal supporters, then you’ll already be familiar with our Nomad Devotionals. Every month we ask a guest to reflect on a topic, and then we unpack it with music, song, readings, and prayers.

For Advent we thought we produce a four-part Devotional and make it available to everyone. So for the next four Sundays you can expect a reflection from philosopher and theologian Elaine Storkey, and the former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams will be contributing the readings, along with Kate Blower who will be reading the magnificat in the first Devotional. And of course Nomad’s David Benjamin Blower will be bringing the music and songs. What more could you ask for this Christmas?!

This first devotional reflects on the idea of liberation.


Images provided by SPCK and Magdalene College. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“Mary isn’t simply rejoicing because God has looked kindly upon her even though she is nobody, not even because she is a woman […] she’s rejoicing because God’s favour speaks into the humiliation that she and her people are enduring.”

“Mary knows that God is giving us a vision of something very different. What the Magnificat describes is nothing less than a revolution, and is ushered in by the Incarnation — God becoming one of us.”

Dave Randall has played guitar for some huge acts, including Faithless, Dido and Sinead O’Connor. As he’s reflected on his career and the industry he’s been a part of, he has begun to see the huge potential of music to change society. This prompted him to write the excellent book Sound System: The Political Power of Music. So if you’re interested in pondering how the songs we sing might help us not just love God, but also love our neighbour, then tune in!

This episode ends with Ibrahim Qashoush performing the protest song “Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar”, or “Come on, Bashar, leave”, during the 2011 Syrian up-rising. Qashoush’s song is mocking president Bashar al-Assad. Qashoush was later found dead in the Orontes River, his throat cut and his vocal cords pulled out. You can watch the video of the performance with subtitled lyrics on YouTube.

Interview start at 12m 36s


Image provided by Henna Malik. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Sound System: The Political Power of Music

QUOTES

“I think there are many examples of music both reflecting, but then giving strength back to social movements, and I think it’s the social movements that achieve great change. But musicians have helped reflect that, and often given confidence back to the movement, on many occasions.”

“If we confine our political activity to organizing demos and strikes, we are missing a trick – a trick which members of the establishment have never missed. (You know) Members of the establishment throughout history and across cultures have always recognized the political power of music. We need to do the same. We need to integrate it into our campaigns – we need to integrate it into out movements – we need to use it as a force for good.”

Muhanad Al Qaisy’s grandfather, grandmother and seven children fled their home in Palestine and ended up in a refugee camp in 1948. Nearly 70 years later, the family is still struggling to make a life in the same camp. So we ask Muhanad what he sees as signs of hope.

Interview starts at 11m 10s


Image provided by Muhanad Al Qaisy. Used with permission.


WEBSITE

Olive Tree Project

QUOTES

“It was a very hard situation for them. Because I’m telling you, they never imagined one day someone will come and just say ‘leave from here’, because they had been there since hundreds of years. They had their homes, their lives, their neighbors.”

“The barrier was built only to take more and more lands from the Palestinian side, not to protect Israel. Israel can only be protected by peace, by negotiation, by building Bridges.”

Well, this is it, Dave Ward’s final episode. After six years of podcasting, he’s decided to go on to other things (probably something to do with horses…).

In his final episode, we’re chatting with Nick Spencer, the Director of Research at Theos Think Tank, and author of The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values. And we’re asking him, what difference has Christianity really made to society, and what indications are there that it has a hopeful future?

Interview starts at 19m 38s


Image provided by Theos. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values

Doing Good: A Future for Christianity in the 21st Century

WEBSITE

Theos Think Tank

QUOTES

“We shouldn’t romanticize it, it wasn’t perfect, but compared to the way that – particularly slaves, particularly women, particularly children, particularly the unborn, particularly the infirm – were treated, I think the church did a pretty good job.”

“…It’s the idea that that which is of utmost value, that which is truly sacred, becomes human, blesses and incorporates a broken, fallen humanity into himself and leaves those who chose to gather ‘round him with the command ‘go and do likewise’. Which is a kind of slightly highfalutin way of saying, Christianity says that when you are in contact with other persons, you are in fact in contact in some tangential way with God.”

A recent report into human trafficking revealed that the problem is significantly worse than previously thought. In fact, it is believed that in the UK alone, every large town and city will have trafficked people in it who are effectively enslaved, and many of us are unwittingly coming into contact with trafficked people every day. So we speak with three people – Ruth Dearnley, Julia Pugh and Hannah Flint – committed to finding signs of hope in this seemingly bleak situation.

Interview starts at 8m 58s.


Images provided by Stop the Traffik, Julia Pugh and Hannah Flint. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Stop the Traffik: People shouldn’t be bought and sold: The Crime That Shames Us All

WEBSITE

Stop the Traffik

QUOTES

“I utterly think that we need to have sight to see a Kingdom that’s greater than what we just look at around us. But I’m also aware of sounding like we are on a planet that is disconnected from our culture. We need to be utterly incarnate, if you want to use that word. We’ve got to be present. We’ve got to get our hands dirty. We have to feel the soil on our feet. The dirt in our hands.”

“You’ve got to get up and get on with it. I think that’s what Jesus said. You know, follow me, don’t sit down for too long, argue and pull down those who are trying. And I’ve watched those who inspire me and they are always people who are kind and they are always people who encourage everyone around and they are always those who take the greatest risks. They’ve got stories to tell ‘cos they are doing something.”

Elizabeth Edman believes she has learnt more from the LGBTQ community about what it means to be a Christian, than she has from the Church. Why? Well, she believes the church has forgotten what it means to be scandalous, to struggle for identity and to expand its boundaries to include the marginalised. And so the Church needs to learn from the gay community – and other marginalised groups – that have embraced these virtues.

Interview starts at 6m 16s


Image by Keryn Lowry. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Queer Virtue: What Lgbtq People Know about Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity

QUOTES

“I think it is very hard for communities not to become clubs. That’s the challenge for us. So for me, one of the reasons that queerness is this wonderful lens is precisely because it demands exploration constantly of things like club mentality. Are we a club or something else? And if we are something else how do we rupture whatever walls exist here, whether they are literal or metaphorical.”

“Christianity was meant to be an inherently scandalous movement. Jesus entered into scandal every opportunity that he could…”

“I believe that when people have different kinds of experiences together we learn things about God and ourselves and one another by entering more deeply into whatever that collective experience is. And I believe that when that experience has taught someone something about God particularly, that it’s likely that’s gesturing towards a truth about God that’s actually probably true for everybody.”

Malcolm Guite is a poet, priest and theologian. Years of inhabiting these roles has led him to the belief that we’re relying far too much on reason and thought in the formation of our faith, and are overlooking the significance of the ‘poetic imagination’.

He believes that we can find deep truth in the imagination and that poetry can bring our faith alive in a way that nothing else can. It’s a fascinating and hope-filled conversation!

Interview begins at 6m 50s


Image provided by Malcolm Guite. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Faith, Hope and Poetry

Sounding the Seasons: Poetry for the Christian Year

QUOTES

“Liturgy is poetry, necessarily. Liturgy is a made and shaped thing that brings you in, takes you on a journey, transforms you and sends you out again with a new vision and that’s what a poem does.”

“Love is meaningful because it involves lament. And that’s what’s just completely missing, I think, from contemporary Christian music.”

“The whole [Seamus Heaney] poem is about a music you would never have known to listen for in a cactus stalk. It’s about upending things. The poem is about how you take this stupid dry stick from the desert and then, weirdly, the sound of refreshment comes out of it. And life is like that – that it’s actually often at the zero point, the worst point, that suddenly something extraordinary actually happens. And what makes it extraordinary is the unexpectedness of it.”

I know, we only just interviewed Walter Brueggemann! But he’s just brought a book out entitled Money and Possessions and we’ve still got unresolved questions after our chat with Justin Welby on that subject. So why not spend another hour in the digital presence of one of the great biblical scholars of our time?! And as you’d expect, it was an hour chock-full of wisdom and insight!

Interview started at 6m 53s


Image provided by Westminster John Knox Press Used with permission.


BOOKS

Money and Possessions: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church

Prophetic Imagination

QUOTES

“Money regularly morphs into an idolatry and that idolatry will lead to the commoditization of human relationships…”

“If we are adequately grateful, we are propelled to be generous.”

“The Torah teaching wants to say that we prosper when we are fully engaged in the work of the well being of the community.”

 “The question we have to ask is, ‘what decisions can I make today about my money and my body that will lead me to make greater decisions tomorrow?”

Walter Brueggemann is widely considered to be one of the most influential theologians of our time. So who better to help us get a handle on the idea of the Sabbath. Especially as he wrote the fascinating and insightful Sabbath as Resistance. That’s right, Sabbath is so much more than simply taking a day off, it’s an intentional and creative act of resistance.

Interview starts at 10m 8s


Image provided by Westminster John Knox Press Used with permission.


BOOKS

Sabbath as Resistance

Prophetic Imagination

QUOTES

“We have forgotten who we are, and we think that our life is mainly defined by production and consumption. And if that is the goal and definition of life, then one must stay at it all the time. And in that frame of reference, Sabbath becomes an inconvenience and an unwelcome interruption. So Sabbath makes no sense if we’ve put our lives down in a narrative of production and consumption. Sabbath belongs to a narrative that contradicts the scheme of production and consumption.”

“[Sabbath] is a pause that permits us to reflect on who we are, who we are created to be, who we are called to be, and it makes us aware of the extent to which we have forgotten or compromised our creaturely reality. So it is an opportunity to circle back on our baptismal identity, on our faith identity, on our authentic human identity, that is always placed under stress by the commoditisation of our culture.”

For the last 20 years Shane Claiborne has been trying to follow Jesus in a deprived area of Philadelphia. This journey has led him to a commitment to non-violence, ‘from womb to tomb’, which has been tested on many occasions. So tune in for a challenging and counter-cultural conversation.

Interview starts at 11m 15s. 


Image by Ms. Tsar Fedorsky. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us

A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Nonviolence

QUOTES

“For the first few hundred years, Christians were unmistakably committed to nonviolence, in every sense of the word. They spoke out against abortion, they spoke out against the death penalty, They spoke out against militarism and war. They had a beautiful, seamless garment when it came to the ethic of life.”

“Pacifism is anything other than passive. I Don’t think it’s passive in the sense of not doing anything. What I believe in is active nonviolence. I believe in getting in the way of violence, getting to the root of violence.”

It’s pretty clear what Jesus was about. Love you neighbour (and if that’s not challenging enough, love your enemies) was at the top of his manifesto. So why do we find it so hard to follow his example? Professor of Psychology at Abilene University, Richard Beck, doesn’t think the issue is a lack of understanding. We know what we’re meant to do. Instead, Richard thinks the issue is a psychological one. And it’s to do with a misplaced psychology of disgust. Tune in for a truly fascinating conversation!

Interview starts at 6m 47s  


Image provided by Richard Beck. Used with permission.


WEBSITE

Experimental Theology

BOOKS

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise

QUOTES

“There’s something to offend us all in Jesus and sometimes we like to point out the parts of Jesus that offend our enemies, we like to quote those scriptures against them, but, you know, I just like to embrace those parts of Jesus that offend me.  I constantly want Jesus to unsettle me!”

“When I think of being contaminated by the world, I think of all the ways the world is tempting me to hate people.  So, social media is tempting me to hate people, cable news is tempting me to hate certain kinds of people, political discourse in the USA is tempting me to hate people, to see them as disposable, as trash.  My pursuit of purity and holiness is fighting a great spiritual battle with my social media feed.”

In many ways Brian Zahnd is like many of Nomad’s guests in that he deconstructed (although he doesn’t like that term) what he came to see as a very narrow faith, and reconstructed something much deeper and broader. The difference with Brian, though, is that he went through this process while pastoring a mega-church. So we asked him, how can you lead a church, or indeed be a member of a church, when your faith is changing and you feel like you’re in a very different place from everyone else.

Interview starts at 13m 25s


Image provided by Zahnd Photography Used with permission.


BOOKS

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News

Water To Wine: Some of My Story

QUOTES

“I tend to not say that my view of Jesus has changed, I would say that my view of God is more Christlike. So, there would have been a time […] that I perhaps saw God as somewhat different than Jesus. Today I would say I have made the beautiful discovery that God is like Jesus, and God has always been like Jesus. There’s never been a time when God wasn’t like Jesus. We haven’t always known this, but now we do.”

“We can’t view the Bible as a flat text. Let’s say that I love the idea of war. Well, it’s gonna be hard to enlist Jesus in support of that, but if I approach the Bible in a wrong way, no problem; I just need to go find some other verses in the Bible that I can use to counter what Christ has clearly taught; and so that is what I see a lot of people doing… And hiding behind the Bible is the cleverest way of all of hiding from Jesus.”

“I don’t see the Church as a second step, as an option. I see it as the natural outgrowth of following Jesus, and Jesus immediately leads us into his community of other people doing the same thing.”

Every now and then we like to interview a fellow podcaster who, like us, is creating a space for an open and honest exploration of the Christian faith. And Justin Brierley is one such person. For over a decade he’s been producing Unbelievable?, on which he moderates conversations between Christians and people from other faiths and none. So firstly I took the opportunity to see if he suffers from the same podcaster insecurities that I do. Then we dug into whether apologetics – the rational defence of the faith – still has a place in our post-secular culture, and in a  faith that seems increasingly comfortable with mystery and doubt.

Interview starts at 6m 8s.


Image provided by Justin Brierley. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian

QUOTES

“Apologetics runs the huge risk of becoming a case of moving intellectual pieces on a chess board. And that’s not the point of Christianity.”

“You have the best kinds of encounters when you’re really listening to someone, when you’re genuinely hearing their concerns and engaging with them as a person, not just as an argument to debate and shut down.”

In many ways, Nomad has been quite an intellectual journey. And as much as we love some good old fashioned theological cut-and-thrust, we’ve increasingly aware that if this journey is going to be sustainable, it’s got to be an holistic one. So each month we’ll be producing Nomad Devotionals, through which we’ll be experimenting with readings, prayers, liturgies and songs. We’re making the first one free to everyone, so you can decide whether you’re interested in joining us on this leg of the journey. If you are, then head over to our Patreon or PayPal membership pages and make a small monthly donation.

This devotional was made with help from Rabbi Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham’s Progressive Synagogue; theologian and urban gardener Sam Ewell; and Brian McLaren, who kindly gives the benediction. The song Hallelujah Sing Exulting was adapted from an old hymn by Martin Gensichen (1879-1965). All other music is by David Benjamin Blower. The song Come Holy Spirit is Public Domain (as is Hallelujah Sing Exulting).

Devotional begins at 14m 17s


Image used with permission.


QUOTES

“There are two aspects to God and one of them is that awesome aspect that you can see in the amazing nature of creation and in that story of the revelation at Mount Sinai but also there’s the aspect of God which perhaps is embodied in the shekhinah idea of God being very near to you and sustaining you, helping you through life.”

“Because the new creation is breaking in, we live in this new age. Jesus has been raised, he’s the first fruits of a new creation, he’s been present with us, he leaves us with a spirit. And so what it means to be led by the spirit is, wherever we are…we get to garden with God.”

What actually is prayer? What happens when we do it? What difference can it make, if any, to the events and circumstances we find ourselves in? Should we expect to sense God in prayer, or perhaps even hear him communicate to us? And if so, why do so few of us ever seem to have these sorts of experiences.

For many of us, these questions, and others like them, have led us to a place of disillusionment and prayerlessness. And yet we still yearn for the deep, rooted, holistic connectedness that prayer promises.

So we brought these questions, and others, to Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and expert in the history of Christian spirituality. He’s known as a man of great wisdom and deep spirituality. And he didn’t disappoint!

Interview starts at 8m 5s

Image provided by Magdalene College. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer

QUOTES

“If things are difficult it’s not because God wants to make things difficult. If things are difficult its because growing up is difficult and loving is difficult and trusting is difficult and faithfulness is difficult. Get used to it. But, the one who is within and beyond all this is the one who’s essentially on your side, who wants you to go through all this so you live as fully as you can.”

“Certainly in this country we’re quite busy and talkative as Christians. It can be quite difficult to say, well just shut up and something may happen. Our culture, increasingly I think, recognises that’s it’s not enough just to be busy and talkative and I think our churches ought to be a bit more ready to welcome those people who are finding that busyness and talkativeness in our culture exhausting and unrewarding.”

Greg Boyd is back on the show! This time he’s tackling the thorny issue of violence in the Old Testament. How is it, for example, that the God revealed in Jesus loves his enemies and lays down his life for them, when the God we see in the Old Testament seems to routinely kill his enemies? What does that tell us about the nature of God, and the nature of the Bible? Greg is certainly the man to ask, as he’s just published a 1492 page book on this very subject, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God.

Image provided by ReKnew Used with permission.


BOOKS

Cross Vision: How the Crucifixion of Jesus Makes Sense of Old Testament Violence

The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Volumes 1 & 2

WEBSITES

Apologies and Explanations

ReKnew

QUOTES

“He had this cruciform character when he breathed scripture…Shouldn’t we read scripture expecting to find, perhaps, portraits of God that are ugly on their surface. With these portraits we must expect that we’re going to have to, by faith, look through the ugly surface to behold this humble God stooping to bear the sin of His people and thereby take on the appearance, an ugly appearance that reflects the ugliness of that sin.”

“The Cross reveals what God’s always been like… always been revealing Himself by stooping to bear people’s sin and that … is why we find these ugly hideous portraits of God throughout the Bible.”

“The Lord says… ‘if you will trust me you will never need to rely on the sword, you’ll never need to fight’. So, every time Israel uses a sword you can know that it’s reflecting their lack of faith in Yahweh.”

This podcast comes to you from Nomad’s first offline Gathering. We had a great weekend of food, drink, conversation, music and meditation. We also interviewed Mark Vernon. Mark was an Anglican priest but developed deep doubts about the faith. His subsequent journey took him through atheism, to agnosticism, through ancient Greek philosophy, to a Christian faith that sees doubt and uncertainty as integral parts.

Interview starts at 8m 39s 


Image provided by Mark Vernon. Used with permission.


BOOKS

How To Be An Agnostic

The Meaning of Friendship

Love: All That Matters

QUOTES

“I think you’ve got to have faith to doubt with hope.”

“We do need some certainty in order to live so I think that the need for some certainty is not of itself something to chastise people for. But I think it’s a question of whether that becomes rigid so that it squeezes out the space for genuine searching and doubt and uncertainty as well.”

We recently invited the beloved listener to Nottingham for Nomad’s first offline get-together. It was a splendid weekend of conversation, interviews, music, food and drink. And we recorded some of it for you. First up is a Q&A we did on the Friday night, where David Benjamin Blower asked us about the Nomad story and what impact the last few years of podcasting has had on our faith. Personally, I think we’re much better at interviewing people than we are at being interviewed, but nevertheless I hope you enjoy the podcast!


Images by Chris Donald & Dave Fry. Used with permission.


Image by Elysia Willis. Used with permission.


QUOTES

“It was actually the listener really that forced us to re-examine our faith and as we did re-examine our faith, it all started to change.”

“Every generation has to doubt, we have to question, we have to look at what we’ve inherited and see if it’s helping us to love God and love our neighbour as we love ourselves.”

 “I think I see faith now more as trust so that even though I might not be sure about what I believe and what I don’t, I trust God, I trust that God looks like Jesus and I want to follow him even if I’m not sure about the kind of doctrine I’ve inherited.”

We recently attended the Creature Conference, put on by Sarx. We spent the day pondering the question ‘Is Christianity Good News for Animals?’ Animal welfare used to be seen as an important expression of the gospel for leaders such as Spurgeon, Wesley, C. S. Lewis and many others. But more recently it seems to have dropped off the Church’s agenda. So we asked theological ethicists Prof. David Clough, and Christian leaders Tony CampoloSteve ChalkeRuth Valerio, and founder of the animal welfare charity Sarx, Darrel Booth, why we’ve lost sight of this, and how Christianity can again become good news for animals.

Interview starts at 7m 9s


Images provided by David Clough, Tony Campolo, Oasis UK & Ruth Valerio. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Animals Are Not Ours: An Evangelical Liberation Theology

Animal Gospel

A Faith Embracing All Creatures

Animal Theology

Living With Other Creatures

WEBSITES

Sarx

CreatureKind

QUOTES

“It seems to me that we’ve developed industrialised factory farming systems with zero level of regard for what it would mean to take seriously the flourishing of animal lives… if we were trying to design a system where there was nothing else that mattered ethically other than the most efficient way of supplying material for human ends without any regard, intensive factory farming of animals is the system we would design and that seems to me unholy.”

“Jesus made clear to his disciples that the way you image God and be faithful as servants of God is to be servants, and so I think we need to understand the image of God as not some kind of divine stamp that gives us authorisation for exploiting other creatures without measure, but an awesome and high responsibility to think seriously about what it would mean to bring God to the rest of creation in our dealings with them.”

We thought it was about time we had a fresh look at the central symbol of our faith, the cross. So we headed off to Tom Wright’s house to asked him how the cross launched Jesus’s revolution, and why after 2000 year does it often look like the revolution is struggling to transform the world. 

Interview starts at 6m 23s


Image provided by University of St Andrews Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Day the Revolution Began: Rethinking The Meaning Of Jesus’ Crucifixion

Surprised by Hope

QUOTES

“Humans worship these powers because they give you a cheap thrill. That’s what idolatry does, it enables you to get a sudden rush, of whatever it is you want, without paying the price of actually being obedient to the creator God. Result is these powers, these forces say thank you very much, I’m now in charge now and you’re going to do what I tell you to do.”

“The image of the cross is not an image of God Himself doing violence, it’s an image of violence doing it’s worst against God, it’s of God coming to the very epicentre of human horror and taking the worst that the world can do onto himself.”

For those of us who have been through some kind of faith deconstruction, spiritual practices often take on a new significance, as we seek to connect with God without what often feels like restrictive doctrinal and organisational frameworks. Scottish theologian and activist Alastair McIntosh recently wrote Poacher’s Pilgrimage about a soulful journey he took across the Islands of the Outer Hebrides. So we invited him on the podcast to explore with us the importance of the ancient practice of pilgrimage. 

Interview starts at 12m 1s


Image provided by Alastair McIntosh. Used with permission.


PERMISSIONS

This episode features the song Homage to Young Men which is used with permission by Nizlopi

BOOKS

Poachers Pilgrimage: An Island Journey

Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power

QUOTES

“Seeing ahead of me this fiery cross, this burning cross, of which the fire was the fire of love and walking, walking, walking, every next step walking deeper and deeper into the Holy Cross of love.”

“This is glimpse of what Theology calls the communion of the saints. That we are all members one of another, we are all branches son the vine of life, outside of space and time, everything that has ever been, or ever will be and what is right here now is in this sacrament of the present moment.”

We’ve been wanting to do an episode on money for a while now, so when the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby put pen to paper and wrote his first book – Dethroning Mammon– all about the dangers of moneywe seized upon the opportunity and headed off for Lambeth Palace. We asked the Archbishop what his life experience has taught him about money and how it shapes what we value and where we place our identity. Tune into the podcast for a honest, humble and insightful conversation.

Interview starts at 6m 27s


Image provided by The Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace

Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope

QUOTES

“It’s not wrong to measure things, it is wrong to let the measuring dominate the way we think.”

“I found that there was no sense that I was anyone different to who I thought I was, I was who I was in Jesus Christ and nothing else.”

In both Liverpool and Bradford, Barbara Glasson has drawn together communities that have provided safe, honest, authentic spaces for the poor, marginalised, disillusioned, and people from other faiths and none. As well as being a spiritual home for these people, she believes they have an important message for the mainstream church. So we ask Barbara how she formed these communities, and what wisdom she has gained along the way. So tune in for a conversation full of insight, challenge and humility.

Interview starts at 7m 47s.


Image by Alex Baker. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Exuberant Church

Mixed-up Blessing: A New Encounter with Being Church

So What’s The Story?: A resource book for Christian reflection and practice

QUOTES

“What the bread did was allow people to tell their story quite naturally and easily, and quite deeply and profoundly, in ways where it didn’t become a big disclosure, a big revelation, and I think that it’s something perhaps in our society that the church could help with, if we found those safe enough spaces for people to do that.”

“[People on the margins] are saying to the institution, you’re a broken body, you’re broken like us, so stop pretending that we’re going to make Christendom happen again and everybody’s just going to go “Oh, we love Jesus” and come flocking back into church and that will all be hunky-dory. We are broken, the church is broken and that’s how Jesus is with us, in the brokenness, so don’t be afraid, be prepared to listen and be prepared to listen to some stuff that is really challenging and hard or doesn’t perhaps make sense in a logical way. Open yourself up to that and in that, find a new way of being together, a new way of relating with each other.”

Priest, poet and feminist theologian, Rachel Mann is a trans-woman. From an early age she had a profound sense that her body didn’t reflect her gender. After a long, frustrating and painful journey she emerged into the woman she is today. We ask Rachel to look back over this transition and reflect on what it means to be human, what place gender has in our identity, and what she’s learnt from seeing the word through male and female eyes.

Interview begins at 9m 58s


Image provided by Rachel Mann. Used with permission.

BOOKS

Dazzling Darkness

QUOTES

“Our humanity is not to be simply reduced to essentialist categories and I do think an invitation to us all, whether we are trans or not trans, is to see that gendered categories are not the measure of us all. And for me as I have said earlier, in transitioning, this wasn’t about me somehow wanting to go against nature, wanting to go against God, it was in order to be in a place where I could begin to live life in the kind of way that I hope we all live life, so that you are in a position to actually encounter transcendence, encounter God, encounter good news. And curiously it wasn’t until I transitioned that I was in a position where I could encounter the good news.”

“He has often been the God who is there in solidarity with us. I’ve often used the phrase ‘The God who operates in the shade’, in the places of darkness, who reveals that the places of darkness aren’t to be treated simply as negative places, but places of becoming… It is the God of becoming who is fundamental to me, but also the God who is unafraid of woundedness, of damage, of vulnerability… One of the iconic representations of that is the cross, of course, but it is also actually to be found in resurrection. The Christ who comes to us, who is the resurrected God, also bears the marks of the wounds.”

What are 21st Century educated, questioning Christians supposed to make of the Devil and evil spirits? Are they literal spiritual beings who spend their time trying to lure us into sinful acts? Or should we see them as metaphors for social injustices that we need to confront? We ask professor of psychologyauthor and blogger Richard Beck.

Interview begins at 6m


Image provided by Richard Beck. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted

The Slavery of Death

WEBSITE

Experimental Theology

QUOTES

“When you doubt that there is a spiritual struggle going on, when you lack a theology of revolt, when you lack that warfare world view, all you have when you face suffering is this big theological puzzle that erodes your faith. And so for me, revitalising a theology of revolt, a vision of spiritual warfare is the kind of thing that kept me engaged in the face of suffering as I encountered it, and called me to action rather than left me ruminating.“

“Doubt and humility make us more hospitable to other people, so progressive and liberal Christians tend to be really good conversation partners with atheists and people from different faiths and that’s the positive side of doubt.”

“You have to turn towards reconstruction. How do you do that? I think spiritual warfare, revitalising a view of getting in the game, getting back in the fight instead of turning things like the problem of suffering into a logical puzzle, is a part of it. Also I think we have to find ways of reconnecting with enchantment and transcendence and mystery. I think we have to invest in community. I think it’s hard for some liberal and progressive Christians to invest in Christian community because they have negative feelings about a church of their childhood but I think it’s important to let other people carry our burden.”

Sally Smith joins us for the third part of our series on the migrant crisis. In this episode we hear about the fascinating and inspiring story that emerged when Sally opened the doors of her dying church to asylum seekers and refugees. She’s seen large numbers come to faith, she’s reunited mothers with their children, she’s personally housed refugee families, and her church has become a hub for work with the most vulnerable in Stoke. 

Interview starts at 6:41


Image provided by Sally Smith. Used with permission.


WEBSITE

Sanctus: Supporting Asylum Seekers and Refugees

QUOTES

“It’s not really about doctrine, it’s about love, it’s about welcoming Jesus… I really believe that when we welcome Asylum seekers and refugees, when we welcome anybody in the name of Jesus we are welcoming Jesus himself.”

“One of the beautiful things about Sanctus and the people who come is, I say you’ve been born into a new kingdom where everybody belongs and there are no passports needed and no border agency, no immigration detention centre… everybody is equal. There is neither Jew nor Greek nor slave nor free nor male nor female. It doesn’t matter what the home office says about you… we are now one family and we come together with the Eucharist.”

Our regular listeners will remember our Welcome the Stranger refugee special where we looked at the crisis through the eyes of a Syrian refugee and a refugee charity worker. The aim was to raise awareness and money through the sale of David Benjamin Blower‘s album Welcome the Stranger. On this week’s podcast, we’re looking at the crisis through the eyes of Dave Smith who started The Boaz Trust, a charity that works with destitute asylum seekers. 

Interview begins at 7m 12s


Image provided by Dave Smith. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Book of Boaz: Jesus and His Family Sought Asylum – What Welcome Would They Have Found in Modern Britain?

Refugee Stories: Seven Personal Stories Behind the Headlines

QUOTES

“[Failed asylum seekers] just have no rights…if you’re a [stray] dog at least you can get a kennel…and you get fed. Asylum seekers don’t if they are refused. And people say ‘well aren’t they sent back straight away?’ And the answer is no they are not…after a period of time they can be detained…until they are deported. To actually get support at that stage is very difficult.”

“No I don’t think everybody has to get involved in this. I think everybody has to be involved in something. As you read the scriptures you see that social justice is so important in there. God is a God of justice … everybody needs to get involved somewhere.” 

Gungor – a multi-grammy nominated Christian band – were the toast of the evangelical worship scene. That is until it became clear that Michael was having significant doubts about his faith. This did not go down well among evangelicals, to say the least. So we talk with Michael and his wife Lisa about the impact this faith deconstruction had on their music, their careers and, more significantly, their marriage.

Interview starts at 4m 55s.


Image provided by The Liturgists. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen

This: Becoming Free

WEBSITES

The Liturgists

Gungor

QUOTES

“If I had been working a normal job and hanging out with friends who didn’t care what I believed all the time, I would have deconstructed a lot sooner…I needed to hold onto Christianity and my beliefs to keep my world afloat.’’

 “It’s not your job, church…to change anybody…you’re the body of Christ, there to be present, to serve and to love with the love of Christ.”

Brian McLaren has a knack for articulating what many of us are feeling. For a decade he has been the voice of those Christians who are concerned about, for example, the Church’s overemphasis on doctrinal belief, its lack of inclusivity, and its lack of concern for the many global issues we are facing.

In his latest book – The Great Spiritual Migration – he draws together all these themes into a manifesto for a new Christian movement, one that seeks nothing less than the healing of the world.

Interview begins at 8m 1s


Image provided by Hannah Davis. Used with permission.


BOOKS

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith

QUOTES

“We need to organise people to be agents of concern for the planet, concern for the poor, agents of peace and people who go out to respect and promote the flourishing of all people.”

“People learn passion, and when you’ve been passionately hurt, you can either get passionately angry and bitter, or you can get passionately determined to bring healing … and that’s where I see a lot of hope.”

Mark Yaconelli is – among many other things – a storyteller. Such is his belief in the power of stories that he founded The Hearth, a gathering of local people who simply share their own stories. Mark has seen this simple gathering profoundly impact his local community. So we ask Mark why it is that stories can have this effect, and what role stories played in his own ‘dark night of the soul’. So tune into the podcast to rediscover the ancient practice of storytelling.

Interview begins at 7m 6s


Image provided by Mark Yaconelli. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Disappointment, Doubt and Other Spiritual Gifts: Reflections on Life and Ministry

QUOTES

“The Christian faith is not about providing the answers, it’s about trying to help people fall in love with life…no matter what’s happening.”

“[Storytelling] is a kind of communion where suddenly we’re all sharing the very same experience. And as a Christian, that’s the way the faith has been passed on… and you can suddenly experience moments together that people were writing about thousands of years ago.”

“A story is not about right or wrong, true or false, a story is what you’ve lived…it’s possible for compassion to rise up in me about an issue I’ve been defended against.”