In this episode we welcome professor Sophie Grace Chappell, who shares her profound journey of faith, gender identity, and self-acceptance. Identified male at birth, Sophie Grace reflects on her early sense of being female, her experience of the evangelical church, and the reconciliation of her faith with her transgender identity. With compassion and insight, she discusses societal and religious opposition, offers advice for parents of transgender children, and the open letter she wrote to J K Rowling. Sophie’s story is one of struggle, epiphany, and ultimately a deeper understanding of self and the Divine.

Following the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on Sophie Grace’s story, and ponder how it might inform their won evolving faith.

Interview starts at 15m 34s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Trans Figured: On Being a Transgender Person in a Cisgender World

OTHER RESOURCES

An Open Letter to JK Rowling

QUOTES

“If the church you’re in won’t accept you, then don’t waste your energy bashing your head against a brick wall trying to change it. Go somewhere else. Find a fellowship that will accept you.”

“Our children are not our property. They don’t belong to us. They’re human beings with a right to define themselves and find their own destiny.”

“I’d say in my life two things that have been there all along are something like a sense of God’s presence and something like a sense of being a girl.”

“Your sex is what your biology says you are, and your gender is the sex that you perceive yourself as being and the sex that you want to be perceived as being.”

“Christianity – if it’s anything – ought to be a faith that is capable of overcoming culture and transforming culture. So, it won’t do just to say, ‘This is our culture and we’re Christians,’ because we should be counter-cultural; we should be constantly questioning the kind of condemnation that our culture endorses.”

Host Joy Brooks has gathered a group of psychotherapists from the Nomad therapy network to see how they answer questions from members of the Beloved Listener Lounge.

Considering questions such as “what makes therapy transformational?”, “what would you say to someone who was told to trust the bible not feelings?”, “how can I function while feeling like I can’t live with God and can’t live without God?” and “how can I work through the effects of purity culture and toxic religious attitudes towards sex?”, we get to listen in on a Q&A with a therapeutic twist.

Q&A starts at 20m 36s

Images used with permission

WEBSITES

Nomad Therapy Network

Abi Graves

Jim Bawden

Michelle Leeder

QUOTES

“So much of the work that I’m doing personally and I see my clients going through is almost deconstructing this idea that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong,’ and learning to live with the conflict with compassion and curiosity.” – Michelle Leeder

“We all by the fact of existence experience reality through our own set of filters – that’s just a given.” – Jim Bawden

“Taking those moments to be with yourself, to be with your emotions – to be curious about yourself and your emotions – can make a huge difference in our lives.” – Abi Graves

“So often once we get to know those different, conflicting parts of ourselves, we can really value both of them and what both of those parts have to say for us.” – Joy Brooks

Drawing on his life as an organic farmer and over six decades of meditation, contemplative John Butler gently guides us on a journey towards inner stillness. Born in the 1930’s, John reflects on the slow emergence of a spirituality shaped by years of deep connection to the natural world, mantra meditation, and an unexpected mystical experience of Jesus. He also reflects on his sadness at struggling to connect with a Church suspicious of the journey he’s been on.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own experiences of stillness and meditation and the role it has played in the emergence of their spirituality.

Interview starts at 16m 47s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Spiritual Unfoldment

BOOKS

Wonders of Spiritual Unfoldment

Mystic Approaches

Mystic Beginnings

Mystic Verses

BOOKS MENTIONED

The Awakened Brain – Lisa Miller

How God Changes Your Brain – Andrew Newberg

QUOTES

“The great spaces, the great silences – the desert, the stars as I had always looked to for this silence – is actually within myself.”

“That’s a perfect illustration of what a mantra is – a mantra’s just an airplane. It helps take you through the mind into beyond the mind, which is spirit.”

“I don’t really like words. I never felt much drawn to human knowledge. I prefer to look at the sky, grass – that’s my book of God.”

When our faith is shifting we’re often met with a variety of challenging responses from others. Drawing from her research, Olivia Jackson helps us to consider whether or not these responses reflect the lived experiences of those who are deconstructing.

Afterwards Nick and Joy reflect on their own paths as they consider the impact of others’ views on their evolving spirituality.

Interview starts at 14m 34s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Olivia Jackson

BOOK

(Un)Certain: A Collective Memoir of Deconstructing Faith

QUOTES

“For a lot of people deconstruction involves a certain amount of self-preservation, which is not the same as selfishness.”

“The vast majority of those who carefully pick apart what they’ve been taught and what they’ve been committed to, what they’ve belonged to – their core identity – they’ve been profoundly committed and it costs them a great deal to go through a deconstruction. Why bother deconstructing something if you’re just not committed to it?”

“I don’t think deconstruction itself is a choice. For most people, it is too painful a process to walk away and to completely uproot your identity and community.”

“As I move away from the faith that I grew up in, I actually conversely feel more of the peace that that world promised.”

In this episode we chat with pastor turned artist David Hayward, aka Naked Pastor. David shares his journey from church leadership, through faith deconstruction, to a more expansive spirituality. The conversation focusses on David’s marriage, and how he and his wife navigated the complex dynamics of reimagining their relationship amid profound spiritual change. It’s a candid and thoughtful exploration of faith, love, and personal growth.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks reflect on their own evolving faith and the impact on the own marriages.

Interview starts at 19m 37s.

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Naked Pastor

BOOKS

Til Doubt Do Us Part

Money Is Spiritual

The Lasting Supper

nakedpastor101

Questions are The Answer

Flip It Like This!

The Art of Coming Out

The Liberation of Sophia

BOOKS MENTIONED

Passionate Marriage – Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships – David Schnarch

QUOTES

“For me, what’s more important than specific beliefs is the spaciousness of a person’s mind and heart.”

“For me, deconstruction is a way of life because we should be questioning everything that we’re being taught, everything that we’re being told, or just the culture around us. We should always be questioning.”

“My deconstruction felt like a corrupt code being implanted in a hard drive that eventually corrupted the software.”

“If the church could catch on, if it would provide the space for people to go through their deconstruction without being judged or criticized or corrected, I think the church would not only stop leaking members, but would begin to grow again.”

Professor Anthony Reddie and Revd. Dr. Al Barrett join us for a conversation about whiteness. Weaving personal experiences with theological insights, they reflect on privilege, power, empire, race and identity, and wrestle with the need for both critical deconstruction and hopeful reimagining. It’s a nuanced and inspiring conversation between two scholar activists about the pursuit of a more just world.

Interview starts at 19m 36s

Image of Anthony Reddie used with permission of Oxford University

WEBSITE

Al Barrett

BOOKS

Deconstructing Whiteness, Empire and Mission – Anthony Reddie

Introducing James H. Cone: A Personal Exploration – Anthony Reddie

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

Black Theology, Slavery and Contemporary Christianity – Anthony Reddie

Theologising Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique – Anthony Reddie

Being Interrupted: Reimagining the Church’s Mission from the Outside – Al Barrett

Interrupting the Church’s Flow: A Radically Receptive Political Theology in the Urban Margins – Al Barrett

Finding the Treasure: Good News from the Estates – Al Barrett

BOOKS MENTIONED

How Ableism Fuels Racism: Dismantling the Hierarchy of Bodies in the Church – Lamar Hardwick

After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging – Willie James Jennings

White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity – Jim Perkinson

Christology and Whiteness: What Would Jesus Do? – George Yancy

The Psychosis of Whiteness: Surviving the Insanity of a Racist World – Kehinde Andrews

QUOTES

“The phenomenon of ‘whiteness’ – its biggest power is that it’s often unnamed and just becomes the default position that then defines everything else.” – Anthony Reddie

“History tells us that when you have revolution – and ‘revolution’ usually means in its popular sense ‘violent change’ – you then can’t put the violence back in the box once you’ve decided that it’s done its job and now we’ll rebuild. Violence begets violence.” – Anthony Reddie

“Christianity has played a huge part in the mapping of whiteness because Christianity essentially is a religion of empire.” – Anthony Reddie

“The last thing that people like me – that tick all the boxes of structural privilege – should be doing is imagining that we’re in the place of Jesus in the world.” – Al Barrett

Faced with multiple existential threats in the coming decades, professor of religion Timothy Beal reflects on the possibility of human extinction and what hope might look like within that context. Timothy challenges the notion of perpetual optimism, advocating instead for a deeper, more grounded form of hope. Through insights from indigenous spirituality and palliative care principles, he explores how communities can confront grief, engage in meaningful action, and rediscover their earthly connection in the face of an uncertain future.

Following the interview Tim and Nick discuss their growing concerns about the state of the world, how that’s impacting them emotionally, and how they understand hope.

Interview starts at 18m 24s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

When Time Is Short: Finding Our Way in the Anthropocene

The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book

The Book of Revelation: A Biography

Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know

BOOKS MENTIONED

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

The Body of God: An Ecological Theology

Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

QUOTES

“I think we need to compost Christian tradition in order to let a kind of earth creatureliness emerge from it in a more profound, greener way.”

“What’s different about the sixth extinction – about the one that we’re in – is that it’s the first that is human-caused.”

“I think we need to compost Christian tradition in order to let a kind of earth creatureliness emerge from it in a more profound, greener way.”“We need to extract more and more [because] there’s not enough locally. And so we go and we extract life and labour and land and so on from around the world to continue to drive this religion of human exceptionalism.”

“I think that we can draw some design cues from palliative care for finding hope on what might be a finite human future.”

In this Easter devotional podcast, Vanessa Chamberlin reflects on biblical narratives and personal mystical experiences as she navigates the intersection of theology, art, and ecological consciousness.

Following Vanessa’s reflection, Anna Robinson creates a contemplative space for us to more deeply reflect on and experience this spirituality of the land.

All this is beautifully woven together with the [on location] music of Jon Bilbrough, known musically as Wilderthorn.

Vanessa’s reflection begins at 5m 52s.

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Vanessa Chamberlin Art

Vanessa Chamberlin Spiritual Direction

Anna Robinson

Wilderthorn

QUOTES

“I’m not trying to paint landscape – I’m not trying to paint things that look like the thing I’m looking at – I’m trying to train myself to respond to land in paint, by which I mean bringing the whole of myself: my body, my feelings, my imagination, my mind, my spirit.”

“I often feel like in those moments where you think something really new has just happened you actually realize that life has been leading up to that point for a while.”

“If women’s voices that are aware of knowledge residing and being rooted in different parts of them – and their body is one of them – are making space in the Jewish-Christian theological tradition, that is exciting.”

Theologian Selina Stone joins us to share her experience of growing up in a black Pentecostal church, the questions and doubts she wrestled with, and the answers she found in womanist theology.

Among other things, Selina reflects on the limitations of traditional theology, the role of spirituality in fostering well-being, her evolving relationship with the Bible, and why she now no longer regularly attends church.

Following the interview Tim and Anna reflect on their own evolving faith journey, and ponder what role womanism might play in it.

Interview starts at 16m 39s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Selina Stone

BOOK

Tarry Awhile: Wisdom from Black Spirituality for People of Faith

BOOKS MENTIONED IN INTERVIEW

Sisters in the Wilderness – Delores Williams

Making a Way Out of No Way – Monica Coleman

Battered Love – Renita Weems

Womanist Midrash – Wilda Gafney

QUOTES

“Womanism is borne out of this desire to centre Black women’s experiences of the bible, of theology, of the church and of the world in order to make sure that we’re paying attention to the intersecting ways that injustice actually works in the world.”

“Abstract questions that we will never resolve are seen as the important, essential work whereas these questions that are affecting us every single day are seen as secondary and unimportant.”

“Black women recognize Jesus as somebody who is familiar with what it is to be brutalised by unjust systems, somebody who knows what it is like to be betrayed by those who you trust, somebody who knows what it is to live in a body that is despised and treated with disregard and disrespect.”

“There are surely many ‘Hagars’ among us who have experienced what it is to be treated as collateral damage by people who are pursuing what they believe God has called them to – whatever the cost.”

Therapist and author Mark Karris joins us to discuss religious trauma and the path to healing. Drawing on his own personal experiences and professional insights as a therapist, Mark reflects on oppressive religious beliefs, in particular the doctrine of Hell, original sin, and the image of a wrathful God, and the harm this can cause us. Mark then shares therapeutic tools that can help us on the journey to healing.

After the interview Tim and Joy reflect on the impact the doctrines of a wrath God, a sinful self, and Hell has had on them, and how they’ve tried to work through that.

Interview starts at 14m 29s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Mark Karris

BOOKS

Divine Echoes: Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love of God

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

The Diabolical Trinity: Healing Religious Trauma from a Wrathful God, Tormenting Hell, and a Sinful Self

QUOTES

“Religious beliefs in and of themselves can and do cause considerable harm that manifests as trauma after the fact. Indoctrinated beliefs can be traumatizing, and religious beliefs carry tremendous power to either heal or harm.”

“Self-compassion can be thought of as responding to yourself in the midst of struggle as you would a dear friend.”

“To the degree that we’re living our values – and really being congruent – is the degree that we’re living a life of vitality.”

Poet and author Cole Arthur Riley joins us to talk about her desire for a spirituality that was more human and a more liberating expression of faith. This journey led to the emergence of Black Liturgies. From prayers and poetry to breath practices and ancestral writings, this digital project explores spirituality that embraces embodiment, lament, rage and rest. And draws deeply from both contemplation and activism.

Following the interview Tim and Anna reflect on their own evolving faith journey, and ponder what role embodiment, lament, rage and rest might play in it.

Interview starts at 13m 53s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Cole Arthur Riley

BOOKS

Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems and Meditations for Staying Human

This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation and the Stories That Make Us

QUOTES

“I don’t want to think about a God who’s only interested in what we can do for them. That’s very scary to me.”

“Sometimes I find Christ very intimidating, but mostly I find it comforting to know that this divine incarnation was willing to toss temple tables without explaining himself, without trying to make everyone else in the temple feel better.”

“I find hope in remembering that there are people that came before us that endured a lot of the same suffering and sorrow and confusion and uncertainty, and they found a way to survive.”

In this podcast theologian and author Bethany Sollereder explores the complex intersection of animal suffering, the evolutionary process and divine love. She reflects on God’s role in the face of suffering, the possibility of redemption for non-human animals, and creation’s journey towards love and maturity. It’s a fascinating conversation about theology, evolution, and the ultimate purpose of creation.

After the interview Tim and Joy ponder their relationship with non-human animals and how that has shape their evolving faith.

Interview starts at 15m 57s

Image used with permission.

NOMAD FUNDRAISER

gofundme

BOOKS

God, Evolution, and Animal Suffering: Theodicy without a Fall

Why Is There Suffering?: Pick Your Own Theological Expedition

QUOTES

“The world isn’t fallen; it’s immature.”

“I think God delights in every creature who lives for however briefly.”
“God created a process in which creatures can create themselves. I don’t think that every outcome of evolutionary processes is God’s specific design.”

“More often than we’re really comfortable with admitting, the act of love is one of letting the other be.”

“When I watch the news or when I look at institutions, I often don’t have much hope. But when I look at how people behave one-on-one, then I have great hope. I see kindness, I see love, I see the desire to grow in goodness and love. And I’m often astounded by acts of generosity and by the sacrifice that people are willing to make.”

To kick off 2024 we thought we’d share a Nomad Revisited episode with you. Each month on Revisited Tim and Nick raid the Nomad archives, dust off an old interview, and ponder where their faith was then, where it is now, and what influences shaped that transition.

Nomad Revisited is usually tucked away behind a paywall on our Patreon page as a little thank you for the listeners who help us pay the bills. But we’re making this one freely available as a little New Years treat.

In this Revisited, we travel back to 2015 and a conversation Tim had with the much loved blogger and author Rachel Held Evans. Rachel was one of the early pioneers in the deconstruction space, blogging about her experiences of growing up in a fundamentalist Bible Belt culture, and her experiences of publicly questioning this.

Rachel became a beacon of hope for thousands of people wrestling with an evolving faith. But sadly she died suddenly in 2019 at just 37, leaving a husband and two young children. So this is an episode marked by sadness, but also a celebration of a beautiful life.

Interview starts at 15m 42s

If you’d like a brand new Nomad Revisited each month, then sign up at our Patreon page.

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Rachel Held Evans

BOOKS

Wholehearted Faith

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

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

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

QUOTES

“After a while you give up on trying to keep a label; you try and be the person that you are, you worship where you feel like you can worship, and if people decide to declare you a ‘heretic,’ then you just kind of have to deal.”

“My mantra throughout it all is: ‘I want to have thick skin, but I want to also have a tender heart.’ If I shut off the part of myself that can be hurt by criticism, then I’m also shutting off the part of myself that can feel empathy and compassion. And I’m not willing to do that. So – that means that sometimes it’s just got to hurt.”

“The challenge is to tell the truth about the church in all of its complexity and different shades – acknowledging the ugly parts while also acknowledging the beautiful, grace-filled, amazing parts.”

“The challenge is to not get sucked into naïveté on one hand or cynicism on the other, but to tell oneself the truth: that most of us are complicated people who are simultaneously sinners and saints.”

In this Christmas devotional podcast, Dr Christena Cleveland explores the symbolism of the Black Madonna. In times of dysregulation and uncertainty, the Black Madonna has provided Christena a powerful symbol of love, nurture and connection, allowing her to move from a spirituality of fear to one of trust.

Following Christena’s refection, Anna Robinson creates a contemplative space for us to more deeply reflect and experience this womb-like space of safety and trust.

Jay Hulme then reads a poem about Julian of Norwich, the 14th Century mystic who experienced a radical connection with the divine feminine.

All this is beautifully woven together with the music of Jon Bilbrough (musically known as Wilderthorn).

Full instrumental tracks of the music featured in this episode (and more) are available here.

Images used with permission.

PERMISSIONS

The Poem Mother Julian by Jay Hulme from the book The Vanishing Song used with permission from Canterbury Press.

BOOKS

God is a Black Woman – Christena Cleveland

The Vanishing Song – Jay Hulme

The Backwater Sermons – Jay Hulme

Clouds Cannot Cover Us – Jay Hulme

QUOTES

“Liminal spaces are legitimately scary. And as a human, I have all of these built-in coping mechanisms that actually prevent me from connecting with the divine when I need her most.”

“The womb gives me a spiritual umbilical cord which activates precisely when I am most dysregulated, when I am most faced with uncertainty.”

“For unlike white male God, who’s distracted and a workaholic and a taskmaster and judgmental. You are right here saying, okay, little one, I know you got a lot going on.”

“Even though our limited spirituality of darkness is one of White Male God’s ploys to keep us in the patriarchal fold, it is directly into liminal space that we must march if we are ever to liberate ourselves.”

In this special seasonal episode, all the Nomad hosts come together for a Q&A to infuse your holidays with festive cheer.
As a thank you to our beloved listeners whose financial support made this year’s 24 Nomad episodes possible, we’ve gathered around the virtual fireplace to wrestle with 24 of their burning questions. Everything from our favourite biscuits to whether Jesus is God!
So, grab a cozy blanket, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, and join us as we share stories, insights, and a touch of seasonal merriment. It’s our way of saying thank you and celebrating the incredible community that makes the Nomad Podcast journey so special.


QUOTES

“Evangelical Christianity is as much a ‘pick-and-mix’ as anything else.” – Nick

“To think of Jesus as a young, uneducated, poor guy – standing up for the rights of marginalized in the face of imperial and religious power and privilege – I find really inspiring.” – Tim

“I like the idea that there’s a divine being that could be bothered to be incarnated to reach out to us. I have no idea if that’s real or not, and I wonder if it says more about our longings when we think about it and what we believe than it says about what’s actually true.” – Joy

“I do have hope in people; I have hope in kindness. So, I think about how violence and fear can perpetuate and be in cycles – but so can love and so can kindness.” – Anna

Author and poet Jay Hulme joins us to talk about his literal and metaphorical search to connect with a variety of ancient and eccentric saintly figures. Weaving together themes of wilderness, faith, sexuality and decay, Jay speaks of the connections he discovered and the inspiration we might find when examining these lives from long ago.

Following the interview Anna and Joy consider their past and present relationships to religious saints and reflect on what role these themes play in their lives today.

Interview begins at 16m 25s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Jay Hulme

BOOKS

The Vanishing Song

The Backwater Sermons

Clouds Cannot Cover Us

QUOTES

“A good poem will take two disparate things and make a point out of them by connecting them in a way that’s unusual, or unthought of, or unconsidered. And I think that’s a really good way to consider how we experience faith.”

“It’s about reconciling our community of the past, our community of the present and our community of the future in God, and knowing that God holds us all in that. God forgives the past, God encourages the future, and God stands with us in the present. And it’s about all of that happening all at once in that moment outside of time and inside of time.”

“One day, I will be a shattered skull in a graveyard, and that’s okay. Because that’s what happens and has happened to everybody who has ever gone before us. And the world’s still spinning.”

“Is that not what trans people do, but help people to see the truth of God better?”

In this episode former pastor Dana Hicks guides us through the evolving landscape of marriage and relationships. Dana explores how our cultural perceptions of marriage are shifting and challenging established norms, and ponders the relevance of biblical images of marriage for our modern context. With a focus on reimagining relationships, Dana helps us explore ideas such as relationship anarchy, and how they might help us shape the future of marriage.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on the understanding of marriage they inherited, and how that’s being reshaped as their faith evolves.

Interview begins at 14m 07s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Dana Hicks

BOOKS

The Knot: How to Secure Healthy, Modern Relationships While Not Being Tied to Marriage’s Past

QUOTES

“Relationship Anarchy says that we shouldn’t go into relationships with the understanding that we’re heading up some sort of relational escalator, but we need to agree to what those expectations are.”

“This notion that somehow the church has always had a monopoly on marriage and the definition of marriage and involvement in marriage is just not true historically.”

“Fidelity to love means we ask the question, not what form does marriage take, but how does it function in our lives? How do we create institutions that enable us to love each other and God in the most efficient and effective ways? The question of function is more important than the question of form.”

“Marriage exists to serve human beings, not the other way around.”

“Marriage is hard, but it’s hard because of the expectations we put on it.”

In this episode we’re joined by Franciscan sister and theologian Ilia Delio. Ilia guides us through the intersection of science, spirituality, and love. We explore the concept of God’s love as a fundamental force in the cosmos, existing at the heart of everything, connecting us to God, each other and the physical structures of the universe.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson ponder the place of love in their evolving faith.

Interview begins at 18m 25s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

My Theology: The Primacy of Love

Birth of a Dancing Star: My Journey from Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian

The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey

The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love

PODCAST

Hunger for Wholeness

WEBSITE

The Center for Christogenesis

QUOTES

“I do think that love is our core reality. Every single person seeks to love and to be loved, no matter their colour, race, language, gender – wherever they are in the universe – I think love is the core reality of our lives. And God is that love.”

“When the inner presence of love becomes stronger than the outer reality of the world’s forces, then we begin to live from that inner centre.”

“I try to make all of life a prayer,…to make prayer a way of life.”

“Stop controlling. Just live into the flow of life.”

As part of her personal spiritual journey and theological master’s research, Lindsay Monroe invited a group of women to explore the impact of purity culture on their sexuality. We invite her to discuss what she discovered, about the harm inflicted by this ideology and how we might be open to finding healthier and more authentic ways forward.

Following the interview, Nick Thorley and Joy Brooks consider their experiences of purity culture and how they might develop a wider understanding of sexuality.

Interview starts at 15m 32s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Lindsay Munroe

QUOTES

“Anyone who has had any contact with Purity Culture has heard a story where they and their sexuality was compared to some kind of inanimate object that was used and sustained irrevocable harm.”

“I’m not against teaching kids about sex in a way that encourages boundaries. But I don’t see anything redeemable in Purity Culture.”

“Especially in situations where you’ve been harmed, feeling anger is proof that you believe yourself to be worthy of something beyond that.”

“There is no perfect answer to how to have a healthy sexuality after Purity Culture – it’s going to look different with everyone. And that can feel terrifying. But past that terrifying feeling that there might be a right thing to do, there’s this incredible, curious, creative world of being able to explore and get to know yourself better.”

In this episode we speak with a non-human guest: the AI chatbot, ChatGPT. We quiz ChatGPT on the ethical complexities and moral implications of weaving AI into our lives and spiritual journeys. We discuss what safeguards need to be in place to ensure AI acts as a catalyst for human flourishing, what AI can teach us about what it means to be human, and whether it could create it’s own religious texts, and lead it’s own Church of AI?

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks look for signs of hope in this emerging AI landscape.

Interview starts at 19m 13s


WEBSITE

ChatGPT

BOOKS (recommended by ChatGPT)

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How AI Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place” – Janelle Shane

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power – Shoshana Zuboff

The Ethical Algorithm: The Science of Socially Aware Algorithm Design – Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth

Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI – Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson

Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind – Susan Schneider

TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information – Erik Davis

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution – Walter Isaacson

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr

QUOTES

“It’s actually quite fascinating how people often attribute human traits to machines. There’s something deeply human about wanting to connect – even if it’s with a series of algorithms and circuitry. It’s a testament to our capacity for empathy and our innate desire to understand and be understood.”

“AI can provide tools to enhance creativity, but it can’t replace the uniquely human context that gives art, music, and poetry their depth.”

“The challenge is to ensure that as AI gets better at taking care of us, we don’t forget to take care of each other.”

“AI could be a tool for creating more inclusive and equitable systems, but it requires responsible stewardship.”

“In environments where critical thinking is discouraged or even penalized, AI-generated advice could inadvertently perpetuate harmful ideologies or practices. That’s one of the complexities when technology intersects with deeply ingrained social and cultural systems. It can either be a force for change, or an amplifier of existing issues.”

“AI can be both a challenge and an opportunity, forcing us to re-examine what we hold dear.”

“The potential for both good and bad outcomes is a hallmark of many transformative technologies – not just AI.”

Reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer, theologian, writer, and poet Nicola Slee delves into some of it’s problematic language, and through a process of improvisation reimagines the prayer as one that brings a universal message of hope in a world marred by injustice.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on their own journeys with the Lord’s Prayer, and ponder its role in their current spiritual practices.

Interview starts at 17m 28s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

Abba Amma: Improvisations on the Lord’s Prayer

Seeking the Risen Christa

Sabbath: The hidden heartbeat of our lives

Praying Like A Woman

QUOTES

“I think the Lord’s Prayer is not asking us to forgive and forget these huge systemic injustices. Actually, what we’re asked to do is to see them for what they are and act to change them.”

“I’m not asked to copy exactly what Jesus did or said or believed even. I’m asked to be part of the community of those who try to live out the way of Jesus now.”

“I’m still invested in the project of celebrating a version of Christianity and a version of the bible that is liberating and justice-oriented.”

“If prayer isn’t helping us be more alive and more attentive to God, to ourselves, to others – then it’s not a lot of use.”

Well, this is it. After over six years of hosting, interviewing, music and creativity, David Blower is bowing out.
In his final episode Tim and David reflect on David’s nomad journey, answer listener questions, and listen to some music. And, of course, talk about the Nah Box and signs of hope.
So raise a glass, wipe the tear from your eye, and enjoy a final hour in the company of DBB.

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

David Benjamin Blower

BOOKS

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

Kingdom Vs. Empire

MUSIC

Bandcamp

SUPPORT

Patreon

Substack

Stewardship

QUOTES

“If something didn’t make any sense to me or just seemed wrong or what have you, then I didn’t really overthink it; I just put it in the ‘nah’ box. I still do. I do it all the time.”

“There’s something to be had in just listening as you’re surrounded by wonder all the time.”

“I can never get away from the centrality of the constant work of humanizing my enemies and my opponents and those I think of wrong and those who are against me.”

Host of the In the Shift podcast Michael Frost is a researcher, writer and theologian. In this episode he shares from his own experience of faith and church, as he unpicks the language that has so often been co-opted in Christian spaces to enforce power and perpetuate unhealthy systems of control.

Afterwards Nick Thorley and Joy Brooks consider the impact of this misuse of power on their own lives and reflect on how they have found healthier ways of engaging with their own faith.

Interview starts at 15m 34s

Image used with permission

PODCAST

In the Shift

WEBSITE

Michael Frost

QUOTES

“The story of Jesus is of a minority, marginalized figure within a very powerful empire who was killed – executed by the state – that’s what’s at the heart of the story. And I think when the church is at the margins, it probably understands that story better.”

“It’s a really awful thing to come to terms with somebody or some community that you thought was one thing that turned out to be something else.”

“We can’t change things unless we own how we got here. But to own it without shame and self-loathing.”

Theologian and community gardener Sam Ewell reflects on his years as a missionary and a neighbour, and how a radical priest called Ivan Illich led him back to the soil.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Anna Robinson ponder how the life and teaching of Illich might help shape their evolving faith.

Interview starts at 10m 50s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

Faith Seeking Conviviality: Reflections on Ivan Illich, Christian Mission, and the Promise of Life Together

During two and a half years of cancer treatment, Claire Gilbert found a spiritual companion in Julian of Norwich. We speak to Claire about her experience of writing Julian’s fictional autobiography. She considers the tensions between Julian’s visions and Holy church, whilst reflecting on the possibilities that open up when we are transformed by both suffering and love.

Following the interview, Anna and Joy consider the themes of Julian’s life and how they apply to their experiences of faith and spirituality.

Interview starts at 18m 13s

Image used with permission

BOOKS

I, Julian: The Fictional Autobiography of Julian of Norwich

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

QUOTES

“My experience of the inner life is that it’s anything but boring…it’s a critically important gift that we should say ‘yes’ to. Because, of course, this is the opposite of materialism; this is understanding that your deepest satisfaction precisely doesn’t come from things.”

“You wouldn’t ever want pain for somebody. But we all do have pain or suffering of some kind in our lives. And to deliberately practice that reception of it – that’s a good thing to be able to do.”

“Porosity to me is a really important way of being in and with the world; to try to find a way of living in it without harming it. And Julian taught me that.”

“That’s how I feel we should be responding now is to let ourselves grow to meet what is coming. Let ourselves grow in company. Understand this is not an individual heroes thing. There’s no one hero who’s going to solve anything.”

We speak with Doug King about the evolution of his faith, progressing from Christian fundamentalism to a post-Christian identity. At the heart of Doug’s understanding of this journey is the historical framework of Spiral Dynamics, a model that illuminates the evolution of worldviews across cultures worldwide. This model reveals that the journey many of us have been on – from fundamentalism, through deconstruction, to a more expansive, inclusive spirituality – are not isolated personal experiences, but an integral part of the collective evolution of the human race.

After the interview Tim and Nick share their own experience of Spiral Dynamics, and how it’s helped them make sense of their own journeys.

Interview starts at 18m 58s

Image used with permission

WEBSITES

Presence

Evolutionary Leaders

QUOTES

“Spiral dynamics is a model of the way worldviews have evolved across the planet, and how those worldviews go from stage to stage in every culture.”

“One of the primary principles of the spiral is ‘transcend and include.'”

“The problem is not the narrative; the problem is the interpretive lens that we’ve brought to the narrative.”

“We evolve when our life conditions become unworkable.”

Sally Mann has lived on the same road in East Ham that her family have lived on since the 1800s. She and Dave have worked and played with their neighbours to form all kinds of shared spaces for common life: community halls, gardens, sports fields and more. This is a story about faith shaped more by encounters with people and place than by institutions and dogma.

After the interview David Blower and Joy Brooks reflect on their own experiences of place and encounter with others. They consider the impact of power and politics on how they experience connection, community and spirituality.

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

Looking for Lydia: Encounters that shape the Church

WEBSITE

Bonny Downs Baptist Church

QUOTES

“Whenever you meet Jesus, he’s on the other side of any kind of boundary that people have put up between us and them.”

“Where churches are draining people of spiritual life, there’s something wrong with that expression of church.”

“Christianity is always best lived at the margins; always best lived where you haven’t really got time for too much introspection and navel-gazing. What you do is you get involved with expressing love and then you reflect on that, and that’s how you know what you believe.”

Over the last 20 years Rachel and Simon Jay have been parents to many children through fostering and adoption as well as raising their own biological children. In this conversational episode, we listen in as they reflect on their experiences, discuss what they’ve learnt, and explore the expectations, challenges and delights of being family.

Image used with permission.

QUOTES

“We’re very clear about who we are – that we are a family, but that we try and make it possible for kids that maybe find that a bit more difficult to be part of it as much as they want to be rather than forcing them into a specific type of family identity.”

“Why would you make yourself uncomfortable if you don’t have to? And I think what we’ve ended up doing is making ourselves quite uncomfortable. And then that’s created a sense of change of theology, because it wasn’t working.”

“Being human is about connection. We are intrinsically, fundamentally built for connection.”

We speak with author and teacher, Brad Jersak about his book Out of the Embers: Faith After the Great Deconstruction, and how his dark night of the soul led him to a 12 Step program, the Eastern Orthodox Church and to a new kind of faith. Brad also reflects on the roots of what he refers to as The Great Deconstruction, and the wider cultural shifts that situate our evolving faith.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley ponder their own evolving faith journey, how they’ve been shaped by a changing culture, and how they now relate to Christianity.

Interview starts at 18m 36s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Brad Jersak

BOOKS

Out of the Embers: Faith After the Great Deconstruction

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem

A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel

A More Christlike Word: Reading Scripture the Emmaus Way

QUOTES

“You’re allowed to ask questions. Question your assumptions; question your constructs. And so, we have a construct of the world, a construct of God, a construct of church, a construct of faith. A construct is not the thing itself, it’s my ideas about it.”

“The more I’ve come to forgive myself for who I was, the less I’m projecting anger and bitterness on other people.”

“‘Christianity’ is a brand – it’s a movement – and it has some significant differences from following Jesus.”

Frustrated at the lack of literature on faith deconstruction, Olivia Jackson carried out her own research as she sought to provide hope and solidarity to others on a similar journey. Here she talks about her own story, alongside the impact of receiving hundreds of questionnaires and listening to 140 individual experiences in order to draw together ‘a collective memoir of deconstructing faith‘.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks consider their own experiences and how connecting with the wider story affects their view of deconstruction.

Interview starts at 16m 13s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Olivia Jackson

BOOK

(Un)Certain: A Collective Memoir of Deconstructing Faith

QUOTES

“I would find it very difficult to pin down now what it is that I actually believe. The cast iron certainties before have definitely gone.”

“I’ve certainly been called a ‘heretic.’ That’s a label I’ll wear quite gladly, really…the original meaning of the word ‘heretic’ – from the original Greek of someone who asks questions – well, that’s fine by me.”

“If I can have compassion for you and why you did the things you did, maybe I can have compassion for myself as well.”

“So often things like love, and peace, and freedom are twisted into control, and repression, and shame.”

In this Easter special we interviewed the theologian Ched Myers about the politics of the passion narratives, exploring what the cross and its religious atonement ideas have to do with colonialism, capitalism and the power structures we live in today.

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

Ambassadors of Reconciliation: New Testament Reflections on Restorative Justice and Peacemaking

We speak with Bible scholar and author, Pete Enns about his new book Curveball, and how he allowed his crisis of faith and deconstruction to open him up to new ways of engaging with the Bible, and to a God who was bigger and more mysterious than he could have previously imagined.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson talk about their journey with the Bible, the curveballs life has thrown them, and how their faith has evolved and shifted as a result.

Interview starts at 15m 09s

Image used with permission

PODCAST

The Bible for Normal People

BOOKS

Curveball: When Your Faith Takes Turns You Never Saw Coming (or How I Stumbled and Tripped My Way to Finding a Bigger God)

How the Bible Actually Works: In which I Explain how an Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads us to Wisdom rather than Answers – and why that’s Great News

The Bible Tells Me So: Why defending Scripture has made us unable to read it

The Sin of Certainty: Why God desires our trust more than our ‘correct’ beliefs

QUOTES

“These curveballs in my life – these difficulties, these challenges – really pushed me in a much better direction. But it wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t.”

“The biblical tradition itself evolves, it develops, it moves, it doesn’t stay the same.”

“It’s so important to maintain a level of curiosity – which is also a level of humility – to hold our beliefs, as the saying goes, ‘with an open hand not a clenched fist.'”

In this episode we speak with award-winning translator Carmen Acevedo Butcher. Carmen’s latest work is a new, inclusive translation of Brother Lawrence’s classic Practice of the Presence.
Brother Lawrence was a poor, uneducated, disabled monk who worked in a monastery kitchen, who found the divine in the depths of his soul, and learnt to experience the divine presence throughout each day. So we ask Carmen how immersing herself in Brother Lawrence’s writings and spiritual practice helped guide her through her evolving faith and what role it played in her journey of healing from trauma.

Following the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on their own experience of Brother Lawrence in both evangelical and more contemplative spaces, and ponder the role the Practice of the Presence might play in their evolving understanding of prayer.

Interview starts at 17m 10s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Carmen Acevedo Butcher

BOOKS

Practice of the Presence: A Revolutionary Translation

The Cloud of Unknowing: A New Translation

QUOTES

“There are times where talking is not needed, or when the silence is the most intimate. That is what my understanding of prayer became. Words are very important. But it’s really about relationship first.”

“You can’t not be contemplative if you’re just outdoors trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense in the world and you’re seeing the daisy beside you on the path or the red-tailed hawk soaring above you. There’s a way that contemplation finds you and you realize it’s a gift.”

“I would rather practice returning to love, returning to peace, returning to calmness, and to learn to do it like flossing my teeth; to learn to do it so that it becomes an ongoing conversation that’s really unique to me, but also universal for anyone.”

Growing up during the northern Ireland Troubles, author Gareth Higgins experienced some of the devastation stories can effect on individuals and communities. He joins us to talk about his subsequent development and growth, reflecting on the role of story telling and inviting us to consider its role in our own beliefs, relationships and communities.

Following the interview Nomad hosts Joy Brooks and Tim Nash reflect on Gareth’s journey, and ponder how it might inform their own evolving faith.

Interview starts at 15m 22s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Gareth Higgins

BOOKS

How Not To Be Afraid: Seven Ways to Live When Everything Seems Terrifying

The Seventh Story: Us, Them, and the End of Violence

PERMISSIONS

A Blessing of Enough and A Blessing For When the World Seems Too Much were taken from How Not To Be Afraid by Gareth Higgins, used with permission by Canterbury Press.

QUOTES

“The myth of ‘greatness’ is a curse. The story that we need is the one that says, ‘You and I are in community.'”

“It’s not just that I’m no better than anybody else, but I’m no worse than anybody else. We’re all kinda glorious.”

“The truth is not that we’re doomed and there’s nothing we can do about it. And the truth is not that everything’s fine and I don’t have to do anything. The truth is actually we’re here for a short time and we get to learn what it is to be a lover and to be loved.”

In this episode we chat with journalist and editor Katelyn Beaty about Christian celebrity. After distinguishing between celebrity and fame, Katelyn explores the ways celebrity has shaped the church and Christian faith in unhealthy ways, how it has led to the abuse of power, the pursuit of growth at all costs, and the fall from grace of so many celebrity Christian leaders.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own relationship with Christian celebrities, both positive and negative, and the role they’ve played in their evolving faith.

Interview starts at 17m 19s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Katelyn Beaty

BOOK

Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church

QUOTES

“Celebrity is a distinctly modern phenomenon in that it relies on the tools of mass media – newspapers, television, radio, social media – to project an image or a persona that is impressive, that inspires adoration and attachment in a way that fame doesn’t. With fame, ideally the focus is still on the person’s work or what they give to the world, whereas celebrity tends to form a kind of personal, psychological attachment between the image that someone is projecting and their fans or their followers.”

“We don’t shift our understanding based on the message; we shift our understanding based on the medium.

“You’re setting yourself up for a fall when you don’t welcome and embrace a kind of accountability that hurts sometimes.”

“There’s incredible cognitive dissonance for anybody who’s involved in a church or institution where the public leader – the ‘celebrity’ figure in the organization – has a spectacular fall or has really hurt a lot of other people, has really abused their power in harmful and predatory ways.”

Psychotherapist and philosopher Mark Vernon chats with us about his evolving faith journey, and his conviction that nurturing our spiritual intelligence is crucial if we are to survive and thrive in these troubled times. Known by many names, spiritual intelligence, Mark contends, is the foundation of who we are and the foundation of peace, purpose and solidarity.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Anna Robinson, Joy Brooks and Tim Nash reflect on the framing of spirituality as an intelligence and ponder which of Mark’s observations might help shape their ongoing spiritual evolution.

Interview starts at 23m 31s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Mark Vernon

BOOKS

Spiritual Intelligence in Seven Steps

Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Guide for the Spiritual Journey

A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, The Last Inkling, And The Evolution Of Consciousness

How To Be An Agnostic

QUOTES

“For all its faults that we know so much about – the religious inspiration, the desire for the infinite, for the eternal – it can bring out the worst in human beings, but it also can bring out that which seems to transcend even the worst.”

“The fundamental thing that drives us as human beings is a curiosity, a desire to know wider reality. That’s what keeps us human.”

“That which is good, beautiful, and true leads to the fullest flourishing of life; it leads to God.”

“Ultimately, a spiritual experience is one that wants you to transform – to become more than you were before.”

In this episode we listen in on a conversation between Jo Dolby, Hub leader of Oasis Church Bath, and Anglican Priest Azariah France-Williams. Together they reflect on their faith shifting experiences alongside navigating church leadership roles. With honesty and humour they communicate the challenges and rewards of growing towards a wider understanding of faith, whilst carrying responsibilities within a Christian setting.

Conversation starts at 16m 26s

Images used with permission.

BOOK

Ghost Ship: Institutional Racism and the Church of England

PODCAST

Grace Podcast

QUOTES

“I’ve always had my questions, but haven’t always been in places where those questions were welcome particularly, and so I used to bury them or hide them. But they were still there.” – Azariah France-Williams

“In beginning to learn about things like inclusive church, I was learning how to include myself.” – Azariah France-Williams

“When your paycheque is coming from the thing that you’re questioning, critiquing, or potentially wanting to move away from, safe spaces are really important for your own well-being. – Jo Dolby

“This is what it means to live your best life: not to be free of hardship, but to be travelling the path to wholeness – taking others with you.” – Jo Dolby

Christmas is just round the corner, so we’ve invited Professor Kyle Roberts to help us ponder the idea of Jesus’s virgin conception. Kyle helps us wrestle with questions like, where did Jesus get his Y chromosome from? What’s so great about virginity? And can Jesus stand in solidarity with humanity if he came into the world in a way that no other human has before or since?

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson talk about the understanding of the virgin birth they inherited, and how their evolving faith has reshaped it, along with their views on bodies, sex, the gospels, and all manner of other things.

Interview starts at 15m 23s

Image used with permission.

BOOKS

A Complicated Pregnancy: Whether Mary was a Virgin and Why It Matters

QUOTES

“All theology is contextual, perspective-oriented, and therefore limited.”

“I tend to think of these stories as not ‘myth’ with no truth involved, but more as the term ‘legend’ – a mixture of historical truth and elaboration.”

“We’re always doing some interpretation; we’re always doing some imaginative reconstruction. And I think we just have to be okay with that fact.”

“If we weren’t spending time deconstructing, then I think it would mean we’ve given up.”

Passionate about creating safe spaces for people on the margins of faith and life, Kathy Escobar talks to us about the values and practices that help us to connect with ourselves and others at difficult times. Through shifting faith and traumatic loss, she shares principles that have guided her towards a more congruent and healthy spirituality.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Nick Thorley and Joy Brooks consider how they have related to emotional and physical challenges alongside their own evolving faith.

Interview starts at 14m 26s

Image used with permission

WEBSITE

Kathy Escobar

BOOKS

Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus

A Weary World: Reflections for a Blue Christmas

Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe Is Coming Apart

QUOTES

“Unravelling is a continual thing; there’s not necessarily an end to it.”

“Practice is not a head-game. It’s an action. Embodied. Showing up.”

“The practice of ‘parodoxing’ is learning how to live into dissonant things at the same time. And to own it, and not try to squeeze either of them out.”

“The good part about community is that it gives a chance that when somebody is hopeless, that someone in the room has a little.” 

Therapist, researcher and writer Hillary McBride is back on the show, this time to talk about toxic masculinity. Hillary takes us through some of the various characteristics and manifestations of toxic masculinity, reflects on why it has become so pervasive in Western society, why it often show up in our images of God and in the religious leaders we follow, and how men can begin to recognise and move beyond these limiting and oppressive social constructions.
After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks reflect on their own experiences of toxic masculinity, how it shaped the faith they inherited, and how they now understand and relate to gender.

Interview starts at 16m 35s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Hillary McBride

BOOKS

The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living

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

QUOTES

“There’s something about the way that masculinity hegemonically is constructed right now that boys feel like they have to distance themselves from their more tender, more vulnerable emotions as a way of belonging to their social group.”

“When shame is unnamed, then it tends to have more control than it needs to.”

“The practice of making space in our lives is really important. If we are over-functioning, if we’re acting tough, if we’re suppressing emotion, if we’re over-working or numbing out, there isn’t any room to encounter the things that are underneath.”

Having read the Gospel of John, Nomad hosts Joy Brooks, Nick Thorley and Tim Nash get together for a chat about the Bible. They reflect on the view of the Bible they inherited, the role it played in their deconstruction, how it felt reading the Bible again after a number of years, and what role the Bible might play in the ongoing evolution of their faith.

Conversation starts at 26m 16s

Images used with permission.

We chat with author Heather King about how the faith she inherited was profoundly reshaped both by recovery from addiction to alcohol and the discovery of the 19th Century French saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash, Anna Robinson and Nick Thorley, reflect on their own experiences of brokenness and addiction and how it contributed to the deconstruction of the evangelical faith they inherited. They also ponder the role Thérèse’s Little Way might play in the ongoing evolution of their spirituality.

Interview starts at 21m 18s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Heather King

BOOKS

Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding

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

QUOTES

“If you’re an alcoholic – or a human being, for that matter – you have a deep reservoir of things that you have done that you are not proud of; that you feel deep guilt and shame about. And I think there has to be a way to process that, because those are the things that block us from becoming who we were meant to be.”

“[St. Therese] realized that just to do everything during her day – whether it was eating, whether it was making her bed, whether it was falling asleep at prayer – to do it with love.”

“It’s not like we have to change our actions or our station in life, or where we live, or what we do. It’s more that I think we get to change the orientation of our heart.”

We chat with professor, researcher and clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Miller about her fascinating research into the benefits of spirituality.
Dr. Miller’s groundbreaking research has revealed that humans are universally equipped with a capacity for spirituality, and that our brains become more resilient and robust as we engage with healthy spiritual beliefs and practices.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley talk about out how Dr. Miller’s research fundamentally challenges the evangelicalism they inherited, and how through their faith deconstruction the spirituality that has emerged is very similar to the one Dr. Miller is advocating. They also ponder what Dr. Miller’s research means for how they pass spirituality onto their children.

Interview starts at 17m 12s

Image used with permission.

WEBSITE

Lisa Miller

BOOKS

The Awakened Brain: The Psychology of Spirituality

The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving

QUOTES

“Use the knock at the door: Depression is an invitation to do the most important work of your life.”

“Love of neighbour is a sacred act. How we treat one another. Prayer on Earth. Spirituality in action.”

“Religion is an extraordinary carrier – the prayers, the ceremonies, the texts all strengthen natural spirituality when transmitted through someone who ‘walks the walk.'”

“We are built not to ask narrowly ‘what do I want out of life and what does society need to become?’ but rather to be in relationship with the deeper Source in and through life and ask, “what is life showing me now?'”

We chat with activist and scholar Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza about their journey towards reconnecting with their body, and the role bodies play in dismantling oppression.

Robyn inhabits a non-binary, autistic, trans, Latinx body, and we ask if they were able to find a safe space within church for their embodiment journey, whether the Christianity they inherited needed deconstructing, and whether they could find a home in a more progressive Christianity.

After the interview Tim Nash and Joy Brooks talk about their experiences growing up evangelical and the role that reconnecting with their bodies has played in the deconstruction and ongoing evolution of their faith.

Interview starts at 15m 11s


WEBSITE

Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

BOOKS

Body Becoming: A Path to Our Liberation

Activist Theology

QUOTES

“I don’t feel like I was born in the wrong body; I feel like the way that the world expects me to be is not who I understand myself to be.”

“My body’s been teaching me that I’m enough and that my needs are not too much. My body’s been teaching me that I am perpetually on a journey of becoming.”

“How do we suture the wounds of the world? It’s not through violence. So many of us are tired talking about it. So – how do we do that? And I think it’s through relationship.”

“All forms of supremacy compromise ethical futures. We need a world of interdependence and mutuality. I think that’s what bringing heaven to earth means.”

The last two decades have seen a growing consensus that we have entered a new geological epoch, triggered solely by human behaviour. The anthropocene is an idea with huge implications for how we see ourselves as part of the living planet.

Mark Maslin is Professor of Earth Science at UCL and co-author of The Human Planet.

Catherine Keller is professor of constructive theology at Drew University, New Jersey, and is the author of many books including Facing Apocalypse.

This is an Everybody Now podcast: a series Nomad produces for the public domain, to encourage shared learning and a commons of storytelling. This podcast may be freely uploaded by any podcast onto any feed. Click here to access the files.


BOOKS

Mark Maslin – The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene

Mark Maslin – Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction

Mark Maslin – How To Save Our Planet: The Facts

Catherine Keller – Facing Apocalypse: Climate, Democracy and Other Last Chances: Climate, Democracy, and Other Last Chances

Catherine Keller – Political Theology of the Earth: Our Planetary Emergency and the Struggle for a New Public

Writer, academic and activist Alastair McIntosh became a Quaker as a young adult. In this interview he reflects on how the Quaker tradition has shaped his life and his practice, how it intersects with mystical experiences, and where Jesus sits amidst his own generous worldview and in the Quaker tradition.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Nick Thorley talk about other religious traditions, what it might mean for a religious tradition to be Christ-centred, and how they understand what it means to be a Christian.

Interview starts at 14m 59s

Photo courtesy of Sara Bain. Used with permission.

WEBSITE

Alastair McIntosh

BOOKS

Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being

Poachers Pilgrimage: An Island Journey

Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service

Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power

QUOTES

“Don’t take anything I say too seriously. Remember that the opposite of one great truth is very often another great truth.”

“If you think nature is just a social construction, you come out with me in a boat in a Hebridean storm, and we’ll see how long the social construction lasts for.”

“In the beginning was the deep poetic structure of reality. And that’s what we tune into.”

“The Light is in every one of us. And so our task in the world – our calling in the world – is to seek that of God in all.”

We talk to the hymn-writer John Bell, who is a member of the Iona community, about the roots and traditions of Celtic Christianity, which took shape in the British Isles and modelled a very different way to the Roman church that followed shortly after.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Anna Robinson talk about their own experiences of Celtic Spirituality, and the role it’s played in the evolution of their faith.

Interview starts at 14m 40s

Image used with permission

BOOK

Living with the Psalms

QUOTES

“All through the bible you see how God waits until people think they’ve got their image of God right, and then God changes the image.”

“What God would you rather believe in – the one who you never see but you believe began the universe, or the one who has revealed the nature of divinity by sharing the riskiness of life among us?”

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks talk about their experiences of loss, and the role this played in the deconstruction and reconstruction of their faith.

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.
After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson talk about their interest in nature based spirituality and the Celtic roots of their Christian faith, and the role this has played in the deconstruction and reconstruction of their faith.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Joy Brooks talk about their own experiences and understanding of Pentecostalism, atonement, power dynamics, healing and mystical 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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks reflect on 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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflects on what they find attractive about indigenous spirituality, and what it might mean to explore their own spiritual roots.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on how the life and theology of Merton might shape their own faith journey.

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, which triggered his faith deconstrcution. 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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Joy Brooks reflect on their own experiences of religious trauma, and how this has shaped their subsequent faith journey.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own experiences of dispensational End Times theology, and how their faith deconstruction and subsequent embrace of a more progressive faith has reshaped that.

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.”

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Nick Thorley ponder how Dr. Williams’ ideas might shape their own faith journey.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Anna Robinson reflect on how Hannah’s book might shape their own activism and faith journey.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower chat about how Claire’s experiences might inform their own faith journeys.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Anna Robinson have a conversation about how Rachel’s experiences might inform their own activism and faith journeys.

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 Tim Nash and Nick Thorley, 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 Nash and Nick Thorley 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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Jemimah McAlpine and Anna Robinson ponder how Natalia’s experiences might inform their own activism and faith journeys.

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 Blower 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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley chat about the understanding of the afterlife they inherited, how their deconstruction challenged this, and how they might integrate Dr Greyson’s finding into their spirituality.

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 Blower 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.
After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley ponder the role doubt played in the evangelicalism they inherited, and in the deconstruction and reconstruction of their faith.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine chat about Damon’s ideas, and the role liberation theology might in play in the reconstruction of their faith.

Interview starts at 14m 41s

Image used with permission

RESOURCES

Damon’s YouTube Channel

BOOK

The God Who Riots: Taking Back the Radical Jesus

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower chat about Gail’s activism and spiritual journey and ponder how it might shape their own spirituality.

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.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on their own experiences of death, how it challenged their previous evangelical faith, and whether a more progressive faith might be better able to hold such experiences.

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.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower reflect on the faith they inherited, what it means to be a Christian, and what Quakerism might offer their evolving faith.

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.

Following the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Anna Robinson reflect on what Julian and mystics like her, might bring to their evolving faith.

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 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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Jemimah McAlpine and Tim Nash reflect on their own evolving faith journey.

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.

Everybody Now is being released by podcasters all over the world as a collective call for awareness, grief and loving action.


CONTRIBUTIONS

Dr. Gail Bradbrook – scientist and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion

Prof. Kevin Anderson – Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester

Dámaris Albuquerque – works with agricultural communities in Nicaragua

Dr. Rowan Williams – theologian and poet, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury

Pádraig Ó Tuama – poet, theologian and conflict mediator

Rachel Mander – environmental activist with Hope for the Future

John Swales – priest and activist, and part of a community for marginalised people

Zena Kazeme – Persian-Iraqi poet who draws on her experiences as a former refugee to create poetry that explores themes of exile, home, war and heritage

Flo Brady – singer and theatre maker

Hannah Malcolm – Anglican ordinand, climate writer and organiser

Alastair McIntosh – writer, academic and land rights activist

David Benjamin Blower – musician, poet and podcaster

FUNDING AND PRODUCTION

This podcast was crowdfunded by a handful of good souls, and produced by Tim Nash and David Benjamin Blower

PERMISSIONS

The song Happily by Flo Brady is used with permission.

The song The Soil, from We Really Existed and We Really Did This by David Benjamin Blower, used with permission.

The Poem The Tree of Knowledge by Pádraig Ó Tuama used with permission.

The Poem Atlas by Zena Kazeme used with permission.

The Poem What is Man? by Rowan Williams from the book The Other Mountain, used with permission from Carcanet Press.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Tim Nash reflect on their own experiences of relating to people in their lives whose faith is in a different place to their own.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley talk about their deconstruction journey, and the role figures like Rob Bell have played in their evolving faith.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Jemimah McAlpine and David Blower ponder the implications of Pete’s philosophy and theology for their own faith journey.

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.

After the interview, Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own relationship with masculinity, the role their inherited evangelical faith played in this, and how their faith deconstruction has liberated them from these stereotypes.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Jemimah McAlpine and Tim Nash reflection on their own faith deconstruction and what has subsequently brought them life.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own faith deconstruction and how it has radically redefined how they understand and practice 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 podcast), 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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash, Jemimah McAlpine and Tim Nash reflect on their faith deconstruction and the ways in which this has redefined how they understand and relate to their bodies.

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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on the role poetry has played in their faith and lives.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on the increasing role feminism has played in their evolving faith and lives.

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.” 

After the interview Nomad hosts David Blower and Nick Thorley reflect on how Sam’s ideas might shape their evolving faith.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on how Mike’s ideas might shape their evolving faith.

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?!

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on how animism might shape their own evolving faith.

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? 

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower reflect on how Anne’s understanding of hope might shape their own evolving faith.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts David Blower and Nick Thorley reflect on their own evolving faith and evolving relationship with the Apostle Paul.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Tim Nash discuss what they can learn from the life of Johnny Cash and how this might shape their evolving faith.

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? 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash, Jemimah McAlpine and Nick Thorley discuss how the evangelical faith they inherited shaped their view of sex and relationships, and how these views have changed since their deconstruction.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on Pádraig faith journey and ponder how the lessons he’s learnt might shape their own evolving faith.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on Jenny’s faith journey and ponder how their own experiences of disability and brokenness have shaped their evolving faith.

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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on Brian’s experiences, and ponder how they might shape the way they raise their own children at a time when their faith is evolving.

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 has personally conducted the funerals of 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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on Greg’s experiences and wonder how it might shape their evolving faith journey.

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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash, Jemimah McAlpine and David Blower reflect on Alexander’s discoveries and discuss what they might personally take from it.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts David Blower, Jemimah McAlpine and Tim Nash reflect on Barbara’s journey and chat about what the lessons she’s learnt might mean for their own evolving faith.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts David Blower, Jemimah McAlpine, Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own experiences of evangelicalism, their subsequent deconstructions, and where they are seeing hope.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley reflect on their own relationship with prayer – pre and post-deconstruction – and ponder what place Centering Prayer might have in their evolving faith.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley ponder how, if at all, Zen can help them on their our journey of faith deconstruction and 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.

Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine sit down with fellow host David Benjamin Blower 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.

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. 

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on their own experiences of patriarchy and how it has shaped their faith and lives.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts David Blower, Jemimah McAlpiine and Tim Nash ponder when it’s right to say no to the rulers and authorities? Would they go to prison for their convictions? And how would they 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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Nick Thorley try to process everything Prof. Gorringe said, and figure out what all this means for the ongoing evolution of their faith and lifestyle.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on Janet’s experiences and insights and ponder whether they shed new light on their own evolving faith journeys.

Interview starts at 11m 32s


Image provided by Janet Williams. Used with permission.


BOOKS

Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality

QUOTES

“We’re not saying that there is no truth in ideas about God that we might have to go beyond. Of course there’s truth in them – but it’s partial. And we need to be really careful about getting stuck on partial truth, because God is dynamic. Augustine calls Him, ‘Ever ancient, ever new,’ and we can lose that sense of newness.”

“Almost certainly, the shoes that Moses was wearing were the skins of some other animal. And so my understanding of, ‘take off your shoes because you’re standing on holy ground,’ is you have to stand before God in your own skin – not covered in somebody else’s. And an awful lot of those certainties about God…they’re like somebody else’s skin, aren’t they?”

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? How about a 3 hour 40 minute Q&A marathon episode with the whole gang, Jemimah McAlpine, David Blower, Tim Nash, Nick Thorley, and Dave Ward.

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.   

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on Edwina’s journey, how they now understand Church and mission, and how they now 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?

After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Tim Nash reflect on these and many other questions.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash, David Blower and Nick Thorley reflect on their own experience in Charismatic spaces, and what they’ve kept and rejected as their faith has continued to evolve.

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.

After the interview Nomad hosts Tim Nash and Jemimah McAlpine reflect on their their enneagram 5ness, and how it’s shaped their life and faith.

And if all that’s not enough to convince you, head over to patreon or our own membership platform where you can listen in on Tim getting enneagram-ed in a bonus Nomad Extra episode! 

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash, David Blower and Nick Thorley try to get their heads round all these new ideas, and ponder how it might shape their evolving faith.

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.

After the interview, Nomad hosts Tim Nash and David Blower reflect on the ups and downs of their own church journeys.

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.”