Episode 001: Deconstruction
<music> coming on so so you're ready to record the first episode of thanks peter pod of course i am. I sure yes. This is thanks pod. I'm kobe wrong and here. We are episode. One do construction so i think <hes> that we both consider ourselves deconstructed christie's. We've both had a tenuous at a good word tenuous to describe in. I had a professor in divinity school school. His set who would literally like shut people up if they use the word like tenuous and tell them to use real words but but we can roll with ten news of you'd prefer to use that i'm all what was this professors beef with the word tenuous wasn't a beef with tenure so it was a beef with academic academic folks <hes> padding their vocabularies to <hes> to sound more verbose okay mind if needed you too so okay we've had a checkered past with the church and <hes> <hes> so we were both raised in dominations right <hes> that may be considered evangelical something along those lines <hes> and then when <hes> when we stepped away we both stepped into mainline churches congregations nominations and this process of moving from one place to another. I think is part of our narrative and part of what many people consider deconstruction so. I think there are for us today in this episode three three questions on the table which are what is deconstruction. Who are these deconstructed christians and and finally is there a place for them. I put together a little story for us. Goes a little something like this. Okay so it's the nineteenth century and the way historians think about history as best summed up by the philosophy of one guy. Will you polled von on ronca the big questions for ronca. What is the past and how do you access. According to rock the past is accessed through documents no documents no history with primary sources and the right tools however the historian rock is words can reconstruct the past as it actually really happened in other words. There is a factual objective historical narrative that historians are capable telling there was some critics critics bronco in the nineteenth century chief among them nietzsche who challenged the notion of objectivity but nietzsche is the minority and ronca and his view of objectivity are the mainstays in the academy. If you're a professional historian you're not gonna like the over simplification of this but just bear with me jumped to the twentieth century and objectivism begins to erode new kids on the block begins to argue that reconstructing the past isn't as simple as digging up some primary sources says and relaying facts to readers as duke historian elizabeth clark puts it since the past at least in written form is preserved in the present only s. taxed there can be no appeal to a past aside from this linguistically constituted record and more down to earth language words aren't the past this new willingness to challenge objectively to challenge the long held views of the academy are exemplified in the work of jacques doc daredevil who coined the term deconstruction according to derrida deconstruction interrogating the interplay between language and meaning culture often privileges certain terms over others nature and culture speech and writing mind and body the presence and absence inside and outside literal and metaphorical the tension between these terms creates would dare to cause a violent hierarchy erkki when a reader steps back observes these hierarchies questions their existence and wonders how they may influence his or her formulation of meaning than they are participating insulating and deconstruction deconstruction though isn't destruction rather it's the willingness to critically engage hierarchy and to humbly assume soon as a person my biases my beliefs my own hierarchies. They influenced the way that i interpret everything for christians who wrote a great deal of reverence toward the bible. You can see how a concept like deconstruction. Mike carlson shock waves on the one hand. There is the philosophy of ronca objectivism. If you think of the bible as the word of god then the taxes all you need because you have the bible a primary source you can imagine god as god actually is but if you entertain the ideas of deconstruction derrida you might realize that standing between you and god as a whole host of obstacles language by his culture politics hierarchy interpretation and you consider this every time you open the bible every time you read a verse standing in between you and god is your perception as has developed in the twenty first century my position as a white heterosexual educated male conditions my perception of the bible and of god always since i can't disassociate myself with who i am cam at best i can acknowledge it and consider how dominant narratives and my own narrative have influenced my perception god. It's this willingness leanness to interrogate hierarchy and long-standing tradition that many of us call deconstruction so let me get this straight. You've got you've got it wrong and objectivism right. That's the very simplified way to over simplified version of this right right right so you've got those guys in one camp or that guy yes and he's arguing that a historical tax can bring us objective truth truth run <hes> on our faith for for the sake of what we're talking about right so something like the bible can bring us objective truth an guidance on who it is. We should be what we should believe what happened in the past and then you've got dare the correct they say that derrida and deconstruction and that is the argument that between me in those texts sts is my own perception and i have to reckon with that or deal with that to understand what's actually going on on the aesthetics right. It may be more complicated than that because the process of reckoning and dealing with what's your perception and all the other perceptions assumptions that have influenced cultural interpretations of these texts <hes> it's not. It's not really that well. There's debate about whether or not that's even possible to fully reckon with yourself so the question with deconstructing deconstructing is possibly you're always in a process of deconstructing. You're always reckoning with yourself knowing that in some way you influence whatever you're reading <hes> and how you read it and even more than that you're also reckoning the perceptions of the writers and trying to figure out how the writers of these texts allowed their perceptions infiltrates or be included in these divine and or historical texts. That's right to and there's also a lot of debate about whether other not the intention of the riders even matters when you're reading texts. I think there are a fair number of people and i'm not gonna put myself one of these camps <hes> but there are a fair number of people that i would say you well. You only get taxed. You don't get the writer's intentions because you can't actually speak to the writer they're dead <hes> so you're always in dealing with second hand material and thaw so clear if the writer if it's up to the writer to <hes> insert themselves within the tax or it's always always the reader sort of imagining what the writer might say. I think the point of deconstructing is that you are aware that it isn't so easy to read texts. You're always dealing with all sorts of layers of interpretation whether it's yourself or whether it's a it's the writer or trying to figure out historical context right whereas objectivism objectivism within steamroll its way into the conversation and say none of that matters. It's the word of god and god god ordained and it is in erin and it doesn't matter who the writers were what their perceptions were. None of that got in here because god controlled old. What's in this text yeah exactly yeah i mean i would. I would say that's that's the two camps. <hes> deconstructing isn't necessarily coming to terms or or or there's no process of being deconstructed right. You don't get to a point where you no longer investigating all of the things that are are that are laying being in front of you when you encounter tax and really this can go beyond texts as well <hes> deconstruction. You can construct pretty much anything. The point is that you were just challenging changing and you have a willingness to challenge <hes> longstanding thoughts about stuff. That's so nate are you. Are you telling me that to use the fr- the word deconstruction to describe me as a christian or or deconstructed to describe me as a christian would be in the game of semantics problematic because <unk>. I'm no i'm never done. I've never done deconstructing right as probably problematic to say that you are a deconstructed christian then you are more than likely deconstructing christian yeah or maybe even decomposing definitely at some point decomposing from dust to dust baby. I think <hes> augustine said something about that so anyway. <hes> that's deconstruction in a nutshell. I think i think we've accomplished getting from the bear word word as it's been asserted and thrown around to what it means possibly in a very i don't know i think this is a very intellectual way of thinking about deconstruction. It's a a process in which christians at take apart their long held beliefs and i think you have a story and leave it to the liberals to create a term that you have to google to understand. I didn't know i had been going through deconstruction until it was already happening. As in undergrad attending a campus campus ministry after growing up in an evangelical fundamentalist christian summer camp world starting as a freshman at florida state. I arrived thinking that being an authentic christian men having a transcendent emotional experience jesus wanted that experience desperately desperately but never felt like anyone heard the prayers and questions. I was casting out into the ether only a few weeks into college. I found myself regularly the attending a united methodist campus ministry it was that campus ministry coupled alongside my newfound independence that started my subconscious this shift towards progressive belief. I have a question yeah. Why did you feel comfortable going to the methodist ministry on campus campus. I mean like we both grew up in more delicate environments and i would've thought i would've been scared to death because i would have thought that's where all the liberals were yea. I think this is actually i thought about naming this earlier <hes> but i think i had no idea that like there was a distinct difference between the baptist denomination and mainline traditions right to me they were all aw some form of denomination and i didn't know that there was such a parsing out of like a congregational list or evangelical structure structure versus what was going on the main line. So even i mean back in high school. I started going across the street to the presbyterian church for a year to because they needed a drummer in their worship bands and so i started doing that so to me hopping between denominations because i didn't have the historical soreq background of these nominations felt very seamless so then when i got to college and the methodist campus ministry was across the street from my dorm in in iowa's your standard typical lazy college students there were less steps to get to the methodist campus ministry than to get to the b._b._c. or the baptist campus ministry so i landed methodists with no leaning towards their theology or their doctrine whatsoever no understanding of any of that just showing up because it was the closest thing to me gumption gumption okay back to the stork mark skip to the end of that year and i was signing a lease to live off campus with three other guys from that campus ministry. Two two of these new roommates brothers both wanted to meet up for coffee before moving in separately. Both of them told me that they were gay. They they wanted to make sure i was ok and comfortable living with them in this so interesting that we live in a society where they had to it'd be more concerned with my well being than their own in that moment i mean tried ac- this from their perspective you are a gay man and that is not come out to many people at all then. You make plans to room with someone that you go to church with. You don't know their backgrounds. All oh you know is what people think. The bible says about same sex intercourse but still this moment shouldn't be about your emotional safety this. His moment shouldn't be a safe holding tank for your potential trauma instead. You should be concerned about the faith of your future roommate in that moment. My brain unraveled. They weren't the problem but the faith that i had been taught. Maybe it was mm-hmm. What kind of screwed up world was i living in where someone had to expose the deepest parts of themselves to alleviate future conflicts quits with me not necessarily equipped to have a pastoral or ethical response to such situation i- nonchalantly dismissed their worries stories because to me there were none. I must definitely did not understand the magnitude of the moment for both of them the fear they were experiencing that i might rebuke within after they tell me the shame they might be feeling for not just being able to be attracted to women being zayed's that was coursing through them while they waited for my response all of those internal feelings and most definitely more did not register to me in that moment to me see this was a simple exchange. I wanted to be roommates. They were gay. I still loved them. They were still some of my closest friends. I wanted to be even closer with them. That was the whole point of living together this whole time. Although i'm not sure i realized that then these two men among many other college friends which shape my perspective on life and faith so fast forward to now i just recently graduated divinity school. I applied and went to divinity school. After lingering a few years of my undergraduate institution while there i realized i was not the only one struggling to rectify my faith with experiences in the ivory tower so at divinity school after after multiple internships and endless visits to churches in the area. I realize no one was doing the work. I wanted to do to create a community where we could earnestly earnestly and honestly question what we had been taught our whole lives without shame or guilt and moreover to be able to do so without feeling like step through a time warp straight to the eighteen hundreds even more frustrating. It didn't seem like anyone cared when i met with church officials at the denominational nation level as well as at the local church there were no opportunities to work with young folks who are deconstructing some of these clergy and church professionals didn't <music> even know the term deconstruction leave it to liberals to grab a hold of term. We all have to google ordered understand it so job bob interview after job interview. Nothing seems to click with the intersection of christian that i wanted to work with and after finally discovering an opportunity to you work with young adults in campus ministry contexts i was rejected in favor of the candidate that had a background in fundraising inter the other facet to progressive church ministry. We don't have the money for some reason wants. The bible stops being the errand word of god. People feel less obligated the top live so now now i find myself here discontent the full of them knowing that all of these emotions deserve irv to exist inside all of simultaneously thanks be to pod is not only a unifier for discontent confused christians who don't know what they believe anymore. It's a unifier invalidated for all emotions. We feel as well. We'll be right back unlike mm-hmm so kobe long. How about you tell me how people can <hes> support. Thanks upon all right. Here's the deal if you're excited about. Thanks for you to pod and wanna play a bigger your role and what's happening here. We have a couple ways for you to do that. Head on over to patriots dot com slash. Thanks be to pod where you'll find options for how to give back back to us monetarily every month for just one dollars a month. We'll give you access to patron only forums to discuss the episodes and whatever other conversations we spiral into you for five dollars a month. 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We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for young anyways back to the show so i have a question for you and it's personnel <music>. Are you going to church right now. So it's kind of a tricky question. You know skirt it. I i have been a pastor for the last year and my time as a pastor ended probably roughly a month ago and so what i can say is that i haven't been to church since i was done at my placement as a pastor and every now and then i'm all over slipping into the back of a church service now that i'm a lay person again but but i haven't put my sunday best on in left my house yet so i'm wondering if you're going to go through this process of finding church. I think that maybe the question is how does deconstructing christian out. How do people like us find churches when they don't have no. I mean what do you do. How do you go out right. I mean barring a couple of different indicators on the outside of churches space then in an wait a minute. This is my story. Okay aright so few days ago. I had this idea i want wanted to go out of my house and i did this thing. I went and asked my wife to come on a little title sunday afternoon. Road trip with me breakdown which means right. Yes oh actually yes. You're right down the church name scorn and we're gonna impeach trump guesses here again. I will go down. Churches took waynesboro though because i think that's okay so the idea was to look at the outside of a church and to guess <music> whether or not the church would be welcoming to christians who are deconstructing their the church right across the street festival church literally right across the street almost like okay so the first category of church that we noticed that that we drove by was mainline protestant churches. Tell me exactly what a mainline protestant churches what fits in that category category so i think that generally these older more established quote unquote main line you know they're the ones that have been around for a while <hes> <hes> and that are in the blood of the united states of america <hes> so i mean the ones that come to my head of the presbyterian church piece you say the l._c._a. Lutheran church the methodist church the united methodist church <hes> the fiscal church there anymore. Yeah we've got a american baptist. Church is actually okay which can throw things off the united church of christ and disciples of christ which are both pretty prominent here in nashville as well as quakers reformed orm church in america the ame church as well the african methodist episcopal church most of these main main lines are known for their active active approach to social issues. That's their their big indicator active in social issues. I could see that being a definition that they used they also i mean at least in my mind and my construction of the mainline church like i'm painting an image of a mainline church in my head they are the ones with pews and the steeple and the pipe morgan and the robes has affair yeah the yeah. The robes are a big thing which always deterred me. I was like who are you people. And why can't you just be normal like when are you walking down the street and you see someone in a row like that is the most unapproachable thing you could be wearing for someone who cares about social issues. I do wear a robe every they were. Thanks colby needs. Just one of them knits just a narc. Every congregation is different but the first sharon church can tell by their sign. Edge is first first presbyterian church private. It's also say you can tell by the love out so i mean knowing that it's p._c. U._s._a. church bigger. It's a <hes> more progressive denomination. The church has to accept some. Is this reality that we have to account for that. There are a lot of churches that are associated with denominations and many of these denominations nominations set nationwide or regional policies so for example the church that we drove by. I was a member of the p._c. U._s._a. and by being being a member of the p._c. u._s._a. Know that this church has to be open and affirming so sign it to a degree is helpful. Okay cold leaked consigns they do they tell you something about the church that you are getting ready to attend. I think probably one of the more helpful signs if a few are steeped in denomination. I'd co denominational ism if you know anything about denominations probably one of the more helpful signs is the sign of denomination if it is actually on the church so there are some pretty unique logos for the p._c. u._s._a. For the episcopal church <hes> <hes> i think the united methodist has a logo mark cross and flame right <hes> so if you see that plaster let's just a let's clear the air okay all united methodist churches at this point are not open and affirming right and that's that's the difference between the united methodist and maybe some other mainline denominations <hes> so let me just talk from my own experience. <hes> is a former presbyterian <hes> that the presbyterian in church p._c. U._s._a. is as nationwide affirming <hes> open and affirming answered l._g._b._t._q. People and <hes> so oh having that sign on your church in less you left the denomination means that at least theoretically you to have to be uh-huh and affirming our store frontier jr right on the name of the sun from all signs no no language on the signs that would indicate like what is it like in literally in downtown. They proved building into this. You wouldn't even know it's church the church. I'm sure the past it hasn't there's another category of church out there that we noticed almost immediately and that is the storefront church so colby. Oh be you're searching for churches and you have no real clue about denominations or about <hes> theology or theological traditions and and you're going around. What church at least are you looking for aesthetically on the outside as someone who is a millennial. What are you looking for right. I think this is the ah the big question is do people look for theology and doctrine when they're looking for a church and ultimately i would. I'd say i'm not i am looking for something where i know. The people will be relatable to me may be experiencing already have experienced inst- things in life that i am about to experience so that i have dialogue partners for how my faith informs the things that i'm going through in my day to day life and so to me something like a storefront church would would fit that bill would have the people that i'm looking for for now. That's not to say that once. I get inside and start worshipping with them that i don't get immediately concerned once someone starts speaking speaking right lou arguably if you're not playing a game of semantics you can make it through a contemporary worship service right with with some sort what of modern worship with drums electric guitars you might have a couple small red flags but ultimately you're gonna lead up to the pivotal point of when and someone starts speaking in what's going to come out of their mouth. Is it going to be reflective of your faith is going to be reflective of what you believe. We've that god would want us to be in do in this world or is it going to be something more exclusive something a little bit more evangelical leaning something a little bit objective est right <hes> and i would insert this category of church that doesn't doesn't even make it clear where they stand on many issues that concern us deconstructing christians i know of evangelical churches that don't even approach topics about homosexuality or anything because they are concerned about staying as broad as possible and so they use very very very very inclusive language at least in that big worship service that you go to but then when you become a member of their bible studies and you join a small group and you go on on a retreat then and you start to get some of those things that make you feel uncomfortable right in the argument is that you're trying to stay is broad as possible to be as inclusive as possible but i really wonder if there isn't more play. I wonder if you're staying as broad as possible because the storefront churches don't have denominational backing always don't necessarily have denominational the national backing in so then they are forced to try and welcome as many people in the doors as they can because what lands in that offering plate not not only pays the electric bills but please pays the salaries yeah yes salaries yeah <hes> so there there is no question though there is no doubt that there are deconstructing christians <hes> people like kobe and myself who are looking for more modern expressions of worship and liturgy and all this stuff and yet the churches that are offering those modern expressions of worship are at least typically more conservative evangelical churches so those social justice issues that we care about the things that make us who we are deconstructing christians those are rejected and the vast majority of churches that are offering modern worship and and the storefront church isn't typically attracting deconstructed christians deconstructing christians <hes> so here we stand with this weird in this weird place where her progress and progressivism in respected church means traditional. That's wild right and end end your evangelical churches are creating faith that is often at people's expenses but religious experiences spiritual communities that you are more interested in participating in if you had the whole service on on mute the whole time right so that's where we stand and i think that's kind of one of the main questions of thanks to pod is is it possible to create a space where deconstructing christians who desire modern expressions of worship desired a community that it doesn't look like you've stepped into a time warp actually exist right is there. Is there a faith tradition or a church that that is teaching spirituality. That's it no one else's expense. Is there a church or community that makes yes. You think or realize that you're not tired of going to church anymore. Is there a spiritual a spiritual community that you can be proud of house where spiritual community that you don't have to be ashamed of okay so where that that i think brings us to the end of the very first episode. Thanks beautify. Should we say it. I say the word of pot for the people of thought is that we're going yeah. You say the first part the second part and then we'll say say that this has been the word of pod for the people pod. Thanks thanks to five. I'm not sure if that's going to stay. There are many more episodes calm. I stay tuned for the next couple of episodes of thanks pod like we said you can enjoy those couple of episodes early by joining our launch party on facebook or by donating to our patriae on page. We would really appreciate appreciate your support as we get things going. This is our pilot episode will releasing this weeks in advance of the launch of actual show you seeing this on facebook social from media. Wherever you are take second share the link it would mean a ton to us if people saw and heard. I guess this can't see a podcast this. This episode was produced by nate dove kobe along the theme music for the episode in every episode of thanks be pod comes from a project called lava goals. That's lava goals. If you dipped a seabird into molten rock head on over to spotify checkout lava goals latest album glass negative you were head on over to their band camp page. Lava goals dot band camp dot com were thankful for what they are doing in playing a role here at thanksgiving uh-huh yeah.