Tag: snarky

How to Talk to People

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A snarky take on Christian communication

In the wake of all of this religious division and Christian insanity – or Christinsanity (stop trying to make fetch happen!), I had a listener ask for advice on how to talk with people that didn’t believe the same way they did. Let’s talk about how to talk with people who don’t believe like you. If we can see the common humanity in the ‘other’ we can walk out our faith in a meaningful way. Being hateful and angry is so 2016. So how do you evangelize the right-leaning conservative Christian? Join us to find out how to talk to people.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Religion, Politics and the Johnson Amendment

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A snarky take on the separation between church and state

A rundown of what you need to know about Trump’s mission to ‘destroy’ the Johnson Amendment. This Amendment regulates what tax-exempt organizations such as churches can do in the political arena. If you think that this issue all about freedom of religious speech, you’re wrong… it’s all about money and power. We’ve also got What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and an interview from the Snarky Faith vaults with the great singer-songwriter, Gregory Alan Isakov.

Join us as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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What’s Good // What’s Bad: Kids Edition

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This weekly feature gives you the best of what’s good and what’s bad out there in the snarkiverse. This content is explored more in-depth on our weekly radio show, Snarky Faith, so you should check that out too. Without further adieu… here’s your rundown this week of the good, bad and ugly of the interwebs. Enjoy!

• Life happens, especially when you have kids. It’s rarely expected, often embarrassing, but ultimately you just have to laugh. Take this example of a rogue kiddo as he interrupts a weatherman mid-broadcast to offer his own weather prediction, “There are farts everywhere. And toots!!” Someone hire this kid pronto. I want him to give me the weather every day.

• As a parent, we’ve always had those moments when the kiddos crash the party, interrupt a phone call or say something inappropriate (that they learned from us). This instance of a kid-tastrophe happened live during a BBC interview. I definitely believe this deserves to be in the parenting hall of fame. Hats off to Professor Robert E. Kelly, of Pusan National University in South Korea for keeping it together. Bonus points for his wife for cleaning up the hilarious carnage. We’ve all be there.

• Say hello to Madison, the newest viral video star. After winds swept through the state of Ohio last week, they had power outages and mass destruction. The winds were even enough to make four-year old, Madison Gardner fly.

• Can twenty-one kids take on Trump and the fossil fuel industry?  I truly hope so.

There’s a showdown a-brewin’ in the courts that has Trump taking on a group of organized and motivated young people from the advocacy group,  Our Children’s Trust. Per their website, “Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations.”

From Mashable: “If successful, this first-of-its-kind lawsuit could force even a skeptical government to curb carbon dioxide emissions and help communities adapt to the effects of global warming.”

Can I get an amen?

 

If you see any snark-worthy news that’s either good or bad, feel free to send it us: questions@snarkyfaith.com. Have a great week!

 

Discover What Materializes Between a Billionaire and Jesus

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Ever wonder what a conversation would look like between Jesus and President Donald Trump? Well, wait no longer. Here’s the Snarky Faith interpretation of a hypothetical interaction between the heavy-weight savior and the orange-light-weight POTUS. If you didn’t catch this on our show, here’s the dramatic reading of Karl Giberson’s satire “Jesus at Trump Tower.”

Enjoy.

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You can find Karl’s original piece here: [Huff Po]

 

What’s Good // What’s Bad 2.28.17

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This weekly feature gives you the best of what’s good and what’s bad out there in the snarkiverse. This content is explored more in-depth on our weekly radio show, Snarky Faith, so you should check that out too. Without further adieu… here’s your rundown this week of the good, bad and ugly of the interwebs. Enjoy!

• Did you catch the Oscar flub heard ’round the world? I loved the look on Warren Beatty’s face when he looked at the incorrect card… it sooo reminded me of what it looks like when my mom tries to take a picture with her iPhone. It’s almost as laughable as the fact that Mike Pence uses an AOL email account. That should be grounds for something…

• Oh, Iowa state Senator, Mark Chelgren… you made quite the faux pas when you decided to post in your government website bio that you had a business degree, when in fact, all you had was a certificate from a Sizzler restaurant’s training program. When asked about this ‘mistake’ Chelgren replied that he was confused with the terms  “…because apparently a degree and a certificate are different.” I worked at Chuck E. Cheeses when I was a teenager, does that mean that I’m a licensed animal control officer? Perhaps.  [WaPo]

• Peeps are now an annual Lenten/Easter tradition. This year, they have debuted a new, limited edition Oreo Peeps. While that is news in itself, folks are noticing that eating these processed delicacies have had quite the reaction. Not only does it dye your tongue pink… it also has a similar effect on your poo. Does it count if we give up regularly colored poo for Lent?  [Huff Po]

• Looks like Jesus needs to give up escalators for Lent…

• Jesus isn’t the only zombie you’ll encounter this Easter season, Randolph county residents in Indiana had a bit of a scare when emergency radio alerts of a zombie attack were broadcast last week. They were later deemed to be the product of a joke/hack, but it’s gotta make you wonder. Stranger Things do happen in Indiana…

Either way, stay vigilant, my snarky friends and remember the quote from Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, “Humans who believe they have outrun their undead pursuers might do well to remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, adding, of course, that in this instance the hare stands a good chance of being eaten alive.”  😉

[Facebook]

If you see any snark-worthy news that’s either good or bad, feel free to send it us: questions@snarkyfaith.com. Have a great week!

 

Unchained at Last

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A not-so-snarky talk about about forced marriage in America today

Snarky Faith 2/28/17

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Join us for our conversation with activist and founder of Unchained at Last, Fraidy Reiss. Unchained At Last is the only nonprofit in the US dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained also is the only nonprofit in the US dedicated to creating social, policy and legal change to end forced marriage in America. Fraidy has a powerful message about this unseen epidemic in America. We’ve also got What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week and a rant about Christians and boycotting.

Buckle up for a wild ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.


[showhide type=”pressrelease” more_text=”Click for Full Show Transcript” less_text=”Hide Show Transcript” hidden=”yes”]

Title:  Unchained

Episode: # 142

Program: Snarky Faith Radio

Host: Stuart Delony

Download the Unnchained at Last Transcript Here

Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I am your host, Stuart Delony. As you’re out there listening this week, you may say, “Who is this guy? He sounds different.” Well, it’s because I got a haircut. I just wanted you guys to know I got a haircut, so I may sound a little different on the radio. Just a heads up, so no one gets confused. This week on the show, we have an interview with Fraidy Reiss who is the founder of Unchained At Last. It’s an organization that helps women get out of forced marriages. It’s a great talk, and we will get to that in a little bit. Before that, you know what it’s time for? It’s time for “What’s good // What’s bad”. Just a reminder, if you want to see all the videos and all the links that we’re talking about here, you can find it on our website www.snarkyfaith.com.

Over this past week, since we’ve talked, since we’ve hung out, since we’ve been around one another, did you catch the Oscar flub that was heard around the world? I’m pretty sure everybody knows about it where Pricewaterhouse gave Warren Beatty the wrong card. He read out the wrong Best Picture winner, which was super awkward, super embarrassing, but the thing I loved most about this was I love that confused look on Warren Beatty’s face when he looked at the card. He starred at it. He looked at it. He wasn’t sure what to do with it, and he was just like, “Uh.” It was one of those things that reminds me of what it looks like when my mom is trying to figure out how to take a picture with her iPhone. She’s just like, “Uh. Why is it on my face? Why can’t I—?” Yeah. It was one of those classic moments, which is almost as laughable as the fact, if you heard in the news that, uh oh, Mike Pence used to use a private email account, not a private email server, but a private email account that, in the past, got hacked. What I love about that story is that, as governor, he was still using his own private account, which was an AOL account. I didn’t even realize AOL accounts were still a thing. [Laughter] I remember it back from in my teens when you would get AOL. You could dial in and hop on to the internet. Oh my gosh. How far we’ve come, but it’s just funny that people still use AOL accounts. I didn’t know that was a thing.

Onward and upward into “What’s good // What’s bad”. Here’s the first thing we’ve got. First off, sticking to politics, did anyone read—this comes from the Washington Post—information was recently taken down from the Iowa Senate Republican websites. This guy’s name is Mark Chelgren, and apparently, on his website, he had some incorrect information because it said that he formally held a business degree. As folks went to dig into, really, what degree this was, where it from, actually, he had taken a management course at Sizzler years before. No, but this is real. This is a real thing. The dude was touting that he had a bachelor’s degree in business and it was simply just, I think, a one-time management course for Sizzler, the restaurant, like when people would say, “I went to McDonald’s University.” Same idea. Yeah.

Many of you know we are in that period of time called Lent, which marks the days that march us towards Easter. As part of a Lent tradition, you’ve seen this in the stores. You don’t even have to be religious go follow this Lent tradition because we’ve seen them everywhere. The Peeps. They start happening. You see them in your grocery stores. You see them at the Walmarts and Targets of the world. Yes. Those little, squishy, marshmallow things that kind of represent chicks that are simply just a sugar bomb in your mouth. Well, if those weren’t good enough or sweet enough for you, this year, they’re running a limited time edition Oreo Peep. You’ve got the Oreo cookie on the outside and squishy, little Peeps on the inside. The only problem, as people have noted across social media is (a) your tongue turns completely pink when you eat them. The scarier part is on the other side, like after your body has digested and processed it, when it’s ready to make its triumphant exit, yeah, it’s turning everybody’s poop pink. It’s freaking people out. Thanks, Peeps. Thanks, Peeps and Oreo for turning our poop pink as that’s a great meditation reminding us of the coming of the resurrection of Christ for Easter. [Sarcasm] Right. Whoever thought about that? You could, actually, literally give up normal colored poop for Lent and say, “I’m good. I’m doing this. I’m going to commit to 40 days of eating Peep Oreos.” Delicious. [Sarcasm]

Moving away from poop and getting back to Easter, we’ve got a video. I don’t know if you’ve caught it. I love it. It’s really funny. There was a guy dressed up (I believe this was in Europe) as Jesus walking around as an art piece, a guy dressed as Jesus, walking around, carrying his cross with him. I don’t know if this is an airport or a subway station, he’s coming out the other end of an escalator. Well, apparently, there wasn’t enough clearance in the ceiling, and his cross gets jammed up and jacks up the ceiling. All we can say was, “One of those Jesus party fouls.” Really, if you’re Jesus and carrying a cross around everywhere, you’re bound to come into some mishaps, sometime.

Next, on a slight tangent from talking about Jesus, let’s talk about zombies because, in certain circles, and depending upon your definition of The Walking Dead, it could be argued that Jesus, in fact, was a zombie. He was dead, and then became reanimated again. Let’s talk about fake zombie breakouts. The Randolph County, which is Randolph County is in Indiana, their sheriff’s department ended up having to list this service announcement this week on Facebook. [Laughter] It said this. It said:

“Local alerts from WZZY 98.3 FM regarding the zombie attack and disease outbreak from deceased bodies is a result of the radio station’s alert system being hacked. There’s no local emergency. We have contacted the radio station and notified the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Again, there’s no emergency or disease outbreak in Randolph County.”

What had happened was someone had actually hacked in to the radio station’s alert system and began to broadcast out an alert that there was a disease that was spreading, that people were dying, but then becoming reanimated like zombies, and people needed to hide and take cover. This is what happens when we have to wait an entire week until the next Walking Dead episode. [Sarcasm] Come on AMC. When Netflix drops a new show, they drop them all at once. They don’t tease us. They don’t make us excruciatingly walk out to figure out what’s happening to Rick and everybody else. Come on. All seriousness, I can’t imagine that this caused a panic, but apparently, it did cause a bit of a panic because you never know what could happen in Indiana. Wasn’t that where Stranger Things was filmed? Hmm.

Next. This next thing started off as a “What’s good // What’s bad”. What I’ll do is I scour stuff out on the interwebs for you guys and find interesting stuff that’s been going on. The Washington Post had posted a piece entitled “Why Can 12-Year-Old Girls Still Get Married in the United States.” It was one of those things that would’ve been in the “What’s good // What’s bad” category as bad. It just blew my mind. It blew my mind that we still have forced marriage issues in our country, that we still have child brides in our country, that this is still happening. This is the kind of thing that you always read about when we think about human trafficking and stuff that goes on in third world countries. We get appalled about it like, “How can this happen?” This stuff is happening under our noses in this country all the time. I read through this article. I did some more research on this article. It, actually, led me to Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last. This whole idea that this continues on in this country is blowing my mind right now. I wonder if she would take time out of her busy schedule to talk to us, to inform us, to educate us about the problem that we have going on in this country. After a few emails, Fraidy decided that this may be a good platform for her to be able to share her story. I felt like it was a good platform to educate you guys, my beloved audience, about this problem that’s going on. That led into the interview with Fraidy Reiss from Unchained At Last. Here it is.

[Begin Audio Clip of Interview with Fraidy Reiss]

Stuart: Today, I’m sitting here with Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained At Last. Unchained is the only nonprofit in the United States dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged or forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained, also, is the only nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated in creating social, policy, and legal change to end forced marriage in America. Fraidy, thank you so much for being on this today.

Fraidy Reiss: Thank you for shining a spotlight on this really important issue.

Stuart: When I was doing the pre-interview research and questionnaire, there’s terms that get thrown around when talking about this a lot. You’ll hear arranged marriages. You’ll hear child marriages. You’ll hear forced marriages. Can you give us some definitions, so we have a working definition in this conversation?

Fraidy: Yeah. That’s a really good place to start. First, people have, like you said, some confusion about what is an arranged marriage. What’s forced marriage? How are they different, and how are they the same? My answer to that is that a forced marriage is one in which one or both parties does not give full, free, informed consent. In many situations, a family or community will call it an arranged marriage, but calling it that, doesn’t make it that. If both parties are not giving full, free, informed consent, then that’s still a forced marriage. The question of child marriage is—by the way, we can go back and talk about the problem with differentiating between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage is that there’s such a fine line between consent and coercion. If somebody says yes but only after experiencing extreme duress, threats, whether they’re implicit or explicit, or fraud, coercion, bribery, then it becomes a question of was that yes actual consent or was that coercion. It’s very difficult, many times, to differentiate between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. We let survivors tell us. Did you feel that you had the chance to say yes? Did you feel that you were able to consent to the marriage? The question of child marriage, not all child marriages are forced. A child marriage is one in which one or both parties is under the age of 18. Not every child marriage is a forced marriage because some children enter into a marriage willingly. Not every forced marriage is a child marriage because somebody can be forced into a marriage or pressured, or coerced, or bribed, or threatened, whatever it is, at any age.

Stuart: Gotcha. All this starts with your story in this. You were raised, what I’ve read here, is in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where you were pushed into an arranged marriage.

Fraidy: Yeah, and again, there goes the wording. You’re calling it an arranged marriage. In the community that I come from, they don’t call it arranged or forced marriage. They just call it marriage. You have to look at what was actually happening as opposed to the label that a family chooses to put on it. Yeah. In my situation, I was raised in a very insular, ultra-Orthodox, Jewish community where I was taught from when I was a toddler that my goal in life was to marry young in an arranged marriage and to be a wife and a mother. Soon after I graduated from high school, my family arranged my marriage. I never really had an option. The question of whether I was going to marry was not asked. That was told to me. The question of when was not asked. It’s after you graduate from high school. The question of whom, well, the matchmaker brought me somebody. I had a matter of hours over a period of a few weeks to decide whether I wanted to marry him, never being allowed to be alone in the room with him or have any physical contact and with tremendous pressure on me to say yes.

Stuart: When did it start going wrong for you, or how soon did you start seeing that there was a problem?

Fraidy: Well, I knew him for only a total of three months when we were married because we had a few weeks to, so called, date and then a six-week engagement. He was still a stranger to me when we married. It was only one week after our wedding that he first showed himself to be violent, and soon after that, that he first threatened to kill me.

Stuart: Oh my gosh. When you started seeing that there was problems here, that there was major problems here, where did you go to look for help in your community?

Fraidy: I went to the places that I had been told I was supposed to go for help. I went to my family, his family, and the rabbis in the community. Wherever I went, there were no offers of help. There was, you chose this guy. Even though this marriage was arranged, I had said yes. I was told, you chose this guy. Marriage is forever. Here’s another thing that’s important to understand is that a forced marriage is, not only at the point of entry that one or both parties doesn’t give full, free, and informed consent, if one or both parties is forced to stay in the marriage, then that, then, becomes a forced marriage. As little choices I had entering the marriage, I had even less in terms of leaving it. Under Orthodox Jewish law, I did not have the right to divorce my husband. Only a man is allowed to divorce his wife under religious law. I did not have reproductive rights. I wasn’t allowed to use birth control, so I gave birth 11 months after my wedding. Soon, I had two children. I, also, had no financial rights. I wasn’t allowed to work, have a bank account, or a credit card in my own name. I was completely, financially dependent on my husband for myself and my kids. With a family that wouldn’t help me, there was just no way out.

Stuart: How did you get out?

Fraidy: Finally, at age 32, managed to leave because I became the first person in my family to go to college. It was really frowned upon. The high school that I went to, the all-girls, ultra-Orthodox Jewish school that I went to, we actually had to sign a paper in high school promising that we would not take SATs or driver’s ed, by the way. That’s how concerned the school was. That’s how concerned the community was about people going to college. I became, at age 27, the first person in my family to go to college over the arguments of my husband and my family. I insisted on going, and graduated at 32, and became financially independent even before I was financially independent. As soon as I graduated, I changed the locks and filed for the divorce. My family and community shunned me. They consider me dead, but I rebuilt my life with my two daughters.

Stuart: How was that? How was that process of rebuilding?

Fraidy: Horrifying, terrifying and joyful and liberating at the same time. I was escaping, not only from an abusive marriage but also, leaving a very insular, religious community where I didn’t have a television, a radio, newspaper, very little contact with the outside world. I knew nothing about the outside world and had to learn that hamburgers are not made out of ham and that the Beatles are, actually, a group, a band. Just basic things like that, and what size I am in jeans.

Stuart: That is incredible, especially when you’re talking about how insolated life was to, then, begin to leave that. It’s like you have to relearn everything.

Fraidy: Yes, literally. Not relearn, learn everything.

Stuart: True.

Fraidy: I was 32 years old learning, for the first time in my life, about what the world is like out there. Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Stuart: When we start to talk about these forced marriages, especially in the realm of child marriage, can we talk about stats when we’re looking at how prevalent this is in the U.S.? I think, oftentimes, there’s this common assumption that this kind of thing only happens elsewhere in the world. How prevalent is this?

Fraidy: You’re absolutely right about that assumption. I get that a lot. If I meet people, for the first time, who already know my story, they say, “Oh, but you’re white. This doesn’t happen to white people,” or when people hear my story, they’ll ask me, “Oh, so you’re from Iran, right?” I say, “No, I’m from Brooklyn. I grew up in Brooklyn. I’m very American.” The statistics on forced marriage, simply, aren’t there because so little research has been done on this. There was one nationwide survey of forced marriage that was done in 2011 by the Tahirih Justice Center that looked at a two-year period leading up to 2011. It found that during that period, there were up to 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage in the United States. Child marriage, also, the statistics just were not there until we, at Unchained At Last, undertook this huge nationwide research project. We went state by state. We went to all 50 states plus Washington D.C., and we asked for marriage license data going back to 2000. We were able to get that data from 38 states. Twelve states and Washington D.C. don’t track the data. From the other 38 states, what we found, from analyzing the data that we retrieved, is that more than 167,000 children, as young as 12, were married just between 2000 and 2010, in those 38 states. For the 12 states and D.C., because we didn’t have the data, we came up with a formula to estimate how many children were married because there was a strong correlation we identified between state population and the number of children married. Including the actual numbers and the estimate for the states that don’t track the data, we determined that nearly a quarter million children were married in America between 2000 and 2010. Again, from the data we do have, we know they were mostly girls married to adult men, and they were as young as 12 years old.

Stuart: That is absolutely frightening to hear that, especially as a father of two girls. For me, that’s just mind blowing. I’ve read that Unchained At Last is fighting to have all 50 states adopt legislation that would change the marriage age to 18 with no or very few exceptions. What kind of pushback are you seeing in the work that you guys are doing of changing legislation?

Fraidy: So far, there’s been no public outcry against the bill. The pushback really, if there is any, more and more states are introducing legislation that eliminate the exceptions to the minimum marriage age of 18, which, currently in all 50 states, allow children to marry. If I could just go back and say that again. Currently, the minimum marriage age in almost all 50 states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children can marry. The legislation that we’re pushing to introduce would eliminate those exceptions state by state and reserve marriage, which is a serious, legal contract, for those who have reached the age of majority, which, usually, is age 18. In states where the age of majority is higher, then we’re pushing for an age of marriage that’s higher. More and more states are looking at this now. Legislation that would end all marriage before 18 without exceptions is, now, advancing in New Jersey where it’s close to passing. It’s, also, pending in Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and about to be introduced in Pennsylvania. Then, legislation that would, at least, cut down on child marriage, although not completely eliminate it, is pending in New York, Missouri, New Hampshire, and more and more states are starting to look at that.

If there’s been any pushback, it’s been from legislators who are just shocked when they learn about this issue. They have a lot of questions. “Well, is that really your problem here?” I can show them, yes, it is. We have the data showing that this is a significant problem in your state and across the United States. Then, some legislators have questions about, “So, is this violating anybody’s religious freedom?” No, it is not because U.S. Supreme Court has upheld legislation that incidentally forbids an act acquired by religion if the legislation does not target religion, which this bill does not. Besides, most major religions tend to view marriage as an important, holy union between two willing partners. I talked about the U.S. Supreme Court having upheld legislation that incidentally forbids an act required by religion if the legislation doesn’t target religion. Also, most major religions tend to view marriage as an important, holy union between two willing partners. That’s, not at all, where child marriage is. Child marriage, often, is forced, and child marriage almost always ends in failure. Between 70 and 80 percent chance of marriage ending in divorce if there’s marriage before age 18. Really, this bill is entirely consistent with modern religious views.

Stuart: Well, I’ll ask you this, and this is more of an off-the-cuff question to this. I was reading in the Huffington Post today. It was an article about some legislation that was trying to move forward in Mississippi. They were trying to push forward a bill that would add domestic violence to the list of legal reasons a person can get a divorce in Mississippi. The problem is, that it died in the House Committee on Tuesday after its chairman, Representative Andy Gibson, said that it could open up the floodgates to divorce. I know. [Laughter] Legislation like this is still on the periphery of what you guys are dealing with. I don’t know if this is simply an issue of too many men running things from a standpoint or what it actually is, but when I read this, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh. What is wrong with you?”

Fraidy: First, excuse me while I vomit on the floor. I can’t even believe you just said that. That’s just horrifying. So far, we haven’t come across anything as terrible as that. There are some legislators who have said along the lines of what you just said. A girl gets pregnant. She needs to get married. There are, unfortunately, legislators who have said that. That’s just absolutely horrifying, even getting past the whole sexist notion of that. Actually, studies show that pregnant girls or teenage mothers who stay single have better long-term outcomes than those who marry. Also, in states that have a pregnancy exception to the minimum marriage age, they’ve, often, been shown to be used to cover up a rape and to force a girl to marry her rapist. States have been moving away from pregnancy exceptions to the minimum marriage age because they’re terrible public policy. We are getting, in a limited way, some of that pushback from legislators, but, for the most part, it’s a matter of educating them and explaining to them you’re not helping a pregnant girl or a teenage girl by marrying her off. You’re actually working against her. By showing that this is why, other states have moved away from it. Only nine states still have a pregnancy exception. In fact, there are several states that specify in their law that pregnancy is not enough of a reason for a girl to get married.

Stuart: Looking at this on more of a global scale, I think, and I believe, from what I was reading, but you would be more of an expert to answer this. What countries are handling this problem of forced marriage better, and how are they doing it?

Fraidy: Are you asking about forced marriage or child marriage? There are a lot of countries that are handling forced marriage better than we are. In terms of child marriage, it’s very difficult to determine which countries are handling child marriage better than we are because, like in most U.S. states, they set 18 as the minimum marriage age. If you were just looking at it quickly, it looks like we’re doing a great job, but it’s those exceptions that are the problem. A lot of countries have the same situation. More than half of all countries allow girls to marry under a parental consent exception, and that’s, specifically, girls. Most countries have more protections for boys than for girls, which is really upsetting. In terms of child marriage, it’s really hard to say. I’ve read so many different studies that have shown the topic so differently about different countries. It’s hard to know what’s, actually, happening in those other countries. In terms of forced marriage, I can say that the U.S. lags behind many other countries in acknowledging and responding to forced marriage. I often use the example of the UK where they’ve longed acknowledged that forced marriage is a problem, and for that reason, there’s a national hotline that people can call to ask for help if they’re facing or already in a forced marriage. There is a task force that responds to individuals who are in need, even if somebody was taken overseas. If a UK citizen was taken overseas to be forced into marriage, this task force will respond, and rescue that individual, and bring the person back to safety. There was always a civil protection order that those facing a forced marriage could use to gain safety and protection. Then, a couple of years ago, the UK also criminalized forced marriage, so there’s, now, an actual, statute that criminalizes forced marriage in the UK. We don’t have any of this in the U.S.

Stuart: From your experience and the experience of those that you’ve been helping to get out of these situations, how do you see that religion plays into this problem in both child marriages and forced marriages? Also, just in that same regard, how do these religious communities that we’re seeing here allow, condone, or turn a blind eye to things that are happening within these marriages?

Fraidy: Before I answer that, by the way, I just want to add to what I said before. There are ten U.S. states or territories where there are laws on the books that can be used to prevent or punish a forced marriage. That’s a very small percentage. Also, those laws appear to be written for completely different reasons, not to prevent or punish a forced marriage. An answer your question about religion, so there are four main reasons that we’ve seen that parents will force their child, whether it’s a minor or an adult, into a marriage. The first one is tradition. That could be cultural or religious. It’s not always in a religious context that a forced marriage happens or a child marriage happens. Girls, often, will say to us, my parents were never religious, but all of a sudden, when it came to marriage, this was just something that was deeply ingrained in them. The second one is money. Sometimes, there’s a bride price or dowry that changes hands. Related to that is immigration. A girl is, sometimes, forced to marry a man overseas so that he can apply for his U.S. visa. Again, in many of those contexts, there’s no religion involved at all. Then, another big one is control. Parents will use marriage as a way to control a child’s behavior or sexuality. If a child comes out as LGBTQ, a girl gets pregnant, parents find out their child is dating or dating the wrong person, and they don’t like that, they’ll sometimes use marriage as a way to control that. Again, that could be completely outside of a religious context.

Stuart: Take me through the steps of how Unchained At Last helps someone. Someone reaches out to you, what are the things that you guys do to be able to help them?

Fraidy: If it’s an adult, what we do is we help the person. Most of the people we help are girls or women. If it’s an adult woman, we help her to leave home. That can be very tricky. We implement an escape plan. Sometimes, she’s being held against her will. Sometimes, she’s even been taken overseas to be forced into a marriage. We have to work with the state department to bring her back, and then get her into a shelter. Then, help her to rebuild her life. Often, that means getting her free, legal representation, so she can get a restraining order against whoever it is who’s threatening her or abusing her, or filing for divorce if the marriage has already happened. Sometimes, there’s a nasty custody battle because some of the women we help have been married many years and have multiple children. Then, anything we can do to help this woman become financially and emotionally independent. That’s always for free. We don’t charge for any of our services, so that’s psychotherapy. If she escaped with just what’s she’s wearing, we’ll get her a whole new wardrobe. If she’s transitioning from a shelter to her own home, we’ll help her get pots and pans, and dishes, and a couch, and beds for her kids, and for herself. Anything she needs whether it’s ESL classes or getting her GED, so that she can move on and get an education. Sometimes, there are other legal needs that she has like immigration. If she was brought from overseas, she needs legal representation to get her legal immigration status. It’s whatever we can do on a case by case. No two cases are the same.

Unfortunately, when it’s child under the age of 18, even one day before age 18, our hands are tied, and we’re blindfolded. There’s very little that we can do. Those girls, often, end up just giving up. They stop reaching out to us, and we cannot reach out to them without putting them danger. Some of them just decide to go along with the marriage because they realize that anything else is just too difficult. Some of them turn to self-harm or suicide attempts because they’re so devastated by what’s happening to them. We see clients from so many different backgrounds, and so many different stories, every socioeconomic level, but the one constant in almost all of these cases is the betrayal. This is something that I can relate to from my own story. The perpetrators in these situations is their own parents. It’s their own family members. It’s really traumatic for these girls and women to realize that the worst trauma of their life is happening, and it’s their own family that’s doing it.

Stuart: For any of our listeners out there that may be caught in a similar situation like to the ones that you’re describing here, how should they go about contacting you? What would you tell them? Can you speak directly to them if they’re caught in a situation like this?

Fraidy: If you are in a forced marriage situation whether that means facing an impending forced marriage or you’re already in a forced marriage, I urge you to reach out to us at Unchained At Last, so that we can help you. You can call us or email us if you’re unable to make a phone call safely. We will do whatever we can to help you. It’s just important to get the help and not try to figure out the situation on your own. Unfortunately, what some people do is they’ll try to get help from—especially someone young in high school or in college, they’ll often go to a teacher for help or go to a friend. In many situations, somebody who doesn’t have experience with this is very well meaning and tries to help but reacts in the wrong ways and that can, often, exacerbate a bad situation. We’ve had situations where a girl approaches a teacher, for example, and said, “Please help me. My parents are trying to force me into a marriage.” Then, the teacher, very well meaning, will say, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll call your parents.” That, of course, often leads to a bad outcome. Many times, parents will pull the girl out of school, and then she disappears. There’s no way to help her. We’ve, also, had situations, unfortunately, where a girl approaches somebody and asks for help and gets turned down because a teacher doesn’t understand the situation. Even the police will say, “Well, this is just an argument between you and your parents. You can work this out,” and dismisses it. If somebody has dismissed your concerns, please don’t think that that means that you deserve to be forced into a marriage. You don’t.

Stuart: What about folks that hear this and want to get involved or support Unchained At Last? What are avenues they can get involved?

Fraidy: We’re a really small organization, almost all volunteer. We have two staffers, me and one other person, a social worker. Beyond that, we’re almost an all-volunteer organization, and we rely on the kindness and generosity of people like you. If you want to get involved, go to our website. You can make a donation. That, of course, is always helpful. Because we’re a very small organization with low overhead, your money goes directly to helping women and girls. There are different opportunities on our website for ways to volunteer. Depending on which state you’re in, if legislation is pending in your state, you can send an email to your legislators and your governor saying, “I support this legislation because it happens.” You can read about upcoming events. We organize periodic chain-ins. It’s these political protests where wear bridal gowns, and veils, and chain our arms and tape our mouths to protest forced and child marriage. We provide the bridal gowns and the chains. It’s quite an experience, so I urge everyone to join an upcoming chain-in. It’s an experience you’ll remember forever.

Stuart: On that, topic of chain-ins and upcoming events, what’s on the horizon for you guys, right now?

Fraidy: Our last chain-in was just last week in Albany. We don’t have any chain-ins currently scheduled, but we’re looking to do another one coming up soon in New York City. We hope to do one in Massachusetts in the spring. Then, looking to do, perhaps, in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut. Go to our website to learn more about those chain-ins. Other events for those of you who are in New Jersey—do you have any listeners in New Jersey? We have an event coming up next Thursday at the Bloomingdale’s in Short Hills. Bloomingdale’s are holding a fashion event, where 20 percent of the proceeds goes to Unchained At Last. We have our annual dinner coming up in September. We’re doing a dinner cruise for anyone who wants a cruise on the Hudson River with an open bar and a DJ, so it’s good times and all to benefit a really good cause. This is your opportunity.

Stuart: We’ve heard about your work. We’ve heard about all that you’re doing. For you personally, what inspires you the most to keep going, to keep doing this great courageous work?

Fraidy: For me, it’s so personal. I couldn’t do anything else at this point. I’m so dedicated to this because I know what it’s like to be in a forced marriage and unable to leave. Then, the women and girls who call and ask for our help, they are our daily inspiration and a reminder to me about how important this work is. It’s only with us survivors telling our stories, and making noise, and attempting these chain-ins that we can make Americans aware this is a problem. Forced marriage is a problem here in America. Child marriage is a problem here in America. That’s the only way we’re going to see change.

Stuart: Well, Fraidy, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you so much for your work and all that you’re doing to make a difference in this world. It is such a noble, honorable cause that you’re going after. I just wish you the best, but I really just do appreciate the time that you gave here today for the show.

Fraidy: Well, thank you. I really appreciate your taking the time to, again, shine a spotlight on us because we need more people talking about this and being aware of this.

Stuart: Thank you so much.

[End Audio Clip]

Again, my thanks to Fraidy Reiss. You can go to www.unchainedatlast.org for more information. The thing I love about the work that she’s doing is that it is an absolutely, worthy cause. You know what’s not a worthy cause, Christian’s boycotting Beauty and the Beast. Yes. The new Beauty and the Beast movie that I know little kids out there are all excited about happening. Of course, as this movie rolls forward and is about to come out, leave it to the religious right to start trying to find something to boycott, something to get angry about, something to stand against. Who’s at the epicenter of all of this? It’s none other than my anti-man crush, Franklin Graham. Yes, thank you, Franklin. Thank you so much for highlighting this huge problem that we have here in America and especially, the America church. [Sarcasm]  It’s one that I would probably put under #whitepeopleproblems, #firstworldissues. Yeah, if the biggest thing that you as a mouthpiece or a supposed mouthpiece that Christianity can get up and rally the troops around is the fact that there’s a side character in Beauty and the Beast that happens to be gay. Really? Don’t you run a humanitarian organization, Franklin? Don’t you run an organization that’s trying to help the problems in this world with hunger, with people that have a lack of clean water, a lack of access to healthcare? Those are big problems. Those are problems that I wish Christians were known for being about, for known for trying to fix in this world, not this kind of crap that you’re pulling, not this kind of crap again where we have nothing better to do than boycott issues of entertainment. I mean, really. Let’s talk about having your eyes on the prize or completely missing the point, which is what’s happening right now.

For the sake of context, I will read to you this post that Franklin Graham sent out over Facebook last week. He said:

“Disney has aired a cartoon with same-sex couples kissing. It has also been announced that their new movie “Beauty and the Beast” will feature a gay character in an attempt to normalize this lifestyle. They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out! Disney has the right to make their cartoons. It’s a free country. But as Christians, we also have the right not to support their company. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney. I met Walt Disney when I was a young boy. He was very gracious to me, my father, Billy Graham, and my younger brother when we visited. He would be shocked at what has happened to the company that he started.”

Then, he goes on to say, “If you agree, comment below and share this with others. Let Disney know how you feel.” I swear, this stuff has been going on forever in the Christian community. It’s one of these huge, white, American, privilege problems that we like to do this. We like to say, “I don’t like the content that you’re making. We will boycott this.” At the same time, I just want to highlight the absolute hypocrisy behind this. If you want to ask me, as the guy with a radio show called Snarky Faith, I mean, seriously, that you’re worried about a side character being gay in this. Come on. The whole core of this movie is, essentially, bestiality. It’s, apparently, normalizing bestiality for our young children. [Sarcasm] Come on. You totally missed the point here, Franklin. If you want to boycott something that you can say is pretty definitive in the Bible, let’s go after bestiality. This movie’s about bestiality. [Sarcasm] No, I digress from that. I’m just kidding, but this is the problem. This is the problem that we have with Christianity in America today. It’s the fact that we do not know what it means to be a Christian. If we think being a Christian is going out and policing culture, taking the “moral” high ground in all of these issues, setting up straw man arguments, doing all this in our own echo chamber of followers, when we do that, we, actually, accomplish nothing besides just puffing ourselves up. We use these issues as platforms to, hopefully, stoke popularity amongst our legions of followers that we have in the midst of this. None of this has anything to do with making the world a better place. None of this has to do with feeding those who are in need, helping those who are hurting.

If you read the core teachings of Jesus, if you read that, it’s simply about loving those around us, providing help for those who are in need, and being a good friend and not being an ass at every turn, which is, somehow, the American, Christian complex. For those mouthpieces out there, they have defaulted to, somehow, just being an ass because they feel like they have the moral high ground to do it. Is this what Jesus was here for? Did Jesus die on a cross so that we can police movies, that we can boycott things, and scream about our preferences not being made? The only one thing that I will say was true about his statement is that this is a free country, and people can make whatever kind of movies they want to make. The idea that you are wasting efforts, that you are wasting time, that you are wasting people’s attention on trivial matters like this, things that don’t matter, things that show that you are so out of touch and have no idea, really, what God is calling us to do in this country.

You see, I believe that we should be about bringing walls down, not building them. I think we need to be about dialogue. I think we need to be about peace. I think we need to be about the good things that we want to follow after instead of trying to tear down culture at every turn. You don’t create culture by tearing down everybody else’s culture. That just makes you a critic. Critics don’t get anything done. Now, we need them because, otherwise, it be completely hypocritical of myself [laughter] who’s in the middle of criticizing this to say that we don’t need critics. We do. We, also, need tangible action. I’m not talking about boycotts. I’m not talking about Facebook posts. I’m talking about, actually, getting your hands dirty while helping others, putting yourself out there in a vulnerable position to be able to love others. You see, we had heard about Unchained At Last. These are people that are doing tangible things. They’re trying to help people get out of horrible situations. When we just sit here, and like to kick back, and just criticize culture, and try to rouse up folks against things like that, it simply and only comes from a place of privilege. It costs nothing to do it. You’ll get Facebook likes. You’ll get Facebook shares. You’ll get all of those things that tend to make yourself feel good. Oh, yes, I’m on the right end of this argument because look at this. [Sarcasm] Look at this. All these people that agree with everything that I say, continue to agree with everything I say. I go back to the place that we are at right now in a country where we are very divided, where we can’t even hear the other side anymore. The idea of attacking and tearing down only continues to polarize us and push us further and further apart. Where’s the humility in all this? Where’s the grace?

No, I haven’t seen the Beauty ad the Beast movie, and I, probably, will rent it at Redbox when it comes out because I have two daughters. Have you watched the movie? Are there themes of redemption and grace in it? I’m guessing there are. When we highlight what is good in the world today instead of only having a lens to look at what we don’t like, or what we disagree with, or what we think is bad because if you claim to have a faith in Jesus and a walk with a Savior that is redemptive, that loves, that wants healing and wholeness for all, you’ve really missed the boat. I don’t think that the pursuit of Christianity is being able to point out sins of others. I don’t think it’s about being a cultural critic. I think it’s about loving others. I think it’s about making a real, tangible difference in the world. We get caught up in these stupid and pointless Facebook, and Twitter, and social media political arguments where we are just playing to our side. We are doing nothing at all. Actually, let me correct that. We are doing something. We’re, actually, just creating a divide, and we’re making it to where our voice will no longer be heard. You see, if you’re against everything, it’s really hard to ever see about what you’re for. If you’re against everything, that’s all you’re going to be known for being. We have to be a people that want to create change, that want to create change that doesn’t exclude people. We want to be able to create a change where people have the space and have the place where they can hear messages of hope that things can get better, where we can begin to see what is good in the others around us. Now, I’m not saying we have to agree with everybody, but the moment where we can cease to see the humanity on the other side of the aisle, when we cease to see them as people, as creations in God’s own image, when we cease to see their humanity, we’ve become monsters. We’ve become monsters that little resemble the Savior that we so loudly like to proclaim.

The problem with Christianity in America today is the fact that it’s forgotten why it exists. It’s become consumed with the fact that it has lost power. Now, I’m not talking about spiritual power. I’m not talking about anything transcendent. No, it’s, mainly, about political power or cultural power. See, any time Christianity falls into the ranks of power grabs, and hierarchy, and being a mouthpiece for all of these kinds of things, it’s lost its way. It becomes something that it’s not. That is a sad thing. If only we can return to our roots, if only we can learn mercy and we can follow justice, and we can learn empathy, we can practice compassion, we can begin to see folks that aren’t like us, we can begin to see them as something beautifully and wonderfully created. If we spend our careers, if we spend our passions, if we spend our lifetimes tearing people down, we’re just simply monsters. Again, I read the Bible. I’ve read the Gospels. Jesus does not call us to be monsters. Jesus calls us to take out monsters, the monsters that prevent others from being able to see the light. If we’re so busy building walls, if we’re so busy insolating ourselves from everybody else, how can you spread the thing that you claim to be as Good News? When good news becomes a weapon, it is not good news. It may be good news to you that’s holding that weapon, but it, certainly, isn’t good news to those that you are slashing with it. For faith that proclaims something that we call Good News that Good News needs to be good news for everybody.

That’s all I’ve got this week. I will back again with you next week. Just a reminder as we end this broadcast, you can always catch this episode and all past episodes on podcast at www.snarkyfaith.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Just look up Snarky Faith. Again, thank you for journeying with us through this last hour. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Without you, I’m just sitting in front of a microphone talking to myself. I do, I appreciate you, our listeners. I appreciate you for being a part of the journey. If you want to give us feedback, ask questions or anything else like that, just remember you can email us at questions@snarkyfaith.com. If you also go to our website www.snarkyfaith.com, you can sign up to be on our mailing list where we are going to start doing, once a month, live episodes online where you can tune in. You can ask questions. You can interact with Ben and I. You can be a part of the entire journey and conversation. Thanks so much. You guys have a great week. I’m outta here.


Transcribed by Miriam Delony

https://www.linkedin.com/in/miriamdelony

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Jesus at Trump Tower

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jesus at trump tower
Part 2 of our talk with Karl Giberson and a dramatic reading of Jesus at Trump Tower

Snarky Faith 2/21/17

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Join us for part two in our conversation with professor and author Karl Giberson. Karl is the Science and Religion professor at Stonehill college and author of many books such as Saving Darwin and Worlds Apart: The Unholy War between Religion and Science. Karl also penned a satirical series for the Huffington Post called, Jesus at Trump Tower. We discuss his motivations in writing and also have a dramatic reading of Jesus at Trump Tower. We’ve also got What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week.

Buckle up for a wild ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.


[showhide type=”pressrelease” more_text=”Click for Full Show Transcript” less_text=”Hide Show Transcript” hidden=”yes”]

Title: Jesus at Trump Tower
Episode: # 141
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony

Download the Jesus at Trump Tower Transcript Here

Well, good afternoon, and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I’m your host, Stuart Delony. We have a show that is pretty packed, chock-full, stuffed to the brim, and other synonyms I could probably use to describe how much stuff that we actually have going on in this show. We have part two of Karl Giberson’s interview. Part one was amazing. Part two, we’re going to get to this. We’re going to get to his whole new series that he’s publishing called Jesus at Trump Tower. After Karl’s interview, we actually have the dramatic radio play version of his first article “Jesus at Trump Tower.” Before that, you know what we’ve got. We’ve got “What’s good // What’s bad” and something else that I just want to float out there to you. For the last little bit on the show, we’ve got a surprise. What is that surprise? Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I went ahead and told you now. You’re going to have to stay tuned and listen to that. Yes. If we’re going to go down the checklist: “What’s good // What’s bad”, Karl Giberson interview, part two, “Jesus at Trump Tower” dramatic reading, and super surprise (that I won’t tell you about just yet). Without further ado, let’s hop into this week’s “What’s good // What’s bad”. Here we go.

Just a reminder that you can catch everything, every video, every link that I’m mentioning in “What’s good // What’s bad” over on our website, which you can find it at www.snarkyfaith.com. It’s just that easy. It’s just that simple. All you got to do is click and all these things will just pop up for you because they’re waiting for you. They’re there for you.

Here’s the first thing in “What’s good // What’s bad”. Oh my gosh, do I love Ken Ham. Ken Ham, the ardent supporter of creationism, the creator of the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. He has outdone himself. He has absolutely outdone himself because they’re premiering online a new diorama that depicts the wicked population in the pre-flood world. Now, you may say, “What’s the big deal?” We tend to love trolling Ken Ham on here because of just the ridiculousness of the Ark Encounter and pretty much, just everything, everything about it. Yes, in his search for trying to prove the fact that everything in Genesis is absolutely, literally true, they are now going to have a new part of their exhibit with a diorama that shows dinosaurs fighting gladiators against humans and giants. Now, if this was a total joke piece, I would be like, “Man, well done Ken,” but we all know they’re not going for jokes here. They’re trying to continue to prove their ridiculous ideas and theories, so what we literally have in this diorama, which you can see on our website, they have giants who are gladiator-style fighting tiny, little humans, and at the same time, they’re unleashing dinosaurs into the gladiator pit. That’s right. I even, almost, just feel dumber by expressing this, but it’s too funny to not miss. Thanks, Ken Ham. Thanks for continuing to pop up into our “What’s good // What’s bad” of the week. You have truly outdone yourself.

Next, you may have missed this in your news cycle, but it is beautiful. It is absolutely beautiful. They have a Japanese pool player giving one of the best interviews, one of most bizarre, hilarious interviews that I’ve ever seen to the BBC. You have this BBC reporter, which is Tony Wainwright, and he’s interviewing Nayoyuki Oi who is the defending Chinese Taipei player 00:05:36 in pool. Oi’s answer to everything is just hilarious. I don’t even know what you’d call this. We’ve got words around here like Spanglish when you somehow interweave Spanish and English. This is—I don’t even know. It could quite easily be one of those things that you would say this is just English folks making fun of this guy, and his accent, and his lack of being able to fully grasp and hold onto the English language. Oh, no. Oi sells it. He sells it up and down. The reporter doesn’t even know what to say. It is hilarious. It is something to absolutely behold, and it’s beautiful. I’ve never really cared to watch the sport of pool. It’s fun to play, but this dude makes me want to start tuning in week after week if he’s playing, and really, just tuning in to figure out what happens afterwards when somebody sticks a microphone in his face. It’s gorgeous. It’s amazing. Hats off to you, my friend.

Alright, so you didn’t assume that we would have a week without mentioning our dear Trumpy. Before we get to him, we’ll start easy. We’ll start easy with his beloved Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Now, Sean Spicer has become known for, not only his incessant, ridiculous OCD love of chewing gum. What he also has a huge problem with is pronouncing names. I’ll tell you first, I would be the first one—not the first one, the last one to be calling out somebody who can’t pronounce names. I butcher them constantly on this show. It just somehow doesn’t work in my brain, but at the same time, I also know enough that I don’t have the skill set to be a press secretary, so therefore, I would not go for the job of press secretary. They’ve actually set up online a word generator on the Sydney Morning Herald, and it’s really funny. You simply type in your name, and it spits out what Sean Spicer would call you. For mine, Stuart Delony, it’s Stubbins Delt. That seems about right. Right? I don’t know. Yes, you should try it. It’s on the website. Moving on to our dear president.

Stephen Colbert ran this small, little video snippet on his show last week. It’s just too good not to play here. Just too good. So good. It’s called “Self-reflections with President Trump.” It’s Trump talking about the president and how he feels about our current president. Have a listen. Oh, Donald. If you could only listen to your own words, the world would be a better place.

Speaking of disgusting things like our president, something that you may want to know is that if you are someone who enjoys eating canned greens—which I’m not sure if there’s any of you out there that actually enjoys eating canned greens. I don’t think I’ve eaten canned greens since college. If you do eat canned greens, there’s an article over on the Huffington Post that goes through the FDA defect levels handbook. What they have, they lay out, simply, how bad it has to be to where canned greens can’t be edible, which is a reassuring fact. Thanks, FDA. They go on to say this, “To be sold in the stores, canned green beans are actually allowed to contain up to 10 percent of mildew on their leaves.” Yummy. Doesn’t that sound good? [Sarcasm] If we take that same handbook and then apply it to spinach, which is a little different because it’s in the mustard green family, mildew’s not the worry here, but insect larva. In their handbook it says this, “You are allowed to have two or more, three millimeters or longer, larvae and/or larvae fragments or spinach worms (which are, basically, caterpillars) whose aggregated length exceeds 12 millimeters that are present in 12 pounds of spinach.” Isn’t that enlightening? Isn’t that wonderful? [Sarcasm] Yeah. It’s pretty gross.

Lastly, in our “What’s good // What’s bad” segment, I’ll give you something that’s actually uplifting, and interesting, and does not involve anyone talking about larvae or any such thing. This comes from Kimberly Stover who blogs at kimberlystover.com. She wrote this absolutely, on point, just hitting the heart of the matter blog post called “If being a Christian means X, Y, Z, then I’m not a Christian.” The article starts off using this quote that I’ve been seeing floating around social media. It’s a quote from Billy Graham where he warned, “I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” Just even unpacking that statement coming from Billy Graham is amazing considering the fact that he fathered Franklin Graham who continues in his father’s footsteps. [Sarcasm] Maybe. No, not really at all. Franklin Graham’s a douche. What Kimberly does, is that she moves forward to this article, really it’s an article of resistance. She wrote this poem that I’ll read you hear today. She says:

“If being a Christian means that I have to deny healthcare to another human being, then I’m not a Christian. If Christian means I have to deny equality to the LGBT community, then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means I have to turn a blind eye to the suffering of refugees, then I am not a Christian. If being a Christian means I have to accept building a wall separating me from another human being so I can be privileged and they can suffer, then I am not a Christian. If being a Christian means I have to deny scientific evidence of climate change, therefore, contributing to the destruction of the Earth, our home, then I am not a Christian.”

You can find the entire article over on her website, kimberlystover.com. The poem that she wrote was beautiful, and that was just a tiny snippet of it. I thought it was a good staging point for us to hop off of, and then go into our talk with Karl Giberson. If you caught last week’s episode, which was part one of the Karl Giberson interview. Now, Karl is a Professor of Science and Religion at Stonehill College. He has written many pieces for the Huffington Post, and on top of that, he is a proponent of evolution, but also holds in his other hand, the fact that he’s a Christian and how those two things can get along. We talked about what it means to be a thinking Christian because oftentimes, it feels like those things don’t exist in the real world. Sounds like an oxymoron sometimes, and it absolutely shouldn’t. We have part two of Karl’s interview here today talking about science, critical thought, and then eventually, we’ll use that interview to dovetail into our dramatic reading of his first article in his series of posts that he has at the Huffington Post called “Jesus at Trump Tower.” Here is the second part of our interview with Karl. Enjoy.

[Begin Audio Clip]

Stuart: Well, we had mentioned earlier just in this whole conversation that we’re having here about that whole divide between science and religion. Why do you think, in that same realm, why religion and politics have been easy bedfellows and you see science and religion being very against one another? Why do you think that somehow politics and faith have been integrated way more than they probably should be?

Karl: Well, Randall Balmer, a friend of mine that teaches at Dartmouth College. He’s done a very interesting analysis of the relationship between the evangelical church and abortion. Most evangelicals think that being anti-abortion is the traditional Christian position that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. This is Randall Balmer’s work, not mine. If you look at the response of the evangelicals, even people like Jerry Falwell, and so on, in the immediate aftermath of Roe v Wade, there wasn’t this consistent message that we need to oppose abortion at all costs. Balmer traces this. He shows that what we think of as the religious right was originally organized around opposition to civil rights. I mean, it was a southern, racist movement. Jerry Falwell, Sr. spent the latter part of his career trying to buy up all the books that he’d written when he was younger that were opposed to the integration of the schools. Many of the Christian schools that got started in the south were started to avoid white evangelicals needing to have black classmates. There was a lot of political power in the civil rights movement. This power created the opposition of the religious right. Then, they lost. Right. The civil rights movement won, basically, all of the battles, at least legally. This is Balmer’s insight here. The movement had political power but nowhere to use it. They said, “Well, we’ve lost the battle for civil rights. We need something to animate our followers, so we can keep this unity, this big powerful voice that we have, alive.” They picked up abortion. They made a political decision to try and convince evangelicals all over America that abortion was the great question of our time, and that Christians needed to rally against that. This, then, was exploited by the Republican Party. The Republican Party, basically, suckered this large, evangelical demographic into thinking that because we are anti-abortion, we are your party. Gradually, over the last two decades, the GOP platform, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible all became blended together in this big mishmash of stuff. That’s what evangelicalism is today.

Stuart: If you took that from an evolutionary standpoint, probably, DNA-wise, all those things shouldn’t be combined and create anything. Right? Is that how it—

[Laughter]

Karl: That’s how you get a monster. Right? You throw together random genes from disparate species and you put them together and you say, “Let’s see what comes out.” What comes out of that is now sitting in the White House as the president of the United States.

[Laughter]

Stuart: Yes. Speaking about that, speaking about our beloved McDonald president that is in the White House, you wrote this piece, which is what initially led me to finding you, called “Jesus at Trump Tower.” I think it is a beautiful satire that also just has undercurrents of truth that, hopefully, folks should be able to read and be able to just begin to question more about what’s been going on especially with a candidate that was endorsed by so many evangelicals out there. In talking about this piece, what led you to write this article?

Karl: Well, the concern that developed for me as I watched the political scene over the last year was an astonishment at how enthusiastic many of my own lifelong friends who were conservative evangelicals, how much enthusiasm they had for Donald Trump. I just found that mystifying. Then, as he won the nomination, they became even more enthusiastic, and they seemed to, somehow, feel like these little, small things that Hillary Clinton had done like use a private server like that that was a gigantic, moral failure, but Donald Trump’s history with woman was just something to be overlooked as locker room expectations, and so on. I began to become really discouraged about the moral insight of this community that I had once been a part of and that had done a lot to shape my understanding of the world. Out of my dismay at this and I had many Facebook dialogues about how the Republican Party and Donald Trump, in particular, were about as far away from the teachings of Jesus as one could possibly imagine. If you just theoretically tried to invent an anti-Jesus party, you’d get the GOP led by Donald Trump, and Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, and so on.

My specific impetus to write this piece came when I became convinced that Trump, as president, was actually worse, not better than Trump as candidate. I tend to be an optimist. I held out hope that some of the worst characteristics of him as a public figure might retreat, and he might become more of a statesman when he moved in as president, and perhaps we could get behind him. Maybe, in some mysterious way, he would be a much better president than he was candidate. It quickly became clear that he was a worse president than he was candidate. The more power that he has, the worse he gets. I thought, you know, the right thing to do in a situation like this—and by right, I mean, if one takes morality seriously, and if you have a public voice, you should use it—then, we need to oppose Trump. We need to make reasonable efforts to make sure that Trump’s failings as a leader and as a human being are spotlighted with enough regularity that people will slowly become fed up with him. I thought, well, if I satirize Trump talking to Jesus to try to make it clear to any thoughtful evangelical who might read that that really Jesus and Trump have no overlap whatsoever. I can’t, as a Christian, continue to support Trump. This, actually, would be a contribution that I could feel good about. Plus, it’s fun to do that. The piece is more than Alec Baldwin just making fun and you just laugh, and the end of his little diatribe, there’s no real point that you’ve taken home. I wanted it to be a, if you will, highbrow, more theologically informed take down of Trump.

Stuart: I thought you did that very well. For those of you that were looking for this, you can look up “Jesus at Trump Tower,” and it’s featured at the Huffington Post right now. Before we finish this interview, I like to, usually, end these interviews with a ridiculous question. Karl, I wanted you to be able to take this as I was looking into your background. I did find out that you’re a little bit of a Treky. Is that correct?

Karl: Yeah.

Stuart: Yeah. The Next Generation.

Karl: Yeah. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s the glories of binge viewing. I watched them in consecutive order from one to the end. I thought this was marvelous.

Stuart: It’s easy to see how The Next Generation could inform some of your desires and your love of science. How would you say The Next Generation informed issues of faith for you?

Karl: I probably don’t have a constructive answer, but I do have—there was a sense in which there was faith connection that Star Trek with its interesting vision of traveling from one intergalactic civilization to the next and meeting all kinds of different people, it does, I think, remind you that if the universe is, indeed, like that, we need to wrestle with the parochialisms of our Earthly religions. There’s been a fair amount of discussions. Some people have even written entire books on what is the relationship between Christianity and life on other planets, and so on. I remember back in college when Larry Norman who was the first big Christian rock star, who was controversial because he was making regular rock music acceptable. He talked about life on other planets. He had this great line from a song where he said, and he’s talking about Jesus, he said, “If there’s life on other planets, then I’m sure that he must know, and he’s been there once already and has died to save their souls.” The notion that Jesus has hopped from planet to planet to planet and died in some way to save them all from sin just seems so implausible to me that it really forces, I think, a certain humility on somebody taking the Earthly situation seriously. We may not be able to simply generalize our religion in some universal sense. That’s the kind of thing that has drawn me more and more to think that, really, Christianity ought to be about trying to dig really deeply into the things that Jesus taught, and to figure out how one would translate those into a modern world where we have a tax system, and an internet, and a global economy, and so on. We should be thinking more about who is our neighbor like I tried to do in my piece.

Stuart: Well, Karl. Thank you so much for your time. If anyone is wanting to find out more information about Karl Giberson, you can find his books on Amazon, Saving Darwin, Saving the Original Sinner, Language of Science and Faith amongst many others. You can also find his blogging at the Huffington Post. Karl, Thank you so much for your time, and I just really appreciate you joining for the show, and tolerating me long enough to make through this hour together. Thank you so much.

Karl: Sure. It was fun talking with you.

[End Audio Clip]

Stuart: Well, that is it for our talk with Karl Giberson. I just want to, again, say, muchas gracias, Karl. Thank you so much. Karl was a wonderfully, gracious person to be on the show. We chatted a bunch before the interview. We chatted a bunch after the interview. He’s just an all-around, solid dude who’s, also, pretty smart to boot. Moving on. This is the thing that we’ve been building up for the last two weeks. It’s finally here. Yes, we have the dramatic reading of Karl’s first work in a series that he did call “Jesus in Trump Tower.” Here is “Jesus in Trump Tower.” Enjoy.

[Begin Audio Clip of “Jesus in Trump Tower”]

Narrator: One day, Jesus visited Donald Trump at Trump Tower. He had been invited because Donald wanted to ask him a question, and Jesus was curious. Trump usually answers questions since he has such a high IQ and even has an uncle who was so smart that he taught engineering at MIT for fifty years.

Trump: You know, Jesus, I’m smart. Really smart. Probably the smartest person who was ever president. It’s in my genes. I have great genes. But I want to tell you something, something big. I don’t know everything. Okay. I know you might not believe that, but it’s true.

Jesus: I believe you. In fact, I’ve known that for some time.

Trump: And you are smart too, I hear. Maybe as smart as me. Who can say? But you’re the Son of God and all. So, I want to ask you a question.

Jesus: What would you like to know?

Trump: I’m interested in eternal life, in heaven. Okay. Now, I’m not worried that I won’t go to heaven, of course. In fact, if you come to Trump Tower you will see I practically live there now! And my latest wife is an angel, if you know what I mean. And we know angels don’t grow old, just like my wife doesn’t grow old because I keep replacing her with a younger one. Okay.

Narrator: Jesus stared at Trump, struggling to maintain his divine composure.

Trump: So, my question is this, Jesus: Let’s just suppose I wasn’t 100% certain about going to heaven. What must I do to be totally sure that I will, you know, inherit eternal life, as they say?

Jesus: Have you read the Bible?

Trump: Oh, totally. Look, nobody has ever read it quite like me. I am the ultimate Bible reader.

Jesus: Okay. What does it say about how you should live?

Trump: You mean in Two Corinthians?

Jesus: No, in the Law. In the Old Testament.

Trump: Oh. I see. My Bible is brand new. Latest edition. I don’t read old stuff, only new Bible stuff like Two Corinthians.

Narrator: Jesus responded patiently.

Jesus: In the part of the Bible called ‘the Law’ it says you should ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’

Narrator: Trump combed his hair and formed his mouth into a perfect circle as though he was going to say something, but Jesus interrupted.

Jesus: Do you do that?

Trump: Big League, okay. Nobody loves the Lord more than Donald Trump. Believe me!

Jesus: Well, good.

Trump: So, I am all set! I have this eternal life thing in the bag. Bigly! I knew it.

Jesus: Not so fast. There’s one more thing you have to do. You must love your neighbor as yourself.

Trump: Love my neighbor as myself? As myself? Come on, Jesus. You are pulling my leg, right? I mean, I have some great neighbors but they’re not as great as me. Okay. They don’t have as much money. Their wives aren’t supermodels. They’ve never had a reality TV show, and nothing in their apartments is plated with actual gold. Okay. Some are losers. How can I possibly love them like I love myself?

Narrator: Jesus began to respond, but Trump interrupted.

Trump: You know I just thought of something. I bet my neighbors actually love me more than they love themselves! Okay. Why wouldn’t they? So, I make it easy for my neighbors to follow this rule about loving your neighbor as yourself.

Narrator: Once again Jesus tried to respond, but Trump interrupted.

Trump: I do have some great neighbors, though. Great neighbors. Every one of them is a millionaire. Every one. And some are billionaires, but not so rich as me.

Jesus: Donald, these are not your neighbors.

Trump: Yes, they are. They live in the same building. They are my neighbors.

Jesus: No, that’s not what the Bible means when it speaks of our neighbors.

Trump: Well, then who is my neighbor, according to the Bible? Not those foreigners who work at Gucci’s on the first floor, I hope.

Jesus: Let me explain this by way of a story.

Narrator: Trump looked at his watch.

Trump: Okay, but I hope it’s not a long story. I feel a tweet coming on.

Narrator: Jesus got up, and walked to the window, and began to speak.

Jesus: A man was traveling from San Diego to Los Angeles when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes. They beat him and went away, leaving him half naked and bleeding to death on the edge of a deserted beach. The pastor of San Diego’s largest megachurch happened to be walking along the same beach, and when he saw the man, he made a wide berth and passed by at some distance. In similar fashion, the mayor of a local town, when he came to the place and saw the unconscious man, passed at some distance. But an undocumented migrant worker, as he walked along the beach, heading to the farm where he picked watermelons for $36.00 a day, he came across the injured man and took pity on him. He went to him and saw that he was bleeding from knife wounds. So, he poured clean water from the bottle in his lunchbox into the man’s wounds to clean them. Then, he took off his shirt and ripped it into strips to make bandages to stop the bleeding. And he waited with the man, cradling his head in his lap. After a time, the injured man regained consciousness, and the migrant worker helped him stand and supported him as they walked together to a nearby building which housed a small shop that rented beach towels. Although he had very little money, the migrant worker gave the owner of the shop $50 in exchange for letting the injured man rest in his facility, and use some of his towels for bandages. He also borrowed the shopkeeper’s phone and called 911. As he headed off to the watermelon farm, the migrant worker was happy to see an ambulance pulling up in front of the shop.

Narrator: Jesus paused and kicked Trump in the shin.

Jesus: Pay attention, Donald.

Trump: Sorry, Jesus, but this is such a long story.

Jesus: I need to ask you something important about the story I just told you. Which of the three people who encountered the injured man was a neighbor to him?

Trump: I have no idea. I don’t know where any of these people lived. Probably, none of them were neighbors.

Jesus: But you see, Donald, in the Kingdom of God our neighbors are not just the people who live next door or in the same high-rise building. Our neighbors are the people who come into our lives who need our help. And the injured man on the beach needed help.

Trump: Was he vetted?

Jesus: Vetted?

Trump: Yes. Vetted. Was he a terrorist? A rapist? A murderer? Was he an American citizen? The pastor and the politician were right to give him a wide birth until he was vetted. You don’t put yourself at risk helping people who are not vetted.

Jesus: How long does vetting take?

Trump: Doesn’t matter. You take whatever time you need.

Jesus: But the man was bleeding to death.

Trump: Doesn’t matter. You vet people before you help them. Okay. And if they die, too bad. They should’ve been more careful. Look, this migrant worker was probably not even an American citizen. Okay. And he took this unvetted guy, who could have been a terrorist or a murderer, and left him with a shopkeeper. Not very neighborly if you ask me. I certainly wouldn’t have brought that injured guy to Trump Tower, believe me.

Jesus: In the kingdom of God, we help those in need, even when it is uncertain, or even dangerous. That is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. If you were bleeding to death on the beach, you would want help. Would you want a neighbor to help you, even if they did not know who you were? You asked about eternal life, Donald. You must love those in need, all of them, in every part of the planet, in every religion as you love yourself. Then, you will inherit eternal life.

Narrator: Jesus noticed that Trump was typing something into his phone.

Trump: @realDonaldTrump. Jesus has crazy ideas about neighbors. Over-rated as a thinker, even if he is the Son of God. Sad.

[End Audio Clip]

Stuart: Well, this is the moment that we’ve been waiting for the whole show. I teased it, and you’re wanting to know who our special guest is. It’s none other than illustrious, Dr. Ben. [Begin sound clip of audience clapping and cheering] Dr. Ben is back after you’re extended paternity leave.

Dr. Ben: Illustrious makes me sound like I have conditioner in my hair.

Stuart: Oh, if they could see the video I see, there’s a lot of conditioner.

Dr. Ben: [Laughter]

Stuart: Maybe some hot oils.

Dr. Ben: I can’t remember the last time I used conditioner.

Stuart: Okay. So much has happened, Ben, since we’ve had you hang on the show. Really, I guess, the way I’m making it sound, I haven’t talked to you either, since then, but I have.

Dr. Ben: I just fell off the map, fell off the grid—

Stuart: You did.

Dr. Ben: – like most people do when they have children.

Stuart: No, you were, essentially, just in a coma, and we were about to pull the plug. Miraculously, you started breathing on your own again.

Dr. Ben: You’re about to Million Dollar Baby me.

Stuart: I know. [Laughter]

Dr. Ben: I’m more like a $10.00 baby.

Stuart: Alright. So much has happened. We have not talked to you since the inauguration. We have not talked to you since baby Deacon dropped onto this Earth and made a crater impact.

Dr. Ben: Historic.

Stuart: It is. He’s been changing your guys’ life. First of all, how is it being a dad right now? Where are you at dad-wise?

Dr. Ben: I’m feeling a little more like a dad, I guess. It’s interesting how people, I think, have this mythos around children. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but it’s very difficult. Actually, a lot of the things that people joke about or hinted at like not being able to sleep. I need some wood to knock on. That’s been good. He sleeps like a champ. I mean, he’s actually a pretty, easy kiddo. For both of us, there’s just a long learning process of recognizing that we’re parents. It’s not like you have a kid, and then all of a sudden, magic happens and you feel like a parent. You know.

Stuart: Usually, it’s magic happens, and then you have the kid.

Dr. Ben: [Laughter] Yeah, pretty much, and then the magic’s over. I’m just kidding.

Stuart: My oldest is about to turn 15, and we’re still learning. We’re still figuring this out. We still don’t really have a clue. We’re doing the fake it ‘til you make it, or until they leave for college.

Dr. Ben: Yeah. I think that’s pretty much life, in general, just fake it ‘til you make it.

Stuart: We’re going to have to get little Deacon on the show at some point. We’ll have to get him to, at least, cry into a microphone.

Dr. Ben: He might show up on this show.

Stuart: Uh-oh.

Dr. Ben: Depending on [laughter] whether he goes down to nap or not.

Stuart: Okay. The weather’s pretty warm today. Are we going to have naked babies? This isn’t that kind of program.

Dr. Ben: No, we were out playing with compost earlier, so I think he’s pretty wiped out right now.

Stuart: Compost and wiped out. There’s so many—

Dr. Ben: Compost pickin’.

Stuart: On all of that, do have any good dad jokes now that you’re a dad?

Dr. Ben: Myself.

Stuart: [Laughter]

Dr. Ben: Bad. That’s a pretty good joke.

Stuart: Well, considering you haven’t been on the show since we went from orange messiah as a candidate to, now, orange messiah as a wrecking ball in the White House. What have been some of your unique observations you had since all this craziness has happened, orange in the White House?

Dr. Ben: I’ve been thinking this morning that we joked months and, gosh, maybe even a year ago, about feeling endangered like, “Oh, Trump’s listening to this. He’s going to have a hit out for us.” Now, it’s becoming more of that could actually happen at some point. Right? He’s removing people from jobs. People are dropping off the map in some places that have criticized him like companies are closing. He goes after people with a vengeance when they come at him.

Stuart: Very Putinesk. 00:42:24

Dr. Ben: Yeah. His buddy, Putin. Yeah, he’s learned a lot from him. I guess, in terms of insight, we’ve talked about this before. I think I get a little frustrated because I feel that people are so distractible. Maybe, I’m too idealistic, or I simplify things too much, but I feel like there are general problems on the table in our country. I’m not saying that there aren’t still problems right now that we’re trying to deal with and raising awareness for in the country, but on the one hand, we go from one problem to the next so quickly. I feel like Trump puts all these problems out there, and our messages get watered down, and confused, and muddled. It’s very attention deficit right now in politics. Also, I feel like for me, at least, I’m just tired of hearing about it. I’m exhausted from Trump. He just is everywhere. Also, from anti-Trump. I’m not saying I agree, really, with anything that he says or does, but I’m just tired of him. He’s exhausting. All of this is just exhausting.

Stuart: Yeah. That’s one of my biggest worries is that we’re going to, eventually, just hit a point where this crazy that we’re living in becomes normal. Then, we become numb to that.

Dr. Ben: Yeah. It’s true.

Stuart: You can only be shocked so many times before it just tends to—you start to shrug it off. I feel like we’re living in the middle of a Saw film. After a while, you just become numb to the violence. You become numb to what awful things are happening.

Dr. Ben: Yeah. This could be, potentially, a dividing analogy. It could be way off the mark, but after having watched basketball for 20-something years now, have picked up that over at Duke has this strategy with his team that they tend to foul a lot throughout the game because, I mean, the referees can only call so many of them. If you fell ten times in a minute, they’re going to get exhausted. Well, for one, they probably don’t see all ten of them. Also, they’re not going to call that many fouls. You’re going to get away with a lot more. Over time, you’re used to seeing that. It’s cognitively difficult for them to pick out. Of course, they’re still calling fouls, but it’s just this trick of tricking their brains into not seeing that you’re fouling the entire game. I feel like it’s similar to Trump. There’s just so much stupidity and spin. I think that’s what really is coming up in satire and comedy now. He just spins stuff so quickly; fake news and I didn’t say that. People laugh, but it’s scary. It’s very much 1984 that there’s a lot of truth and untruth going on at the same time, and people just get confused or tired. I don’t know which one. You think people of the older generation who don’t have access or don’t care to watch news shows or satire, are not really going to pick up on that there’s so much false information. They’re just going to believe, take everything’s he’s saying at face value. I don’t know. I guess from a philosophy background, I tend to not really bite at the sexy stuff. I really want to dig into what’s actually on the table, what’s actually going on, maybe like pull the curtain a little bit. I think it’s so easy, right now, to just bite into that whatever Trump is saying at the moment, and let’s fight that. We were getting so close with things like Occupy Wall Street and really raising awareness of like the haves and have nots. I feel like we were getting really close, especially, with Bernie Sanders being a mouthpiece for a lot of inequality. I feel like that is at the heart of a lot of our problems. That feels like 40 years ago, now. That feels so distant from where we’re at. It really frustrates me.

Stuart: Well, tell me this. As we start wrapping up this show, what is one thing that gives you hope right now?

Dr. Ben: I am excited to see—I want to be careful in how I put this because I am a Christian. I’m nonviolent. I don’t advocate for violence, but I am seeing seeds of revolution or at least, revolutionary thought, or excitement in voices that feel that they can act against fascism and against bullying. I don’t know. It was almost like there was so much marginal stuff, like celebration of margins, going on that we lost the need to act. We were just reveling in the idea of identity and things like that. Now, I think people are becoming more active and saying, “Oh my gosh. In four years, where are we going to be? We need to do something.” That’s exciting.

Stuart: That is definitely a good word. As we start moving to the end as we have actually arrived at the end of the broadcast this week, just a reminder that you can this show and past shows on www.snarkyfaith.com. If you go to our website and sign up for our newsletter where we just send you one email a week with all the content that we are putting out over on the website, if you join us, if you join our little snarky tribe on there with the newsletter, what we’re going to start doing is what we were testing out here today for this part of the show is that we’re going to start opening up to that private group of subscribers where we’ll start doing a show once a month that we will open it up. We’ll have a part where Ben and I talk like we like to talk back and forth. Then, we’ll open it up for Q & A, and let you guys be able to share questions, and ideas, and pushbacks, and critiques, and all that good stuff. If you want to hop on board with that, go to www.snarkyfaith.com and you can catch all of that. Also, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter. We love to have you a part of this little tribe that we’ve got going here. That’s all I’ve got this week. We will catch you again next week.


Transcribed by Miriam Delony

https://www.linkedin.com/in/miriamdelony

[/showhide]


 

What’s Good // What’s Bad 2.21.17

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This weekly feature gives you the best of what’s good and what’s bad out there in the snarkiverse. This content is explored more in-depth on our weekly radio show, Snarky Faith, so you should check that out too. Without further adieu… here’s your rundown this week of the good, bad and ugly of the interwebs. Enjoy!

• Ken Ham, you saucy minx of a creationist. You have truly outdone yourself this time… and I don’t say that lightly. This past week, via Twitter, the Answers in Genesis poster-boy debuted a new exhibit in his Kentucky’s “Ark Encounter” theme park that features humans, giants, and dinosaurs battling to the death in a Roman-style arena. Sure this sounds crazy, but you know what’s worse? The fact that they dropped $101 million to create the Ark Experience to push their new earth agenda. Hey Ken, sometimes the answers are not in Gene$i$, they’re apparently in your wallet. This smells like someone is taking a page out of Jim Bakker’s playbook. Heritage USA anyone? 

 

• After that ark madness, want something truly great to bring a smile to your face? Sure we all do. This may go down in history as one of the best post-game interviews ever. Check out pool player, Naoyuki Oi’s post-match interview in all its broken-English glory. It’s pure joy. The British interviewer couldn’t even handle himself as he simply responded, “I’ve not ever done an interview quite like this…”

• I’ll be the first to admit that I incidentally, yet routinely butcher people’s names. It’s not my strongest suit, but, I’m also not the White House press secretary. Feel like, having Sean Spicer butcher your name? With the help of the Sydney Morning Herald you too can be spicer-ized. Spicey dubbed me Stubbins Delt. Drop your ‘new’ name in the comments section below.  [SMH]

• If you enjoy the wilted delights of canned veggies, you may want to read this interesting article that dives into the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook. It’s reassuring to know that we have acceptable lives of large and mildew in our food. Yummers! [Huff Po]

• Ever want to see Donald Trump eat his own words? Well, are some wise words from candidate Trump speaking about the failings of President Trump (sort of). Retroactive hypocrisy has never been so much fun. Thanks Stephen Colbert!

• Looking for a great read? You should head on over to Kimberly Stover’s great blog post entitled, “If Being a Christain Means XYZ, then I am NOT a Christian.” That’ll preach.

• Living in Trump’s world can be pretty taxing and stressful for a lot of us. Living in the bizarro world is never easy, but I’ve got a great way for you to relax. Electronic singer-songwriter, Moby, has created some amazing ambient music for this just issue. To put it in his own words, “over the last couple of years I’ve been making really really really quiet music to listen to when I do yoga or sleep or meditate or panic.  I ended up with 4 hours of music and have decided to give it away.”

Who doesn’t like free music?  [Download Long Ambients1 by Moby here]

If you see any snark-worthy news, feel free to send it us: questions@snarkyfaith.com. Have a great week!

 

Why Evolution Matters

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Part 1 of our talk with Karl Giberson

Snarky Faith 2/4/17

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A rundown of why evolution matters to faith with an interview with professor and author Karl Giberson. Karl is the Science and Religion professor at Stonehill college and author of many books such as Saving Darwin and Worlds Apart: The Unholy War between Religion and Science. Join us for part one of our talk as we delve into the importance of critical thinking. It’s an insightful discussion about how Christianity and science shouldn’t be put at odds with one another. We’ve also got What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and worst of the week. Buckle up for a wild ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.


[showhide type=”pressrelease” more_text=”Click for Full Show Transcript” less_text=”Hide Show Transcript” hidden=”yes”]

Title: Interview with Karl Giberson
Episode: #140
Program: Snarky Faith Radio
Host: Stuart Delony

Download the Why Evolution Matters Transcript Here

Well, good afternoon and welcome to another round of Snarky Faith Radio. I’m your host, Stuart Delony. Hey, dear listeners out there, whether your listening over the airwaves or whether checking us out via podcast, I just want to tell you guys, thanks for tuning in again. Thanks for being a part of what we do here at Snarky Faith Radio. This show today is going to be an interesting one. I know I may say that quite often, but we’ve got a guest interview with Karl Giberson who is a Professor at Stonehill College, and renowned or maligned, depending upon who you ask, for his work of integrating evolution into the journey of faith. Now, I’m not talking about evolution like, “Hey. We develop. We change on our journey, our faith spiritual journey.” No, literally evolution. He’s a brilliant mind. I think you’re going to enjoy the talk that I have with him. Today, we’ll be having part one of that talk. Karl is also known for his satire that he writes for the Huffington Post. He started a series recently called “Jesus at Trump Tower.” For the interview part today, we’ll be talking about really that relationship between being a critical thinking Christian. That’ll be part I. Next week, you’ll get the rest of that interview along with the dramatic interpretation of “Jesus at Trump Tower.” That’s right. We’ve done it here. Karl said it was cool. We’ve got some voice actors together, and we put together “Jesus at Trump Tower” for you, my dear listeners. Stay tuned because that is coming out next week. Before we get to that, it’s time for “What’s good // What’s bad”.

First off, with “What’s good // What’s bad”, holy sweet Lord, thank you for giving us John Oliver. Also, thank you, John Oliver, for coming off of hiatus because I don’t think I was going to be able to last another minute in our crazy, topsy-turvy McDonald Trump world that we are living in right now. John Oliver came back last week. It was beautiful. His show, which you can go and find on our website www.snarkyfaith.com. You can look for the “What’s good // What’s bad”, which will have all the videos that I’m talking about here in this segment, there for you, waiting and ready to go. John Oliver in Last Week Tonight did something beautiful and absolutely amazing. We all know that Trump likes to be briefed on issues of national intelligence, basically, by watching cable news. In order to get sanity into his big, fat, orange head, what John Oliver did this week was to purchase ad time during cable news in the morning. What he did was, during these commercial spots that they purchased, they actually integrated real facts into seemly real commercials just so, you know, our president can get the idea, and get his little bit of news. Hopefully, that’s not as crazy as the cable news that he continues to watch and digest on a regular basis.

Speaking about Trump, again, this will be on the website too. Every week feels so insane. I think we’re—what?—three or four weeks into the presidency now, and it is wearing all of us out. Guess what? We should have seen this coming. We should have seen this coming a while ago. I actually found clips when he appeared on WrestleMania. When you watch this, when you watch the insanity of—well, first of all, let’s just say this. Professional wrestling is a stupid, insane soap opera that really fools nobody, and if, actually, people do think it’s real, that’s even more scary. Well, I’m assuming those are probably the people that voted for him. Yes, he makes an appearance—I think it was ten years ago—on WrestleMania. As you begin to watch through that episode where he is on it, you begin to see, oh, he’s essentially treating the presidency like WrestleMania. The only problem is, WrestleMania, most of us know, it’s fake. The presidency, he’s treating it like it’s fake in some sort of insane wrestling match, but somehow the rest of us are stuck with this reality that continues to unfold. I don’t know about you, but I’m just having a hard time making it through opening the news every morning to be able to read it. I don’t want to check my phone ever when I get news alerts or anything like that because it begins to cause indigestion even just when I hear that sound of new news coming out because, generally, in the world we live in today, no news is good news.

Alright. Enough of that for now. Enough of Trump’s America. Did anybody catch Denzel Washington’s acceptance speech at the NAACP Image Awards for outstanding actor in a motion picture? His speech is every bit inspirational. It’s one of those things that we need now. The problem that we have is that we can easily become cynical. We can easily become bitter in Trump’s America. We can easily want to check out, but that’s absolutely the wrong way to handle it. It’s easy for me to say that. I mean, hey, I’ve got a show called Snarky Faith. I love being sarcastic, and yes, if you’ve been listening to the show for any period of time, you realize that, yes, I am cynical. I also love to be inspired. I also love to be reminded that Trump’s America does not have to be our America. There is a vision that he has that is moving out into the world right now that is terrifying and scary. What we need to do, is we need to move back to creating our own narratives, our own narratives for the things that we believe in, the things that we love, the things that we are most passionate about. I think we need to go back to dreaming. We need to go back to working hard. Denzel’s speech, I think the dude could read the phonebook, and it would come off so eloquent. What he said in the end of it, you can watch the whole thing on our website. He just said, “Keep striving. Never give up. Fall down seven times, and get up eight. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep learning.” I think we need that. Instead of us becoming more and more cynical and bitter, I think we need to become more and more hopeful and inspire those around us that there is another way, that there is a different narrative that we can capture and that we can make happen in the world that we want to create. I look at this. I look at my kids when they watch the news. I look at all of this. I see them becoming cynical. I don’t disagree with it, but I don’t want them to end there. I want them to keep moving and to keep dreaming.

Speaking of dreaming another way for the world to be, the NPR had this great story about Pat Brown who is attempting—well, I guess not attempting because he’s actually done this. He has pulled off a veggie burger that tastes like actual, real meat. That’s right. He has actually made a veggie burger that tastes like a real burger. Why does this matter? Well, on one level, I would say that it matters simply because—or at least me and my family, we would be what you call garbage vegetarians, which means that, for the most part, we’re vegetarian. If you’re going over to people’s houses or other people are serving stuff, we make amendments to our beliefs within that. My wife has been on a pursuit of trying to make good bean burgers. While they are delicious, they do not taste like a real burger. No, the story is not important because finally, Stuart has something else to try to eat. No, that’s not what it is because if you begin to think about what it takes to make a quarter pounder hamburger, it’s great, they have this whole chart about really how awful raising livestock for us to be able to eat meat at any whim that we want to. McDonald’s is, what, 24 hours now? I guess you could call that meat. No, but when you think about how it harms the environment, so they break this down. For you to be able to eat a quarter pounder hamburger, what that looks likes is that is 6.7 pounds of grains and feed for the animal. That also takes up 52.8 gallons of drinking water to irrigate the crops. That also requires 74.5 square feet of grazing and growing for feed crops. You need to have an area for the crops to be able to feed the animals. You also need areas for the animals to sit around and graze. Right. In all of that, per quarter pounder hamburger, that requires 1,036 BTUs for feed production and transport, which is the equivalent of running your microwave for 18 minutes. This matters not simply based upon Stuart wanting a better tasting veggie burger. No, this matters because if they can do this, this can fundamentally change the way that we handle the food industry. On top of it, how much of an impact or a footprint we continue to put on the environment day after day, year after year. These burgers are all natural. When you see the “meat” before it’s cooked, it looks just like ground chuck. It cooks likes ground chuck. It smells like it, and it tastes like it. Can you imagine how much that would transform not only the way we eat but also the way that we handle the environment? It’s a fascinating story about one guy’s pursuit to change the world through hamburgers, and it’s from NPR. You can check that out on the website too.

Lastly, I will leave you in the realm of pure escapism. This is absolute, pure, disgusting escapism. There’s this guy. His name is John Ferraro, who’s also know based upon his talents, by the nickname Hammerhead. That’s right. Hammerhead pounded his way into the record books of the Guinness World Records Italian show. Do you know what he did? You can kind of guess this a little bit based upon his name. He pounded 38 nails into a board, in under two minutes, with his forehead. Yes, you heard that right. Thirty-eight nails into a board with only his forehead. Now, how can anybody do this, would probably be your first question. My first question is why would anybody want to do this? Really, how can anybody do this? Well, Hammerhead, apparently, has a skull that is twice as thick as the average human being. Supposedly, his forehead is 16 millimeters thick compared to the average person, which would have 6.5 millimeters. The video’s on the website. It’s something to behold. It’s not one of those things that I would say is not for the faint of heart, but it bizarre. It makes you cringe while you watch it. I’m not quite sure if that fits into “What’s good // What’s bad”. It kind of just is. It really begins to be a visual for how I feel about the way the world is going today. You ever have that feeling when you want to just bang your head against the wall? Well apparently, this guy literally does. I would just do it metaphorically because otherwise, it would hurt, and it really wouldn’t solve anything. That is “What’s good // What’s bad” from this week.

Next up, we have the interview with Karl Giberson that I’ll give to you right now. Here it is.

[Begin Audio Clip]

Stuart: We’re speaking here today with Karl Giberson. Karl holds a PhD in Physics from Rice University. He’s also lectured on science and religion at the Vatican, Oxford University, London’s Thomas More Institute, and many prestigious American venues including MIT, Brigham Young, Xavier University. He’s also published more than 200 reviews and essays in the New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, USA Today, LA Times, Salon, and he also blogs at the Huffington Post. Karl, thank you so much for being here today.

Karl Giberson: I’m happy to here.

Stuart: One thing I when I was doing a little bit of background, research into you, I noticed that in 2013 you were elected to the International Society of Science and Religion. Is there any kind of secret handshakes or signet rings that came along with that?

Karl: No, unfortunately, I think that if you put religion and science together, you don’t get anything quite so interesting or mysterious as that. Basically, you just put nametags on your chest, and go over to the buffet, and start eating. That’s about it.

Stuart: That’s pretty much what anybody in a secret society would say who doesn’t want you to know about the signet rings and the secret handshakes. Right?

Karl: Yes. That’s exactly right.

Stuart: [Laughter] I’d stumbled across your work initially just with your Huffington Post article “Jesus at Trump Tower.” We’ll dive into that a little more. As I started to look into your background, it became more and more interesting about how much you’ve written and you’ve talked about this whole weird, tension, this divide between science and religion. I wanted to start us off with a softball question for you. Why do you think Christianity is so afraid of evolution?

Karl:  There’s so many different ways to approach that. I think one of the significant factors is that very successful, evangelical entrepreneurs have managed to craft an argument that Christianity needs to do that. I say that because that movement didn’t come out of any mainstream religious tradition. I mean, it wasn’t that Catholicism, or the Baptist church, or the Presbyterian church, or the Anglicans looked at this really closely and said, “We really think that this idea is incompatible with traditional Christianity.” It wasn’t even an immediate response to Darwin in the early part of the 20th century when the fundamentalist movement was getting started. It was not anti-evolutionary at that point. Many of the prominent early fundamentalists were fine with Darwin. In both the middle of the century, there were some just very energetic, articulate people who began to make an argument that you could take the first chapters of Genesis and you could take a particular interpretation of natural history and the fossil record and fit those two things together. This was the only place that a Christian could truly stand and be faithful to both God’s Word and the evidence of nature. That argument just turned out to be very successful. The audience was right there for it.

Stuart:  I take from how you’re framing this too that you’re a big fan of Ken Ham.

Karl: Oh, yes. Ken and I are really good buddies. [Sarcasm] I think if you go to his website, you can read a lot of interesting blogs where he just praises my work to the heavens. [Sarcasm]

Stuart:  I’m assuming that you have a lifetime pass to the Ark exhibit or whatever the fun ride he has going on.

Karl: He’s always asking me to come out and get my perspective on [laughter] his projects.

Stuart: I love how you’re laying this out. Another just follow-up to that question, why is this still a thing? Why is this argument still a thing within the church, do you think?

Karl:  Well, I mean that, in a certain sense, was the thread that defines a lot of my career, is wrestling continually with that. At first, when I began to engage this question, I thought, “Perhaps the reason is that people didn’t know enough science, and if we could just explain the fossil record and genes, and so on, that they would come around.” I quickly discovered that it’s not about that at all. Eventually, after writing several books about it, and talking to a lot of people, and having a vast army of fundamentalist calling for my head, I began to look at this as more of a cultural phenomenon. I think the reason why this is a thing is because American evangelicalism has separated from the mainstream, intellectual culture. In that separation, they’ve created their own colleges and universities, their own presses. They have their own authority figures. They have their own television celebrities and so on. There’s a whole separate world that a lot of evangelicals live in. This is a world where they hear from people that seem very sophisticated that there’s a controversy over whether evolution is true or not. I mean, they just think that’s true the same way anybody else might say there’s a controversy about whether there’s aliens elsewhere in the universe or something like that. They think it’s a live question because the people they listen to are telling them that. They live on an intellectual island cut off from the steady advance of science.

Stuart: Hmm. If Karl had his way, how would you reframe this conversation about evolution?

Karl: I’d like to reframe the conversation at the level of Sunday school teaching because I think that’s where a lot of the structural problem persists. If you look at the typical education of a child growing up in the evangelical church, they learn Bible stories. They learn them in Sunday school. They learn them if there’s a children’s part of the service. They learn them from books that uncles and aunts give them for Christmas and so on. They get all this biblical literacy: the stories of Adam and Eve, and Moses and the Ten Commandments, and Noah’s Ark and so on. They just learn all these stories. Then, those stories are just taken literally by young minds because that would be natural. Then, when they get to be 13 or 14 and need to revisit those stories in a more sophisticated way, maybe talk about where those stories came from and why we know the actually can’t be taken literally anymore, we don’t do that. We don’t bring the story back around there. If you look at what the programming for teenagers is like in churches, it’s all about trying to keep kids from having sex, getting on drugs, hanging out on the streets, giving them a separate place to be apart from the world and all of its problems. There’s just no attempt to help them grow up intellectually.

You regularly encounter people who are college students. They’re 19 years old. They’re in college, and no one has ever suggested to them that Adam and Eve might not necessarily be historical figures. I’ve been particularly surprised at the number of people who come to college with that view, even though they’re part of a denomination that doesn’t actually hold that view. The stories that they learn when they’re four years old just take up residence in their head and just stay there. Then, all of the sudden in college, they have faith crises because they’re hearing for the first time that there can’t possibly have been two individuals in the Middle East 10,000 years ago from whom the entire human race descended. That’s just not possible. A lot of their faith gets shattered when they realize that.

Stuart: On that same tangent when you’re talking about the, I guess, Sunday school during the formidable years with people. How do feel like Christians holding on to this historic idea of Adam? How has that forced Christianity to reject science, and facts, and critical thinking, and all of that kind of stuff?

Karl: This was something I didn’t appreciate as much as first, but it turns out that the only real issue for most people is Adam. Thoughtful students, who I’ve engaged in class for decades now, who are very eager to accept science and to get out of this anti-science mold that they’ve been raised in without losing their faith. They’re okay with the Earth being very old. They’re okay with a creation that’s understood that it’s a long process over time. They’re okay with the fact that God has a plan. All that seems acceptable to them, but they recognize that when it comes to Adam and Eve, and the fall, and sin and so on, that there’s something theologically important there that they’re not sure how to navigate. I think the issue for most Christians who are wrestling with this is not really so much evolution per se, it’s how do we account for sin in the world unless we have two individuals who brought it into the world. If we don’t have that story in history somewhere, then we have to suppose that God made all of this bad stuff that makes life so tough. That’s just not acceptable for most people in terms of their understanding of Creation.

Stuart: With again, if you had your way to do this, what kind of posture should a thinking Christian have?

Karl: This was a large part of my own formation as I left fundamentalism and eventually, evangelicalism, was coming to the realization that science is an enterprise of great integrity. What’s going on in the scientific community is not a political effort to achieve consensus around a set of secular, anti-religious ideas. There’s no general, anti-religious sentiment in the scientific community. It’s a very honest search for truth. In an age where telling lies about everything has become so commonplace, I mean, science really should be understood as one of the few enterprises where, actually, telling the truth and being honest about what you are encountering in the world. That’s one of the few communities where that value is still at a very high level, more so than in the church today. I really think that thinking Christians need to recognize that science is an enterprise with a lot of integrity, and they need to take it seriously. When scientist come and say, “Look. There’s no way the human race can be descended from two individuals, no matter when they lived, because there’s too much diversity in the gene pool to have it all have originated that way.” Then, people need to say, “Okay. That means that Adam and Eve are not historical characters. I have to live with that. If I can’t figure out how to fit that into my idea about sin, and suffering, and the origin of all the evil in the world, then I’ll just have to accept that as a mystery that I don’t understand.”

Stuart: I love how you begin to talk about science as a search for truth. I think that many folks in the religious realms would say that religion is about searching for truth or ultimate truth. Where do you think that they go wrong? Specifically, Christianity when we talk about searching for truth, a lot of folks within those realms already assume they have the truth. Right. Maybe you can tell me if I’m wrong or not, but when you look at science, the pursuit of truth continues. It’s not simply, we’ve found this truth. Let’s just leave it and walk away from it. We’re good here, which is what seems like, a lot of times, within Christian scholarship has become where we already have the truth. Instead of necessarily needing to search deeper for it, we already just have it and we need to proclaim what we have. Again, why do you think it is that Christians aren’t always on that search for truth much like folks are in the science realm?

Karl: Well, the point that you’ve made is one that my good friend, John Polkinghorne, has made on many occasions and talked about how science and religion really are cousins and they’re related in that they both take the search for truth very seriously. I don’t think that it actually plays out like that in practice. I think in some ideal sense, all Christians would say that we’re all about having the truth and being open to truth, but the reality is that the Christian community is more about protecting historical truths rather than seeking new truths. You never find within the Christian community, really in any of its traditions, an excitement when they discover that something that they’ve longed believed to be true, actually, is not true. Whereas in the scientific community, when something like the Big Bang emerges and people are very startled by this idea that there was some sort of extraordinary beginning event to the universe, this is big news. It’s exciting. It’s like a novel that’s reaching a crescendo. People get really excited about it. Even though these revolutions are often hard-fought because people holding to other views don’t give them up quickly. There’s an excitement that something really significant is going on. I mean, in contrast to that, when something emerges that challenges the traditional Christian idea, it’s circle the wagons and protect the received wisdom, from the past, at all cost, and try and fight back against this new truth.

Stuart: Yeah. Like what you’re even saying, it’s like the tow the company line kind of posture that you have. Some of this I wonder, and we’ve wrestled through this on other shows. I would love to hear your feedback on this. I think some of it comes down to how we disseminate and how we raise disciples currently in the American church. Even if you just look at the basic structure of how things happen, it’s simply you have one person on a Sunday, telling everybody else what to think. You have this idea that you’re just translating to them. Very rarely do you see churches nowadays, actually teaching people to critically think, to be able to have the tools to make the conclusions themselves. Again, if you look at science, science is a study where you’re continuously pushing people to research, and to dream, and to search for what’s out there. Whereas within Christianity, oftentimes, at least American Christianity, it seems like it’s boiled down to we already have it figured out, and we just need you to continue to know what we have figured out.

Karl: Yes. I certainly agree with that. The issue with science, though, I think is more complicated. I don’t want to be overly critical of the church on this point because these scientific issues are peripheral. Most of the conversation in the Christian tradition has been about Christ and what that means, how to understand all that. Right. Everything else is secondary to that. If you look at what a good pastor is trying to do—let me answer this question by relaying a conversation that I had with one of America’s leading evangelical pastors who put it this way. He said, “In my congregation, I have people who are wrestling with the death of a child. I have people who are struggling with their sexual orientation. I have people who have had an abortion and are feeling very guilty about that. I have people who are looking after parents with dementia and so on.” He went down the list of the real world issues that people fight and look to the church to help them get through these struggles of life. Then, he said, “When do I have time to talk about the age of the Earth?” That’s a very good summation of why this is such a serious problem. If you’ve got somebody in front of you who’s child was killed in an accident, and you’re trying to help them get through that, you’re not going to say, “I’d like to take a little bit of time now to talk about the age of Earth and how it’s 6,000 years old.” [Laughter]

Stuart: True. Yes.

Karl: Yeah. Those parishioners end up just thinking, “Oh well. This is a creationist church. We believe the Genesis story and the Earth is young. Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden,” and so on. Those just don’t end up getting into the sermons.

Stuart: Some of my background is that I went to Fuller Theological Seminary. I like to commonly say that Fuller was amazing for me, but it was also terrible for my career because one of the things that I valued about how they handled things was one, because they’re interdenominational. They really just push critical thought, which oftentimes, critical thought, when it comes to the church, isn’t always very welcome. This may sound silly, but I want to see how you unpack this. Would you say that you’re a Christian who happens to be a scientist, or is it the other way around? Within all of that, I know, oftentimes, in culture, it’s an either/or paradigm that we thrust things into. How do find that balance between faith and your profession in science? How do you find that balance?

Karl: Well, I found it increasingly harder. I went through a transition as an undergraduate where I had to free myself from the fundamentalism with which I was raised. That was a difficult intellectual transition, one that, in many ways, I never really got past that emotional struggle. I had been raised in a very fundamentalist, biblical-literalist church, but it was a wonderful church. It wasn’t political. There was no gay bashing and so on. It was a very warm and nurturing environment. In a sense, I was cutting off something that I look back on very fondly rather than escaping something that turned me off. Then, I spent many years teaching at Eastern Nazarene College in the Church of the Nazarene, which is not a fundamentalist denomination per se, but for practical purposes, is. I began to feel increasingly alienated from that tradition. The more I became more scientifically informed, the church, in general, in America seemed like it grew increasingly more conservative. It became more hateful on issues of gender, and gay marriage, and so on. I began to feel alienated from the whole evangelical world. I can’t really identify myself with that label anymore.

I had a conversation like this with Robert Wright who does this blogging, hedge thing for the New York Times. He’s followed my career over the years. He asked me, “What does it mean to you? What does it mean to be a Christian?” I said, “Look, for me, I don’t really want it to mean much more than I think it’s important to pay attention to the things that Jesus said about caring for the least of these among us, and if somebody says that it’s important to me, I’m totally happy to let them have the label Christian and so on.” For me, I’ve really gone a long ways from being interested in trying to unpack theological doctrines and so on. Robert Wright actually laughed when I gave that definition. He said, “ Oh, I’ll be happy to pass it on to Sam Harris that he can call himself a Christian now.” [Laughter]

Stuart: Would you say that you approach religion, faith, and theology with the same rationality that you approach science?

Karl: No, I don’t. I mean, I think that’s one of the things that needs to happen for the church is for the church to recognize that these big, transcendent questions that are at the heart of the Christian understanding of reality need to be approached with greater humility. There needs to be more room for people who can’t buy various pieces of the package. The case to be made, for example, for say the virgin birth, right, it’s unbelievably weak. It’s a very weak case. If you’re going to say that, “Oh, well, if you can’t sign on to this particular doctrine then you’re too liberal, you’re heretical, and we’d rather you not teach at our institution or not attend our congregation,” and so on. If you’re going to insist on these things, which are very difficult to support adequately, be embraced with the same confidence that we might embrace the periodic table, or the elements, or the shape and motion of the Earth, then you’re just going to drive a lot of people away because a lot of those things in the Christian world-view are quite extraordinary things.

Stuart: I loved how mentioned this, talking about how we, in the Christian world, like to label folks as heretics very quickly. It doesn’t take very much for folks to start trying to say, “Hey, you’re out of the tribe. You’re out of here.” Do you see that same posture in the scientific community? If you believe this, do we run you out as quick as possible?

Karl: No, I don’t see that at all. Now, I know that people in the intelligent-design movement who have felt marginalized. They would say, “Oh, no, they run us out there.” Because I think that the scientific community does its work with great integrity, I think some of the conclusions to that community has come to simply need to be accepted now. If you want to be in the club, so to speak, you can’t keep revisiting questions from the 19th century as if they’re still alive. I mean, Darwin is correct. The world evolved. That’s the end of it. The claims by the Discovery Institute that these are still open questions, that there’s still a real controversy, and we want it taught in the public schools, there’s still room for advance on these 19th-century notions of design. I mean, that question was adjudicated in the 19th century. It’s not a 20th-century question. It’s certainly not a 21st-century one. There is a certain scientific heresy, I guess, you might call it. If somebody wants to be a member of the scientific community and doesn’t believe the Earth is billions of years old, doesn’t believe that radioactive dating works, doesn’t believe evolution and genetics, and so on, if they just reject all that, you have to question their right to be a member of that community. I don’t know whether that’s actually comparable to what goes on in the evangelical communities that jettison people so often and so quickly, or so little. [Laughter]

Stuart:  Mm-hmm. Speaking about evolution, can you talk to this a little bit? It’s a nebulous-type question. Do you think that (a) evolution should matter to faith, and (b) do you think evolution can actually inform our faith on a deeper level?

Karl: I think it should matter only in the sense that if you are going to engage questions of human origins, then you should do that with the truth and not with a myth from the Bronze Age. I don’t think that every rank-and-file Christian in every pew in the country needs to be reading about Darwin and understanding evolution. I mean, we don’t expect baseball fans to all know about Darwin, so why would we expect evangelicals to all know about Darwin. Darwin is not some all-encompassing idea that everybody needs to be wrestling with all the time. If you’re an elementary school teacher, when does Darwin come into your discussion? It’s not going to happen. It’s not something you deal with in the first, second, third grade. On the other hand, I think that it’s incredibly useful to recognize that evolution has shaped us as humans in very profound ways. If we don’t take those into consideration, then we don’t really understand ourselves. I think, for instance, if you take an issue like homosexually that for most of history was viewed as a strange, perverted choice made by people who are sick. Now, we understand that it’s not. It’s a natural way that people are. I mean, it becomes important to recognize that there is a human nature, and we’re born with it. We can’t escape it. We have issues related to our gender, or sexual preferences, and everything else. If you really want to understand humans and their condition in the world as actors in this great drama, you’ve got to pay attention to what we know from evolution.

Stuart: For you, coming at your faith, especially from your background, your education, everything else, what feeds you spiritually?

Karl:  Well, probably, the most meaningful experiences that I have are with just the wonder of the world. I wrote a book called The Wonder of the Universe for InterVarsity Press. It was a wonderful experience writing that. I think, just literally, when I look out the window that what’s out there is so extraordinary. I think often about the fact that the DNA that has made me what I am has also made those trees what they are. They use the same DNA and so on that I have. This idea that we have a long history that goes from the big bang all the way through to the big brain that history is what has created us and made us. It’s very grand. I really have trouble imagining that that is just a purely materialistic process with no transcendent compliment to it. I’m not inclined to say, “Oh, well, God was just managing the whole process, and here are all the things that we can see specifically that He did.” This was a comment that Freeman Dyson made in his autobiography. He said, “In some sense, the universe knew we were coming.” That’s a really interesting comment. You look back ten billion years ago and you say, “In the universe, as it exists right now when it’s four billion years old, you couldn’t have life in it. Then, all these things start to happen that make it possible for there to be life at some later point.” You just think, “Wow, this trajectory is quite extraordinary.”

For me, that is an amazing part of the story of who we are. That nurtures me spiritually, that knowledge. At the end of all that, I find it to be very spiritually fulfilling to just note the grandeur of the world as it exists right now. I mean the beauty of the sunset, autumn leaves, and even today, there’s something beautiful here in Boston with this spectacular storm that’s whipping snow everywhere. By tomorrow morning, there’ll be very interesting patterns that the wind has created on the surface of the snow that will have mathematical shapes and so on, to them. To look at that and to see that there’s this amazing order behind everything that happens, even amidst the noise and the chaos of the storm, is for me, spiritually rich.

Stuart: I want to know pivot a little bit towards your piece at the Huffington Post. As we’re transitioning towards that piece, where do you think Christianity has gone wrong in America?

Karl: Well, Christianity is such a broad term, so I wouldn’t want to just say Christianity. Let me comment about the demographic with which I’m most familiar. I think that the evangelical demographic, that large group, which, I think, would probably number around 100 million, probably, in America. I mean, it’s the largest, certainly, by far of the various groups. I think that demographic, largely because it didn’t pay enough attention to the life of the mind, has allowed itself to be duped by clever charismatic leaders who have transformed its priorities into a political agenda instead of something that you can say is based on what Jesus taught. The fact that if you find a random evangelical and pluck them out of their habitat and examine them scientifically, you’ll discover somebody who thinks that it’s really important to have a big military, that we should make bigger, more updated bombs, that we should stop spending so much money feeding hungry people, that we should block our borders to refugees fleeing certain death in their home countries, and so on. You find this strange, right wing politics that seems to have replaced Jesus teachings that at great personal sacrifice we need to be prepared to help those around us who are in need. I think that’s what has happened. Because this group has been so inattentive to the life of the mind that they don’t understand that their moral positions are no longer the ones that Jesus held. Their scientific positions are from the 19th and even 18th century, and so many positions they hold are just indefensible now in the modern, off on this island that I talk about earlier.

[End Audio Clip]

 Well, that’s the end of part one with our talk with Karl Giberson. Thanks to Karl for being willing to sit down with me and do this. Like I’d said earlier in the show, we’re also going to give you a treat with the dramatic reading of Karl’s piece in the Huffington Post, “Jesus at Trump Tower.” To give you a little bit of a tease, I’ll give you a little bit of Trump right now.

[Begin audio clip with a Trump impersonator reading a part of “Jesus at Trump Tower” by Karl Giberson]

I’m interested in eternal life—in heaven. Okay. Now, I’m not worried that I won’t go to heaven, of course. In fact, if you come to Trump Tower you will see I practically live there now! And my latest wife is an angel, if you know what I mean. And we know angels don’t grow old, just like my wife doesn’t grow old because I keep replacing her with a younger one. Okay.

[End Audio Clip]

Well, that is all I’ve got this week for you. Just a reminder, as we end this broadcast, you can always catch us on podcast at www.snarkyfaith.com. You can go to our website for all sorts of stuff. We put out writing on a regular basis. We have “What’s good // What’s bad” that you heard earlier in the show, and of course, we have our entire catalog of past shows that you can catch there just in case you’ve missed us one week. I want to just tell you, thank you for listening. Thank you for being a part of the process. Thank you for being part of my radio therapy that I think I have to go through [laughter] on a regular basis just to stay sane in this crazy, topsy-turvy world that we find ourselves in right now. If you want more, you can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also go on to iTunes and type in Snarky Faith. You can find show there. If you are over on iTunes, feel free to give us a four- or five-star rating. Give us some love. Give us some reviews. We love to hear back from you about all that kind of stuff. If you have questions, if you have thoughts, if you have comments, if you have articles that you want us to talk about on this show or put in “What’s good // What’s bad”, you can email us at questions@snarkyfaith.com. I truly hope you all have a wonderful, hope-filled rest of your week. Again, I’ll leave you with the words of Denzel Washington: “Keep working. Keep striving. Never give up. Fall down seven times, and get up eight. Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep learning.” That’s all we got this week. I am out of here. We’ll catch you again next week. See ya.


Transcribed by Miriam Delony
https://www.linkedin.com/in/miriamdelony

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What’s Good // What’s Bad 2.14.17

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This  weekly feature gives you the best of what’s good and what’s bad out there in the snarkiverse. This content is explored more in-depth on our weekly radio show, Snarky Faith, so you should check that out too. Without further adieu… here’s your rundown this week of the good, bad and ugly of the interwebs. Enjoy!

• Oh, John Oliver, we missed you. Returning from hiatus, the Last Week Tonight host came back with the bang that we all needed. John may have found one of the few ways to influence our megalomaniac Orange POTUS… through a slew of commercials (made by Oliver and his team), set to air on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox news against their morning news shows in the Washington, D.C., area – because we know Trumpy uses cable news as his official daily briefing. Enjoy.

• Need some inspiration? Need a pep talk? Check out Denzel Washington’s eloquent speech a the Image awards. It gave me all the feels. Thank you, Denzel!

• Can we save the planet, one burger at a time? Pat Brown seems to think so. NPR did a fascinating story of one man’s journey to make the best veggie burger that looks and tastes like a real burger. Is this a step towards saving the planet? Yes, and it’s a delicious one. [NPR]

• I’m not sure if I’m disgusted or impressed. “Hammer Head” John Ferraro crushed his way to a record earlier last week for the Guinness World Book of Records. What did Ferraro do? Well, he pounding 38 nails into a board with his skull in under two minutes. Yep, you heard me correctly. And we all thought our President was thick headed…

• Lastly, you can stream Ryad Adams’s new album, Prisoner over on NPR. It’s beautiful, vulnerable and heartbreaking. I may be a biased, fanboy, but I really loved this album. You’re welcome (in advance). [NPR]

If you see any snark-worthy news, feel free to send it us: questions@snarkyfaith.com. Have a great week!