Tag: stuart delony

In God We Trump

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A snarky take on Trumpian Christianity

A rundown of the current level of crazy with conservative Christians in America. We talk through some of the craziest, politically motivated crap from Christians in the news. We also have documentary filmmaker, Christopher Maloney, on the show to talk about his Kickstarter campaign to make a film about the current state of politics in America called In God we Trump. Come along for the ride with us!

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

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Music Rewind

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A snarky take on musicians

A rewind of old interviews with musicians from the Snarky Faith vaults. Andrew Belle is a prolific American singer-songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. Ben Lee is an international music icon and activist from Australia. Both of these interviews showcase different artistic voices in the musical spectrum. Enjoy the fascinating musicians and their takes on what it looks like to make art!

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

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How to Fix the Crazy

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A snarky take on Christianity’s Trump problem

A rundown of what you need to do to stay sane in the face of a crazy world. Yes, the world is nuts, our President is crazy, but so is the American Church. Join the conversation about why our Americanized version of advocacy makes no sense. Whether we’re talking about religion or politics, the answer to crazy is finding places where you can invest yourself in places that actually matter. Social media advocacy has no place unless you’re willing to step into the messiness of life. Change only happens when we invest deeply. Anything else is just self-indulgent narcissism. So get off your ass and do something.

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

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Easter Doom!

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A snarky alternative take on Easter

A rundown of why Easter should be a paradigm for the American Church. Something needs to die so it can be reborn. We are stuck within such an institution of crazy and power grabbing that we’ve fallen miles away from our original mission. We need demolition and death before we can be thrust the church into resurrection. So let’s exit the crazy, hypocritical, greedy, hateful, narcissistic Christianity that has become the norm of the American Church. If Easter tells us anything, we need death to move towards life. So let’s leave behind the crazy of the American church and look towards something new.

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

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Why Creation Care Matters

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A snarky take on creation care

Why should creation care matter to Christianity? Join us for part two of our talk with activist and author, Matthew Sleeth as we talk about why care for the environment is an essential ethic woven through scripture. Sleeth talks about how engaging in activities from gardening to environmental activism can connect us to the Creator. Creation care is a beautiful spiritual discipline that has long been lost in many Christian circles and one that the religious-right is downright antagonistic against. But there is always hope for renewal.

And there’s always What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and worst along with a little never-ending,  Neverending Story treat (for the children of the 80’s).

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

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Finding a Silver Lining in the Trump Budget

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A snarky take on Trump’s implosive budget

Is there a silver lining in Trump’s prospective budget? Amongst the proposed fiscal carnage, there may be a slim chance at hope for Christians to recapture their mission. Join us as we delve into how the New Deal changed the American church and led to a loss of identity. We also have part one of an interview with activist and author, Matthew Sleeth.

And there’s always What’s Good // What’s Bad chronicling the interweb’s best and worst.

Join us 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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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]

 

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

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