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Christianity is a Shocking Religion

 

“Christianity is a shocking religion, although many of its adherents have managed to protect themselves from its terrible impact. Tears, an awareness of one’s psychic fragility, and a deep sense of peace and joy are not the most obvious marks of believers today. Yet the shock of Christianity remains: the shock of its materialism in its particularity; the shock of its calling us to a messy and untidy intimacy. It claims that the flesh matters. It insists that history (the particularity of time and place) matters. Above all it claims that, in the end, nothing else but love matters.”

Much of the discipline of the desert is concerned with keeping the shock and promise of love alive. Without the occasional abrasive brush with the unexpected, human life soon becomes a mere matter of routine; and, before we know where we are, a casual indifference and even brutality takes over and we begin to die inside.”The shock breaks open the deadly ‘everydayness’ that ensnares us and brings us something awesome and terrifying to our reluctant attention: the believer’s name for that ‘something’ is God.
 
God ceases to be a subject for philosophical debate, still less the object of our part-time and casual allegiance. This God is no hobby. God is felt in places too deep for words; in depths beyond ideas and concepts. God is felt in pain, sorrow, and contradiction. This, in itself, comes as shock, since we tend to make religion only of our better moments. Our worst moments tend to be repressed and denied. When that happens, we begin to lie to ourselves, and when we do, the very fabric of our life begins to fall apart.”
– Alan Jones, Soul Making: The Way of Desert Spirituality

Reports from the Spiritual Frontier – My Bi-Annual Update

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Every so often, I like to check in about how my podcast is going. (I tried to do this quarterly last year, and was half successful. (What? Ben? You have a podcast? I must have missed your obnoxiously ceaseless social media posts! Yup, listen here!) With that in mind, here’s a check-in on how everything is going, based on the questions I asked myself when I first started this experiment.

1) Am I having fun?

Oh God Yes. I get to interview the most amazing people for a living. (Okay, it’s a very small living, one that I barely have to report on my taxes, but STILL.) I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to talk to some of the most wonderful saints-in-the-making I’ve ever met about the deepest passions of their lives.  I sometimes hang up the proverbial phone after an interview and say to myself, “Wow, that was a truly holy moment.”

2) Is it sustainable?

Yup. My audience is growing, I have one sponsor, a lot of incredibly invested supporters (shout outs to: Paul Nixon, Beth Estock, and the Missional Wisdom Foundation) that give me encouragement and energy (and share generously when they like an episode.)

It’s always been my secret dream to be able to make a living doing creative work: this year it’s finally starting to feel like it might actually be possible.

3) Is it making a difference?

Yup. My podcast audience, much to my terrified delight, has exploded the last two months, seemingly without any particular extra effort on my part. This month, I’ve already passed 1300 listens and 300 total likes on Facebook. I’m hearing from people I don’t know about how my podcast is impacting their lives and I know that other people are using my episodes to tell the stories of spiritual pioneers as part of their work of advocacy.

I don’t know if this type of growth will last forever. I have no clue what’s driving it. (And how is it that I have over a hundred listens from TOKYO?) But to my fans and to the podcasts gods, I say thanks.

4) Am I learning?

Yup. I feel pretty confident about the nuts and bolts of conducting and producing interviews.

Of course, now that I’ve learned the basics, I now have new challenges popping up. My last series on immigration died a sad, silent death, because I lost five of my seven committed guests. While that’s a lot any way you look at it, it points out to me that I really should be recording episodes for September in July, so I can make up for lost guests (or lost health.)