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In the Shift

English, Religion, 1 season, 90 episodes, 3 days, 10 hours, 35 minutes
About
A podcast for when life and faith go off script. Hosted by Michael Frost.
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Jane Kennedy on voice, authenticity and gender

Episode 90: This episode is a follow-up to our previous episode (89) about navigating relationships post-deconstruction, and this time Shane Meyer-Holt does the interviewing! He talks here with Jane Kennedy (a counsellor who works in the field of religious trauma) about the gender and power dynamics that are at play within high-demand/high-control religious communities, and in particular she reflects on the ways in which patriarchal systems - both explicitly and implicitly - impact on what it means for women to find authenticity, to take up space in the world, and to negotiate through the complexity of friendships and relationships after faith change.  Contact: [email protected] Support: www.patreon.com/intheshift  ------- Jane Kennedy is a Sydney based Counsellor working on Wan-Gal land. She has lived experience of religious trauma and works with people as they go through faith transitions, leave church and/or God. This experience, still frequently misunderstood, can be life-altering. She brings language and framing for the complexities of religious trauma to the counselling space and works with other Australian therapists to broaden knowledge among those working with affected clients. Jane has written her story, an e-book, The Sentimental Non-Believer, on Loving & Leaving God. Her mini-course, What I Wish My Therapist Knew About Religious Trauma, is a resource for therapists. A new course, Freedom from Religious Trauma, for those with lived experience will be available in 2024. With much of her career spent in the International Aid & Development sector, Jane has a special interest in trauma-informed programming and the mental health of practitioners. Jane continues to work in this space with agency teams, navigating the impact of saviourism and vicarious trauma using radical self and collective care models. Jane has two completely delightful adult kids, and lives with two demanding rescue cats and a cyclist who all wake her before 5 most mornings." https://janekennedycounselling.com.au/
5/27/202447 minutes, 31 seconds
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Navigating friendship and relationships after "the shift"

Episode 89: In this conversation with Shane Meyer-Holt, we discuss the complexities of navigating relationships with those from our 'past' when we've undergone some kind of fundamental faith transition. How do we negotiate what happens when we change, when the version of ourselves that people are used to relating to has shifted, and what are the complex intersections that collide when we seek to take up authentic space in the world? 
5/14/20241 hour, 16 minutes, 1 second
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Making "peace" with the past

Episode 88: After a podcast hiatus, the first episode of 2024 is here! In this episode I talk through my own reflections on what it means to make some kind of 'peace' with the past - especially as it relates to a past of harmful religious beliefs and communities. This can be a complex journey, even more so when this has impacted the very core of identity formation and important relationships in our lives. This is not about moving on and forgetting, but about continuing to make space for what we feel, as well as reflecting on the importance of understanding systemic dynamics, and of cultivating levels of empathy for self and others. The hope is that this points us toward what it might look like for us to take up authentic space in the world.
4/17/202436 minutes, 31 seconds
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Where we’ve been: a conversation on suffering, friendship, vulnerability and resisting hustle culture

Episode 87: In this episode, Shane Meyer-Holt joins me for the final episode of 2023. This episode is an unplanned departure from our series on experience and comes after an unexpected hiatus with the podcast too. In this personal, raw, and wandering conversation, we talk through why we’ve not had an episode out in the past couple of months amidst the complexity of life and the presence of suffering and profound challenge. We also talk through the demands of hustle culture and how we care for each other in a world shaped by the internalised social and economic assumptions of what matters. And we use this to springboard into a conversation about our friendship, about how Shane and I have been present to one another through various crises and contrasting experiences of pain. This then connects to how vulnerability and empathy have shaped both the contours of our friendship, as well as becoming the central paradigm for our theology and spirituality.
12/18/20231 hour, 38 minutes, 46 seconds
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Experiencing God (or not) - then and now

Episode 86: In this conversation, Shane and I discuss the paradigms for experiencing God we used to hold and the theological shape of those paradigms. This led to a lot of energy being expended in trying to create the right conditions for 'experience', and an unspoken set of 'signs' that these experiences were being had - something that created a set of problems that we both found problematic in our life and spirituality. We then explore the ways we think about God now, how we see the God-world relationship, and what this means for how we may or may not experience the divine in the present. Finally, we undo some of this good work by throwing a spanner in the works - which means we'll need a follow-up episode to deal with all of that! 
10/16/20231 hour, 23 minutes, 44 seconds
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(Un)Certain: stories of deconstruction with Olivia Jackson

Episode 85: Olivia Jackson is the researcher and author of the recently published book, "(Un)Certain: A Collective Memoir of Deconstructing Faith". In this book, Olivia draws together insights and themes from more than 140 interviews of people from around the world whose Christian faith has gone through a process of deconstruction. The range of experiences, stories and reflections from "regular people" (i.e. people without large churches, book deals, social media followings, or other forms of power) offers a sense of solidarity for those who may have felt isolated, confused and alone or simply curious about their own experience and how it is or is not reflected in the experiences of others. Olivia is able to draw out a number of themes from the wide range of stories, and reflect on the commonalities (among the many differences). In this conversation we talk about her own journey of faith, the pain of deconstruction and the unravelling of certainty, the variety of causes for a shifting faith, and reflect on what this can offer those who have experienced (or are experiencing) a process of deconstruction, or who want to understand the experiences of those who have. You can find Olivia's book here. Contact In the Shift: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift  
9/26/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 7 seconds
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Experiencing God - Interpretation, suggestibility, and the harm of a withholding God

Episode 84: In this second conversation on the complicated world of 'experiencing God', we explore the ways in which all experience is mediated, and so the meaning is thereby a matter (to some degree) of interpretation. We examine the role that suggestibility plays in certain forms of experience, and chat about the unhelpful ideas of 'spiritual hunger' or 'desperation/expectation' as keys to divine presence, and whether particular songs are 'anointed'. We also reflect on the ways we think about the relationship between God and us/world. Does God withhold divine presence and love for some kind of 'greater good', and if so, what does this say about God?
8/28/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 59 seconds
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Experiencing God... or not

Episode 83: In this conversation with Shane Meyer-Holt we dive into the complicated world of understanding experiences of God. For some, particular kinds of experiences with God are central to their spirituality, to feelings of closeness with God, to a sense of meaning and purpose. And yet for others, the attempt to impose certain forms of experience have resulted in harm and even trauma. Some have never 'felt' what they've been told they're supposed to feel, have never sensed God in the way that those around them are apparently sensing God. Does this mean its all pretence, or am I simply being ignored by God? For many, this just ends up as a very confusing jumble - we might have had meaningful experiences but no longer know what to make of them, or we may have had a mixture of positive and negative experiences and now we're left wondering if any of it was real at all. So this episode is the beginning of a series of conversations trying to unpick all of this and see if we can make some sense of it.
8/2/20231 hour, 31 minutes, 39 seconds
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Dr Karen O’Donnell - Trauma-informed theology and post-traumatic remaking

Episode 82: Dr Karen O'Donnell is a specialist in theology and trauma. In this conversation we explore the nature of trauma and, in particular, we reflect on spiritual trauma and abuse and the ruptures it can cause to the embodied person. The field of trauma theology seeks to take the experience of trauma as a starting point for theological reflection - both in terms of critiquing the ways in which theological beliefs can cause harm, and also in terms of constructing theologies that can create room for what she calls 'post-traumatic remaking'. This conversation moves from grappling with the large scope of these ideas, to talking about the personal and very real experiences of trauma and how they impact us. Karen shares from her own experiences of grief and loss as we discuss how the theology, practices, prayers and worship of the church can either be a contributor toward harm (or even the cause of), or can help cultivate safe and nurturing communities within which we are able to rebuild a new self.  Please note as a trigger warning, this conversation includes references to various causes of trauma, including pregnancy loss, sexual assault and abuse, violence and spiritual abuse. Karen is the author of several publications including Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary and the Body in Trauma Theology and The Dark Womb: Re-Conceiving Theology Through Reproductive Loss. You can find her on twitter: @kmrodonnell Get in touch with In the Shift via email: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift
7/11/20231 hour, 42 minutes, 59 seconds
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Marc Fennell on ”The Kingdom” and the tangled web of megachurch experience

Episode 81: Marc Fennell is the force behind the new SBS documentary, "The Kingdom". It is a doco that explores the rise and fall of Hillsong Church in Australia (and around the globe), but that also asks harder and more nuanced questions of the wider pentecostal megachurch systems and structures that have grown so rapidly in recent decades. This form of Christianity clearly appeals so deeply to so many, and yet can also grow on the back of coercion and abuse of power that often leads to burn out, spiritual trauma, and to many thousands of unsaid, unheard stories of pain, dislocation and harm. In this conversation we talk with Marc about his approach and hopes for the doco, about his own story of growing up in these kinds of churches, the good, the bad, the ugly... and the kinds of hard questions that the new emerging churches should be asking of themselves (and that participants should be asking) if there is going to be a healthier future ahead. You can get in touch: [email protected] Support: www.patreon.com/intheshift  
6/20/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 28 seconds
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Another Level Part 1: The Megachurch Playbook [REISSUE]

Episode 80: This is a first for In the Shift - a reissue of an older conversation! But in light of more stories, documentaries, investigations and interrogations of the megachurch story here in NZ, Australia and across the world in recent months, we thought it might be helpful to reissue the first podcast episode on our megachurch series - originally aired as Episode 55 in April 2022. Shane and I began talking about this because we both had history in these spaces, and there were stories hitting the mainstream about coercion, manipulation, burnout, abuse of power and just a litany of stories of people's lives being messed up through their experience in these kinds of spaces. In particular, here in New Zealand we were responding in real time to the stories from journalist David Farrier - but we also knew that the stories he was telling were not limited to one specific context, but were endemic across a whole stream of the contemporary church movement. So we began what was going to be a short series of conversations about this, and then it turned into a rather long series of conversations about all of this. So if you're new to In the Shift and you find this convo helpful, you can wind back to episode 56 and go with us on the journey. Here's the original blurb: ********* This episode is the first in a series of conversations between myself and Shane Meyer-Holt (who you may remember from way back in episode 3) as we respond to some of the deeply concerning stories emerging from megachurches in recent weeks and months. There are common themes found in the experiences of those who have suffered under the weight of pressure, expectation, bullying, harassment and abuse of power within these systems. Shane and I have been talking about this for more than a decade, having met while in the process of trying to extricate ourselves from the problematic church structures we had been deeply immersed in since our teenage years. Since then we have both explored very different ways of engaging in faith communities and ‘leadership’. But we have also continued to reflect on those things that make megachurches (or those following that model) so potent and effective. Effective at both the glories of success and growth but also at leaving a trail of pain and trauma - while managing to keep that suffering largely silent and under the radar (until now). This is the beginning of our processing ‘out loud’ on these issues, dealing with themes that have in many ways been woven through the In the Shift podcast from the very beginning. If you want to get in touch to offer comment, question, story, insight, or to seek a bit of solidarity and support, you can get in touch with Shane and I via: [email protected]
6/12/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 24 seconds
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Already Enough - LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the church (with Amanda Pilbrow)

Episode 79: Amanda Pilbrow works in the space of helping support LGBTQIA+ folk in the church, as well as working with churches, pastors, ministry leaders and others to go on the journey to become fully affirming of queer folk in the church. She is the facilitator of the website www.alreadyenough.co.nz which is a sorting house for a vast range of resources in relation to this conversation. In this episode we talk about her journey as a young woman growing up within very conservative traditionalist church systems. We discuss the exclusion of women from ministry and leadership, and the impact this had on her sense of self. And we explore how her journey of processing through this is connected to the ongoing passion she has for the church to change its stance on queer inclusion. Her postgrad research focused on hearing the experiences of LGB Christians in New Zealand, and has deeply informed the way she approaches these conversations. 
6/5/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 29 seconds
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Reframing Easter (live recording)

Episode 78: This episode is a live recording from an event called "Reframing Easter" held in March of this year. Here I talk through my understanding of how the Easter story fits within the wider historical, cultural, political and religious context of its day. The imperial power of Rome, the backdrop of suffering for the Jewish people,  religious leadership and belief being used in the jostling for power, status and control, and the tense and very real potential for a violent revolution. Jesus lives and dies in the midst of this moment - and the meaning of Easter can only really be grappled with in light of what's going on here. Unpacking this story can then help us to make sense of how all of this might still speak to us in the present moment. It helps us to reframe ideas of Jesus' death as "atonement for sin", and to reimagine what "salvation" looks like in contrast to the power, violence and abuse of harmful systems, beliefs and practices.
5/17/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 21 seconds
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Flipping the script

Episode 77: One of the common themes of our recent conversations has been how churches have been able to co-opt Christian language and ideas and use them to enforce power, to gaslight victims, and to justify their actions as God-approved. This can often leave victims feeling confused, isolated and ashamed. This episode is a theological exploration of how the language of sin/repentance and blessing/empowerment is used in the biblical narrative in the almost entirely opposite direction to how we see it used in the contemporary church. In the biblical narrative, confrontation of sinners and calls to repentance are directed to those people in positions of power who are abusing that power. And the language of empowerment/blessing is directed at those who have been harmed, marginalised, abused and mistreated. Ironically (and sadly) in the church, those with power often claim the language of empowerment and blessing, and the language of sin/repentance is directed at those who are already vulnerable. This episode tracks the competing imperial and prophetic trajectories of the biblical story, and how the words of Jesus (and Paul) must be understood within this wider context.
5/4/202351 minutes, 18 seconds
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’Sons and Servants’: A case study in religious conditioning

Episode 76: Shane Meyer-Holt returns to the podcast, and this time he brings his church notebook from the nineties! One of the things we’ve heard a lot over the past year is “how can people stay in these toxic communities for so long?” or even more troubling can be the question “why did I stay so long?”.  We explore an old sermon by a charismatic American preacher we both heard when we were young and use it as a case study in how religious language can be used to condition people to a coercive system. This sermon - titled “Sons and Servants” - is a perfect microcosm of the journey over time for many folks; from a seemingly admirable desire to “do something for God”, through to a loss of boundaries, a dissolving of the self and an internalisation of authoritative voices that become the internal critic that we carry with us everywhere. Contact: [email protected] Support: www.patreon.com/intheshift
4/3/20231 hour, 26 minutes, 35 seconds
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Mega-close to home

Episode 75: In the first episode of 2023, I (Michael) spend some time reflecting on the stories of the past year but in particular on the most recently published article by journalist David Farrier about church harm and toxicity in more NZ megachurches - a story that prominently features the church in which I spent around 13 years of my life - both as a participant, and also on staff for around 8 years. In this episode I unpack as honestly as I can the feelings that come up in this whole conversation, about what it feels like to speak publicly about a community that I once helped to build, about the long-term relational impact, and about why I think we need to hold people and communities/systems to account - especially when they are closer to us. All of this feeds into some reflections on why it continues to be so muddled and conflicted for so many people, why it's so hard for members to leave and/or move on, and why it's the inability to hear, empathise, listen and learn that become the most problematic features of these organisations. Get in touch via email: [email protected] Support via Patreon: www.patreon.com/intheshift  
3/8/202339 minutes, 47 seconds
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Q & A on unravelling, changing church systems, and why we’re still Christian

Episode 74: Carly Lahana and Shane Meyer-Holt are back for another round of Q & A! In this episode we respond to a range of listener questions on faith deconstruction, personal spirituality, church structures and systems, and some practical questions about what is possible in church life. These questions include: What do you do when all your beliefs start to unravel? How not to become "bitter"? What are some blind spots in the deconstructing community? Why are we still Christian? (why not just leave it all behind?) Do we still need church? How does the church move forward when it is overwhelmingly led by old white men? How is talk about money abused in the church, and is tithing biblical? Is there still room for quality, creativity, music and production in the church?
12/5/20221 hour, 34 minutes, 46 seconds
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Healing from spiritual trauma - with Dr Hillary McBride

Episode 73: Dr Hillary McBride is a therapist, researcher, writer and speaker who brings a remarkable combination of expertise, insight and empathy to this conversation about spiritual trauma. We talk about why spiritual trauma is so potent, how it is experienced and held in our bodies, how negative religious attitudes toward our bodies can stifle our awareness of what needs to change and of the healing we may need, and how to move toward healing and re-integration. Hillary's most recent book is titled "The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection through Embodied Living" and is a highly recommended read for those navigating pain and trauma, as well for all of those seeking a more embodied and connected life. You can find Hillary at: https://hillarylmcbride.com/  Get in touch with In the Shift: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift  
11/8/202253 minutes, 49 seconds
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Megachurch Madness - with David Farrier

Episode 72: David Farrier is a journalist, documentary maker, podcaster, and the author of online newsletter Webworm. Throughout 2022, David’s investigative work on Arise Church - one of New Zealand’s largest megachurches - brought to light a toxic culture that included numerous allegations of burn out, abuse of power, toxicity and the covering up of claims of sexual harassment and assault. David’s work also opened up a larger public conversation about megachurches (and toxic church cultures in general), and the narcissism, ego and systemic abuse of power that is often present in these spaces. In this conversation we talk with David about his own experience of Christianity as a child and young adult, why he started Webworm, the attention to bullies and narcissists in so much of his work, and why he focused in on a New Zealand megachurch. We talk through the unfolding of this story, the perspective he brings as an outsider to megachurch culture, and how hard it seems to be to get people within the church to take these claims seriously. You can subscribe to David’s newsletter at www.webworm.co Email us: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift 
10/23/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 19 seconds
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Moving Beyond Purity Culture - with Meg Cowan

Episode 71: This is the 2nd part of a conversation with Meg Cowan - sex and relationships coach. In this episode we talk about understanding our own sexuality, and how to find healthy ways of moving forward beyond the binaries of purity culture. We discuss the five circles of sexuality - intimacy, identity, sensuality, health & reproduction, and sexualisation. And we talk through some of the big issues in processing through and healing from purity culture, including attachments and soul ties, finding agency, cultivating a new sexual ethic, getting connected to our embodiment, somatics as a pathway to healing, and finding health in our relationships. You can find Meg's work at www.megcowan.com or follow her on instagram. Get in touch with In the Shift: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift  
10/17/202255 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Impact of Purity Culture - with Meg Cowan

Episode 70: Meg Cowan is a sex and relationships coach who specialises in helping people process through the impact of purity culture. In this conversation we talk about how purity culture (understood as the cultural movement in Evangelical/Pentecostal Christianity that emerges in reaction to the rapid social and moral changes that took place in the 1960s and 1970s) has impacted views on and experiences of sex, embodiment and relationships in the church. We discuss the ways in which men and women have experienced this differently, and the disproportionate impact of purity culture on women in particular. We dive into the detail on gender norms, sexual desire, the nature of arousal, power imbalances between men and women, the orgasm gap, and debunk some of the myths of purity culture. This is the first part of two conversations with Meg - and in an upcoming episode we talk about how to heal and move forward from purity culture and its impact on sex and relationships. [see below for some resource recommendations from Meg] Get in touch via email: [email protected] You can find Meg at: https://www.megcowan.com/ including info about her 'Shame Free Sex' course. Recommended Resources from Meg: Debunking the myth that men are more visual than women with regards to sex. Meta Analysis: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1904975116 BOOK MENTIONS > Pure, by Linda Kay Klein Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free https://lindakayklein.com/pure/ > The Great Sex Rescue, by Sheila Wray Gregorie.  If you identify as a Christian, this is one of the better books out there on changing the narrative about sex and christian marriage. https://baremarriage.com/great-sex-rescue/ > Come as you are, by Emily Nagowski Essential reading on how desire and arousal actually work. https://www.emilynagoski.com/home Love and Respect (on the Do NOT read list!) A lot of the teaching around these concepts of Love and Respect is spread in church, due to the bestselling (but truly terrible) book on Christian Marriage called ‘Love and Respect’ by Emerson Eggerich. Read more about why it’s so awful on Sheila Wray Gregoire’s platforms: https://baremarriage.com/2019/01/love-and-respect-why-unconditional-respect-cant-work/
10/9/202255 minutes, 53 seconds
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Celebrities for Jesus - with Katelyn Beaty

Episode 69: Katelyn Beaty is the author of the recently published book “Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms and Profits are Hurting the Church”. We talk here about the nature of celebrity vs fame, and how celebrity pastors and ministers have come to take centre stage in the Evangelical/Pentecostal church. As celebrity pastors have flourished, their churches have become mirrors for their own ego. This leads to numerous problems including a lack of accountability, the abuse of power, the pursuit of growth and brand at all costs, and has distorted the central themes of the Christian message. We finish this conversation by reflecting on how Jesus invites us to resist the allure of power and status, a challenge that is central to the Christian faith itself. Follow Katelyn's work at https://www.katelynbeaty.com/  Get in touch: [email protected] Support In the Shift: www.patreon.com/intheshift
9/28/20221 hour, 18 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: When Binaries go Bad

Episode 68: In this episode I'm joined by Jess Holdaway (who you may remember from ep 61) and also by Shalomy Sathiyaraj as we talk about their experience as young women within the megachurch space. We discuss the idealised characteristics of a "Christian woman", the dynamics of gender and power, the impact of purity culture, and the way in which hyper-feminine and hyper-masculine constructs lead to such unhealthy and harmful consequences. Shalomy also speaks to her experience as a young woman of colour in that space, including the overt and subtle forms of racism that are so often embedded within these institutions. It is a potent and important conversation for all those wrestling with the things that need to change in the church.
9/20/20221 hour, 32 minutes, 57 seconds
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”Is there hope for the church?” with Rev Frank Ritchie

Episode 67: In this episode I speak with Frank Ritchie, a Wesleyan Methodist minister, media chaplain, and author of a recent "theological and cultural reflection", written in response to the Arise Church situation but that also speaks to the wider (mega)church conversations about the significant harm caused by unhealthy faith communities. We talk about the allure of power within the church, the lack of substance inherent in the 'church growth' paradigm, and the challenges that face the church in this current moment. We also explore the possibilities that emerge when the church loses its social and cultural power, a faith that re-discovers itself at the margins, a merging of pentecostal-liturgical traditions, and how a church community can follow a different path than the "contemporary church growth" road that has been so dominant in the past few decades.
9/8/20221 hour, 18 minutes, 43 seconds
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Q&A on deconstruction, doubt and whether megachurches can change

Episode 66: In this episode Shane and I are joined by new contributor Carly Lahana, as we discuss your questions on all things deconstruction, doubt, and megachurches. Can I deconstruct without losing hope? How do I even begin to deconstruct? Can I stay in a church if I no longer agree with their theology? Are megachurches open to change as a result of recent conversations? Are megachurches capable of this change?
8/28/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 53 seconds
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Life after the ”man with the plan”

Episode 65: In this conversation we discuss what possibilities exist for re-imagining leadership and the role of a pastor when the "guru", or the "man with the plan" models have failed us. The "pastor as expert/authority in everything" model can treat congregations in an overly paternalistic and controlling manner, as well as fostering a level of pressure and expectation that can lead to personal dysfunction for the leader themselves. As alternatives we discuss the possibility of collaborative models, of leaders as conduits of the stories of a community, engagement in genuine dialogue, and the centrality of empathy and care.
8/9/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 54 seconds
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Mega-health: Can a megachurch be healthy?

Episode 64: In this episode we talk about what movement toward health might look like in toxic megachurch (or any church) spaces. Building on our discussions over the past few months we explore the possibility of an open-handed community, a movement away from coercion, about the conflict that often occurs between health and growth, about the importance of focusing not only the individual failings that can lead to abuse, but the systemic and structural issues that need to change in order to see real transformation take place.
7/31/20221 hour, 37 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: The problem with being ”the good guys”

Episode 63: In this episode I'm joined by Shane Meyer-Holt as we explore the problems that emerge when we're convinced that we're "the good guys" (we realise this phrase is gendered, but we felt it reflected the patriarchal nature of many of these systems). If we believe that we have the answers that everybody needs, that we're uniquely called to rescue, save and bring light to a dark world, then we often become unable to see the ways in which we might be participating in harm. We talk about why we're more likely to minimise or ignore stories of pain and abuse within our own communities, overstate our ability to meet the needs of others, less likely to collaborate, and often unable to see the good that is already taking place in spaces beyond our own institutions (and beyond our own religious frameworks). We finish with a discussion on how Christian faith can be meaningful without us having to be "the winners".
7/10/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 42 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: Doublespeak

Episode 62: In this episode Shane Meyer-Holt joins me again for an analysis of megachurch “doublespeak”. Doublespeak is what we’re calling the use of language that sounds good on the surface (and can in fact be used in really healthy ways) but is being used to coerce, manipulate, control and gaslight people. It’s where a word like “capacity” is being used to mean “suppress your emotional and physical wellbeing”. Or where “doing it in God’s strength” means to stop paying attention to the important signals your body is giving you. Or where “unity” is being used to mean uniformity and compliance. We discuss a range of examples of how this kind of language is used, because it is the pervasive subtlety of this language that often keeps people stuck within toxic cultures. We also look further at the red flags to pay attention to in religious communities, as well as some indications of what healthy community can start to look like.
6/25/20221 hour, 36 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: Trauma, Red Flags, and Recovery

Episode 61: In this episode Michael has a conversation with narrative therapist Nicole Conner and megachurch survivor Jess Holdaway. Jess speaks of her journey through the megachurch, the impact on her body and her experience of trauma, as we weave in and out of a wider discussion on religious trauma, abuse of power and burn-out. They share reflections on institutional and religious gaslighting, how to know if you're in an abusive or toxic community, the signs of trauma, and some ways forward for those processing their experiences. As always, get in touch at: [email protected] For those looking for a little grounding after listening to this episode, you may find this meditation helpful. https://sanctuarymentalhealth.org/2020/03/17/meditation-and-self-care-during-covid-19/    Nicole Conner   Nicole was born in Hamburg, Germany, and grew up in apartheid South Africa. This created an awareness of how religion can influence and serve a political ideology, and vice versa. Something to keep in mind when discussing religious trauma. Nicole’s formative years were not shaped by any strong religious ideas. As a teenager she joined a Pentecostal church in South Africa and was part of Pentecostalism for 3 decades. In Melbourne, Nicole was an Associate Minister at a large Pentecostal church that was led by her husband. She stepped down from her role and leadership in 2010. Since then, Nicole retrained in narrative practice that informs the therapy, supervision and organisational consulting she offers as director of her business, Defining Stories. https://definingstories.com.au     A growing percentage of Nicole’s clients are people reclaiming their lives from religious ideologies and practices that had a negative and/or traumatic impact on their lives.     Jess Holdaway   Born in South Africa, Jess immigrated to Aotearoa with her family when she was 10 years old. Keen to find a community, Jess entered the megachurch scene as a 13 year old and spent 9 years volunteering and eventually working for the church. Since leaving church, she trained as a graphic designer and has spent most of her career working on projects that have a positive impact in Aotearoa.  She has also birthed two beautiful human beings and relocated with her husband and children to the beachside town of Mangawhai.  Always curious, always keen for deep conversations and passionate about creating a more collaborative future where people thrive, Jess is here for this conversation!
6/5/20221 hour, 39 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: ”The Creep”

Episode 60: In this episode, Shane Meyer-Holt and I continue talking about megachurches and toxic church cultures. We focus this conversation on the "creep", which is what happens when things change incrementally over time from the 'mild' toward something really unhealthy, coercive or toxic.  But because this change happens slowly, over time, within a bubble that lacks outside perspective and with justifiable goals and aims, it can be hard to see and difficult to name or address. The 'creep' happens in relation to many aspects of church life, whether it be money, honour, altar calls, spiritual experience, purity culture, growth aspirations and so on. We also talk about how and why this happens, how it is often masked, defended and amplified, and why it's so important for all of us to be able to hear feedback from others about the impact our lives have on theirs.
5/23/20221 hour, 27 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Megachurch Conversation: Where to from here?

Episode 59: In this episode Shane and I hit pause on delving into the megachurch playbook to check in and get a sense of where things are up to. We talk about how we've been feeling over the past few weeks as this conversation has unfolded, what feelings have come to the surface, and the different kinds of feedback we are getting. We also talk about what we're hopeful we've been able to do so far, our priority for 'survivors', what this moment could mean for the church, and some of where we think this conversation needs to head next. It's a less intense convo, as we just check in and reflect on the present moment.  You can get in touch via email: [email protected]
5/16/202258 minutes, 9 seconds
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Another Level Part 4: The Megachurch Playbook

Episode 58: In this 4th part of our ongoing megachurch conversation, Shane and I look at the origin story of megachurch culture. In other words, why did churches like this begin to emerge in the mid-late 20th and early 21st century? We also explore some of the key beliefs that sit at the heart of the megachurch worldview. We talk about the "who/what" (the "man with the vision"), the "why" (colonisation and empire building), the "how" (a distortion of the sacrificial giving and servant-heartedness motifs in scripture), and the "payoff" (God will bless you if you serve this vision). We also explore the origins of the prosperity gospel, and just generally tell a bunch more stories.  As always, you can get in touch via: [email protected]
5/9/20221 hour, 21 minutes, 37 seconds
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Another Level Part 3: The Megachurch Playbook

Episode 57: Shane and I are back at it, talking about megachurch culture and some of the central themes that help us understand what's going on. In this conversation we talk about the emphasis on unending growth (at all costs), and the way in which language of "another level", "breakthrough", and the "best is yet to come" can drive a culture of toxic positivity and burnout. We also talk about the church as a contextless place, a thing that happens "to" people and which can get caught up with the establishment and defence of a brand. But first, we begin with a discussion about "plausible deniability" as a tactic of manipulative and coercive leadership. This relates to the problematic but very effective behaviour and rhetoric that is couched in such a way that it can often be excused by "you're too sensitive", "we were just joking around", "you've misunderstood us" and so on. This kind of gaslighting allows leaders to deny responsibility and lay the blame for any offence on the harmed person rather than on the one carrying out the abusive behaviour. As always you can get in touch via email: [email protected]
5/2/20221 hour, 11 minutes, 38 seconds
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Another Level Part 2: The Megachurch Playbook

Episode 56: This is Part 2 of a conversation with Shane Meyer-Holt about megachurch culture and the concerning and harrowing stories emerging from victims of bullying, harassment and abuse within some of these churches.  In this conversation we talk about explicit and implicit coercion, the role of fear and the power of the charismatic ego, and we examine the "honour culture" that underpins much of the megachurch system - a culture that contributes both to the inability to speak up, as well as being responsible for some of the worst excesses and impulses of senior leaders.  If you'd like to get in touch with us, you can email: [email protected]
4/25/20221 hour, 16 minutes, 23 seconds
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Another Level Part 1: The Megachurch Playbook

Episode 55: This episode is the first in a series of conversations between myself and Shane Meyer-Holt (who you may remember from way back in episode 3) as we respond to some of the deeply concerning stories emerging from megachurches in recent weeks and months. There are common themes found in the experiences of those who have suffered under the weight of pressure, expectation, bullying, harassment and abuse of power within these systems. Shane and I have been talking about this for more than a decade, having met while in the process of trying to extricate ourselves from the problematic church structures we had been deeply immersed in since our teenage years. Since then we have both explored very different ways of engaging in faith communities and ‘leadership’. But we have also continued to reflect on those things that make megachurches (or those following that model) so potent and effective. Effective at both the glories of success and growth but also at leaving a trail of pain and trauma - while managing to keep that suffering largely silent and under the radar (until now). This is the beginning of our processing ‘out loud’ on these issues, dealing with themes that have in many ways been woven through the In the Shift podcast from the very beginning. If you want to get in touch to offer comment, question, story, insight, or to seek a bit of solidarity and support, you can get in touch with Shane and I via: [email protected]
4/20/20221 hour, 14 minutes, 19 seconds
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Critical Conversations: On misogyny and abuse of power - with Dr Jeff Crabtree

Episode 54:  A conversation with Dr Jeff Crabtree discussing his research into abuse of power, sexual harassment and misogyny in the music industry in Australia and New Zealand. We explore what his research uncovers, talk about the complexities of power imbalance (it's not only about roles and titles), and how powerful men often abuse their power over others, especially women. Jeff also has a history in the church and so we discuss how similar power dynamics can play out within church organisations, as well as other social networks, organisations and institutions. As a discussion between two men on this topic, this is only part of the conversation that must be had but we hope its a helpful contribution.
3/23/20221 hour, 10 minutes, 30 seconds
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Christians Against Christianity - with Dr Obery Hendricks

Episode 53: Dr Obery Hendricks is a life long social activist, he is one of the foremost commentators on the intersection of religion and political economy in America, and one of the most widely read and influential African American biblical scholars writing today. In this wonderful, challenging and insightful conversation we discuss his most recent book, provocatively titled - 'Christians Against Christianity'. We talk about the way that money, power and race have shaped modern American Evangelicalism, and what that has to do with Christianity all over the world. We discuss the importance of social justice to the biblical narrative and the story of Jesus, the meaning of 'salvation' and how the contemporary "Jesus personality cult" often fails to grasp what Jesus was really all about. We also tackle homophobia, capitalism, what to do with the Apostle Paul and a whole bunch more!  You can follow his work at https://oberyhendricksphd.com/ 
1/31/20221 hour, 6 minutes, 13 seconds
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Shift Happens

Episode 52: In this episode we look at what happens when faith and belief get stuck in concrete, when they get locked in and locked down, and we’re unable to adapt, change, innovate, rethink, deconstruct and reimagine. And this concrete kind of faith often stems from a very concrete view of God, and can lead us to narrow and suffocating ways of seeing ourselves and the world, which in turn leads us to ethical approaches that can be very harmful for people. And then we talk about dynamism, relationality, innovation and fluidity. Faith and belief that is connected to the past but is also able to embrace the shift, it is dynamic and responsive in the present, and open to the future. 
12/15/202143 minutes, 19 seconds
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Blinded by the ”truth”

Episode 51: In this episode we explore how the narrative arc of contemporary Christian faith can foster an unfounded confidence (and arrogance), a blindness to truths from outside of the system, and even authoritarianism and wild conspiracies. This can happen when we feel we're in on something special, something true that the 'world' won't understand, and when faith is centred on believing these truths that we've found regardless of the evidence. But while modern Christianity can often define itself as "getting in by believing the right things", Jesus seems intent on blowing up that form of religion and instead pointing us outward toward others.
11/4/202140 minutes, 54 seconds
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When narcissism finds religion

Episode 50: This episode continues the conversation on the problems and possibilities of Christianity, and explores what happens when religious institutions become narcissistic. In other words, when church communities become self-important, don't handle criticism well, lack empathy and support the powerful instead of centring the victim. While many human institutions, large and small, are captured by this temptation, some forms of Christian theology feed this institutional narcissism through beliefs that prioritise the "church" over and above everything else. But could religious communities genuinely offer something different, and if so, what? 
10/16/202134 minutes, 44 seconds
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Feeding the machine

Episode 49: The latest episode of In the Shift examines the fusion of Christian mission with Western capitalism and how it culminates in the "church growth" obsession. But when everything is oriented toward growth we see that for the church machine to function it needs homogeneity and often has an inability to deal with complexity and pain (suffering is very inefficient!). As people's lives are left by the wayside, the collateral damage can be justified by the apparent "greater good" of the kingdom. As an alternative, we explore here the possibilities within Christian spirituality for the cultivation of authenticity, expressed in both honesty and vulnerability.
9/23/202136 minutes, 5 seconds
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The multiple paths of ”deconstruction”

Episode 48: This episode explores various paths of deconstruction and their sometimes overlapping, sometimes divergent, directions. In particular, we look at 4 of these trajectories - the liturgical, the mystical, the political and the agnostic. Faith deconstruction is a complex and often difficult/painful experience and sometimes, though we might discover a great sense of camaraderie and community in connecting with others about what we “aren’t” anymore, we can find ourselves drifting apart as we go in different directions. This can be, in itself, another difficult and isolating part of the process. Exploring and naming these 4 trajectories are an attempt to give space for some language, understanding and empathy toward the journey we (and others) find ourselves on.
9/11/202141 minutes, 12 seconds
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Life after death, panpsychism and the plausibility of hope - with Dr Thomas Jay Oord

Episode 47: In this episode we welcome Dr Thomas Jay Oord back to the podcast for a three-peat; this time to discuss his views on life after death. We cover all sorts of terrain, from the biblical ambiguities associated with heaven & resurrection, to near-death and out-of-body experiences, to the philosophical outlook of panpsychism and the mind-body relationship, along with possibilities for how we could conceive of post-death subjective experience, and Tom's view of unrelenting divine love (as opposed to doctrines of hell and eternal punishment). It's a trip - so buckle up for the ride! 
6/23/202157 minutes, 1 second
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Heavenly Creatures

Episode 46: This episode unpacks the language of heaven in the Christian scriptures. One of the mistakes we often make is to read our presumptions into the language and stories of these ancient texts. Much of the time the biblical authors were ambiguous about life after death, and the 'kingdom of heaven' was not a place for life after death at all - rather it was about a present reality unfolding among us. But what does this mean for us when we die? Is it pearly gates, clouds, wings and harps, an old white man playing God. Maybe some streets of gold? A mansion sized just for you based on how much you tithed to the church? Or perhaps heaven is a place on earth after all? 
6/10/202135 minutes, 40 seconds
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The "mark of the beast" - it's not the end of the world after all

Episode 45: The "mark of the beast", the "antichrist", the "rapture"; these are terms associated with a relatively recent, and unfortunately influential way of reading ancient scriptural texts. So where do these ideas come from, what is the problem with them, and what are some alternative interpretations that might be more helpful to us? This episode pulls apart some of the assumptions that sit behind "end-times" thinking, including the impact on geopolitical politics and conflict (especially in the Middle East). Rather than predicting events thousands of years into the future, we find that the authors of Daniel & Revelation were speaking in subversive ways about how to live under oppressive empires. The way of Jesus was seen to be a non-violent alternative to the temptation to participate in the dominating, colonising and violent actions of those with power. 
5/26/202139 minutes, 36 seconds
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On Christian Humanism, LGBT+ inclusion, and what comes 'after Evangelicalism' - with Dr David P. Gushee

Episode 44: In this episode I chat with Dr David P. Gushee about his important book published in 2014 called 'Changing our Mind', calling for full LGBT+ inclusion in the church. We talk about his resultant expulsion from Evangelicalism culture, and from there we discuss the more widespread toxicity present within the movement (both theologically and culturally), made even more evident in the Trump years. From there we move on to talk about his most recent book, "After Evangelicalism" in which he proposes what lies beyond, including a move toward Christian humanism, and the reclaiming of the Jesus of the gospels.  For more information on David's work, you can visit http://www.davidpgushee.com/ 
4/22/20211 hour, 48 seconds
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"I'm under spiritual attack!" (or am I just having a bad day?)

Episode 43 - In this episode we continue our conversation about evil and the devil by focusing on three things: the language of spiritual attack, being tempted by the Devil, and the idea of the demonic. Although definitive answers are hard to come by, at the very least these ideas can function as a seemingly reassuring explanation for why things don't always go well for us. But are there implications that are less helpful? And if so, what are some ways of thinking about this that help us to understand crises, temptations, compulsions, addictions and the fracturing of self that we experience in our day-to-day lives?
4/8/202143 minutes, 46 seconds
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Speak of the devil

Episode 42: In this first of two episodes on the topic, we look at the language of principalities, powers, demons and the devil, and ask - what on earth is going on here? Is any of this real, what does it mean, what damage can these ideas do, and can a conversation about demons and evil powers be of any use to us in a modern society, or is it all just nonsense? 
3/3/202134 minutes, 20 seconds
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On fundamentalism, forgiveness and finding a better way - with Paul Young & Brad Jersak

[**Content Warning** This episode includes conversations that deal with abuse, trauma, sexual assault and self-harm. Specifically from 7min to 27mins]  Episode 41: In this conversation with Paul Young (The Shack) and Brad Jersak (A More Christlike Way) we discuss the themes found in their jointly written novella - The Pastor: A Crisis. We talk about the cyclical impact of abuse, understanding (and misunderstanding) forgiveness, the need for control that often drives fundamentalism, the dangers of hierarchy and power in the church, along with the possibilities of healing and of living into a more hopeful and liberating form of faith.
2/18/202156 minutes, 14 seconds
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Beyond the cliche: My thoughts on JC, reality, and building from the ground up

Episode 40: This episode explores where I'm currently up to in my re-thinking of Jesus, especially in light of a view of God who is in and through all things. From here, we look at three emerging themes that come from the Jesus story: presence over ideology, grace over status, and self-giving love over coercive power.
12/2/202034 minutes, 13 seconds
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What's so special about Jesus? with Dr Tripp Fuller

Episode 39: Our guest for this episode is Dr Tripp Fuller and (in one of our more meaty theological episodes) we dive further into all things 'Jesus'. Is Jesus just a nice guy, or did God jump down from heaven into human form... or is it possible that something else is going on here? We talk about all of this in relation to Tripp's latest book, Divine Self Investment, in which he proposes an open and relational constructive Christology. If you're the kind of person who likes the idea of diving into an academic theological book that packs a punch, and that proposes bold, innovative and compelling ways of understanding the Jesus story, then you can check out his new book here.
10/23/202059 minutes
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"Tricky Jesus Questions" with Thomas Jay Oord

Episode 38: In this episode I talk again with Dr Thomas Jay Oord, but this time we turn our attention toward Jesus. If God is present in and through all things and by very nature is not intervening but rather is uncontrolling love, then how do we make sense of the Jesus story? In this conversation we wrestle with Jesus' identity and the historic claims of his divinity and humanity, discuss his miracles and how they might be seen as 'uncontrolling', tackle a range of views on the virgin birth, contemplate Jesus' possible cooperation with his own resurrection, and consider what it is that makes him unique. You can also check out Tom's latest book, "Questions and Answers for God Can't" for more responses to the questions that have arisen in response to his book "God Can't".
10/14/20201 hour, 5 minutes, 8 seconds
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What if God isn't in "control" and doesn't know the future?

Episode 37: For many of us the idea that God is all-powerful and all-knowing is assumed to be the very definition of divinity. But here we bring together threads from recent episodes to suggest that God might not be all powerful (in the way we typically understand power) and may not know the future. But what does this mean? It can be an unsettling idea, but perhaps it also allows us to more honestly see the challenges we face and to explore what real participation with the divine might look like.
9/16/202031 minutes, 42 seconds
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Divine Intervention and the subtlety of God - with Dr Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Episode 36: In this episode I talk with Dr. Nicola Hoggard Creegan about the God-world relationship, the depths of wonder within nature, the role of empathy and cooperation in evolution, the subtlety of God's presence and action in the world, and what it means to say that God is non-finite.    Dr. Nicola Hoggard Creegan is a theologian based in Auckland. She is co-director of New Zealand Christians in Science. She is the author of Animal Suffering and the Problem of Evil (OUP, 2013), and co-edited Creation and Hope with Andrew Shepherd. Nicola has long standing interests in science and faith, and also eco-theology. She is now working on a book on the freedom of the will. 
8/31/202035 minutes, 32 seconds
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Divine Intervention, the Mind & Religious Experience - with Dr Sarah Lane Ritchie

Episode 35: We're back! After a brief 2020 hiatus, this new episode features a conversation with the brilliant Dr Sarah Lane Ritchie. She is a scholar who works at the intersection of theology and the sciences, and in particular in relation to questions surrounding the human mind, the relationship between God and the physical world and the development of religious belief. In this episode we discuss different ways of thinking about God's relationship to the world, whether we have a soul, the validity of religious experience, and the potential role of psychedelics as a kind of spiritual technology. 
8/6/20201 hour, 8 minutes, 40 seconds
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Divine Intervention: Vulnerability and the question of divine presence

Episode 34: This episode of In the Shift explores the related themes of human vulnerability and divine presence. We are often tempted to use God - and the idea of God's intervention - to cover over the awareness of our own vulnerability. But if we are able to come face-to-face with it, perhaps there are important insights to be gained, not only about ourselves but also about God. This episode also tackles the notion of divine presence - which can be understandably thrown into question when we face something like Covid-19. Is God really present, and if so, what does it even mean to say that? And what about the feelings of absence and loneliness that can be so potently known, regardless of our faith constructs?
4/20/202035 minutes, 18 seconds
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Divine Intervention: "God Can't" with Dr Thomas Jay Oord

Episode 33: In this episode I'm joined by theologian and philosopher Dr Thomas Jay Oord for a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation on the themes of his work especially in relation to his latest book, "God Can’t: How to believe in God and love after tragedy, abuse, and other evils". We discuss what it means to say that God's nature is uncontrolling love, how this impacts on the way we understand God’s presence and activity in the world, and why it might mean that there are many things that God simply "cannot", rather than "will not", do. We cover all sorts of terrain including different views of God, why "intervention" is not a helpful word, whether or not miracles and healings are possible, the responsiveness of fundamental reality itself, the origins of the universe, and then what all of this might mean for personal faith, prayer and spirituality. Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. Oord is a best-selling and award-winning author, having written or edited more than twenty-five books. A twelve-time Faculty Award-winning professor, Oord teaches at institutions around the globe. He is the director of the Center for Open and Relational Theology. Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, open and relational theology, science and religion, and the implications of freedom and relationships for transformation. You can find out more about his work by visiting www.thomasjayoord.com 
3/5/202049 minutes, 33 seconds
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Divine Intervention: Sovereignty and Suffering

Episode 32: In this episode we explore the challenges that arise when we consider the "sovereignty of God". In the Christian tradition God is typically understood as the one who is all powerful (omnipotent) and under whose domain and dominion all things take place. But this gives way to questions of what we do with suffering and pain. If God is in charge then what is going on here? In this episode we unpack three traditional theological responses to the problem of suffering and evil, why they're inadequate, and what questions and alternatives might begin to emerge in response.
2/25/202038 minutes, 38 seconds
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Divine Intervention: Where in the world is God?

Episode 31: We're back with a new series exploring the question of divine intervention! In Christian faith, many people are introduced to the idea of a God who is actively responsive, in 'control' and who answers prayer. But when crisis hits or some kind of disruption to our beliefs takes place we can start to question these assumptions (and with good reason). So what do we do with this and how do we move forward? Is the idea of God still possible or meaningful, and if so what can authentic and honest spirituality look like? This episode introduces some of the big questions, and briefly unpacks three different frameworks for understanding the God-world relationship: classical theism, panentheism and pantheism, and how they impact the way we think about the possibility of divine intervention.
2/3/202032 minutes, 23 seconds
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In the Flesh: Believing with our bodies

Episode 30: This is the final episode of the In the Flesh series, and we talk about where and how we store memory, what it means to 'know' something, how our bodies can surprise us about what we believe, and about the intersections between mysticism and revolution.
12/19/201934 minutes, 16 seconds
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In the Flesh: Bodies, pain, and embracing difference

Episode 29: In this episode I talk with massage therapist Cheri Inoue about her experience growing up as Japanese-Canadian, the challenge of race, identity, Christianity as whiteness, the journey of learning to embrace difference, and how this story intersects with her work as a clinician. It is a wide-ranging conversation that explores working with people's bodies and particularly their pain, approaching both of these with a posture of non-judgement, and how we can discover acceptance for the difference and uniqueness of our own bodies in the midst of a life that demands so much from us. Cheri has an Auckland-based practice, Well Within: Posture and Movement Care
12/5/201941 minutes, 48 seconds
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In the Flesh: Evolution, faith, meaning and the universe

Episode 28: This episode explores some of what evolution tells us about what makes human beings distinct, the embodiedness of our existence, the emergence of consciousness and why this might be connected to the universe becoming self-aware. And then we ask what insights and resources faith and spirituality might provide us in navigating this experience of humanness, and what kind of meaningful life this could invite us into. 
11/21/201936 minutes, 7 seconds
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In the Flesh: Evolution vs Christianity?

Episode 27: Are there things in scripture that don’t allow Christians to accept evolutionary theory? In order for Christians to have "faith" do they have to resist the claim that we have a common ancestor with apes? And if not, then what insight does evolutionary theory actually give us into what it means to be human, and how can this help us to understand faith, spirituality and some of our fundamental struggles as human creatures?
11/7/201933 minutes, 6 seconds
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In the Flesh: Science vs Religion?

Episode 26: To understand what it means to be embodied humans, we need to grapple with evolution. But this also means unpacking the apparent conflict between science and religion that often plagues certain streams of Christianity. Many people assume that the claims of science go against the claims of religion, and vice versa. But the reality is, it is only some versions of religion that have a problem with science, and only some scientists who have a problem with religion. The conflict between these two worlds is entirely unnecessary... and a religious or spiritual tradition that means anything to us simply must be open to truth and knowledge wherever it is found. This episode asks why this conflict exists, and suggests some ways of thinking about God and spirituality that can help us to move forward in this conversation.
10/24/201932 minutes, 43 seconds
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In the Flesh: The (holy) spirit of inclusion

Episode 25: This episode explores a dynamic of spirituality that does more than just overturn exclusion, but moves intentionally toward inclusion. For some of the early Christians, their experience of the divine Spirit served to break down the barriers that excluded people based on ethnicity, gender, social class and even religious identity. This appears to have taken place, not by eliminating diversity, but by the Spirit-led affirmation of multiple identities and therefore the inclusion of diverse peoples. In this context, the activity of the Spirit is not just about individual mystical experiences, but about the disruption of oppressive systems, exclusive in-out groups, and the movement of people toward justice and compassion.
10/10/201937 minutes, 12 seconds
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In the Flesh: LGBTQI & overturning exclusion

Episode 24: In this episode I talk through my own personal and theological journey of change. From being surrounded by, inheriting and adopting conservative and exclusionary views toward LGBTQI people, through to a full change of mind and heart, and the embrace of an affirming theology.
9/26/201952 minutes, 58 seconds
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In the Flesh: "When you're outside on the inside"

Episode 23: This episode features a conversation on sexuality, faith and the journey of coming to a kinder understanding of God and self. Ben grew up in a conservative Christian home, but as a young man had to wrestle with an emerging sexuality that didn’t fit the Christian script he’d been given. This is a personal and honest discussion exploring that journey, what it meant for his spirituality, for relationships and community, and whether he could come to terms with both his sexuality and his faith; things that he’d been told didn’t belong together.
9/12/201955 minutes, 48 seconds
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In the Flesh: Is healing a thing?

Episode 22: Many forms of Christianity (along with other religions too) hold to a belief that God can heal physical bodies in answer to prayer. In some streams, there are particularly potent versions that claim healing as a promised answer to prayers of faith and conviction. But there's a lot of dishonesty in this conversation, and the reality of people's experience seldom matches the rhetoric. So what do we do with this? Is healing a thing, or is it just wishful thinking? Is talk of God "intervening" in our lives a helpful way to conceive of God, and how does this impact on the way we think about prayer and healing? 
8/29/201938 minutes, 30 seconds
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In the Flesh: "Crippled Grace" with Dr Shane Clifton

Episode 21: In this episode I talk with Professor of theology and ethics Dr Shane Clifton about the intersections between disability, theology and embodiment. In 2010 Shane had a serious accident that left him a quadriplegic (C5 Incomplete). Since that time his research has explored the intersection between disability studies, virtue ethics, and theology. In this conversation we talk about his accident and what that meant for his own faith, as well as how that has reshaped his academic work as a theologian. We talk about human flourishing, happiness and living a life of meaning, along with how we can see the body in positive terms. Shane is currently Honorary Professor, at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, the Faculty of Health Sciences, the University of Sydney. You can find out more about Shane's work by visiting www.shaneclifton.com   
8/15/201936 minutes, 14 seconds
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In the Flesh: Bodies, consciousness, and why you don't have a "spirit-man"

Episode 20: What is a human being? Are we just flesh and blood, or is there something more going on here? What, or who, is the 'real' us? These are questions that humans have been contemplating for thousands of years. In recent times, the idea of humans as body-soul-spirit has become common in certain streams of Christianity... suggesting that the "spirit" is the most real you. But this can lead to a diminishing of the importance of one's own body and of the emotional/physical self. This episode unpacks the language of body-soul-spirit, and makes some alternative suggestions for how we might think about the human experience, the spiritual life, and human flourishing.
8/1/201932 minutes, 13 seconds
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In the Flesh: The purity problem

Episode 19: In this episode we examine the language of purity, and the way it is used within the Christian tradition. To do so, we explore the psychology of disgust, the principles of contamination, and what all of this has to do with our sense of embodiment. In particular, religious language about sex and sexuality is shaped almost entirely by a purity discourse. But there are some problems that arise when the binary language of purity is used as the primary framework for this arena of our lives. When someone comes to see themselves as "impure", this can lay the ground for feelings of self-loathing and guilt, as well as anger and rejection toward others. This episode draws on the insights of psychologist and experimental theologian Richard Beck, who explores how the language of purity in Christianity intersects with a psychology of disgust in shaping social and religious exclusion (and how love transforms this paradigm). To read more, see his book -Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality and Mortality.
7/18/201930 minutes, 41 seconds
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In the Flesh: The shame of (un)holiness

Episode 18: In the Christian tradition, the terms "holiness" and "the flesh" have often been used to set people in a battle against their own selves, a constant internal wrestle. In seeing life as this ongoing struggle, the result can be repeated feelings of failure and shame and an external projection of self that tries to cover over harsh internal judgements. But what if holiness has much more to do with love than it does with battling against oneself?
7/4/201933 minutes, 7 seconds
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In the Flesh: Dualism and Disembodiment

Episode 17: This is the beginning of a new series called "In the Flesh", focused on the intersection of faith and spirituality with our reality as physical and embodied human beings. We talk about some of the complicated ways that Christianity has understood the body, including pentecostal dancing in the 80s, stories of worship leaders wanting to leave their bodies so they can love God more, and the repeated prayer ministry apparently required for lustful young men in the church. In light of this, I discuss how dualistic ways of thinking have shaped such negative views of the body, and how this can lead to a spirituality that is often about escaping or transcending our own embodiment, rather than embracing it.
6/20/201930 minutes, 37 seconds
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Jesus' death and the subversion of power

Episode 16: At the centre of Christianity is a non-violent revolutionary who rejects traditional modes of power, and is executed by the combined forces of empire and religion. But the new life that emerges in the wake of his death inspires his followers to believe that self-giving love is ultimately more powerful than the strength, might and violence of these dominant systems that sought to oppress others. So what could it mean for us to live in the wake of this subversion of power?
6/6/201935 minutes, 5 seconds
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The death of God

Episode 15: This is the second of 3 episodes exploring the meaning of the death of Jesus. Nietzsche famously said that God is dead and we have killed him. Was he right? Perhaps the answer is yes... and no. In this episode we explore how the cross becomes an icon for the death of God, or at least of many ideas we have of God. And yet it also becomes the location of divine solidarity; the presence of the divine that can be found in absence, in suffering and on the margins.
5/23/201931 minutes, 7 seconds
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Why Jesus' death wasn't (and was) a sacrifice

Episode 14: Does God require the blood of an innocent man in order to forgive us? But if not, then what does the death of Jesus mean in the Christian tradition? In this episode, we examine the emergence of sacrificial rituals in ancient societies, the connection to violence and scapegoating, and how the death of Jesus can be understood as a rejection of sacrificial systems as the means to peace.
5/9/201931 minutes, 2 seconds
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How did we get here?

Episode 13: One of the questions that has come up in response to the latest series on hell, has been: if Christianity is not about escaping eternity in hell, then why do so many people – Christians or not – understand this to be the central message and purpose of Christianity? How the hell did we get here? In this episode we explore some of the key historical movements that contribute towards a Christian tradition that so often claims a belief in hell as eternal suffering, and the related lack of openness to different perspectives. From early Christianity to Constantine, Augustine, and Calvin... how did we get here, and what does this mean?  
4/25/201932 minutes, 42 seconds
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What the hell?! Part 3

Episode 12: This is the final episode in our 3-part series on hell. In this episode we look at the implications of belief in hell as eternal suffering for unbelievers, and the way it is connected to a sense of superiority, religious xenophobia, and the abdication of responsibility for issues of social and environmental concern.
4/11/201933 minutes, 45 seconds
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What the hell?! Part 2

Episode 11: This is the 2nd in a 3-part series on the traditional Christian idea of hell. In this episode we explore the logic of the historical Christian doctrine of eternal torment for unbelievers, and examine why this is inconsistent with the story of Jesus. But if this is not the best way to frame Christian belief, then what are the alternatives?
3/28/201946 minutes, 57 seconds
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What the hell?!

Episode 10: This if the first in a 3-part series on the traditional Christian idea of hell. We begin by asking that if our ideas about God are supposedly centred around notions of goodness, reconciliation and love for the 'other',  then isn't this at odds with the idea of a God who eternally punishes people for not being in the right religious club? Isn’t this the ultimate act of violence? In light of these questions, we take another look at the terms used in the Christian bible that are translated as "hell" and why they might not mean what you think.
3/14/201937 minutes, 35 seconds
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Texts of Terror: Divine Violence in Scripture

Episode 9: The final episode in our 3-part series on violence in scripture. In this episode we discuss how certain depictions of God in the Christian tradition seem somewhat paradoxical. On the one hand, God is loving and merciful and forgiving, and yet on the other hand, certain texts in the bible give us the idea that God takes violence into their own hands. Whether it be to command the people of God to obliterate their enemies (including their children) or to directly carry out this violence by the divine hand; divine acts of violent justice wherein the evil are swept away by a flood, drowned in a river, swallowed up by a sudden giant chasm in the ground... So what do we do with this? Because if we just find ways to put this aside - while simultaneously believing it as many Christians are trained to do - then although the everyday God we believe in is good, the God that hovers over our shoulder is the one who is capable of genocide. This paradox can lie hidden for years, but it ultimately manifests itself in our real world anxieties, behaviours, ethics and spirituality.
2/28/201937 minutes, 20 seconds
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Texts of Terror: Patriarchal violence in scripture

Episode 8: The 2nd in a three-part conversation on violence in scripture, in this episode we explore the topic of patriarchal violence in the bible. What do we do with the shocking and pervasive violence and oppression against women that we find in the biblical stories, and what does it have to do with some of the challenges we face in the present day? We don't have to look too far to realise that we've got similar problems to those found in these ancient stories, and any religious beliefs that contribute to the subjugation, oppression and abuse of women need confronting and dismantling.  For some relevant and substantive books by women in biblical scholarship, check out Wil Gafney's "Womanist Midrash", Phyllis Tribble's "Texts of Terror" and the volume, "Vindicating the Vixens" edited by Sandra Glahn.
2/14/201945 minutes, 5 seconds
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Texts of Terror: Tribal violence in scripture

Episode 7: In this episode we begin a three-part series on violence in the biblical text; exploring the way that tribal violence, patriarchal violence and divine violence are portrayed. If God is love and the sustainer of all life, then what do we do with all of this violence that seems to be endorsed and promoted in the sacred text of the Christian tradition?  Because either this tells us that God is violent, and the bible is outdated and not worth reading, or we can ask the question as to whether there’s a different approach to these stories. Not an approach that justifies the behaviour, because the violence we see in these stories is genuinely horrific and cannot be redeemed, but that allows us to come at it with a different purpose in mind.
1/31/201944 minutes, 32 seconds
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Mystics and Metaphors

Episode 6: In this episode we start to explore the way we think about God, and how this impacts on the way we live, the way we interpret our everyday experience, and the implications for our spirituality. Is God best thought of as an old man in the sky, or are there other metaphors and ideas that invite us into some more helpful ways of thinking about the divine and our spirituality?
1/17/201946 minutes, 9 seconds
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Poets, prophets and the art of resistance

Episode 5: In this episode I talk with spoken word poet Dietrich Soakai as we discuss the cathartic nature of poetry and think about it as a form of resistance. Poetry has this ability to give voice to experiences that sit beneath the surface that often go unsaid. Both struggles and aspirations that often have nowhere to be expressed, can find their voice through the medium of poetry and spoken word in a context of others, listening, affirming, and responding. And in a world that tries to impose certain versions of reality on us and often pushes experiences of pain and struggle to the side, this is vitally important function in our communities and society.  Dietrich is a spoken word poet who is passionate about story and journeying with people. Dietrich has worked as a youth development worker for over 10 years and is currently working for Brothers In Arms; a community organisation that works in mentoring with at-risk and vulnerable young people.  For three years of his life, he was a full time poet, performing and facilitating around Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad. Working with groups as young as pre-school to the corporate business sector through to working with professional rugby teams. His personal conviction is that “Everyone has a story and its these stories that enrich our lives.”  
12/20/201839 minutes, 41 seconds
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Empathy, apathy and the problem with objectification

Episode 4: In this episode we talk about the importance of empathy to theology and spirituality. We discuss the influence of traditional ideas of God as the unmoved and unchanging one, and how virtues like empathy and compassion are consequently often held in much lower esteem than the ability to have the correct set of ideas, propositions or beliefs. We explore how this emphasis can ultimately lead to objectification and the othering of those who are different from us, and then as an alternative, look at two questions that can invite us into a different way of being.
12/13/201834 minutes, 27 seconds
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Gurus and the problem with charisma

Episode 3: In this episode I talk with Shane Meyer-Holt about the intersection of power, faith, spirituality and community. We discuss the notion of the guru-style charismatic leader, and the challenges that can arise if we cultivate a significant power imbalance between an authoritative and all-knowing wise leader and a community.
11/29/201846 minutes, 43 seconds
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When honesty confronts "the truth"

Episode 2: In this episode we talk about truth and honesty. And about how power dynamics often work to elevate certain kinds of “truth”, but often at the expense of our ability to be honest and truthful about our real experience.
11/15/201834 minutes, 24 seconds
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Dealing with my own (Christian) shift

Episode 1: This first episode of In the Shift explores faith transition, navigating frameworks of certainty, and how the problems found in fundamentalism are not limited to religion but instead are common features of human attempts to belong.
10/30/201830 minutes, 20 seconds