We were raised in the church, and now it's our turn to parent our kids and figure out how to pass on a healthy spiritual journey to them. We don't really know how to do it, but we know we don't want to do it in ways that we were raised on in the church.
Does that sound familiar? Bekah McNeel wrote Bringing Up Kids When the Church Lets You Down from exactly that perspective. In this episode, we chat with Bekah about her experiences growing up in the church, working in the church, being let down by the church, and then trying to figure out how she's going to raise her kids in the church. So many exvangelical parents have that same experience, trying to navigate faith and spirituality with our kids in a way that isn't manipulative, that offers choices, and that doesn't have to be deconstructed as they age. The people and resources mentioned in the conversation are:
In this episode, we tasted the exquisite Nashville Barrel Company's 8 Year Rye. The tasting is at 3:57. To skip to the main segment, go to 7:26.
You can find the transcript for this episode here.
Content note: this episode contains discussion of sex and some mild profanity.
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NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.
Today, we are tackling a topic that I think is important to many of our listeners. We run the gamut on, on the show over demographics and who's listening. But I think a good chunk of our listeners, if I'm not mistaken, are young churchy, or Christian or ex friend Jellicle. Parents who are trying to figure out how to impart to their kids a spirituality that isn't broken, isn't traumatic is beautiful, even if we don't have that experience ourselves, would you say?
Yeah, absolutely. And we've gotten several, I think comments from those kinds of people to the in the direction of can we talk about parenting at some point? Can you talk about how to raise our kids in a way that, as you've said several times doesn't make them have to deconstruct their faith?
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's mine. And my wife's goal, whether or not we'll be successful, and we probably won't, let's be honest. But it's something that is pressing for many, many of us. And even if you're not a parent, this conversation about this book, the book is bringing up kids when the church lets you down, Becca McNeil is the author. And she basically tells her story of being hurt by the church and growing up in a very conservative traditional Protestant upbringing, what that did to her and how she had to recover from some things. And now she's parenting, a six and eight year old, how she's actually helping form and shape their theology and their spirituality and treating that as a sacred task. And I think many of us are in that same boat, whether we have young kids or grandkids or have kids that aren't our kids, but we love them, like our own. Many of us are trying to figure out how do I embody something and impart something that has integrity. And that isn't as messed up as what I was given? God bless all our parents, right. So I think this is an important conversation. And hopefully, if it's not the last on how to parents and how to hand our kids a spirituality, that maybe like we said, they don't have to deconstruct and
the book really covers a gamut of issues. It's not just about parenting, it's about all the things that go into the background of parenting well, so I mean, there's a ton in there, that your, you know, your typical deconstructing ex angelical wants. In a parenting book, it's probably in here. She talks a lot about racism, she talks a lot about LGBTQ issues, all sorts of stuff is kind of layered throughout. And we get into a lot of that in the interview as well. And one thing that maybe doesn't come through in the title is that it's a really generous book. It's a really gracious book with the evangelical church, even while naming its flaws. It's very generous, I think.
Yeah. And I'll be fully honest, I have never liked parenting books. Yeah, I've never liked books that are like, here's how to raise your children, you know. And most of the reason is because most of those books seem to me to be parental theory. Here's our theory about how to raise your kids. And I'm a former boxer. And there's a kind of adage within the boxing world that says everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face. And then all the plans are off. And it's kind of the same thing with parenting. Like, it's easy to theorize about parenting and how we're going to do this than the other every young couple does it we're gonna do it differently. You know, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face by your four year old and a 15 year old. And I say that punched in the face. Not literally, but figuratively. So I don't like parenting books. But I think we need to talk about this stuff. And we need to
and this definitely isn't that kind of parenting book at all. No, no, it wears its skepticism. And its uncertainty on its sleeve. Yeah, in a good way.
Yeah. Yeah. Let's let's talk about this as a community. And let's let this be the first of many conversations where we make one another better parents and better caretakers and guardians of children that are worth our time and our effort and our, our angst about how to do that. Well. So speaking of angst, and speaking of doing things well, I don't know I'm searching for a segue. It's not working
that's fine. That's fine. You don't need such a great segue so we have a right here so we haven't done a whole lot of right
oh man. Yeah, I smelled it before you sit down and does that smell like right doesn't present like a rock?
I didn't think so either. And that's making me hopeful here so got this from a buddy of mine don't know really anything about it. All I know. He has good taste and he says this is one of his favorite whiskies in a long time favorite whiskey is not just rise, not just rise so this from Nashville barrel company, which I don't think I've had anything from them. And it's an eight year old single barrel rock comes in at about 113 Top proof. Yeah,
it smells like floral soapy water to me. That's spicy. Floral, spicy
soapy water. Yeah,
I like it. If I if I found a bar soap and like TJ Maxx smelled like that. I would buy it.
Yeah, I get a little deal on the nose, but you can tell from the nose that it's hot. Get a little minty here.
Yeah. I love the whiskey when the first tiny step, you know immediately Oh, I would go back to this. That's delightful. Yeah. Oh, the floral hits you on the
major midway through the back of the palate. Yeah. It's 113 proof and I would never know it.
No, it has exactly the right amount of strength. not overpowering at all, but definitely present.
I love this because we've been drinking bourbons lately and there's that big sweet corn thing that goes with it. This is rye but not overly spicy, not overly peppery. That floral thing is a real thing. This is really good.
Yeah, definitely makes me curious about their other offerings. I think the age on this helps a lot. This probably wasn't necessarily a very interesting ride halfway through its life, but now it tastes well matured.
Yeah, this tastes like what rides should be Elliot speechless.
I'm trying to find the note. It's like, it's like toast. It's like delicious. Was Pan Pan Fried toast flavor to me, but I love the thickness. The viscosity of this helps to hold the flavors on the palate.
Yeah, that's what separates. And while there's many things that separated great whiskey from a good one, but a main a big one for me is mouthfeel. And that feeling that it just stays in your mouth for a long time after you Yeah, this has that.
I've never really thought about that. But I think that's the My favorite thing about this is it stands above anything that I can remember drinking purely, purely on mouthfeel not even necessarily favorite flavor ever. But it's
I'm gonna go down and record and say this might be my favorite ride I've ever had.
Yeah, I think I can safely say that, but I haven't had that many rides. So we should have one means more.
Like I like the Whistlepig six year I like the Whistlepig 12 year I like you know all sorts of there's good what we've had good ones.
This is really good. Do you not generally like rice is much
grown on me. That spice thing took me a long time to get used to and most of the guys I've had have been younger and so
I do just because as much as too intense easily. Yeah. This is delicious, though.
Yeah, this is really good. Now I think this is like $100 bottle maybe a little more than that. I'm not sure where he got it. He didn't tell me so not not cheap at all. But it's Yeah. Stands easily next. Any of the other guys I've had know him. What's it called again? So this is Nashville barrel company eight year single barrel. Cheers. Awesome. So we are super grateful for our Patreon supporters. And one thing that we like to do is drop some names every now and then especially for our top shelf supporters. That's our $20 a month level. One of the perks is you get mentioned on the show from time to time. Yeah,
and so any and Keith polis grateful that you're finding goodness and something worth investing in. We love you. So any and Keith polis, thank you so much.
Cheers. Another thing we like to do occasionally is read reviews, and we got a doozy of a review recently. I loved it. It made me laugh. It made me grateful that we do this. And so I'm going to read that for you guys. It's a little long, and the title of it as I ran a half marathon thanks to you guys. This is from someone named Emma. In fact, her username is Emma, parentheses, apparently a runner now. So Emma says, in the spring, I stumbled upon the podcast because I was trying to hear some interviews of Bethel Sun bar. So cheers to Beth. I immediately was drawn to the honest reflections that related the Christian tradition, God's Word in the world, God's Word in Scripture and the human experience. My fiance and I had been in the long process of finding a church we felt comfortable in having grown up in and been surrounded by conservative evangelicalism, our whole lives. Philia on that, we started listening to the podcast regularly, somewhat as a beacon of hope for a community we were looking for in church. It's helped put words to some of our inner wrestling's and shifts and thought, we've appreciated Colin Randy's wisdom and insight into a broad array of topics relevant to Christians today. But more so we've gained and learned so much from the plurality of voices speaking on the show, hearing from people who come from so many different corners of humanity has been crucial in shaping our perspectives on what it means to love like Christ today. In the past couple of months, I've listened through about 25 episodes. So I haven't listened to that many. Because I decided to run a half marathon, something I've never done before. And it took a lot of time for me to get strong enough to run 13 miles. So every time I went for a run, I press play on an episode and listen to you guys argue about yet another important topic with yet another cool guests that I hadn't heard of before. So thanks to you guys. I ran a half marathon last Saturday. Cheers. Amazing. Fantastic. That makes me
that is why we do it not to make people runners, but to cultivate the kind of conversations that I was talking about. So fitness. Yeah. Thank you, Emma. And if you're listening right now and you have some similarly inspirational reasons why you listen to His were amazing. Just kidding. Go ahead and go ahead and was read a review for so grateful for your words like that keep
us going. For sure. Yeah, that makes it worth it. Yeah.
Thank you, Emma. Well, Becca McNeil, thank you so much for joining us on a pasture and a philosopher walk into a bar.
Thank you for having me. Happy to be in the bar. Yes,
yes. Thank you for pretending along with us. But can you tell our listeners about yourself a little bit? And then also, where did this book come from?
Sure. Well, the answers to both of those go hand in hand, I am a journalist in San Antonio, Texas, I but I freelance all over the country. And my own story has taken me through a very short lived and spectacularly imploding ministry career on my way to journalism. And so I ended up talking to a lot of people about their Faith Journeys, because it's a language I'm conversant in. And so when someone would kind of say something, indicating that that was part of their story, I could usually pick up on it and before we'd be chatting, and so the book came about, because I just kept hearing a lot of the same things from a lot of different people. And it was something that I related to, a lot of people had grown up in really rigid, either fundamentalist or just very conservative, or very absolute faith traditions had left them and now we're raising kids. And we're kind of struggling with how do we make decisions. We used to depend on our church to tell us what to do about certain things. And now we're having to figure out not only what we believe, but what do we want to give to our kids? And how do we give that to them? And so we had we were simultaneously facing some of those questions. And those conversations, eventually, I just started saying, hey, could could I call you and actually put this conversation on the record? Because I think there's a theme. And then after a while, my instinct usually is to say, Oh, is there a story here, and I pitch it to a magazine or pitch it to a news outlet. And when I mentioned it to someone, they said, that sounds a little bit more like a book. And so I pitched it to an agent and all of that, but it it really came from what I was seeing around me and what I just been hearing over the course of years.
Yeah, it's it fits perfectly with our podcasts. Because I mean, we've had a number of people, our producer included saying, we need to talk to someone about parenting and how to parent in give our kids a spirituality in light of the spirituality that we currently live with, which doesn't exactly always match the one that we've been given. In speaking of the one that you the spirituality that you were brought up with, you are extremely honest in this book, about your upbringing, about your background, you grew up in the reformed pretty strict, evangelical Reformed Church, the PCA, I believe, if I'm not mistaken, and you're really honest, and don't paint a rosy picture of the way your parents brought you up, in some ways, spiritually in the ways that, and not just your parents, but the way the church formed you and prepared you for certain things and what that did to you, and how that affected you. And how that really kind of, in some, some ways traumatized you. And the whole time I was reading the first part of your book, I was like, holy cow, are her parents reading this? Because you're pretty pretty again, honest. So how do you how have you managed that? Because it seems like from the book that you have a decent relationship with your parents still. So how has that worked? And how did you write something so wrong, honest, while also still having a relationship with your parents? Because I think many of us are in that same boat of kind of rejecting the spirituality that we were given. And we're brought up in and our parents care much about that. And we say no, thanks. but no thanks. And sometimes that brings the Alien Nation to our relationships with their parents. So how have you navigated that?
Oh, gosh, that's the million dollar question. And to be perfectly honest with you, when I gave my parents an early review, copy, and like early August, it was a month before we talked again, and I usually talk to them every couple of weeks, they live in a nearby town and I see them regularly. They keep our kids the kids level. And we have we do have a good relationship. But there's definitely a lot of things that I have not shared explicitly, because part of how they raised kids part of what they believed and part of their whole anxiety and what led them to raise us in such a rigid and authoritarian way is that they believed us staying no keeping the faith or whatever was was the ultimate judgment on their parenting. You know, like, it's a really dangerous undercurrent and all that philosophy that you can kind of tell if you're doing a good job by what your kids how they turn out. And looking at me and my siblings, I thought like, how are you guys, given that you believe that At How are y'all sleeping at night, turns out, my parents, to their credit, I think, are able to have a kind of flexible view of like what they're proud of. And they have been on their own journey with the church too. And that did give me some comfort, they have been let down far worse than I have. The fact that they still persist and keep trying to go to church is amazing, actually. But I knew that they weren't so rosy. They weren't seeing through such rose colored glasses that they were going to be like, How can you say these things? Like I really had to put a lot of trust in the fact that they had also been on a journey, and I'd seen growth in them not. And I don't want to say growth in a condescending way, like, Oh, my parents have really matured, I'd seen they'd been on a journey. But there was still a lot that had gone unsaid, because in my 20s, as I was going through a lot of this, and then as I started having kids and really wanting to raise them differently, I definitely put up boundaries about what we would talk about, because I just didn't need the feedback. And so there's a lot they didn't know. And I do tell stories about them. And so I was very nervous. And I was actually having a lot of anxiety, dreams, a lot of nightmares. during that month that I hadn't heard from them had a lot of dreams about like going into their bedroom when I was a teenager and saying, Hey, can we talk in them saying I think you need to move out and all this stuff. It was just very funny. And not funny. It was horrible. But looking back, I mean, I knew it was going on. And then I went out to visit them. They finally they texted and said, Oh, we've had a lot of visitors, but they're finally all gone. Can you and the kids come out? And I was like, Okay, I'm just gonna let them bring it up. And we'd been there for maybe five minutes. And my mom said, Well, honey, I'm loving your book. I can't get through it. Because all of our guests keep swiping it and reading it. And knowing I knew who their guests were, and they were a bunch of PCA elders from other places. And I was like, really? How is she said, yeah, we've been having some really intense conversations. Thank you very much. Like, hey, that's great. But then, and then I just said, Oh, so you like it? And she's like, Oh, honey, I feel like I'm getting to know you again. I feel like I'm putting the pieces together all of this stuff. And then I just burst into tears, because I was like, I'd been so worried. And she says, Well, sweetie, it's your truth. You have to tell it. Like, no, that's not my, I was like, Okay, where were you? When I was like 17. But it was awesome. Because to me, because it showed that she had prioritize love and having a relationship with her kids over, like when push came to shove, when it was really time to make the decision. And when we weren't going away from her plan that she chose love and relationship. And to me, like that's kind of like almost the happy ending of the whole thing is that, yeah, there was a lot of anxiety about whether or not they would actually choose that when I was growing up. But in the end, they did. And so that gives me a lot of hope.
Awesome, good for your parents. Yeah,
that's really encouraging. So let's dive into the book a little bit. And maybe I should say at the beginning, like you taught you cover a lot of ground in this book, it's about a lot of different things that I didn't necessarily expect when I picked up a book, ostensibly about parenting. Yeah. So if our questions ever sound like they're not about parenting, let's try to remember to like apply, if we can, and that's as much to me as it is to you. So right at the beginning, you open the book telling a story about being fired from a church that you worked at, for, or about almost being fired, I should say, from a church for not it not even believing the wrong thing. But like being willing to consider that pedo baptism might not be obviously true. And if for any of our listeners don't know what that is, Google it, and then shake your head and how silly it would be to fire somebody from any job for being unsure about something like that. So you said that your pastor slash boss gave you a pamphlet and said, Take your time and read this, but you're going to need to come around. Really what he said. Remarkable. So I want to ask, so letting him be kind of a representative of fundamentalists more generally here. I wonder what would have happened if you had said something along the lines of Sure. I'm fine with pedo baptism. I don't want to lose my job, whatever, I'll sign whatever you want. Would that have ended the conversation? And I'm asking because I wonder if you think that he cared that you actually believed in pedo baptism, or that you had the appearance of believing in it. Does that make sense?
Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Well, and what is funny is that I mean, and I say this in the book, I did give it some thought and I was sincere about my considering. And I was convincing. When I came in, it was like, Yes, I'm on board, bla bla bla bla, in my heart. And in my head, it was a little bit more of the like, I roll, like, Oh, I'm not sold on this. So I do think they wanted sincere, I think they wanted sincerity from me. I think they wanted me to be on board in such a way that I would always promote and defend the doctrines that they were teaching they ascribe to. And so I don't think that they would have like said, that means you can't doubt. I think what it required was, you are going to only be loyal to this. Like you can have doubts in your head and you can maybe so it's not that they wanted to cynical like oak, fine, whatever you weirdos. But I think they wanted to know, to know that I was enough on board that I wasn't going to like air my doubts. It was almost a loyalty more than it was a belief. They wanted to know that I would be loyal to the doctrines
to the doctrines or to them. Or do you think there was a distinction? Yes.
Yeah, the answer is yes. Yeah. I, you want to hear a creepy story. Both. I think they very much saw themselves as the defenders of this, like being on their team was to be ready to defend what they stood for. They very much see themselves as protectors of this doctrine. So there was that. And then in this particular church, they took it a step further, where they did ask me explicitly, if basically, if there's a revolt among the congregants, and they want you to kind of be the face of getting rid of the head Pat, not the head pastor at this time, but the college pastor, because I was his underling, and he said, if if they come for me, using that language, they're going to want to come through you and they're going to want you to like lead the, the overthrow or whatever, and I'm 24 going, what the hell? And he said, I need to know that you're on my team. And so I'm sitting there in my head thinking, Oh, what if they're right? You know, what if they have a point? And of course, you know, I said, like, I think I said, as it stands now, like, you haven't done anything that I think, you know, I know these people, and yeah, if any concern at this point would probably be really petty, if you do something horrible. I'm not going to defend you. He was like, no, no, but there's, it just was this whole attitude of seeing their congregation and the people that they were in charge of like shepherding or whatever, as threats. And they wanted to know that I would like back them. And that was my, my whole experience of the church really continued to replicate that, that there was a, you got to circle the wagons, I got to know that my the elders are here to it was very defensive. And I do think that that trickled into parenting as well, because your kids, there is a view of parenting where your kids are the opposition. And you, the parent, have to make sure that you are shoulder to shoulder with the pastor's and all the other authorities echoing what they are telling the kids and you know, their bad behavior or whatever is rebellion. And so you have to quash it. And it's this very oppositional like leaders and followers are an opposition in every arena. And so I think that that spirit of we need to be loyal to the authority, whether it's doctrine, or a leader, has huge implications for parenting.
Yeah. You talk a bit about James Dobson and your book, which of course, that was going to come up, right. And it reminded me pretty forcefully of my dad reading his stuff. And he was really enamored with James Dobson when I was an adolescent, which is exactly the wrong time for your parents. Right? But that's right, that whole you know, you have a strong willed child as he likes to talk about and you gotta be a stronger will and very specific guidance on what you know, physical punishment should look like to maintain control. And I remember listening to that stuff my dad and thinking, D is that how you see this? Like, we're not like that. We haven't great, really, I don't think he ever spanked once in my whole childhood. I was a really good kid. And I was like, Why do you find this compelling? I'm great. Yeah.
What are you telling me dad? Yeah, yeah, it's amazing the toll that it takes on the good kids because I was also a good kid and the pain and a alienation of being of all of your, like missteps and all of your natural development, being couched in terms of rebellion will really kind of make you carry a lot of shame and alienation from your family that you don't have to have. Just say that.
Yep. And all of that comes out and the way you parent, whether you like it or not, whether you make decisions, I'm never going to do that. And then all of a sudden, it's there. And you're horrified by yourself, right? Yes, it's, it's a cleansing activity we're doing here talking and chapter three, which I love. The title is called sleep training for Jesus, you paints the picture of in, we're talking about, like, the idea of what Christian parents should be right. And within that idea, you paint the picture of white Christian suburban moms, who have really in our culture become the quote, and I'm quoting here, constant gardeners and keepers of white supremacy. Now, that is a bomb that you just dropped in. I know you got it from another author as well. But it's, this is on display in my city that we're sitting in right now. There's a group of moms in our city who don't live in our city, but they literally refer to themselves as moms of liberty, instead of Sons of Liberty where they are national, right. And they protest. They're protesting in our city in our public schools, new human growth and development curriculum in very homophobic and transphobic ways. And other moms fight against CRT, you know, anti family agendas. And I say that in scare quotes. I've never associated white Christian suburban moms with protecting white supremacy. But as soon as you said it, it was like a light one off. Can you just elaborate on that dynamic?
I mean, the the big shout out is to Elizabeth Gillespie McCray. And she, she wrote mothers of massive resistance. And she just Chronicles how basically, this patriarchal structure of the women being in charge of the home has aided the white supremacist structure of saying, okay, even though we're passing laws, saying that we're equal under the law, there's this other element that we can keep private, it's none of the government's business, bla bla, bla, bla bla, we can keep the regulating arm of the government out. And we can continue to keep up these ideas of white supremacy. And that is one of the best slights of hand, I think that this whole larger agenda continues to do. Because it's very difficult to like, have the stomach to look at people who are trying to defend their kids, and say, Actually, this is what you're doing. And there are times where our children act as kind of like, privilege shelters, the way you have tax shelters, like, no one's gonna fault me for wanting the best for my kid. And if I have all of the advantages that a white supremacist system has afforded me, I can stack up a lot of privilege in that shelter. And it can go untouched by laws by dei actions, affirmative act, whatever you want to say whatever efforts there are to make society more equitable. I can kind of circumvent them by quote unquote, doing what's best for my kid, and it makes the conversation much muddier.
Yeah, I wonder, because this touches on a couple other things from different parts of the book. I'm gonna skip ahead and outline here just for a minute. So this might be slightly tangential, but I wanted to bring it around eventually. Anyway. So you mentioned towards the end of the book, I think that a lot of school resources, and this is something I think you've reported on directly, a lot of school resources are directly tied to the economic affluence of the neighborhoods that they're in. And sometimes there's a lot of gerrymandering that goes on making sure that the neighborhoods that they're in are, you know, very specific in economic terms. So how does that work? If you want to say a little bit about that, and how's that tied into the kind of I loved how you put it, privilege shelter? How does that tie into that?
So every state does their funding scheme, a little different. A lot of them though, are tied to property taxes, your so your school gets its money from the property taxes. So therefore, the more the higher the value of the properties, the more money can go toward the school. Some states Texas actually has some formulaic corrections for that to make sure that the disparities don't get too big. But lo and behold, booster groups Foundation's other little quirks in the formula allow for wealthy parents to pour money into their school and to make sure it stays in their school. And it's another one of those slippery, rhetorical issues, because, again, I'm supporting my public school. It's not a private school. You know, it's public school, anyone can come and then you look at like, you know, The real estate values in there. And if you ever want to really know your community watch in a school district when they're going to rezone an elementary school to make it more equitable, if they're going to try to redraw a boundary to where it catches, say, an apartment complex, or some public housing, and go to those meetings, because most most places require a public meeting before they do that. If you really want to, like, know where your town is, on this stuff, go to that meeting, because people throw off the gloves. They are like, they're to show their true colors. And that was honestly one of the first eye opening things that I did was this little affluent community in our area was somebody wanted to build an apartment complex in their school district, and they went bananas, and hours and hours and hours of some of the most racist stuff you've ever heard. All couched in, hold on. Now you're endangering my kids? Because of the people that you know scare quotes again, these people that you're going to bring in here.
Yeah, happens in every suburban area, just about
Yeah, amongst people who consider themselves good progressive liberals and vote, you know, straight Democratic ticket. Like we're, we're progressive until it's our neighborhood,
or for me even more important, good. Christ following Yeah, Christians.
Yeah, yeah. Can I ask one more question about white supremacy, before we move on to the next thing, go for it, because I had this on here anyway. So you say something, really, I thought this was remarkably gracious at one point, and I want to get you to expand on it, like more gracious than I probably could have been. So you're, you're talking about your sense of alienation from your ancestors that was brought on by your study of white supremacy. And you say, this is a quote, my desire to write off people who don't measure up to my idea of perfection is the problem. And it's not unrelated to the very real issues in my family tree. So that's the quote, can you explain what you mean by that?
This took me months to even walk through this because I was, I was doing a training and a friend of mine, who is Black was in there with me. And we go around and they said, which ancestor would you like to have with you in this training? And I said, I don't know if y'all want any of my ancestors in here with me on this one. And it wasn't that I think my ancestors did nothing good. I did on the issue of race that we were there to talk about. I didn't have anyone who was particularly flexibly minded on the issue. And some who were members of the kk k, and some who are just kind of polite, you know, polite bigots. And then further back, you know, people who owned other people, we have people who fought in the Civil War, I've got the whole, like, I live in the south, my family's from the south, it's not pretty. And I'm just thinking, Yeah, I don't really want them here. And I was talking to my friend about that. And cuz she said, What was that about? And she kind of called me out on it. And I said, Look, this stuff makes me feel just like I want to almost separate from them and almost disowned them. And her response was, the thought that you get to decide who's disqualified from love and belonging is perfectionism. And that is used against black people all the time. She was saying that your decision, that racism is the thing that gets you kicked out of the family, you know, is perfectionism, your decision that there is some unforgivable sin. And you got to decide what it was not saying that you need to be like approving of it, but you're saying of I'm going to cut you off and not be associated with you is basically you saying, I'm too pure for that. And she said, that's a that is a mindset that upholds white supremacy, because it says, I can cut out everybody that's not worthy of Me, and therefore be superior. And she was like, if you don't think that gets used against the black community, you're fooling yourself. And if you look at you know, perfectionism is among the list in the How to dismantle racism, and all of the trainings and whatnot. Perfectionism is this mindset, this, oh, we can always be better, oh, let's like cut off everything that's not worthy of us, is a mindset that, that upholds this kind of constant striving for better and better and better and not in a healthy way, but in a way that says if you don't measure up, then you're not as as worthy. And I I was challenged by that, because basically what she was saying was that I don't get to say, I've evolved beyond that. I don't have to claim it. She was both saying you have to deal with it because it's your people. And if you can't deal with it and love and belonging, then how different are you from them? Did that answer the question? I know that's it's still kind of a like anathema to the way we think about racism now, because you do know a lot of people who have broken ties with family. And I think there is a time for saying like, hey, if this is what you guys are going to base your whole identity and personality on, I can't be around it. You know, that the Trump era, I think did that to a lot of families. But her thing was just, you can't write off entire people.
Yeah, no, that's very helpful. Thanks for giving the background of that. It's the kind of thing that when it comes from the right source, and it sounds like it did in this case, I feel like my job is to just kind of listen and try to understand it. Doesn't seem
Yes. If my, if an older white person has said that to me, I would have taken it as a more defensive thing, but because the person who has been hurt by racist structures the most was the one telling me I'm seeing the racist structure in your attitude towards your family. Yeah, I was like, Oh, okay. Yeah. I am here to learn. Yeah.
Yeah, that strikes me as just a kind of spiritual wisdom that I haven't attained for myself. Probably don't understand.
When I tell you it was months before I even understood what she had said. Yeah, I was like, I don't understand, like, makes no sense to me. And then one day, it clicked Yeah.
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So back in chapter four you speak of you speak to a way of parenting and raising your kids in the way of Jesus in a way that deeply resembles mine and my wife's philosophy of parenting our kids and raising them spiritually. And I'll just quote you and just ask you to riff on it a little bit. And tell us where where this came from. You said, when we you and your husband discussed the sacred texts with our children, my husband and I want them to come away more free, more loved, more aware of God. In our house, we want our children to be more unified with the Christ more tapped into the wellspring of the spirit. There are Bible verses that draw us into union with Christ and we will speak them often. There are stories both biblical and not that strengthen our hearts and we will tell them we will stop to consider God and nature and in service. We will allow our hearts and minds to be changed by our experience of God and God's creative unfolding word. Where there are tough passages, stories that unsettle us, or teachings that seem to run counter to the God we know we keep asking for wisdom when suffering continues causes us to question God's goodness or when the world continues to unravel at the hands of the unjust we keep doing what we know is right. Loving like we know we should and waiting for understanding. We are okay saying right now I don't understand how that squares with the God we know. But maybe one day we will that doesn't stop us from loving God and loving others. Rather than finding in the Bible a sword to slayed debating foes or definitive answers on the size of the fish that swallowed Jonah, we will give our children access to the scriptures and it will speak to their souls in a way beyond anyone's control. That's a really, really beautiful philosophy of parenting that we really try to embody as well can you kind of speak to where that came from and how you do that? And different practical ways. Like you just mentioned in that in that little quote.
Thank you so much. I love hearing the parts of the book that people say that's putting into words something that we believe to that makes me feel really like the book has done what it needed to do in the world. And basically, to me what that passage is communicating is that rather than reject the Bible, because we grew up and came to maturity in a system where it was used inappropriately, I grew up in a system where you were constantly trying to prove that it was a seven day creation. And you were constantly trying to reconcile all of the contradictions and whatnot. And it would be easy in some ways to just say, Screw that, no more Bible. We don't do that here. But the reality is that, I believe interacting with sacred texts is something that our spirit, the spirit that everyone has uses, the text interacts with us, and changes us. And I think the whole purpose of reading the Bible and reciting sacred texts and whatnot, is to be changed so that our spirit can work within us. But what that means is that the whole goal is not to fully understand and grasp and master the text. It's not to have it memorized perfectly. It's not to be able to understand the Greek and Hebrew and exactly why this participle is the way it is, and, you know, tease out the most perfect cohesive theology, I don't think that's the point. I think it is, so that the spirit has material to do what it needs to do in our children's lives. And I think that there is something much more beautiful that happens when they are taking something that they've seen in nature, or in relationships with their friends, or our family, or you know, somewhere in their field of love. And then they see it in the Scripture. And they see that as a cohesiveness or consistency between things of God, and things in their life and the Spirit doing that synthesizing and bringing them to feel more confident, not certain, but confident, more secure, more connected, a greater sense of belonging. And I think that we can, as parents, be selective in the Bible, passages of the Bible, and the principles of the Bible, and the wisdom from the Bible that we choose to share with them. Because we are one of those relationships, and we can start to help them weave that cohesive, but not perfectly logically rigid way of understanding the world and what is transcendent and what connects us. And we can help do that. And the Bible can be one of the ways that we do that, so that it is not a well, for the final authority on this. Let's go to the Bible. And let's see what it says the Bible contradicts our experience, our experience must be wrong. I think that part of the reason that we're their parents is to help them find the resonance and find the parts that speak to what they're going through right now. And when we, you know, I do if they want to read the whole Bible, and they want to ask me, What about the, you know, what about God destroying the earth? What about God ordering the Israelites to kill everything? What about that? I want to answer them, honestly. And then we can start having these conversations about what the Bible is and isn't. And I may have a clearer understanding of that. When they asked that question and 10 years, you know, they're six and eight. Nobody's reading Deuteronomy right now. So wherever I am, at that point, and wherever they are, at that point, we will come together and have a conversation, because I don't think that it's a definitive answer that we're looking for, as much as it is a connection that will be unique at that point, and different than what it would be right now. We want the Bible to be honestly, to go back to my like, we want it to be living inactive. We want it to be dynamic we want it to be, but we don't want it to be beardless ism, where the Bible and its literal interpretation gets to tell us what we're experiencing, and where there's this hermeneutic that protects its logical consistency at the expense of a common sense, and be what the Spirit is doing. We really want the spirit to be a more active part of our children's life than it was for either of us.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think what resonates deeply in that is what many of us grew up with, who for those of us who grew up in conservative Christian households, is what was most important was that we know the Bible. Like I knew the shit out of the Bible. I mean, I could quote, I knew all the books in order and I could just I could, I was like a pastor in the way that I knew the Bible so well. But it was it's for many of us. It's kind of dislocated from the way we live, because as long as you know the Bible, it's okay to you know, and I'm not speaking just from my personal experience, but from for many of us, it's okay to support racist policies and to speak in hateful and bitter Are ways it's okay to only worry about me and my people and not other people, as long as we know the Bible, right? As long as we know the doctrines and all the right things to say and do and then then everything else is a wash because you've got what was important. And I think for many of us, what you're speaking to Becca is no, no, no, no, like we've we had that backwards, actually, what's most important is, I want our kids to be able to say, this is what it looks like to walk in the way of Jesus, I want our kids to know what it means to be part of the Kingdom of God and what the kingdom stands for, and what it doesn't stand for. And what it sets itself against the Bible stories can come in time, because then they'll be able to set those within this larger context of the Jesus way, rather than trying to fit Jesus into this really kind of at sometimes dark, ugly violence, you know, story that is dissonant in some ways, once we can actually fit that into the larger Jesus story, then things get a little bit easier, because that's the larger context that we've been raised and rooted in if that makes sense. Yeah,
and I want them to read the Old Testament and say, given what, you know, what do you think is going on here? You know, like, you can think critically about the Bible, which we were not allowed to do. We were supposed to be, you know, reconciling everything and making it all fit. And I think that they are going to get a lot more out of the Bible, if they can come to it with a pretty clear foundation of the Jesus way, like you said, and kind of go I don't know that the Israelites were on the Jesus way. Yes. Right there. I think they were on the Israel lightwei. And wanting to colonize. Yep. And so I think that there's a Yeah, exactly what you said, not only was knowing the Bible, the most important thing, it's even worse, I just today published a story with Texas Monthly about how Texas Republicans use the Bible in their speeches, like what are they signaling, and that was kind of a decoding thing of like when they say this, they're, they're referring to this. And it's amazing how the Bible is brought into service of things that are explicitly I would say, anti the Jesus way antichrist, not the Antichrist, but anti the Christ. And we, by contrast, just as an anecdote, I had my daughter at, she had has she does singing lessons at a little Mennonite Church in San Antonio, that I love, and they have a ministry to asylum seekers. And it's, it's legit, they house a lawyer, they go down to the bus station to pick people up, they support them. And I mean, it's the whole deal. And so and that's reflective in their facility, you can see like, where they're doing all that. And so we were at the facility for her singing lesson. And she said, What's this for? What's that for? And I explained, I said, this church really, really supports people who are coming here for a better life and for safety. And when she is, so they actually care about what Jesus cares about. And I was just like, Yes, I didn't have to say that. She's putting together the Jesus way, in her in her own understanding. And it's not as much of a crapshoot, as I had been led to believe by all of the James Dobson 's of the world who said I had to take a stronger hand.
Yep, yep. And it's not that we don't want our kids to know the Bible. It's just that we want our kids to know the meta narratives of the Bible before they know the mini narratives of the Bible, so they can help understand that right. So moving on, we're kind of just chronologically talking through your book here, Becca. But in chapter seven, you speak to purity culture in a way that I really enjoyed. It made a lot of sense to me because purity culture is something that is we think about parenting. I have a 15 year old, she's a sophomore in high school. She has a mother effing boyfriend. And I say Mother effing like he's a good guy. But it just, it's changing my insides. I feel like less of a human being with my daughter being romantic with a boy she
doesn't listen to those.
Maybe she probably knows no, yeah.
That's a different story for a different question. But we're living in this reality of like, how do we parent our daughter, to not live within that purity culture, but also to to value her self and her boyfriend self and her future party, all this stuff? But when you speak to purity culture, you call it a certainty of the body. And I really liked that. Can you explain that, that way of seeing purity culture and maybe an alternative to it?
Sure. So I call it certainty of the body because what certainty is all about is not making any room for error, and not allowing a process. Like if life is one hour long, then I don't want to be wrong at minute 15 And I don't want to be right i Want to be 100%? Right? The whole our law and purity culture is that protects. Its, I don't want to stroke, I don't want to find the boundary, I just want to steer so far clear of it that there's no room for error, there's no chance I got it wrong. There's no oops messed up, or like, Oops, that went too far or, okay, now actually, now that we've broken up, I realized that I don't actually want to have sex, I do want to wait or something like that they made the stakes so high, that the only way it keeps the learning process out of it, because there's failure included in the learning process. And so, and you see that reflected in sex abstinence based sex ed still is that rather than trying to find a very messy ethic of consent or respect or health, you go with an absolute behavior and the most absolute behavior, so that it is there's no chance that you tarnish yourself.
Yep. So let's just continue on that purity culture idea. Because in chapter 12, the sex talks you call it, you use you kind of really borrow from Linda Kay Klein's philosophy about approaching and parenting our kids, which I really enjoy, because your kids, again, are eight and six. And you're learning as we go. And I can't wait for you know, the volume too, after your kids have, you know, become teenagers, and you've walked through it all yourself. But it's particularly again, interesting for me as is where I am where I am, as a parent, Linda Kay Klein speaks to not having the sex talk, but having 1000 Little talks about sex, and she also kind of values safety and non judgement that we give our kids rather than purity. Can you speak to that dynamic?
Yeah. So Linda Kay Klein is a fantastic voice on this. And she is raising an older stepdaughter as well. And the other person I talked to in that chapter is Kayla Carter, and she is also raising teenagers. And so I definitely was like, who I'm so glad that I don't have my own. Like, I don't have to be consistent with this stuff yet. It'd be hard. But I really did rely on their wisdom because I do know that they are doing it and having to like, see how it's going. And the value of being the person that your kids come to, to talk about sex? Like you? Absolutely. Linda would say, and I tend to agree is that like, yeah, I want to be that person. So thinking back to when you were a teenager? Who was that person? Was it the person who every time you brought it up was like, just don't just don't? Like no. Was it the person who grounded you? When you told them what was going on? You know, was it that and I want to give my parents this shout out. My parents actually didn't hit the purity culture stuff too hard. My church did. And my like peer group did, like youth groups and stuff. My parents were pretty cool about stuff. And I really could talk to them. I wasn't going to go to my youth group director, who if I said, Well, me and my boyfriend went a little too far, you know, who was then going to be like, talk to me about my sin in my heart and like, make me feel bad. I mean, I was kind of self flagellating teenager, I kind of liked confession and feeling bad, but even I wasn't gonna go like, run the risk that I was going to be labeled a bad kid. So you just like kept it to yourself. And I asked for advice from like, the worst people. Because they, I went to ask for advice from the people who I knew wouldn't judge me, well, why wouldn't they judge me? Because they were doing all kinds of things that I weren't safe. And so I, it's hard as it is, she wouldn't put it this way. But I almost see it is like cultivating an FBI informant. Like, you're gonna have to overlook a lot of stuff that makes you want to go what know? If you want them to come to you when they're being pressured? When they're being asked to do something that is not that they know is not safe, or is not, they're not comfortable with, when they are struggling with their identity, any of that stuff. If you want to be the person they talk to you about that. You can't be the person who's miserable to talk to Yep. And you have to be able to have had a bunch of little conversations where they kind of know what you're going to where you're gonna go with this. And where you're gonna go is an accepting place and a place of support and that doesn't mean you don't share with them like hey, I want you to know that this is actually this is what I want for you. Here's why. Here's why I value whatever it is that you value. That's the other thing in that I'm not telling you what to value I can tell you what Linda values I can tell you what Kayla values, your household sex ethics. Are your own. But however you communicate them, you need to make sure that it's not an if you violate these, I'm going to forever label you as sinner, and I will never have compassion on your sexual struggles. One of the things that killed me about purity culture was that if a person was in a situation where they were being sexually exploited, essentially pressured and guilted, and that kind of stuff, if they went to talk to someone within an authority figure with impurity culture for this advice about like, how do I value myself enough to say, not today, or I don't like that, what they got was, the problem isn't consent, the problem isn't respect the problems that you're having sex at all, just don't have sex. And that doesn't address the wound, it doesn't address the heart, it doesn't address the issue, because the issue wasn't sex or self control, or any of that the issue was being diminished and being violated. And so you see that all the time is that they can't, they're, they're swinging wildly, to try to get to the point where they can tell you that the real problem with your sex life is that it's in violation of purity culture, rather than the many, many things that can go wrong in someone's sex life. Yeah,
yeah. And I will say, I mean, in my brief experience, but it's some experience, the time to, you know, really pour into these ideas of what healthy sexuality looks like, and what healthy stewardship of myself and my body and my own identity and my partners, all of the same, isn't in the moment when your son or your daughter starts dating or become sexually active or whatever. It's in a couple of years before that, right. Because my, both my daughter and my three boys, there were times leading up to middle school where they would think that dating or being with the opposite sex physically is the most disgusting thing in the world. But then all of a sudden, you get this small window where all of a sudden their sexuality starts coming online, hormones start changing. And all of a sudden, you get to have these real conversations with them about what it means to honor yourself and what within social media culture, what's acceptable, and what's not, and what might happen and what might not. And how, what are the consequences of these momentary Snapchat conversations and why we do or don't think certain things are healthy or not. And not doing that in a didactic, kind of, here's the black and white and if you don't agree with me hit the road, or you're not accepted in this house anymore. But in a way that kind of talks about why we think the way we do as as a couple, as a mom and dad or as a dad and dad or mom and mom, and what is our experience been and just being honest and telling stories, but there's that time leading up to them engaging with the other sex or with the same sex romantically whatever that looks like for your kid that I think that time before is just as important if not more than when they're actually doing the stuff because then all of a sudden, you do become a safe place. And then all of a sudden, they do honor your voice in your perspective, because you've been honest with them and forthright and hopefully you've established a non judgmental relationship with them, that makes them open to now my daughter is coming to us. And so my biggest challenge is to not turn into the Gremlin that I am inside. Because I feel like a straight up Gremlin, when I realized that my daughter has a boyfriend is doing boyfriend girlfriend type things. But she comes to us and is honest with us in that is so important that I'm willing to squash that Gremlin. And what happens is, that Gremlin starts dying over time. And it just becomes a real conversation with a real person who I love and respect more than just about anybody else.
And when one thing I do want to add to that is that cultivating that non judgement, actually, I advocate in the book for doing that about other things as well. Like when your kid has a weird interest, or an interest that you find like exhausting being that non when they come to you and they are telling you about getting in trouble at school, or they're telling you about a fight that they had with their friend. Like all I think that our entire relationship with our kids is about becoming that person about becoming a source of wisdom and trust and belonging for them. And sex actually isn't that different. It doesn't have to be that different. I know that as a parent it is because it is a sign of your child. Like fully separating from you. There's actually a lot more psychologically going on than just like, my kid is kissing. But I think that being willing to I mean, I can't tell you how many times my kids say I say what happened there Why were you in that mood? Kay will promise you won't get mad. You know, and, and really respecting those conversations as I need you to trust me as I don't want to be the overreactor I don't want to be the person who when they tell me because it's not just sex. It's when when somebody does drugs when they're at a party and their best friend comes in and is like, Hey, I got these pills from my parents. I don't want them to be afraid to tell me because I'm gonna blow up and go tell so and so's mom and have this conversation on how that kid is From the devil, you know, I want them to trust that I'm going to not just hit it into overdrive and leave them in the dust that they're going to continue to be a part of the conversation.
Yeah, that's really good. Switching gears, in the same chapter where you speak a little bit to purity culture, you also speak to LGBTQ realities and in life and bringing that into parenting as far as following Christ and what that looks like, and I love the the picture you paint, I can't think of any direct quotes or anything, but you really kind of get at this reality that kids are just accepting. Kids just kind of innately know, we should just love and accept people, whether they're straight, gay, lesbian, it's just, that's that's kind of what it's been built into them. And we have to actually teach them to not accept, which is just so fascinating. And I completely agree. But you speak to encountering these LGBTQ couples and families that you highlight in this chapter, and how they rebuilt their spirituality. And that spoke to me in such a way because I, we have people in our church who are part of the LGBTQ community, and it's always astounding to me how persistent they are in their faith journey, how this people group and these people, individuals in particular, who have had the door slammed in their face by the church over and over again, but they still will not accept no for an answer, because they want Jesus and they want community in a church so badly, that they'll keep pursuing it. And it just made me wonder if we deconstructing X van Jellicle might have something to learn in that from the LGBTQ community and how persistent they are about rebuilding their faith that's been taken from them. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Oh, that is true. And as you were talking, I was started to think about that very perplexing interaction between Jesus and the woman, where he's like, really rude to her.
Yeah, sorry, for an Asian woman. Yep.
Yeah. And how she was so insistent. And even when he was treating her badly, I don't know why that popped to mind. And I don't know the I don't know that story well enough to know, even if it's irrelevant, but I do I am moved by the faith of queer Christians extremely, because nobody has been treated worse. Maybe Black people and Native Americans, but it's not a contest, and LGBTQ people are treated terribly globally. That's, I mean, it's very hard to find safe haven. And so I do think that it's an amazing testimony. And I mean, kind of it sounds like what you're asking is, surely if they can persist, then the the wounds that we've been given, aren't things that we can't get over. And I think that you know, what it is, every journey has to be authentic to the person. And I do think there are people who say, like, at this point in my life, right now, I need space. I think that there are queer Christians who don't need to come back to church, I think that there are people who need to be able to be free to cultivate their relationship with God in another way. However, I think what it really speaks to to me is that the spirit is often doing something that the church is not. And I think that when the Spirit is doing something, and it makes you want to find other people who are doing that to, you want to see God embodied, you want to see God in other people. And I think that desire to find those people is a testimony to the fact that the spirit has been cultivating something in them, that there is a health there, and that there is a hunger there that is put there by the Spirit, and the church hasn't been able to stomp it out.
Yeah. You mentioned Native Americans a moment ago, you talk quite a bit in the book about indigenous Americans, and how they have incorporated Christianity into a lot of their culture and some of the tensions that have existed there. And you cite some pretty compelling parenting advice from at least one one indigenous scholar. So just gonna ask this in a really general way, what do you think we can learn about parenting from indigenous American culture?
I think that So Martin broken leg is the scholar that you're referencing, and so far, everyone who's read that section is like, that's the only actual parenting advice in this entire book. And all I really want is for you to give me his essays, which you can do, you can find them online. He's phenomenal and gracious and lovely. And I'm very careful to say just like you cannot, it was really in vogue for a while to want to like bring up French kids or bring up Scandinavian kids and very quickly, sociologists were like you can't because you don't live in France. Since then you don't live in Scandinavia. And you cannot perfectly implement Native American First Nations or indigenous child raising philosophy because you don't have that kind of culture, you don't have that support system that allows for that. So it's never going to be like, Oh, this is our this is our family philosophy. And I'm very careful to say that like, you're not Yeah, that would be appropriation to like, I don't remember if this made it through the edits, I was envisioning a woman's Instagram, being like hashtag raising kids native raising kids indigenous, doing their little, very photogenic, you know, peace exercises that might have gotten mixed for getting into dangerous territory. But all that to say, with that massive caveat, what people raised in a colonizing system, Miss is a lot of inherent dignity, and different ways of thinking about the value that different parts of community have children, the environment, women, what really the indigenous communities in the ways of thinking have for us as an alternative to the colonial mindsets that we're so used to. And I think that what we need to learn from them is how to rethink where a person's value comes from, rethink what it means to be a participant in society. Where does your value come from? And how do you get it? Is it earned is it imparted. And so I think that reading, if you read broken leg stuff, you see this like, very beautiful raising of a child and these different phases of development and bringing them in, but all of them are just very infused with how important this child is. In an industrial society in a colonizing society, they their value is in building future civilization, and that they are consumers, or that they are the ones who are going to carry on the Empire. And that's different. And so I think that looking at these different ways of valuing people in these different ways of participating in a community is is a lot of what they have to teach us. And if you you can start to think about your child and authority and power differently.
Yeah, yeah, thanks for that. I'm definitely gonna go read all of his stuff. So last question for me here. And it's about church hopping. So lots of X Men Jellicle. But not just them, lots of people who kind of deconstruct out of a lot of more traditional church spaces, but still want to be involved in it, they want their kid maybe they don't want to be involved in it, but they want their kids to be involved in it for a whole myriad of reasons, not least of which is like good childcare sometimes. And I can see that on the horizon. For me, my kid is 15 months old. So we've got a little bit of time, but like, I know, I want him to be involved in church bases, because of how much value I know there is there and how much it meant in my life. And I'm sure I'm going to reach the point where I'm trying to decide how much I'm willing to forgive how much I'm willing to overlook. And I'm sure there's going to be some church hopping involved in that. I just really liked what you said about it again, it sounded gracious to me. So I'm gonna quote this, you say searching is not a bad faith tradition to pass on to our kids. It's the tradition of the pilgrims and the mystics and in some ways, even the prophets and reformers, people who know God well enough to look around and go, this ain't it. I like that. But you're also clear, though, that you're willing to tolerate some things in a church that many wouldn't be myself included. So you mentioned explicitly like young earth creationism is not necessarily a deal breaker for you, it would be a flat deal breaker for me. I heard that even flirted with from a pulpit. I'm out, you know, because it's just a sign of so much else. That is probably under the surface. So we put it to the point, when do you think it's good to look elsewhere? And when do you think it's, you know, you should probably hear him out a little longer or something.
Yeah. Well, let me let me just say on that younger thing, I'm with you in that I would be taking note and listening for some other things. The young earth, I have no problem telling my kids that's not true. Like, he's not we disagree on that. They have a view of this. And then learning to live with Oh, different adults believe different things. We're in Texas, they're gonna figure it out. Like we just barely started teaching evolution in schools. And so specifics, if they come to me with a specific thing, like a specific interpretation of miracles, stories from the Old Testament, that kind of thing. I'm willing to put up with a lot of that because it is literally a kind versation about, is this correct? Is this not correct? We don't know. Why might people think so? You know, where I am not willing to hang in there is when I hear questions raised about who Jesus loves, or how Jesus loves, or issues about good people, bad people who belongs who doesn't. Because I think that is a much harder message to counteract. I think that once you start drawing boundaries of exclusivity, first of all, it's kind of hard for kids sometimes to communicate that back to you. You know, it's one thing for a kid to say to Daniel really spend the night in a pit with lions, it's another thing for them to catch the implication that God only loves heterosexual families, or marriages, you know, it's harder for them to recognize that messaging. And so for me, for instance, being an affirming church is no longer negotiable. And I mentioned that in the book that they, they're not going to talk about that in Sunday school, but they are going to catch messages about boundaries, that are very hard to unlearn. And so that's, to me, that's the difference. And I think that when you find a church, and you realize that it's drawing boundaries around to belongs, that are not your boundaries, or God's boundaries, I would say, it's time to go. Whereas if you guys disagree on some doctrinal points that are fact base, you know, it's, it's fine. Now, obviously, this all connects to the hermeneutic, and a view of Scripture and all that stuff. Deep, deep down on a day to day, as it's played out, there are things that are closer to the surface that are going to come up more frequently. Patriarchy, homophobia, racism, you know, those things I'm much more worried about in a church than I am about the the way they're explaining Bible stories to kids.
Yep. So in the last chapter of the I love the last chapter of your book, by the way, it's probably because I'm a pastor, and I love happy endings. But you speak to you know, a lot of the book is about your issues with the church and the way you've been traumatized by the church and the way you've been hurt by the church, you know, in there's a long line of people who would say yes, and amen to that. And then that's, that's my story. And also a lot of like, maybe church isn't isn't part of our story anymore. But you come back to this place where you say, it's a matter of fact, I think you said something to the effect of, I realized that church was the place where God wasn't meeting me for most of my life, even if I liked the stuff that the church was bringing me or not, even if I liked sitting through a sermon, or I liked that same old worship set. This is a place where God was meeting me for the last 30 years of my life. And that's significant to me. Can you explain that kind of realization at, you know, recent point of your life?
Yeah, it was basically, it was almost a pragmatic decision of going, I was going through a lot of change. Having kids is a big change. As you both know, when I would meet with God, looking for comfort, I realized that a lot of the language that I had, and the practice that I had, had been salvaged from the wreckage of some of these church experiences. But the salvage was still from them. Like, I got it there, even if I got a lot of other shit. And so I basically said, even if going to church is still extremely conflicted for me, I still am very cynical. I my defense mechanism is to be cynical. I will sit there and argue by everything and roll my eyes and avoid people. I don't want to do that. Don't pray for me. That's not my thing. But what I realized is that there was something that I could refresh and renew there, because it would be repeated, I would hear maybe there was a creed that I actually liked. Communion was very meaningful to me. There were things there that could, I didn't have to take it wholesale. It didn't have to be a perfectionist about it and say, I affirm and believe and support and want to cheerlead, everything happening here. However, there is stuff happening here that's not happening anywhere else for me. If I found y'all if I found a group of friends who wanted to meet every Sunday morning with our kids at a playground, and we were constantly collecting money to give to, you know, good call if people knew that they could come to us if they needed help with their rent, if we could be the church and we just happen to hang out at a park on Sunday mornings I would be there that is harder to achieve than anyone wants to admit. structure helps. And so For me, it was kind of a pragmatic decision of, unless I want to completely orient my life around trying to create the structure. And I somehow think I can do it better if I think I'm immune to all of the things that I don't think anyone's immune to, because of the structure of American religion, I'm gonna have to take the good that I can get. And that when there's deal breakers, there's deal breakers, but where I can find that goodness and beauty, it's worth it. And I want my kids to be raised with access to it so that it's theirs to accept or reject.
That's good. Yep. Last thing in part of that chapter, the last chapter, which again, I loved. You talk about how you know, the church, or the book is bringing up kids when the church lets you down. And for many who feel like the church has let them down. It's easy to pass on that cynicism, and that skepticism, and that bitterness and that trauma to our kids and just have that be their experience with the church. And you make this really beautiful point of saying that's not our kids story. Our kids are like, they come in with a blank slate. And it's really this personification of Let the little children come to Me for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. And you make this really beautiful case for not passing down our jadedness not passing down our cynicism to our kids. Can you explain that? Because I think many, many parents many, you know, Christian or formerly Christian parents are wrestling with that reality of I'm passing down this jadedness and this bitterness and the skepticism to my kids. And I don't want to
Yeah, well, the but I mean, for every anybody who's there, the person I quote in that last chapter a lot is Lisa Miller, who wrote the spiritual child. And she talks directly to that, like that. You could be wounded, you could be jaded, but here's how to not put that on your kids in here's, here's how you can give them the benefit of spirituality, even if you don't actually feel that benefit very well yourself. But even if that's not a big reality for you, here's how to help them develop in this way. Pan religious like whether you're an atheist, or a Buddhist or Christian, like this is something you can do. And so I recommend that book one. And the other is just, I think this is a battle for us when we're talking about a lot of things with our kids, because in this era, we are cynical about a lot of things. We're cynical about government or cynical about capitalism, we're cynical about a lot of things. And passing down healthy skepticism is one thing saying, Yeah, let's not take everything at face value. Let's think about this. Let's, let's dive in. Let's test this against our spirit. Let's see what our spirit tells us is different than letting them know, here's my pre packaged, because all we're doing if we do that, is we're replacing the person in the pulpit, we're being that authority, and saying my way of understanding it is actually the way, my way of understanding it is actually what's true. I'm smarter than them, I've outsmarted them. Because that's what a lot of cynicism is defensive, saying, You don't know, I know. You know, you're not the boss, I'm the boss of me. And that's the response of a lot of people who've had our agency stripped from us. And it's understandable, and it's fine. But if we haven't stripped their agency from them, they don't need that defense. And they can, instead exercise agency in getting to form their own opinions. And I quote this, I tell the story about my friend, Patton, whose daughter grew up with him. He was deconstructing long before it was cool. And his daughter grew up church hopping and hunting. And he was just constantly questioning on searching. And he and I were talking to her and she mentioned her relationship with the Lord. And we're just like, who, what? Who says that? He says that language. The Lord was not some cheesy, you know, Grandpa in the sky who was, you know, blessing her with prosperity, and it was this very loving presence, who she communed with in the woods. And so they're building their own thing. And it's, I think that if we can withhold our temptation to want to say, here's how you need to feel about that. And here's how you need to think about that. And instead just give them the pieces. And one of those pieces is here's what I believe. That's such a different than, here's the answer, the only answer. And so I think that it's just part of that same thing of not replacing fundamentalist evangelicalism with fundamentalist cynicism.
Yep. And I think when we present our kids with options, here's what some people believe. Here's what other people believe. You get to learn from your kids because a lot of times they choose the best one. They
make up their own. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, Becca McNeil, the book is bringing up kids when the church lets you down if you are in that place of trying to figure out how to how to bring spiritual world and framework to your Kids when you feel like yours is upside down. This is a book for you. Thanks so much for sharing your time with us tonight, Becca.
Thank you guys for having me. This was so fun and I just I really appreciate that y'all read and paid such attention to the book that not everybody does that and it made for a really good conversation. I
enjoyed it. Awesome, thank you
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