Author Archives: Gregg Monteith

What Do You Deserve? (150)

In this episode John and Gregg re-connect to discuss the idea of whether we “deserve” certain things. John takes this idea from the Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying (upon which John has also podcasted).

John is intrigued by the notion of whether we “deserve” certain things and how we would know. John notes that the typical Christian answer to the question of “What do we deserve?” is often along the lines of, “We deserve nothing but God’s judgement and punishment because of sin” (i.e., hell). John also notes the American notion of “perusing happiness” how it often carries the air of something people think they “deserve.”

Gregg wonders: what word or words could we substitute for the word “deserve,” to help clarify its sense? John substitutes “needed.” Gregg offers two different options. First, “mandated” (in the sense that one is mandated or destined to have goodness and happiness). Second, “eligible” (in the sense of being eligible or allowed to have goodness and happiness). Gregg sees this whole notion as deeply related to the degree of control that one has (or thinks that one should have) over one’s life.
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Feeling Dirty at Church (149)

In this episode Gregg goes further regarding the Integration Project.

He begins by expressing doubt that “seekers” actually exist, arguing that this is a fictional category of people created by Christians.  Instead, Gregg views those people who appear most open to Christianity as perhaps a) those with past exposure but who have not been marginalized by Christianity, b) those who have ulterior motives for attending Christian events (such as being attracted to / in a relationship with someone who is Christian).  In other words, these people are typically better identified as members of a larger group such as agnostics or atheists, but for various reasons are willing to be engage with Christianity in certain ways / at certain points in their lives.

Next, Gregg draws some distinctions between the aims of church, typically, and the aims of the Integration Project.  He sees a significant disjunction in that churches are aimed at and “for” Christians, yet Christianity claims to be relevant and necessary to everyone.  One indication of this disjunction is that churches rarely if ever consider how outsiders will quantify the value to them of a given church, Christian organization, etc.
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Considering Love and Truth (148)

In this episode, Gregg takes the discussion of the previous few episodes (on Coaching versus Christianity) as a point of departure to begin a new, solo podcasting series that focuses on “love and truth in Christianity.”

Gregg explains the importance of this  focus using the tagline of the Untangling Christianity podcast: “Defusing destructive ideologies, unsnarling confused ideas, considering love and truth in Christianity.”  Specifically, John and Gregg have spent considerable time over the past 140+ episodes clearing away a variety of destructive perspectives and straightening a variety of confused ideas.

Comparing the perspectives associated with evangelical Christianity to a table that is full to over-flowing, Gregg notes that the process of engaging with these destructive ideologies and confused ideas has been to “clear space” at this table in order for something that is new and different to be place upon it, ready for consideration.

So Gregg introduces the Integration Project, which aims at furthering human flourishing by empowering participants to recognize, pursue, acquire and re-distribute two core human needs: love and truth / truth and love.  The Integration Project (or IP) positions these two needs as co-central components within a complimentary opposition (or a productive tension).
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Going to the Next Level (147)

In this episode John and Gregg round-out their “coaching versus Christianity” discussion.  Gregg begins by affirming his perspective that it is both normal and potentially helpful to find oneself more deeply engaged or compelled by pursuits other than Christianity.

John wonders: what core questions could help listeners ask themselves to evaluate theses types of situations?

In response, Gregg advocates “bracketing out” any guilt that one may feel about the matter, instead ask oneself: What do you value about this other activity? What keeps you coming back to this other activity?  In short, ask What is it about who you are and about the nature of this this other activity that forms a “vital connection”?

John wonders where Gregg has most experienced this.  Gregg explains that it was becoming and living as an agnostic that provided him some of the most profound insights about himself and about the faith that he had been living before (and had rejected because it was unliveable).  However, Gregg notes the significant difficulty with this idea: few Christians could seriously value an activity or orientation that results in the rejection of Christianity.
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Dinosaurs and Drumheller (146)

In this episode John and Gregg record the podcast together for the first time in person in Drumheller, Alberta. In it they discuss their recent trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the world’s preeminent dinosaur museums, that is located in Drumheller.

John explains how, while at the museum, he was struck by the amount of time and dedication that the paleontologist had put into their work. Gregg agrees, and believes that the same type of clear, direct and convincing presentation that the museum offered about dinosaurs is exactly what the church’s presentation of Christianity should be like.

Gregg emphasizes that he is not suggesting that the church should be treating God as a paleontologist might treat a fossil, because fossils are data to be assessed through examination while God is an entity to be know through relationship and objective sources (such as the biblical text but also through the natural and human sciences, and real world interactions). Thus the relational nature of Christianity differentiates it from the task of paleontology, but the careful approach and clear, convincing presentation should be

John was also struck by how his former Christian views (of cynicism toward evolution) were aroused as he walked through the museum. For example, how do they know that a certain fossil is 200 million years old? Gregg suggests that, with this “museum model,” he could imagine that resources (such as experts in a given field) can be accessed to offer clear, sensible and convincing explanations for these sorts of estimates.
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