Excellence and Inclusivity (151)

In this episode Gregg talks about the necessity for Christians to be pursuing excellence and the conditions for inclusivity within Christian communities.

He does so by drawing on his experience of moving from a small town is South-Central Alberta to Canmore Alberta, 15 minutes from Banff National Park, and the differences in employment experience that his spouse has had in their previous location versus in the town of Banff, where she is currently employed.

Gregg explains how the atmosphere in his new town is one where everyone seems excited and pleased to be there, and as a consequence seem eager to welcome new comers and share what they value about living in this place.  By contrast, in his previous town people seemed mostly just to “find themselves there” and to be confined to small thinking and even a smallness of being.

The comparison is made between Christian churches: communities are open to outsiders and generally “inclusive” when people value their environment because they delight in the opportunities that it offers–they value the selves that they are becoming through being connected with this community or church.  By contrast, Christian communities become “exclusive (and thus cliquey or club-like in mentality) when they find themselves with limited goals, aspirations, and options and the fear and resentment that this breeds of those who are outside of this restricted approach to life.
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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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