Link’s Spiritual Deconstruction

Welcome to Ear Biscuits I'm Rhett

And I'm Link, this week at the Round Table of dim lighting, it's part four of, I think what we're calling four total episodes, in our Lost Years/Spiritual Journey series I hope we're calling it four parts if it is part four Well, there may be other parts I mean, Well, yeah, we, Begin the conversation That's what I was getting at So in part one and two, we discuss what happened externally between college and becoming YouTubers And then in part three, you discuss what happened more internally with you in terms of your spiritual deconstruction

And here we are at part four, it's my turn to spill my guts And I've, I'm gonna spew my guts all over these notes I've taken because yeah, just like you, I really, I wanted to, this is a great exercise for me to organize my thoughts I think, as I share, I think there'll be elements of it that I'm still, it will be kind of obvious that I'm still processing So I think it's been a very, it's been very good for me to prep for this episode I feel emotional, I think, just in general and also nervous to share

Well, before you get into it, I will say that, having shared first, I mean, the thing I told Jesse when I got home is like, I was like, man, "I just feel like this "giant weight has been lifted off of me," like, because it's, it's– Because we talked about it? Or just because there was– Well, it's just I feel like there's this story that I've had that is so personal, and you kind of carried around and you know how much it has impacted who you are, but you know how kind of touchy it is to talk about it? Right And you just get it out there, like I started realizing how much emotion I had, kind of attached to it, but it was actually more kind of after I had done it, that it's sort of like kind of released a little bit Did you weep in the shower? I don't remember weeping But no, it just I, what I'm getting at is– But you did take a shower It is super emotional, and I will say also that, bunch of you are already kind of using #EarBiscuits on Twitter is probably the best place, that's where, Yeah, thanks for sharing your responses

That's the easiest way to kind of find what people are thinking and how people are processing, we've been reading some people's stories and a lot of people have clarifying questions and– Yeah if they have follow up questions for us, #EarBiscuits If you just want to share your experience, or your response– If something comes up in the middle of Link's story, like pause it, write that question down We want your questions, we're not trying to like close the book on this process We don't know how often we're gonna revisit this subject, but it now is a part of what we're doing on Ear Biscuit, so we want this to be an ongoing discussion We are still in process Yeah

And we want you to be a part of that, so And also, I wanna thank you for sharing these episodes, this particular series with people that you think it will resonate with, or it becomes grounds for conversations with friends or former friends or whatever your situation is, thanks for sharing what we're doing here with people so that means a lot to us too All right, let me get into it I think I'm, I was trying to figure out why I was so nervous and Christie really helped me process this and I think it's that I don't wanna disappoint people, for some reason I mean, not only dedicated Mythical Beasts who may find out that my beliefs don't align with theirs, but also, my friends both past and present, and my extended family

I mean, this is not something that I've, there's been an occasion for me to discuss this with them, and I just because I just didn't want, I don't wanna disappoint them So, it one thing I wanna say, I don't intend to, and I hope that no one listening feels implicated in my story I'm grateful for the path that I've taken, for the pain and the joy and the mistakes and the thrills associated with it Because I don't think there was any other way for me to get to here And I know that I'm extremely fortunate, because I know that there's so many people who've had deeply traumatic experiences associated with their own spiritual journeys

So I'm grateful I'm still in process, and this is my story up to this point And I am gonna go back, I wanna start by telling a couple of stories, just to give you snapshots of just to help you feel what it was like to be me growing up in an evangelical Christian environment So I'll just go ahead and get into the first story In 1988, I was 10 years old, and Buies Creek First Baptist Church, the church that I'd gone to my entire life I didn't have any memories of not going to this church

It's also the church that you started going to, and with your family when you moved here in first grade They were holding a revival, which is a series of nights where you get together and there's speakers and it gets real Didn't happen all the time, but it did happen this year, and it was called Contact 88 I had the T shirt Oh, it was red, with like, a cool 80s font, Contact 88

It seemed more like it was about, extra terrestrials getting to know us, Right But it was really about making contact with God, I think And an Irish guy Was he not Scottish? Or was he Irish? Well, as you know, I'm trying to blur the lines between those two things these days, so In my memory, the dude was Scottish

Okay, Scottish So this preacher that came in from out of town, I guess, way out of town, was preaching at least on this last night, like the culmination night, this is the big one People go and make decisions this night He gives a sermon and he explains that every person who's born into this world is born in a sinful state Even before you've done anything wrong, you have a compulsion to do things wrong

You have this selfishness, you're in sin, put that in quotes And, God, who created you, is being perfectly just, just cannot abide by these shortcomings that we have baked into who we are as humans So that's gotta be punished You gotta, and the punishment is not just, it's not a minor punishment here Because it's, if you're anything short of God's standard of perfection, well that shortcoming needs to be paid for

It's gotta be taken out on somebody So that's when it came to this concept of eternal separation from God And I'm pretty sure there was a mention of like, eternal torment in some fiery hell, right? So as a 10 year old, just imagine 10 year old Link I was still sleeping with a Pound Puppy And this was a big deal

This is something that was talked about in our church, but it was different in revival You were really listening And sounds like this is a big deal I mean, eternal damnation? That's scary And especially if it's coming from a guy who came all the way from Scotland or Ireland to tell me about it

I do think he was rolling his Rs which I think is a Scottish thing Yeah, it was enrapturing Yeah But it scared the shit out of me I just love his accent

How could it not scare you? But then he explained, that God is not only perfectly just, He's also perfectly loving And He wants to make another way for us to have a relationship with Him and not be eternally separated or currently separated from God And it turns out God's solution is that He sent His son to come to earth, Jesus, live a perfect life, never deserve an ounce of punishment, or God's wrath, or hell or damnation, but then willingly take it on himself, anyway And He was executed, hung on a cross, crucified, died and paid the penalty instead of us as individuals paying the penalty, and then He rose from the dead, He resurrected, and now He's seated at the right hand of God and, He's listening to this sermon right now And he also is God

And he also is God That's an important part of that, too And that happened, that happened some 1988 years ago at the time Well, All you, yeah, give or take Give or take 33, Oh, yeah, so you got, so then he, Scottish dude explained, all you gotta do is accept the fact that he took the punishment that you deserved

And you also have to get up out of your pew and you gotta walk down here in front of everybody, by the way But man, I was so scared, and I was like, I knew other people, I knew you had already done this Well, can I just say I remember being at Contact 88 and I remember seeing you just get up, and you know what I was thinking? I was like, it's about damn time I mean, I was like, "I did this when I was six" Yeah, I was like, what, I mean, why is he taking so long? , You thought you were a little Scottish, Does he not understand the gospel? Like, you don't have to be double digits

Were you waiting to be double digits? Because I was like, I don't know what the age of accountability is, but all I know is I don't wanna die and go to hell I was a bit of a late bloomer, and I thought, I think that was my age of accountability Yeah, I think everybody's age of accountability is different, especially if you're still sleeping with a Pound Puppy It's like a free pass Yeah, I went, I remember I– By the way, we're using a lot of Christianese

Yeah, The age of accountability is the age at which if you aren't a Christian and you die, you won't go to hell Because– Or just before that Yeah, because you're not old enough to process You can't make the decision for yourself And it's nowhere in the Bible

It's just something you kind of have to come up with theologically because if you don't have it, it's pretty bad, the kid's going to hell, Well, I understood it that day Right And so I got up the gumption and I went forward, and I remember that they paired you off people and I got to be led in a prayer by Amy Moore Nice This girl, I was 10, this girl was like in high school

It was amazing And she said repeat after me and I accepted what Jesus did for me, and from, and at that point, I'm like, Jesus rose from the dead, He saved my life, I'm glad I don't have to worry about that hell thing anymore, and I owe this guy, everything This preacher or Jesus? Jesus Okay And I really like Scottish people

Now, That might be Irish– But I don't wanna talk to them because they are scary And I was like, "You know what? "I'm doing this, this is my life now "I got it all set up" And I'm singing in the choir next week I sang in a choir with a bunch of adults, the next, on the following Sunday, still wearing our Contact 88 T-shirts, I was beaming

I was a little bit jealous, I was like, "Maybe I should have waited, I could sing in the choir" I wanna fast forward to high school and tell a second snapshot that was just very formative You wanna tell that story before or after a break? Let's tell it after a quick break We'll have a quick break Go to mythical

com and get this sweatshirt, also get this Ear Biscuits mug We've been told we're– We're not making any more Limited supplies, there's down to less than 100 of these mugs And we're not doing it again I mean, this is it, This is the Ear Biscuits mug, at least in this current form

So if you want one of these, and you don't wanna complain about it after it's gone, you gotta go to mythicalcom and get it So in high school, everything, we were still very involved in church, and in youth group, I mean, if I had to rank the things that I associated my identity with, yeah, I was a soccer player in high school and, I was pretty amazing at it I don't know what else I would say besides that But that would be number three

Math Olympiad Math Olympiad but number one would definitely be that I was a Christian Everybody knew that, that like, we were really involved in our youth group, we had friends who weren't involved, but like our closest friends were and we were truly devoted to God as high school We clowned around, but we were devoted And we understood it not just as a belief system, but as a relationship with God

Like you said last week, that was something that we were actively pursuing, talking to God through prayer in a conversational way, really figuring out how the Bible applied to our everyday lives And we tended to, you'd boil it down to some oversimplified things or at least in action, like we didn't cuss, not in public, at least, right? We didn't fool around with our girlfriends Or we felt guilty about it when we did at least That's more, yeah, that's good We definitely did not drink

Oh, that was an easy one That was an easy one, I mean, that was, it was illegal Yeah That would be extreme I did listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I felt bad about it, and I was called out on it by some of our friends in the youth group

But, one Saturday night, our friend Trent, who was not involved in our youth group, I'll just put it that way, his parents were out of town that weekend, so he threw a party on a particular Saturday night You know what story I'm gonna tell? Uh huh, I remember this night So he threw this party and I decided to go, I was 16, was able to drive myself and I told my mom I'm spending the night at my Trent's house She was fine with that You did not go to this party at all

I wasn't there for any and then left? You may have been there earlier but my recollection is that you were not there at all But you could have left early That's my recollection, but we know how recollection goes around here I definitely know what happened after you left if you were there And that's, they broke into Trent's parents liquor cabinet, or I think they just opened it, and started drinking stuff out of it

It wasn't chained Trent's older brother was there, that seemed to, make me a little more comfortable, but I wasn't gonna drink because that wasn't me I mean, we were, we, I had to preserve my witness is what you call it When it's like, your reputation as someone who's like, God is enough for me, so I don't have to search for other ways to be happy Was like this message that you were trying to send, I think to our friends, that's what we wanted to do

But after a while, I just I was like, you know what? Screw it, I just wanna have a little fun, I'm gonna drink for the first time ever, and I did A lot And the majority of everybody there was drinking and I got drunk I didn't do anything specific that I regret, besides maybe the decision to break the law and it was, lie to my mom and, but my, I was just– You probably did some annoying things I'm sure I did a lot of annoying things, that was very silly, and that didn't feel too great

So I remember when the party had died down, and everybody was like, everybody was crashing wherever they were gonna crash I crashed in this guest room with our friend Jason So we're like, trying to go to sleep and I just remember staring at the ceiling and feeling so guilty And I said out loud to him I was like, Man, this guy, I'm supposed to be an example to him as what it means to have a relationship with God

I'm like, I just want, I just feel so bad What I did, that's not me, man, this isn't me I just remember saying, "This isn't me, "I'm just really sorry I did this," And he was like, "Hey, man, just go to sleep, "you'll be all right" Just go to sleep Next morning, we woke up, and Jason was in there, scrambling eggs for everybody

It's just a new day It was like nothing had happened But for me, it was like my life had changed I just, like it was that big of a mistake in my mind, and Jason said, "You should suck on some pennies" And I was like, "What?" He said, "When you go home,"– He had all the secrets

"On the way home, you need to suck on some pennies "so your mom doesn't smell liquor on your breath" She just smells money And so I had to get home because I had to go to church And, my head was pounding, had a hangover, felt horrible And I opened my ashtray when I got in the truck to drive off and that's where I kept all my loose change, and I got a handful of pennies and threw them in my mouth and sucked on pennies all the way home

I felt so bad when I got home, I told mom, "I just can't, I don't feel good, "I can't go to church today" She's like, "Okay, fine" And then, but we did have to go to Nani's for lunch because you don't miss Nani's for lunch And I could not get off the couch, I felt so bad So I'm laying on the couch and after lunch, we're all sitting in there hanging out and I'm just laid out, and I remember my mom looking at me just saying, "Link, you look like you're hung over

" And I was just like, "I think it was something I ate" What does that mean? I think it was pennies, I ate pennies I just sucked on them, I didn't swallow That was all she said We never, my mom and I've never talked about it since then

This is not one of those things that comes out, What you gon' listen to this? Sorry, mom But that afternoon, you came by, and we got in your car, and we were hanging out, and we did what we would always do We were 16, 17 years old is that we would just drive around and talk and listen to music Right I remember we were doing that this day, and I knew that you were gonna find out that I had gotten drunk the night before

I mean, if I didn't tell you, somebody else is gonna tell you, and that, it would be better for you to find out from me That was tough, I remember we were driving and I told you, "At Trent's party last night, I got drunk" And you looked at me and you slowed the car down, and then you pulled over on the side of the two lane country road that we were driving down, beside a field And I looked at you, and you looked at me and you said, "Get out" Oh, wow

And I said, "What?" You said, "Get out man" And I opened the door, I got out, and just picture an extremely wide cinematic shot of a guy standing on the side of the road beside a car in the middle of nowhere, Harnett County, just fields and a few farmhouses in every direction you look And you drove off Yup And I just stood there

And, I knew how to get home, because we had driven all these roads, but it was at least six miles away But you were a good ways out It was at least six miles, maybe eight from my house I started walking, 'cause, you just you didn't stop I mean, you went straight down that long straightaway and then you disappeared over the horizon

And I just started walking home And I started thinking about the decision I had made and it was like the biggest decision, I guess I would have described it at the time as an act of rebellion I don't know if that's what it was, but it was a big mistake in my mind and I just started crying, like weeping, tears just flowing off my face And just walking in the grass on the side of this road I remember now it was hard to see where I was going, if I was gonna step in something

And I remember looking up, how far do I have to go to even clear this hill? And then I saw you coming back over the hill First I saw your head, then I saw your shoulders, and then you cleared the hill and you were walking, you weren't in your car you were walking on the side of the road and it was kind of awkward because it's a long ways, okay, I get it you're walking But we finally did, we met, we were walking towards each other And, I don't remember exactly what I said But I know it was basically, "I'm so sorry for what I did

" And I, it wasn't that I had, I wasn't sorry that I disappointed you, it was that I was so sorry that I disappointed God And, I mean, I don't think we, I don't think there was a hug, I don't think there was a handshake I think that our MO at the time was, like just, we knew what we both felt and what we thought about what had happened and, I interpreted it as, like a physical representation of not only the fact that you loved me as a friend, but that God forgave me That, I think it was, we tended to think a lot in terms of symbolism, and so I don't know how much of that was going through your mind, but I think that it really hit home for me, I just felt like, this is a big deal, there is a lot of disappointment here but I'm not, God hasn't rejected me I'm already forgiven

And we walked back to the car, we got in, and we drove off And yeah, it was just a picture of forgiveness, and I think it was really powerful And I mean, the thing is we were devoted to God and we were devoted to helping each other stayed devoted It was so important to us, and we were steeped, we were steeped in the teachings that our church and our family gave us and the experiences we had within the church So then when we went to college, and got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, all of a sudden, everyone in that group was also devoted to God in the same way

Everybody wanted the same thing, it was actually, it was exciting because it was so much easier for me to be who I'd lived my entire life, aspiring to be somebody completely sold out for Jesus I think we in Episode One, we painted this opportunistic approach to like our involvement in Campus Crusade that like really served our career And I just, there was absolutely and I do think we talked about it, there was a parallel path of like, spiritually and personally, this is how we wanted to live our lives This is a perfect scenario for that, it was– Yeah, we weren't there We weren't there first and foremost, to try to become comedians or have an audience because we didn't even know that an was option

It was like this is what we want These are the people that we wanna be around So the things that we weren't doing and the things that we were doing may seem a little odd Like I mean, it wasn't any partying ever, in like the traditional tropish collegiate sense There was a lot of group dates going on

If you were interested in somebody, there was like the way to be as pure as possible about approaching dating I was really good at organizing those I could have a men's Bible study take a women's Bible study out for just a night on the town And, as long as you're in a group, it's like you– Nothing can happen You stay out of trouble

Christie and I never kissed until we were engaged to be married And that was my decision That's not something that anybody forced on me That wasn't the actual, like the specific teaching of anybody– Because I did not subscribe to that particular You know I had Interpretation

I had come off a relationship in my senior year of high school, freshman year of college that I felt like I had made mistakes in not being self controlled And I was eat up with guilt associated with that and I just did not wanna screw up my relationship with Christie and, because I saw that has so much potential, and I wanted to please God, and I wanted to do it right You know how I think There's a best way to do everything, there's a perfect execution of of everything and I'm gonna try to, it's safest if I stay within that Especially when it comes to disappointing God or not

So yeah, it may seem odd to you– But you were a great hand holder, I'm assuming Like I was so calculating, I was like, I'm only gonna go out on a date with her once a month and we're only gonna talk once a week and I want her to, I don't want to get in the way of her being devoted to God and I want God, I wanna be devoted to God and her second and, I felt for the old me reading back through my journals, but and I'll read one in a second, but I just wanna, I wanna say that yeah, I was extreme because of just the way I interacted with the environment and the teaching But it was thrilling to be, like we said before, it was thrilling to answer a higher calling, to connect with God and to go through it with really great friends It was the most meaning and satisfaction I'd ever experienced in my life, within that context As I prepped for this, I did go back and I read through my journals

And whenever I would journal, it was always in the form of prayer I was writing a letter to God because it was hard for me to pray But if I wrote it down, at least I could concentrate and I could get my thoughts out, and it was at least my side of the conversation with God You did that too right? Yeah But I wanna read an excerpt from this one journal entry from, this my junior year, so January 20th 1999, okay? So this is what I wrote, "Lord, I'm frustrated about us

"I just feel guilty that it's not clicking "Like I'm just bad, or wrong, or lazy or something "I'm tired of feeling pressure and guilt "to spend time with you "Lord, I would quit trying altogether "if I didn't know how stupid and mindless that would be "To whom shall I go?" Which was like my paraphrase of a Bible verse, meaning, where would I turn if I turned away from God? And it wasn't just that journal entry, like the vast majority of my journal entries over those years, it was actually heartbreaking

They were filled, and I'm talking like 80% of anything I would write, it was filled with me apologizing for disappointing God A lot of guilt, a lot of shame, a lot of frustration for not being devoted enough And I didn't really appreciate or recall that internal struggle that I was having, I'd kind of forgotten that until I went back and started reading through the journals, and I was a little bit shocked It's not that I journaled all the time And I do think there's a factor of I would journal when I felt like I really needed, my relationship with God needed a kick in the pants, like I really needed to, buckle down

And so, and then if, maybe if things were going better, I just didn't journal Maybe that's another explanation But it was a lot of, a lot of my private experience, I think was, was kind of defined by that level of shame and frustration And I, again, I don't wanna imply that the main teaching from crew or our churches, the church that we grew up in, was really super legalistic I don't think, they were not super legalistic, there was not a constant emphasis on following certain rules

The emphasis was on having like, a personal relationship with God But there are factors associated with going about that relationship that the way that I internalize that, was that I was failing at it That I didn't have what, like the people who it was really working for had That I was very hard on myself Well, I would say that we were on a spectrum

So I would say that compared to just the general population, we were legalistic without a doubt Oh, yeah Because we did have a bunch of rules that were sort of, interpretations of the Bible that, and applied to our specific situation or a specific culture that kind of led to things like not kissing your girlfriend until you're engaged to be married But I do think that most of this is just the way that different personalities interact with it Because, yeah, for me, I was having all those intellectual thoughts and doubts, and that's a lot of the stuff that I would be writing about and thinking about

But when it came to, and of course, I felt like, Oh, I'm prideful, and I'm lustful, and all the, the ways that I thought I was sinful, but I think I kind of gave myself more of a break than you did just because that's my personality I don't think I was hard on myself that I sinned, I was hard on myself that I didn't have a quality of relationship with God where I was motivated to connect with Him, to pray, to do like the spiritual disciplines, like study the Bible and pray and the things that I felt like were a true test of intimacy with God, like our, the human's role in that, I felt like I just, I was trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps I was trying to conjure something that I didn't, that came naturally to people who had like a true connection to God I also think you were perceiving that that was happening with people And I think that everybody has their own struggle

I don't think it was like, Sure, right But it's interesting that, and I think we had to have talked about it But I kept going back to it so much in my journal that like, it's just something that I couldn't shake because of, and I'm starting to understand myself now in a way that I never have, and so I can see things that I've learned about myself now in terms of like, an unhealthy view of being a perfectionist, being a one on the Enneagram, if you're into that I do think it was me being disappointed in myself more than people telling me that God was disappointed in me And then in, when I graduated, Christie and I got married, there was another level of pressure because then, the teaching was I was to assume the role of the spiritual leader is what it was called

Initiate prayer with your family and like, make decisions and make sure you're doing as a family what God has for you That was difficult for me And then, after a couple of years, we joined staff And just to clarify, that was very much the, this definitely isn't necessarily the, sort of the standpoint of a lot of even Christian churches at this point, but, very much the sort of the branch that we were in You got egalitarianism and you got complementarianism

And so we were, we were complementarian, meaning that there women and men have specific roles, right? And so in the household, the man is supposed to be the spiritual leader, he's the one that kind of everything falls on to make sure that his family is following God That was our interpretation of some New Testament passages When we joined staff of Crew, now my spiritual identity was also my professional identity I was fully committed to God, but also now financially, completely dependent on all these people who believed in what I believed in, and they believed in the work that we were doing when we raise financial support So I put even more pressure on myself because I had these people investing in our work, and I was doing I was a professional Christian at this point

Shouldn't I be good at it? Should I start to have a little bit of a Scottish accent? Yeah you should But I had this nagging sense of being hollow That, I just, it was always there, couldn't quite shake it and around this time, that's when Rhett started talking about the age of the Earth and the validity of evolution We started talking about those things What you started talking about them with me, I was, I didn't have, I don't have doubts and I don't sit around as I'm falling asleep or in my spare time just like having logic battles in my mind

It's just not, I have the battles I was having was, I'm not doing this good enough I just devoted all of my energy there But whenever you would bring something up, first of all, I knew like, I'm not gonna panic, you made the joke of like, Jesse would start crying because it was perceived as such a threat and I totally get that It was, I was like, I remember having an internal dialogue of okay, just don't panic, be cool about this, just be a sounding board for what Rhett wants to talk about because, I'm not gonna fall for the trap of like, well, you know you can't go there, because it might lead to something So, I mean, I started listening

And, when you read Francis Collins', "The language of God" in 2006, I also read that, and, I was like, yeah, it's like, I'm convinced in the validity of evolution And I remember, an unintended consequence of reading that book was I just had this sense, and we discussed it that there was an island with God on it and it was shrinking as science discovered more and more and it would ultimately lead to a place where the waters of science would cover the top of the island and there would be no more God That's actually what we were taught in terms of this, if you start looking into evolution, it's a slippery slope That's what they would say And I will say ironically, we're not doing Francis Collins any favors between my story and your story

I'm not trying to give us that much credit like this is, so many people are gonna listen to this but, a lot of people like Ken Ham, the head of Answers in Genesis are gonna be like, "I told you" and he's got an Australian accent But he's gonna say I told you, you can't believe in evolution, look what happened, if you do it, if you believe in it, then it's all Francis Collins' fault, Well, I'm very grateful But I think it, because that wasn't his point in the book, the shrinking island thing, but it's something that we discussed and that, because, we just started asking these questions of like, well, if Adam and Eve never existed, doesn't Paul say in the Bible that the whole point of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, was to undo Adam's Original Sin? And then I'm like, I don't want to get, I'm just like, I'm a professional Christian I don't, I'm panicking inside So I'm like, there are answers, you can find them, anything you wanna believe, you can find something

Right, because– And I started to find those things Because as I said, Because I was very resistant I don't wanna give short shrift to this, if that's the correct word I know there are lots of Christians who accept evolution as it's taught, as it's understood by scientists and still believe in Adam and Eve And there's a way that they reconcile that

I'm very familiar, you don't have to tweet those books at me, I very familiar with that argument I just think there's some other issues going on But so yeah, you can accept both of those things And I took comfort in that Because I'm sitting here on staff, man, I can't, it's like, what am I gonna do? Just like, become homeless? There was too much at stake

So I kept the most threatening questions at bay, until after we left staff And so in 2008, up until 2011, I mean, we were starting our career as YouTubers And in that timeframe, where we were developing this new career, I was also developing a growing spiritual disillusionment And there were two parallel paths for me One was the intellectual path

And then the other parallel path was the experiential, what was happening to me in my heart in my circumstance So I'll talk about both of those First, I mean, intellectually, the discussions that we had, they continued, I think they accelerated, it was the next thing, and again, you can kind of superimpose Rhett's talk on top of mine, whenever he mentions, dismantling his view, it was also my view, of the Old Testament The early stuff in the Old Testament, it can't be literal Becoming convinced of that and then continuing to read the Old Testament, it's like the Old Testament God mandated a lot of actions that troubled me

I just, it's like, you worship a God, I mean, there's some, I mean, I'm not even talking about head scratchers, I'm talking about like, Oh my gosh, this is frightening Our view of the Bible started to dismantle We were having lots of conversations about it I wasn't chomping at the bit to go home and report all of these conversations because, I didn't know, I thought it was a thought exercise I didn't know where it was gonna lead and I didn't wanna, I was like, man, I wanna process this with Christie, but I don't wanna scare her

So I talked to her about, for every one time, every eight times we talked, I might talk to her about it once just because it was a lot of other shit going on in our lives, I don't wanna add that into the equation But then the experiential, parallel path was ever since graduating from college and leaving campus crusade as a student, like I got, Christie and I got involved in the church, different church than you And it was a small church So they had an immediate need for someone to help lead the music And because I'd done that at Campus Crusade, they asked me to do it, and I knew I could do it, but I was reluctant

And increasingly more over time, but, it was the right thing to do I was like, I can really, this is how I can contribute at my church Leading the praise and worship music So I was like the music leader at my church, up until moving to Los Angeles But there were a lot of places that I was, I guess I was having an internal existential crisis, but I remember it being very palpable every Sunday morning because I would get on stage and I would pray, and I would lead the music and I would say some things to help contextualize the songs that we were singing so that people in the audience could really connect with God

Yet, I found it virtually impossible for me to be able to connect with God in that way, through music on a Sunday morning And I remember I would try harder and harder I'd like clamp my eyes shut and really concentrate on the words that I was singing that were moving people emotionally and spiritually out there But for me, it proved, it was like there was a brick wall there I just couldn't get there

And that was really frustrating And I think there was a lot of, yeah, there were practical aspects to that, and it's like, I am a performer, you're on stage, you know people are watching even if the goal is to not be seen and kind of step out of the way so to speak That's probably still a factor and then when I start thinking about it, it's like, I don't know, it's just, I remember after church every Sunday, I would tell Christie, "I'm not who they think I am "They think I'm clamping my shut because "I'm having such a meaningful experience, "but I'm clamping eyes my shut "because I can't find anything" And I would talk to a few people about it, like I would mention something and it was, it's just, it's a hairy kind of thing to get into

So it's, and that really started to come to a head like the six months leading up to us moving to LA I felt, I just I started saying things like, "I just feel phony" And the conversations we were having, again in parallel were I mean, it was the one two punch of, I'm not experiencing an intimacy with God, and then I don't, I'm starting to question the foundations of everything that this is built on So they, those two paths fed each other for me Well you know there was an, just to add a little color to this

Speaking of our conversations, We also had another kind of conversation, and we had it pretty often Do you remember we would be sitting in that office in Lillington, or even our office in Fuquay And we would be like, man, I just feel like, we really haven't been focusing on the Lord, and like, a lot of things are happening and like, I just feel like we need to just recognize, Yeah, How we got where we're at and seek the Lord's guidance and me and you would just sit there and pray together Yeah, we would And the first part of the prayer was It was always like, Lord, man, we suck

Yeah, it's like, you've given us so much, you've given us our heart's desire, but like, we have this career There was a lot of guilt There was a lot of guilt, there was a lot of shame But even in the, the reason I'm adding that is because I'm just remembering in the midst of the again, as I hope I made clear, but in the midst of the doubt there was for both of us, I know you're talking about how you were struggling with the connection, but, it was still paramount, it was still central and it was still kind of what everything was based on And when we felt like we were sort of moving forward without giving God the credit, without consulting Him, we felt bad

And we would like check in on each other and then pray For like at least 30 minutes, we would just pray Yeah And when you feel I mean, like, praying with somebody was such an intimate thing It was like, the reason why we didn't do it was because it was like, yeah, it was this intimate thing that it was so super vulnerable

We were both naked No, but it was like, I mean, it was like, we weren't gonna cry together or something like that, but it was, again, it was so important that we were willing to do that I mean, I remember when I was dating Christie, like, we wouldn't pray together Ironically, like when you get married, it's like now you're the spiritual leader, but we talked, about how– We were taught not to pray– Don't pray together, because that's more intimate than, I don't know, a sexual act Well, because we heard stories about boyfriends and girlfriends praying together and then making out right after because they were so connected

Yeah Those prayer kisses, that prayer tongue That's speaking in Tongues right there, Oh, I knew I'd find that joke! I'd find it So I just felt, I felt fed up with this phony feeling every week And I felt like it was on me but I started to question if it was, if it was worth it

And I started to think, it looks like we're gonna move to LA at least for six months And if it doesn't happen, I'm just gonna have to step down I just can't, this is not authentic This is not good for anybody I didn't, I wasn't saying I was gonna leave the church, but I was gonna, that would have been like maybe the next step? And I meant that specific church

It wasn't, I didn't know what I believed, but it was just like, I mean, we were just having constant conversations, and then we moved to LA, and I was so relieved because it spared me all of these awkward and painful conversations that I felt like I was about to have to have with my pastor who was a really good friend, again, throughout all of this, I'm not trying to implicate anybody because, I bet anybody listening, I just think about this like, man, I wish you would have said something It's like, I know, it would have been probably a gracious response, but I know it would have been, but it's like I didn't wanna get into it And so it was, and tell my family that I wasn't going to church or I wasn't serving in the church the way that I was anymore, like things are different, you just don't wanna get into it Because you become a, I don't want to keep cutting you up, but when you express doubt in the midst of church, a lot of times people say, "Listen, if you've got doubts, "that's part of the experience, "and talk to people about them" And we did, we talked to a lot of people, but it's still, the fact remains that, when you raise the kinds of questions that we were having, you do become a difficult and complicated person for a church body

And a lot of times those people, especially if they're not satisfied with the answers they're getting, they kind of get pushed out because I got the flock I gotta worry about, this little crazy sheep that's asking all these weird questions, it's taking a lot of time Right So I understand logistically why that happens, but I think you were a little bit scared of becoming someone's project Yeah, that's true Yeah which is very much my experience

Yeah, I had one friend besides you that I confided in who didn't go to that church anymore because he was going somewhere else, but I had some resources, and of course, Christie but moving to LA was like a big relief because I could sidestep the whole thing, and just like you said, we both got involved in church out there, and I was like, "I bet it's different out here" And, but we went to what's still like an evangelical church because that was our point of reference, and I was like, I'm not gonna make mistake of, I ain't gonna be on stage or anything like that I'm just gonna receive– Well they had professional musicians on stage Yeah, I could have made it LA church is a different deal, it's like, I don't know, I mean, you're great, but I don't know if you would have made the cut, just to be honest

I would have made the cut And the guy had an accent too He was British And just like you– Much cooler than you I was hopeful that it would be like, a time where I could remove the pressure, but I could experience and then I could experience God

But I was very skeptical by this point, because of that parallel path I no longer believed in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God Again, you presented a lot of these resources It's not like, I don't wanna say, I don't wanna go through all of that Yeah

I was, I think in retrospect, I was slowly crossing the boundary from belief to disbelief just like you get, it's a very permeable place, and it's not just, for me, it wasn't just like this one thing happened, but I just started to realize one day, I must have overnight, experienced some subtle shift that I was just ever so slightly on the other side of a boundary and I was looking at it from the other side And my growing list of problems with the Bible and evangelicalism, all of a sudden, all of that lit those problems that popped up over my whole life to this point They had much simpler explanations when I was looking at it from the outside And again, I was teetering But like the teaching of hell, I just wasn't, I was letting go of that

Plus the discrimination of the LBGTQ+ communities within the church, that had troubled me for years And you, I know that And all of a sudden, you're like, hold on, it's like I can accept everybody And then we were discussing Jesus And as you said in your story, it was like, again, I don't wanna get into the arguments that started to sway us, to believe that he probably didn't raise from the dead but it's always just this probably or, you just can't know

And I started to feel it was more likely that he didn't actually raise from the dead And I just found myself believing that as the cumulative conclusion of all the reading that I had also been doing and the conversations we've been having for years by this point So my entire belief system was very tenuous And I realized, I know about my, you got the two words belief and system, and I know enough about myself to know that, yeah, I thought a lot about the belief, but I cared a lot about the system As a perfectionist, I took a lot of comfort in knowing that there was, if I'm just signed up for all of this, I know I'm safe eternally, I know that as I just have, I trust that if I don't know everything that I should believe or everything I should be doing at least, it's all there, and I'll get to it

And it was, it felt very secure for me, someone who I think, really value that, really needed to know that I was doing it right And then I was safe But I think by this point in my life, the beliefs, the questions associated with the beliefs, I was so uncomfortable with the basis of those and now the practical outcome of those that it overcame my interest in keeping a system I remember we were taught, we would hang out with some friends and we would discuss some of this stuff, what we were going through, and there was one guy who was great guy He's a Christian who said, "I actually don't, "I don't wanna hear what you're talking about, "because I don't want to lose what I have

"And I think you'd probably convince me, "and this is working for me and my family "So I love you guys, but I just, "I gotta bow out of this conversation" And I got that, I understood it I wasn't, I don't think I was hurt by that, but I couldn't, because I was that way for a long time as we were talking about it But I couldn't live like that anymore

I felt like, I just, I had to face the the facts or the compelling arguments that I had never been willing to look at because of what I needed, I was getting from my faith But again, all those things started to shift, you start to think about the billions of people who've sought God for revelation, and they've gotten nothing or they've received profound revelation that is in direct contradiction to the profound revelation that somebody else has gotten I just found myself starting to believe that, just like you said that, humans have a way of trying to, we gotta make sense of things And so this is just, I just found it most reasonable to believe that the Bible represented humans trying their best to explain God And it was one of many well developed explanations across many religions

And they were all accompanied by sincere experiences to validate them Church, to say the least, church became a place of frustration, not comfort for me Why was I working so hard to make Christianity work for me if it wasn't even true? And I think it's because the alternative was so scary, I mean, it was all I knew, it was, you gave the analogy of the ship and then jumping into this water and it's like you even look over the side of the ship and you're like, Man, it's like everything I've taught is at it's, it's real ugly down there But at a certain point, you kind of find that you're in midair falling into it anyway I mean, it's that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, you can lead, you can't make someone fall in love with you

You can't, if you find yourself falling out of love with somebody Bonnie Raitt I must have replaced the Bible with Bonnie Raitt Well, I yeah, I completely relate with and agree with everything that you're saying And I think that, I thought a little bit more about that

The boat analogy and the fact is that, and I think this is one of the reasons that our friend was like, "Hey, don't don't rock my boat" Is because it is a boat, if the boat's not fake, right? You know what I'm saying? It's like it is a system, it is beneficial, it has helped millions of people, it's helping millions of people right now It has stood the test of time, so have other religions, but yeah, it's because people are like, hold on, if it wasn't real, well, what about your life change and your growth? Well, no, there was real life change, there was real growth There was real community, there was, all these experiences were real, in a sense We're just saying that we think that they were most likely happening in our minds and in everyone else's minds, which are incredibly powerful things

It doesn't mean that the change isn't real It's like some people that I know when I tell my story they'll be like, "But listen, I know it's real "because of what Jesus did in my life "Let me tell you my testimony" I'm not denying that your life hasn't changed And that's what I'm saying

There's sincere experiences to validate All kinds of things Every belief system Yeah And so I just, I respect it, but I just can't, that's not compelling me, this horse to drink that water at this point Another way is that it doesn't make it true

It doesn't make it true It might make it true or feel true to you, but it doesn't necessarily make it universally true, just because you had an experience So at this point, I mean, again, we must have been discussing this because you use the term like you conducted an experiment, and I definitely remember using that term at the time, I think it was a way to say hey, I'm just gonna ease, I'm gonna ease into believing differently and see what happens It's not, it can just be private I wrote in my journal, November 5th 2013

Again, this was addressed to God, but it's the last journal entry that I've written Like I, I don't– Whoa, really? Well, that's not, actually that's not true For a long time it was This is what I meant to say it was the last journal entry that I wrote addressed to God Oh, okay

And this is not the beginning, this is a part in the middle And I think I wrote this as kind of a record for myself too, you can see in the way I wrote it It was just like, I wanna know that this was the point This is the date Point my life when I got, when I felt this way

And I'm glad I did because I wouldn't have known it was November 5th 2013 Here's what I wrote: Since moving out here, and that's to LA, and combined with Rhett sharing his evolving perspective, I have slowly given up trying to be the Christian that I feel like I've been trying to be all these years I've concluded that I'm not going to do the things I've always done, the right things, the spiritual disciplines and expect different results Intimacy with God, or even more directly, I'm gonna give up feeling guilty for not being better and doing better at Christianity And this experiment has felt good, freeing, for the most part, everything except feeling like I'm letting Christie and the kids down

At this point, I'm not sure if God exists And you see my mindset at that time it was, it seemed like I was just saying, "I'm gonna stop "feeling so guilty for the things I'm not doing "to try to be a good Christian" And so it sounds like I'm like, but I'm just gonna be a Christian, Imma let go and let God And I do think that's what a lot of people who may be hearing in my, maybe how they're responding to my story is that like, we all go through these times and the struggles you're having That's common to every person who's like very serious about pursuing Jesus

But I think what was really happening was, that was my true experience, even though I sincerely sought God my entire life But it primed me to be open to dealing with what I felt were the intellectual things that I didn't list in this journal entry, but I think that's what held the weight to make the decision That's what eroded the foundation and it was very important to me And like I said, it felt freeing Like I didn't, I was surprised that I didn't experience a sense of extreme loss

I was afraid of what it would mean for just like you said, would mean for my marriage because I had believed that a Christian and non Christian can't stay married Like do I? But I actually, I just couldn't live, I couldn't pretend anymore and so one of the things that I called it into question was if that was true I never would have done it if I thought it was still true, that was gonna lead to divorce I would have just, put my head down and and trudged on, but I actually believed that like, our marriage could still be vibrant I had no clue how that would work, though

I believed that I could still be a great father to my kids and that they would be okay I felt like my kids will be better people, I could influence them in the best way possible by being as honest with them as possible, for appropriate to their ages Versus trying to give them, what I believed was a false sense of security in teaching something, much less because I wasn't gonna give them the fear version that I had gotten So I felt okay about it But I still went to church with Christie and the kids because I didn't want to be that guy

Like, I had judged hard the guy who would not go to church with his family? Like, what a jackass! It's what I felt like I was like, "So I ain't gonna be that guy" Right But it was so difficult Because again, it was a place of frustration, not a place of comfort for me, and anything that was said, I would always try to derive what it was based on and I was like, "Man, this is all shifting sand "that you're building all this on

" That's how I would feel I would get frustrated I remember on Easter Sunday, we were all sitting in the minivan and I was just like, "I don't think I can go in there" And Christie was crying and we ended up taking the kids in to the youth group and coming back to the minivan and just sitting there in the parking lot and just bawling our eyes out Christie, it was, she'd been, I think it was, she was still one year after her brain injury, which again, it was like an extreme low point for her I was saying, "I don't think I can go in there

" And she was saying, "I don't think, I cannot go in there" We were grappling with, how our beliefs were changing and it was something that we were talking about much more than when I referenced it earlier Like one out of every eight times we would talk Now this was something that we were talking about a lot now I was not keeping it from Christie or the kids But she was in a place, like the most difficult thing was happening in her brain and in her body and suffering from post concussion syndrome, which she still suffers from many years later

It was an extreme low point for her and it was like she was wrestling with it, but she couldn't, there was much more at stake for her than there was for me at that point So I, I would go to church with them, and then I would just explain the things that I have trouble with become a part of our conversations that we'd have as a family, because I was just like, I just want to I want everybody to be able to start to think for themselves and not have something shoved down their throat, and I don't think anybody was doing that, so I felt okay with it In the church and in our conversations, but over time, I eventually stopped going to church and then my family ended up stop going, it wasn't too long after that But you know the thing that happened was, the specific issue of the, LGBTQ issues and how the church was a welcoming place and a loving place, but then when you really got down to it, they weren't accepted as couples There was, you couldn't be married there

And that really ate away at me I mean, and this is a long time coming, and these are many, we had been having many conversations for many years about this issue and wrestling with it ourselves, but as we made meaningful connections with people here, like I'll just give Stevie and Cassie as an example, like not just working together, but being friends and loving them, and understanding how they love each other and how, and yeah, many other couples And I just couldn't sit in the seat knowing that they couldn't, that they couldn't get married there I just felt like it was a betrayal of my friends And then of what I believed

So that was, and so then I didn't go back I'll add to this, especially in a place like Los Angeles, I mean it might if you're, there's plenty of evangelical churches where you would know just unequivocally okay, this is not necessarily a gay friendly place Even though they may be loving and say something like love the, love the sinner, hate the sin, the old cliche But especially in LA– And in LA, they wouldn't say that They would never say that

But that's the belief Well, what I'm getting is, in LA, the churches and the people leading the churches are smart enough to know that they cannot have an outwardly anti LGBTQ stance because they wouldn't have anybody show up And there's plenty of LGBTQ people who go to these places on a regular basis And they don't even know that if you dig deep enough, if you put the pastor in a corner, if you backed him or her into a corner and said, "Do you believe that marriage is "only between a man and a woman?" They would say yes, because they have a particular interpretation of the Bible that leads them into that conclusion Now, there's plenty of churches that would say, "No, we're pro LGBTQ

" So, I'm just saying that that is a thing that you kind of run into in LA, it's like, all the outward signs are that this is a super loving and accepting place, and it is a loving place We're not talking about a bunch of bigoted people But when it gets down to it, the theology sort of leads them to a place that they're not completely accepting and affirming And that's kind of the situation that you found yourself in Yeah, and I think that, well I know that also resonated with my family and was a major contributor to saying, "You know what? "Let's just ease out, let's ease out of this, "or let's, well, let's step out

" And that's what we did and we lived happily ever after No, I mean, I guess some people are thinking, could we have found a more liberal, LGBTQ affirming church? Yes I think you looked around and it was just, There is a church that, when I go to church, I go to this church That is, yeah is an affirming church, But you don't really go But don't really go, I'll go sometimes, Christmas I think for me, I was like, "I'm just not ready to go to church in general

And I may never be I'm just not ready to enter back into a specific system of belief, even if it's different and it aligns with the practical applications of that belief system are exactly in line with how I wanna live my life Just like, maybe I'm still just too close in, or have been in it so long that I just, I feel like I need more distance from it, I just can't And, there's a lot of like, at least all the places that are, that meet, that check those boxes, they're like very, what's the word? Ecumenical Right And it's like, okay, that's like a high church thing, and it's like, I don't think I would thrive well under that system because yeah, as much as I love systems, I do think that as I'm beginning to learn about myself, and as I read those journal entries to you, and like my, my internal dialogue, I think you're seeing as I am appreciating that, I put a lot of pressure on myself and I don't interact in a healthy way at this point in my life with a robust belief system

Yeah So, I mean, you ended up saying you applied the label of like, hopeful agnostic to to where you were right now And, I mean, if I were to put, if I were to label myself, I think I would say I'm an agnostic who wants to be hopeful I think I have made a decision to be open I do want that I don't want to be I just, I don't wanna be an atheist so I'm hopeful that I can be hopeful

I know that it– Why don't you wanna be an atheist? Because I'm not convinced that God doesn't exist and I don't want to, if God does exist, I wanna be open to that connection That's just not, it's not how I think Like to come down hard on something and like, but I think that, left to my own devices, from a practical standpoint, I would end up as like a practical atheist where it's like, You know what? I do feel like it's easiest for me to believe that when you die, it's just like Dana Carvey, my Wayne's World doppelganger I'm replacing the Bible with Garth and Bonnie Raitt, it seems I remember years ago when I was listening to WTF podcast, Dana Carvey was talking about how he believed that like, when you die, it's just like the experience you had before you were born, do you remember that? So I'm like, "Yeah, that's, oh, that's actually comforting

" And I actually I find it easy to believe that for some reason It's not, I'm not compelled to believe it, but it's just an easy place for my mind to rest Well, and you don't have to believe it I think the reason I'm not an atheist is because it just feels too definitive Right Agnostic is the label that literally means you don't know and I hope I'm always and when it comes to these issues, I hope I'm always, I don't wanna become dogmatic about anything

Yeah, but I don't want to become complacent either because I do think that it is easiest for me to believe that everybody believes whatever they wanna believe, Like, your innermost desires Maybe that's, it could be something primal, like survival and security I mean, there's so many different things, but, we have a way of finding what works for us And I think that's instinctive So just to put it bluntly, you believe what you wanna believe

It's like, I find it easy to believe that, I find it easy to believe that because so many people have had so many earth shattering experiences that are in complete contradiction then it's like, that probably means that God's not personal It's like it makes more– Or maybe God is personal, and that God is just great at relating very specifically to a lot of different people in a very personal way that makes sense to them, I don't know But you know what? I'm open to that, that would be a very loving Isn't God capable of doing that? Again, I'm not gonna sit here and try to invent a new belief system of like, this is what I believe specifically I just want to do the work to stay open

But not to get, like you said, dogmatic and I know that that takes work It takes an investment of time and priority for me to not just sit back and just kind of be just go with the flow of like, I'm not looking Again, it's not looking for the next thing to latch on to and believe and start to follow, but it's being open to what, how God may exist, and may want to connect with me I think the main thing is, I don't want to judge I don't want to condemn, I wanna be as loving as I can

Maybe that sounds trite, it does but so what? I wanna be as loving as I can, and, I do feel like over the past few years, my capacity to love, has grown My capacity to love myself and others has expanded a lot more in the last few years, and I take that as a good sign I just don't think that God, if God exists, or however God exists, I just can't believe that, me being open and sincere and as loving as possible, and as honest as possible is disqualifying me from receiving God's love I just, I can't accept that And so, I have hope that that's true

Because I can't, I cannot just decide to be or believe something that I don't And I'm just– That's not gonna stop a lot of people on the internet from trying to convince you though Yeah, and I feel like because a lot, I feel like a lot of what I say could be boiled down as neurosis It's like, but the intellectual, I mean, it's a two, I think the one made me receptive to the other And I just think it's got to be, and that's truth

I just don't know how people will respond to what I just said, though When I'm like, I wanna be open, I don't know, I'm an agnostic, I just want to focus on love And then I'm like, "But the reason I got here is because "of what I was convinced that was no longer true" Well, I could tell you how I would have reacted to it when I was a Christian And I would have been sad for you

And I think there's gonna be a lot of people who are sad for us, and there's lot of people who are gonna feel sorry for us, and they're gonna be like, "I just, I can't" I asked a close friend, I was like, "So do you think I'm going to hell?" And he was like, "I don't, no I don't "I think what you had was real, and it still is, "and you're this and you're in a process" He didn't say, "I think you'll come back" I think maybe it's forwarded on the other side and

But it's like I appreciated that in one sense, I guess in the other sense it's like, I don't feel like I'm gonna go back and assent to any of the, like the specific beliefs about the Bible So I mean, that's where I'm at, and that's the conclusion of my story to this point, but it's obviously not the conclusion of my journey And I'm immediately thinking about how people are responding to it And I'm just trying not to do that Yeah, well– But, I wanna be a conversation that happened

Yeah, well, maybe we can help Listen, I'm not trying to be, I'm not trying to dictate how the conversation should go from here, but let me just say just a couple of thoughts that I have about the conversation that will happen as a result of these stories kind of going out to the public Most people and I totally get why this is the case, are going to interact with our stories in whatever way makes sense according to their predetermined worldview Right So if you are a Christian, and you're not a Christian that has had a lot of doubts, or you're just like, 100% sure that you're right, you're most likely, you're gonna filter us through your theology, just like I was talking about at the beginning of my story

So you may conclude that well, you guys were definitely never actual Christians, it was an intellectual thing, that's specifically addressed in the Bible, and, God's gonna say he never knew you And if that makes you, I understand why you have to believe that I don't accept that, but I can't make you change your mind And then there's a lot of other situations that people may find, but you're gonna make it consistent with your predetermined belief The only thing I ask about it, and I hope that this was clear and Link made it, I tried to make it clear and Link tried to make it clear that we're just kind of telling our story, trying to be as honest as possible about what transpired in our lives that kind of led us to this point

And I would love if the conversation would be, tell us your story, right? Or, you don't have to Like I said, I know people are gonna send a lot of arguments, probably especially to me, because I'm the one that talked about all the, the specific arguments about evolution, or Old Testament archeology and that kind of thing So people are gonna try to send resources and books, have you heard of this? Have you read this article? And I'm not saying don't do that, some people won't be able to help yourself because I wouldn't have been able to help myself if I was in your shoes, But I would just hope that you would just actually try to consider our stories from the point of, Hey, we're just humans, trying to be honest We're your online friends trying to be honest and just consider the story on its face Don't just immediately– Try to fix us

Try to fix us or try to make it fit into your system Because I think that that's, I think that the world has got so much polarization right now people are like, "I'm right, you're wrong, that's it" And more than ever, and it's interesting, we're so much better connected to one another than we've ever been but we're also so divided And it's this just horrible irony that's kind of the nature of the information age And I just don't want that kind of conversation to happen in our community where people are throwing rocks at each other and insulting one another and call it

Listen, there's gonna be people from both ends of the spectrum who are gonna get engaged in this conversation, please see people's humanity See our humanity and don't just resort to just putting your feet into your trench and just holding your position Consider somebody's viewpoint I also wonder if people's takeaway is, like, dang Link, if it weren't for Rhett, you might be in a better place, He really brought you down It's absolutely true that, and that I wouldn't have been grappling with these issues

I probably wouldn't have been grappling with issues, I probably wouldn't have done it Because as a hard time as I was having, I still didn't want, it was still ultimately, this so very safe for me and I really need that But I'm very grateful that your personality is different than mine in that way that, it was my active choice at every turn to actively engage in the discussion And I didn't, we shared so much of our lives, and our spiritual journey was so similar that we had the exact same language and so many of the same experiences We went on all the same church trips, and we were party to all the same prayer groups and, so whenever I really benefited in kind of, I hacked the system in a lot of ways, I feel like yes, I trusted you, but it was almost like trusting

Your response to it was very trustworthy as my own response because our journeys were so in lockstep And then I but I, there was pivotal points all along the way when I would have to pick up those books and read them It wasn't just the Francis Collins one because it started to get real and it was like, I gotta read this stuff for myself That'll transition to my, well, I'll let you respond to that, because I think that people might say it's your fault It is

No, I mean, no, I'm very conscious of that I think that, I mean, interestingly, the other way around I mean, like, in any sort, in any testimony that you give, that you hear somebody give in the church, it usually comes down to a person who shared the gospel with them, right? Like it's, people share the message And for better or worse, it also works the other way It's like, I'm a key figure in your anti testimony

It's just, it's a fact– Anti testimony And I think that yeah, people will be upset about that, people will be mad at me I don't doubt that but– I'm letting you off the hook Because, again, I'm grateful for it and I'm fully responsible for it Did it make the conversations that I have with Christie even more difficult? Yes

Because it was, I was presenting these beliefs that were a threat to her, they were genuine questions to me, but they were also tied to you whispering it in my ear And so we had to work through that as well It's like, well, is this something that you're grappling with? Or something that Rhett is grappling with? Ultimately, it's something that I'm grateful that legitimate questions are things that I actually wrestled with I think I need, and that goes back to my intention of working to be hopeful because I feel like it does take work for me to engage in those questions, the difficult questions in order to become more of who I actually wanna be because that's not an easy thing to do All the decisions were yours

Absolutely All I did was just present information as I was processing it And at no point was I trying to convince you of anything And at no point was I trying to like,– I was the only person you could talk to who would listen, I was just confiding in you You really talk yeah I was confiding in you

But, and I think that I did not want to in my session here I didn't wanna retread the reasons that you gave, the arguments that were compelling for you That was because you gave some of those and you gave resources but I also didn't wanna do it because I didn't wanna share a story that was, whenever my beliefs started to pivot, I described those in like a timeline fashion, but I intentionally didn't describe what is it that made you believe that Jesus didn't raise from the dead? What is it that made you believe that you couldn't, that you saw Paul differently or? All of their arguments, I didn't make them because I feel like as a listener, it's up to them It's up to you to look into that if you want to But I've also, I also feel like I was giving you an out if like, Hey, this is working for me like our friends said, it was like, if this is working for you, then yeah, I don't wanna be the one to screw it up for you, like Rhett did for me

But I do invite you and I'll make a wreck I found this book called "Why I Believed: Reflections Of A Former Missionary, written by Kenneth W Daniels I feel like I'm on Reading Rainbow now I mean, this is a freaking self published book, Ken published the book

It's very highly rated, but it's very specific It was perfect for me because it was, Ken was like a Bible translator who like raised finances just like we did And, but he's such a thorough thinker He's kind of like the two of us combined, because– This is the guy that I want to be He taught– In terms of how well he researched all of this

He talked in equal parts about his own experience of deconstruction And, he's quoting his own journal entries in here so you really understand what's going on in his heart as well as his mind And so if you relate to the specifics of coming out of evangelicalism, especially if you were in the ministry, or if you are in the ministry, and you wanna have them, you want to read something that has a more personal touch than that This is a profound book for me So, Ken, thank you for publishing this book

But again, if you don't wanna get into it, don't read it Don't read it just so you can dismiss it Don't read anything, just to dismiss it, just don't even read it, if that's what you're gonna do But again, you gave resources last time, and that's another one to add to the list this time Well, I appreciate your story

Because, I mean, my guess is that more people will relate to your story than mine I just, that's my, in my experience, when I talk about the things that happened with me, again, like I said, a lot of people just are like, "You're crazy" Like, why do you think about these things? Or at least, well, he lost me Yeah, and So it's like that meant a lot to him, but I don't think it matters that much, really? And I think yours was very personal And it was about what you were kind of experiencing on a practical level, which I think more people will relate to

I would just say again, as we begin to have a conversation, listen, the next podcast is not, we don't know what it's gonna be about, but we're gonna take a break from this subject matter But, I think that this stuff, this spiritual stuff, is now a part of Ear Biscuits It will be something that we talk about, whether we talk about our past, And we want to answer more questions I know that there's lots of questions that people have related to these stories I can only imagine

So ask those questions, we'll try to be as clarifying as we can and if you make us think about something in a different way, we'll let you know I mean, we want this to be a process, we want this to be a conversation, but we're gonna let those questions be generated, and then we'll continue that conversation at another time Yeah, so #EarBiscuits And also again, I'll encourage you to share these episodes with people that it would it would resonate with, or spark more conversations between you and your friends So, share it, we'll speak at you next week, Probably about something else About something else

And then we'll see if we most likely will come back to it Thank you To watch more Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist on the right To watch the previous episode of Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist to the left And don't forget to click on the circular icon to subscribe If you prefer to listen to this podcast, it's available on all your favorite podcast platforms

Thanks for being your mythical best

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