Tue, 17 May 2016
Welcome everyone to episode 99 of the Everyone’s Agnostic podcast, I’m Cass Midgley. Today, I bring you a special episode where I’m going to briefly focus on music as a voice that both called me to stay Christian and called me out, and my guest today symbolizes that tension.
Some of my favorite Christian music artists were Edin-Adahl, Sweet Comfort Band, Allies, The Front, David & the Giants, Russ Taff, Charlie Peacock, the 77s, Jimmy Abegg, Mark Heard, Dave Perkins, Jon Gibson, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Switchfoot, and Adam Again. I collected over 800 Christian music cassettes and CDs between the early 80s and late 90s. I was the music buyer at a Christian bookstore and I was a sales rep for StarSong. Early on I decided to ban secular music from my life. Part of what keeps one convinced that they’re in the right is by surrounding one’s self with music that only confirms one’s beliefs. How could all these songs be written about something that’s not true? And yet, in the outside world, there were even more songs and musicians who felt no need to write religious songs.
One of the hats my guest today wears is that of a music critic. He wrote close to 900 articles in Christian music publications between 1982 and 1999. That’s over one articles a week for 17 years and those same years coincide with my infatuation with Christianity. And if you trace those articles chronologically, he little by little, started reviewing secular music more and more, which gave me permission to lift my ban on it and listen outside the Christian sub-culture.
The other thing I think this episode points out is that there are some smart Christians out there who, maybe in the vein of John Shelby Spong, or Marcus Borg, or Paul Tillich, have figured out a way to shape their Christian narrative into a redemptive work and practice that makes the world a better place. They have salvaged, at least for themselves and a few others, that which claimed to be salvation. They’ve made craft beer out of barley and hops and it has enhanced the lived experience of those in their wake.
Reverend Brian Quincy Newcomb has served as pastor in the United Church of Christ for over 30 years. We talk about the evolution of his faith from childhood to present day. I picture him as a master craftsman that started whittling away at a solid tree trunk 40+ years ago and today it is a sculpture of a giant black bear with her cub in her mouth, a fish in one hand, and crossing a roaring river. We talk about the formation of his faith, through deconstruction and reconstruction, and his struggle with kidney cancer. And at the end, some friends offer a few words about Brian’s impact on their lives.
We taped this talk May 7th, 2016. Subscribe, rate us, and/or leave a review of our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, you can support through our Patreon page.
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.