March 29, 2020
In today's special episode my friend, author and therapist K.J. Ramsey returns to the show to discuss how we can practice positive self-care during the COVID19 pandemic, and explore how this impacts our mental & emotional health and our spirituality - and how we can respond in a healthy, life giving way.
KJ & I also explore in depth how what we're all experiencing is a form of grief. We discuss why it's absolutely crucial we acknowledge the grief and fear we're carrying, rather than deny it, and KJ outlines some simple practices which can help us understand and process this grief in a healthy way, so we are no longer carrying the weight of it alone.
KJ also discusses how we can draw closer to God during the pandemic, and somehow find the divine abiding within us in the midst of our suffering - and how God suffers with us.
You can find KJ's work and get her book 'This Too Shall Last' at kjramsey.com
March 23, 2020
Kristen Kansiewicz has served as a counselor in a church setting since 2005 and has a BA is psychology. Today she joins us to explore how the church has failed in how it's dealt with grief, trauma and mental health in the past, and offers practical solutions to how we can do better now - which feel even more relevant with COVID19 having such an impact on the world.
Kristen heads up 'Church Therapy', an organisation committed to providing trained therapists and counsellors to churches to support congregations and help churches confront trauma, grief and mental health more effectively, and talks about this work and how communities of faith can begin to deal with this constructively.
She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wheaton College, so is an expert in this field - and has a lot of wisdom to share, both from her training and experience.
**Please note - this was recorded pre-COVID19, hence there being no reference to it in the episode, however much of what we discussed feels very relevant right now**
Find out more about Kristen's work at www.churchtherapy.com
March 15, 2020
**Trigger Warning: Emotional, physical and spiritual abuse**
Today in the third part of our series Grief Matters, my friend Ana shares her powerful story.
In it we explore a not just the grief of losing someone you love, but another kind of grief - the grief and trauma of leaving evangelical church behind, the grief of deconstruction, and trauma of abusive relationships and leaving those behind to begin a new life.
Ana's is a powerful testimony, but it's also a story of hope. It's a story of how when we have the courage leave a painful and difficult life behind, there is the chance for something new and powerful to begin. That when we grieve well, there is a chance of resurrection in our own lives.
March 14, 2020
Today, a bonus episode of the podcast. In this episode I reflect on the impact of the coronavirus - our individual and collective, fear, anxiety and grief. I share how it's impacted my life, and how none of us are alone in our experiences.
I also speak about the opportunity to learn to grieve and lean into the pain, to provide solidarity and support to each other, to connect more deeply with ourselves and each other, and finder a deeper, wider perspective - and even small joy - in the journey we're on together.
This is, at it's heart, a podcast about how we are not alone. You are not alone.
If you need someone to chat to, or community, connect with me on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77 and join my new online community - 'Poema Podcast - Continuing the Conversation'.
March 8, 2020
In the second of our series Grief Matters, I'm joined by speaker and artist Tracie Loux. Tracie shares the story of the loss of her son Mattie, the journey of his illness and eventual death, and her own experience during this journey.
Tracie talks about the 'collateral damage' of grief, how it impcts our work, our marriages, our relationships and even our daily habits, and how she survived her own collateral damage and began to create a new life for herself.
Tracie also shares how she found healing in her art, and also discovered a different level and type of grief - grief for her own life before Mattie's passing, a life she lost.
Tracie has a powerful story, as well as incredible wisdom and insight on surviving grief and learning to thrive. I know you'll love this episode.
March 1, 2020
Today we begin a new series on the podcast - Grief Matters - where we will hear stories of grief and loss, talk to therapists and grief counsellors, about the important subject of grief, loss and death.
In this episode my friend and musician Kahhe shares the story of the loss of a parent, the impact this had on her life, her creativity, and how it changed her perspectives on life, spirituality and relationships.
(*Please note there for slight sound issues with the recording, but I've shared this episode as I believe this story needs to be heard)
February 23, 2020
Today I'm joined by author Melissa Camara Wilkins to talk about her book 'Permission Granted'. Melissa shares her story and talks about he she moved from trying to fit into everyone else's perceptions and ideas of who she should be, to connecting to her truest self.
We discuss the challenges, benefits and costs of choosing to be your true self, including all your imperfections and messiness. Melissa explores the challenge of being your true self in front of friends who've only known you as your old self, and the grieving of leaving certain relationships behind - but explains how it's only when we embrace our true self we can find real connection.
Melissa then moves on to talk about how we can learn to listen to our intuition, and learn to trust ourselves, and grow in confidence in our true selves - and finally, to love ourselves as we are.
You can find more of Melissa's work at https://melissacamarawilkins.com/
February 16, 2020
In this episode I welcome Wren Helmericks, a tarot reader and writer. In this episode we explore what exactly Tarot is, and what it isn't. Wren discusses the myths, fears and misconceptions about Tarot, and the genuine benefits it can bring to our lives and indeed to our spiritual journeys.
Wren then does two readings live on the show - one for me, and one for all of you listeners. The one for me was hugely beneficial and demonstrates how useful and insightful Tarot can be. I'd love to hear your feedback on how the reading for listeners impacted you.
There's so much we need to learn about tarot and Wren is a great teacher.
Find more of her work at untanglingtarot.com
February 9, 2020
Today editor, fiction author and writing expert Jess Lawrence joins me on the podcast. We explore the challenges of discovering new creative ideas and different ways to release the creative muse.
We also discuss the process and challenges of writing and editing, how writing even fiction can tap into our own stories and be healing and transforming, and using her own experiences, the challenge of finding courage to release your art into the world. And we touch on how so much of the creative process can both reflect and impact the stories of our own lives.
Jess has great insight and understanding of the creative process and how it impacts & reflects our lives, this is well worth a listen.
Find her online at @JessLaw247 and jesslawrence.co.uk
February 2, 2020
Today I'm joined by the wonderful Maile Smucker, writer and author. Maile is also co-host of 'The Stories Between Us' podcast alongside her husband, multiple guest Shawn Smucker.
Maile tells us her own writing journey, and the challenges of how she has continued to explore her own writing gift & calling as her husband's professional writing and publishing career has thrived. She also discusses writing's own power to heal and transform us, and how to find joy in the work, rather than the result - and in seeing other writer thrive.
Finally we explore how in creativity and in particularly in writing, we're always trying to work out some fear, insecurity, issue, or question, and how doing this can bring healing and change.
January 26, 2020
Today my good friend Jim Woods returns to the podcast to explore our lives as stories. We discuss being authentic in our lives and our art, how we can confront pain and explore it & how authentic creativity helps us lead healthier lives.
Jim talks about what genuine connection really is and how we find out, setting healthy boundaries to guard our emotional health, including how social media use has impacted his own mental health.
He also talks about how we can grow and develop as artists, and gain confidence and trust in ourselves by showing up for ourselves and our art - and of course, we discuss the enneagram.
Jim is a fountain of wisdom on creativity and our personal journeys, and it's always such fun to chat to him.
January 21, 2020
I'm delighted to welcome author and qualified counsellor Meredith McDaniel to the show today. Meredith runs a private counselling practice called 'Milk & Honey' and has just released her first book, "In Want & Plenty".
In today's episode we explore the concept of abundance, of being in need, and divine provision. Meredith talks about how God can often give us what we need even when we don't know what we need - and the radical concept of being in both want and in plenty at the same time.
We also discuss moving into the pain rather than walking around it, how often the cost of growth is feeling pain, and how in growth, things often need to get worse, before they get better - and how God is part of this journey.
If after listening you want to explore this more I'd highly recommend Meredith's book 'In Want & Plenty' - and it's available now wherever books are sold.
January 13, 2020
Today I'm joined by musician, podcaster and activist Andre Henry. Andre and I explore the issue of systemic racism in western culture, and Andre unpacks for us the racism which many of us don't see, or don't know, which can come from ibuilt white privilege.
Andre shares how his creative work and his faith has been impacted and challenged by the increasing racism in US culture, and shares some of his frustrations in his work and in those who don't see they are part of the problem.
Andre discusses some initial practical steps all of us can do to combat racism, and how there is no middle ground in racism - either we're part of the problem, or we're actively anti-racist and doing the work of change. He also shares with us some great resources to help us do this, and his own biggest inspirations, and how he practices finding hope.
This was a challenging, discomforting and inspiring conversation, with hard pills we all need to hear.
January 6, 2020
A new season of Poema Podcast begins with a conversation with author and speaker Sarah Bessey. Sarah joins me for the third time, to talk about her latest book 'Miracles & Other Reasonable Things', which charts her spiritual and personal journey of the last few years.
Sarah shares a bit of her own deconstruction journey, her experiences both in the church and in her own life which challenged her faith in unexpected ways, and how a post miracle experience wasn't the happy ever after the Christian church often paints to be. She explores deconstruction and non-dual thinking and how the challenges this brings with traditional / evangelical language of the church, and how she has attempted to reconcile the two.
Sarah also goes into great depth about the experience of being in the wilderness, and how she discovered that far from being a lonely solitary place, it can be a place of great community, feasting, and joy, even in the midst of suffering. And of course, Doctor Who inevitably came up!
Finally, Sarah shares briefly about the grief of losing her beloved friend Rachel Held Evans, and how this has impacted her relationship with God and her spiritual journey.
This was such an inspiring and fun conversation, I hope it's encouraging for you too.
October 16, 2019
In today's episode I welcome my friend and podcaster Andy Mort back to the show. We live in difficult, dark and dangerous times. The political climate in the West, in particular the US and the UK, is divided, heated and bleak, and we have a climate change emergency. Right now, it's difficult to find hope.
Today Andy and I explore the the real issues behind what's happening in our world, and how looking at history can help us understand the present - and discover that in fact, there might be many reasons to hope and discover some joy, even in the midst of how things are now.
I finished this conversation feeling so much more hopeful, about our world and my own life, I hope you do too.
October 9, 2019
My beloved friend Alexander J. Shaia returns to the podcast today. In this episode, we discuss the process of awakening, transformation and change in our personal and spiritual journeys.
Alexander shares how we need to be awakened to our need for growth, go through a process of transformation, before we see genuine change - and how this is an ongoing process of growth for us, and we discuss what this looks like in practice.
There's so much in this episode I can't explain it all in a short summary - but Alexander is one of the wisest, deepest thinkers I know, and he has a deep well of knowledge to share. This is such a great conversation, one of my favourites.
You can find out more about Alexanders' work & get more resources of his at www.quadratos.com
October 1, 2019
Today I welcome author and therapist K.J. Ramsey to the show. K.J. tells us her story of how an experience of deep suffering through an illness which changed her day to day life dramatically. The God she had known or thought was God, was no longer sufficient. But in the process, she discovered a new depth to her spirituality and understanding of Jesus.
K.J. explains how we can try and explain and justify our suffering, and the reality that we simply can't understand suffering, and it's OK that we don't. She explores how we can be fully present in our lives now and discover deeper depths to the divine mystery, and a greater knowledge of who we are.
Finally, K.J. explores how she discovered solidarity with Jesus in his own emotional, physical and mental suffering, and discovered how it's in the midst of suffering we can actually draw closer to him - and we explore how this is contrary to the Hollywood, prosperity 'God solves the problem and gets you to heaven' story which evangelical Christianity tries to sell us, which isn't even suffering.
K.J. has such insight on suffering and the divine, a background in therapy and knowledge the neuroscience of suffering, and has such wisdom to share here, it was a true joy to speak to her.
September 24, 2019
My guest today is author and speaker Marlena Graves, an expert on spiritual formation. Marlena shares her personal story, of a traumatic childhood, struggling with mental illness - and how in the midst of this wilderness, she found a glimpse of the divine.
Marlena shares with us how the suffering and wilderness helped her discover the deeper truth of a loving God, who meets us in our brokenness, a God who isn't constrained by church, theology or religious certainty, but can still be found within spiritual community and the Christian faith.
Marlena discovered how the desert experiences, the very real suffering we experience, when prayers aren't answered, can actually connect us to Jesus way more than the mountaintop experiences, and the divine can be found to be faithful even there.
September 18, 2019
Today my friend Drew Brown joins me for the first time. Drew is a musician and advocate, and also a fellow fan of superheroes and comic book characters. He loves exploring the deeper meaning behind the on-screen journeys of many comic book characters and what meaning they and relevance they can have for our own journeys, including the journey of deconstruction.
In this episode we explore the spirituality of comic book characters, and the identity, stories, and character arc of several major comic characters we see in movie, including villains.
We talk about the stories and characters which resonate with us and our journeys, and indeed the cultural warnings and messages we can see regarding deconstruction and mental health, in the respective stories of Steve Rogers (Captain America), Bruce Wayne (Batman) and arguably the greatest comic book villain, the Joker. We also explore the links between the stories of Superman, Jesus and Moses.
This is both one of the most fun episodes I've ever done, yet also one of the deepest.
September 11, 2019
This week I welcome back one my beloved friends, Julida Alter, one half the musical duo JulyDa. We talk about the creative process and inspiration behind their new music, and explore how our art is always a reflection of our own journeys, both in life and faith.
Julida also shares some new developments in her own life, and how these have been reflected in this new music, and reflects on how these developments might impact their creativity going forward. We then dive into two particular songs, 'You May Learn' and 'Aspiration', and the stories and creative process behind these songs, as well as their single 'Sea Of Glass'.
Julida always has such insight into the creative process, and how it connects with our own personal, spiritual journeys, this is well worth a listen.
August 27, 2019
Therapist and author Aundi Kolber joins me today. Aundi is also a trauma survivor, and in this episode she shares her personal story of growing up with an alcoholic parent, difficult relationships with a parent and how this has impacted her spirituality, her career and her own parenting.
Aundi explores in depth the concept of 'Trying Softer' and what it can mean for us. She shares some fascinating neurological insights into how our mind and body are not just connected, but one, and how they interact with our spirituality. Then she explains how all three of these areas can impact our mental health.
Aundi also shares the common problems she encounters as a therapist and shares the key lessons she's learned, and we also discuss the unique mental health challenges of being a mother.
Aundi has so much wisdom and experience around mental health, recovering from trauma and how this impacts our personal and spiritual journeys, this is well worth a listen. Her book, 'Try Softer', is available for pre-order now.
August 20, 2019
Author, speaker, disability advocate and trauma survivor Stephanie Tait is my guest today. Stephanie has a challenging, discomforting and yet inspiring story. Stephanie is a trauma survivor in active treatment for C-PTSD, and also has lyme disease which remained undiagnosed through her childhood well into adulthood.
The response from much of the evangelical church, who wished to hide the suffering, not speak or accept the truth about the unanswered prayers and struggles Stephanie was enduring, had huge implications for her life and her spiritual journey.
Stephanie shares this story, and explains what she believes is sorely lacking in our trending conversations around Christianity – to partner sound theology and practice with the unashamed acceptance of struggle in the present tense. This is a raw, honest and challenging conversation, from a voice all of us need to hear.
To read the story in more detail, you can also read Stephanie's book 'The View From Rock Bottom', available now.
August 13, 2019
**Trigger Warning: Sexual abuse, harassment, physical abuse**
Mary DeMuth, author, speaker and advocate, is my guest today as we explore and discuss the very real issue of sexual abuse and harassment within the church, as she discusses in her new book 'Me Too'. Mary speaks with great candor and empathy about her own experiences with sexual abuse and the depth of this problem in the Christian church today.
In our conversation, and in her new book 'We Too', she encourages the church she loves to rise up and face the very real evil of sexual abuse and harassment, and shares practical steps churches and pastoral teams can take to confront and deal with this effectively in their own communities and to end this evil going forward. We discuss the impact abuse can have on its victims and how to effectively deal with these consequences.
We also explore what the Bible says to the sexually exploited, what harms and what empowers those who have been traumatized by abuse, and how Jesus provides us a relational framework that welcomes victims.
You can find out more information on this issue and Mary's book, and get free resources, at metoo.org.
August 6, 2019
Today author, podcaster and coach Kevin Garcia is my guest. In this episode we explore how tarot readings can help us deepen our relationship and connections not just to Jesus and the divine, but also our truest selves.
Kevin unpacks some of the myths and misunderstandings around tarot and explains how he has used it to deepen his faith and his spirituality, to examine and build a deeper connection to himself. Kevin explores how our we need to engage with our imaginations more in order to grow both spiritually and personally, and we overlap into grief, encountering lost loved ones, transcendent experiences and much much more.
Kevin has so much wisdom and insight into the spiritual journey and discovering our truest selves. This conversation was hugely transformative for me personally, and I'd highly recommend both this episode and Kevin's work.
July 30, 2019
My beloved friend Jessica Kantrowitz joins me on the podcast for the first time. Jessica is a prolific writer, and her first book 'The Long Night' just went to pre-order! Today we talk about her book and the creative process behind the it, and about depression and mental health, before moving into another topic Jessica - the enneagram.
Jessica unpacks with great insight what the enneagram is, what it means, and how we can understand it better. We explore our own 'numbers' and see just how accurate the enneagram can be, what it can tell us about ourselves, and how it can help us in work and relationships.
This was such a fun podcast to record, and I know you're gonna really enjoy it. And if you want more insight to the enneagram, it's definitely worth a listen!
(Pre-Order Jessica’s book now, right here)
July 23, 2019
Author Christine Sine joins me today, to talk about the divine nature of creativity. We discuss how to find joy in creativity, how the divine intended creativity to be fun, to be an adventure - and how we can explore this in all aspects of life, as well as our art.
Christine shares how her creativity has deepened her spiritual journey and helped her to see a side to the divine which has a sense of fun, mischief, adventure and pure joy - creating for its own sake, for the joy of creating. She also explores how the creative process can be therapeutic, and improve our mental and emotional health. Christine argues as we explore this side of the divine we find it more in ourselves, and this helps our own creativity and connection to the divine, ourselves, and the divine creation we are part of.
Christine has so much wisdom, on creativity, the divine journey and so much more. Her book 'The Gift of Wonder' is available now wherever books are sold.
July 16, 2019
I'm delighted to welcome back author Shawn Smucker to the podcast today. Shawn has written and published several books, and his latest novel 'Light from Distant Stars' has just been released.
Today we discuss the novel, the message of the book and the creative process of writing a novel. We also explore the challenges and the experience of writing a novel, as opposed to a non-fiction book, how our creativity and stories we tell there often reflect parts of our own journey, and how the process of writing and creating can change us.
Shawn always speaks with such incredible wisdom and experience on writing and the creative process, and there's lessons here for all of us involved in the act of creating art.
'Lights From Distant Stars' is available now wherever books are sold.
July 2, 2019
I'm delighted to welcome back my beloved friend Brandan Robertson this week. Brandan is a pastor, author and advocate for LGBTQ inclusion in culture and spiritual communities, and today we talk about his most recent book, 'The Gospel Of Inclusion'.
We discuss his examination and interpretation of Biblical passages often used to condemn homosexuality, and how these have been misunderstood and taken out of context - and what their original meaning probably was. We also explore how we can build more inclusive spiritual communities, what true inclusion really means, and why it's at the heart of the message of Jesus.
Brandan has so much wisdom and insight, and is doing such great work. His book, 'The Gospel Of Inclusion' is available now!
June 25, 2019
My friend Felicity Morse returns to the show today. She's an author, life coach and former journalist. Today she shares a bit of her own story, and how she found freedom and a healthier life more in tune with who she really was.
She talks about some of the common issues she encounters in life coaching and how we can overcome them - issues of fear, shame, identity, relationships and vocation, and shares some experiences, practices and lessons she's learned about how we can engage with these issues in a healthy way, and have better mental and emotional health.
Felicity has great insight, wisdom and compassion, and is such fun to talk to, I know you're gonna love this episode.
June 19, 2019
Today my friend Sarah Heath returns to the show, in an episode recorded live in her home. In this episode we talk about what it means to live a truly authentic life, and how that impacts our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God.
Sarah shares some lessons and challenges she's explored which have helped her connect better with her trueset self, and live a life more true to who she is. These included giving up social media for a full week (or more), looking at yourself in the mirror and loving who you are, practicing mindfulness and reminding yourself of those who love you, who you know you can trust and will be there when you need them.
Sarah shares how these challenges impacted he and what he life looks like having explored these challenges. And finds she is living a more honest life, more herself than ever before. And she believes these challenges can do the same for all of us.
You can explore more of these in Sarah's latest book - 'The Authenticity Challenge: 21 Days To A More Content Life', available wherever books are sold.
June 12, 2019
Author Alia Joy joins me on the podcast today, to share her powerful story. It's a story of grief, loss, illness, mental health and weakness - but also a story of love, joy and transformation.
It's a story of how things don't always work out how we want, they don't always end well, and life isn't always easy - but of how these experiences and stories don't take us away from the divine, but actually draw us closer.
Alia shares her story with great courage and honesty, and it's truly inspirational. It's a story of glorious weakness.
June 6, 2019
Today I'm joined by Maria Francesca French, teacher of things Christian and post Christian and faith futurist. Maria is director of Hatchery LA and runs the No More Circles project.
In this episode we explore how what spiritual community looks like needs to change and evolve in the 21st century, the problems with the very concept of belief, as well as the issue of fundamentalism in both conservative and progressive Christianity. We discuss how we can find healthy spiritual community and how we need to not just change the how of belief, but ditch the idea of belief itself, and adopt what Maria calls a 'transcendent' approach.
Maria has so much wisdom, insight, knowledge and personal experience of these topics, and hers is a voice worth paying attention to. Take a listen!
May 22, 2019
Today I'm joined by author and pastor Marc Alan Schelske, to discuss the purpose and and power of our emotions.
We discuss how emotions are a God given gift, a source of wisdom and guidance - not something to be avoided. We explore examples of Jesus demonstrating emotions, both positive and negative, and what they can teach us about leaning into our emotions.
We also explore what recent research into our how brains work tells us about our emotions, and their purpose and meaning.
And finally we examine how we can pay more attention to our emotions, our behaviour and our bodies to understand what's really going in inside of us, and take practical action.
May 15, 2019
Becky Castle Miller returns to the show today, and we discuss, in essence, the basic humanity of Jesus. We explore the journey of Jesus through the lens of his own emotional and mental health.
Becky and I explore several stories of Jesus where he experiences grief, loss, trauma, doubt and fear. The loss of Lazarus, the loss of his earthly father, the social stigma he likely faced growing up, even from members of his own family - and how this impacted Jesus. We look at the human side of familiar stories, and find that as we do, it completely switches them on their head and brings them alive.
As Becky and I explore discuss the human Jesus, we find that it's his essential humanity which makes him divine.
May 7, 2019
Last weekend author, speaker, advocate, and prophet Rachel Held Evans, passed away. Rachel's life had an immense impact on so many lives, in so many ways, and her passing has left a hole in so many of our lives.
Today, Becky Castle Miller, whose own journey into writing and pastoral ministry was directly down to Rachel, and who became one of my friends indirectly because of Rachel, joins me on the show. We each reflect on our own memories of Rachel, how she impacted our journey, and consider her wider impact on the world and her legacy.
We also explore the process of grieving, the hopeful and encouraging messages which have come in this process, how we can grieve in a healthy way - and we end on sharing our own #becauseofRHE stories - talking about how Rachel's life and legacy will impact our own lives and work going forward.
This episode is intended as a tribute, to honour Rachel's life and work, to celebrate her accomplishments, and reflect on what we can learn from her tragically short life, as we go forward with our own, and move through grief.
April 24, 2019
Today I'm joined by pastor and author Charles Stone, and we discuss the practice of mindfulness, from both a neurological and a spiritual perspective - a practice Charles calls 'Holy Noticing'.
Charles shares his own story into exploring the neuroscience of mindfulness and it's benefits both to our daily lives and our spiritual journey, and how the practice of 'Holy noticing' can make us more compassionate, Jesus-like people, as well as aid our physical and mental health.
Finally, he shares with us an example of his 'Breathe' technique for more helpful mindfulness meditation, and what the real practical and spiritual benefits of 'Holy Noticing' can be.
April 10, 2019
**Trigger warning: Sexual abuse, purity culture**
My friend Lisa Mickey joins me on the show today, and we explore and discuss purity culture - the idea of sexual abstinence before marriage - and sexual ethics within the evangelical Christian church.
We explore the hugely damaging emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual consequences of this culture over the last two decades, and the damage it's done to each of us and others, and what it means to explore our sexuality in a healthy way, how to deconstruct and reconstruct our sexuality, and have a healthy sexual identity which walks hand in hand with our spiritual journey.
March 27, 2019
**Trigger Warning - Emotional, Physical, Sexual & Spiritual Abuse**
I'm delighted to welcome my friend Jayla Damaris to the show this week. Jayla shares her powerful, traumatic, painful story of growing up in conservative evangelical Christianity, abuse she suffered as a child, breaking free to build a new life. And then, finding herself rejected and abused spiritually, emotionally and physically by her husband - and recovering from this and beginning life again.
This is a story of courage, a story about breaking free from an abusive past and the worst of patriarchy and evangelical Christianity. It's a long but much needed story, with a lot of lessons for all of us.
You can support Jayla as she tries to raise funds to go back to Canada, at her Go Fund Me here:
March 20, 2019
Pastor & author Brandon Carleton joins me today, and shares his powerful story of deconstruction and reconstruction - with a very unique perspective. Brandon left traditional church, but still felt a call to explore spiritual community. So he planted a church with his wife, but a church with a difference.
Unlike other pastors, Brandon actually tells his members not to come if it's not for them. He puts no obligation, no guilt, no commitment on people to attend - instead of prioritising the good of the church, he prioritises people's individual journey, their needs, their welfare, over that of the church itself. The church exists to serve its members, not the other way around.
Brandon and I discuss our own experiences of traditional evangelical Christianity and church, and find shared lessons from our respective journeys of deconstruction and reconstruction, and facing mental illness. We also discuss the humanity of Jesus, and what that tells us about his divine nature - and we find that there may well be hope yet for spiritual community.
Brandan's memoir "Meaningful Again" is available on Amazon now.
March 13, 2019
Today my dear friend, LGBTQ activist and blogger Steve Doran, appears on the show. He shares the story of his experiences as an LGBTQ Christian in the evangelical church.
We hear how he moved from a more traditional perspective even as an LGBTQ man himself, to becoming an advocate for more LGBTQ inclusion both in the church and in our wider culture. Steve courageously shares his coming out story, the painful experiences he has in parts of the church. We discuss how it affected his emotional and mental health, and how he came to find a new, inclusive faith community which accepts him as he is.
Steve is now doing great advocate work and writes regularly on LGBTQ inclusion, and has a powerful story.
March 5, 2019
My beloved friend Alexander Shaia returns to the Poema Podcast this week - and today we explore the historic pilgrims journey of the Camino in Spain. We explore the history and true meaning of the Camino - and it's lasting impact on the lives who engage in it.
This leads into a wider discussion of the lost art of rites of passage - using the Camino as an example, Alexander discusses what a true rite of passage really is, the sacrifice involved, and how it's impact is as much if not more seen after the experience itself has finished, rather than just the period actively engaged in it.
Alexander and I explore the idea that true growth can only come through sacrifice, through a willingness to engage with our own pain rather than continue to numb it with the habits, addictions, and busyness of regular life - and how if we do engage in this process, we can discover true, authentic transformation and spiritual formation.
February 26, 2019
My friend Daniel Skillman returns to the podcast today for a challenging, discomforting and inspiring discussion about non-dualistic thinking - and how binary, dualistic thinking is causing so much damage in both the church, politics and the world at large.
Daniel and I explore the flaws in both the conservative and liberal traditions - which have less to do with what they believe (though some of that is questionable), but more how they believe. We look at how we see this demonstrated today in particularly in the US with the rise of Trump and reaction of the Christian and political left. We examine unhealthy, dualistic ways of dealing with the problems the world is facing today, why ultimately they don't work - and what might be a hopeful, constructive way forward.
This is a powerful, challenging and thought-provoking episode - Daniel always has such wisdom and insight and speaks with such honesty. Take a listen.
February 20, 2019
My beloved friend Becky Castle Miller returns to the podcast today, and we talk about two topics which are dear to both of us - spiritual deconstruction/reconstruction, and Doctor Who.
Together we explore the character, history and world of Doctor Who, and how there are many aspects of him and his world which resonate with all of our journeys, and in particular deconstruction and reconstruction in our spirituality. We explore companions, and how we often have companions and friends for specific seasons, and in particular we explore the idea of regeneration, the cycle of life, death, and resurrection in the Doctor's own life, and how this connects with our idea of spiritual transformation.
This was one of the most fun, insightful and personally transformational episodes I've done and I know you'll be inspired too.
February 5, 2019
Today I'm delighted to welcome back my beloved friend Nora Speakman to the show! In this episode, Nora and I explore the writings of Joseph Campbell, on the power of myth and story.
Campbell's work 'The Hero With A Thousand Faces' and exploration of the power of myth and how it influences our lives, and the hero's journey, has had a profound and wide impact on our culture, both in movies, books, spirituality and communication.
Nora and I explore together the power of myth and story to shape our lives, how we can use story and myth to create better, healthier lives, how it impacts both our spiritual and creative journeys, our interactions with the divine and each other. We also discuss what impact it can have on our deconstruction and reconstruction journeys, and how we shape our lives.
This is a huge topic to cover, and one I want to explore on the podcast in the coming months - it's had a profound impact on both myself and Nora, and I believe it's relevant for all of us.
January 31, 2019
My friend Rev Sarah Heath returns to the podcast today. This time Sarah reflects on the year she took out exploring 'Sonderlust' - finding her bliss, exploring her identity, where she wanted to work, issues with dating, and stepping out into the world and living - and sharing it all publicly on a podcast every two weeks .
In this episode Sarah unpacks the lessons she's learned on her journey, and some of the experiences she has had - both joyful and painful, and some of the opportunities it's opened up for her. We discuss her work with a dating coach and how that's impacted not only her dating life, but her relationship with both herself and others. And we unpack how this journey has changed her, what she really feels passionate about and led to, and where her life is taking her next.
Sarah's is a challenging and inspiring story, a story of risk, adventure and commitment to inner growth. Sarah has a lot of wisdom for us all on how to explore our own paths, and discover our true divine self.
January 22, 2019
I'm delighted to host Ryan O'Neal, otherwise known as Sleeping At Last, to the show. In today's jam packed episode we discuss the enneagram, Ryan's own spiritual journey, and the creative process and story behind Ryan's creation a series of songs for each Enneagram number.
We explore a little behind the enneagram, and Ryan shares how he discovered it, and how he's had to learn about all the different types other than his own, in such depth to create the amazing music in his Enneagram series.
We also explore Ryan's own spiritual and creative journey, how this impacted his musical projects including the Atlas projects, and his unique creative process and vision for music that goes beyond traditional boundaries, and has its own specific creative arc. He also shares the hilarious story of how he was once at a private party with Rob Bell, but had no idea who he was.
This episode is an insight into the enneagram, the spiritual journey and above all into the creative life, and pursuing your own unique journey. Ryan is a great guy, with great wisdom & insight, it was real joy to speak with him.
January 15, 2019
In the first episode of Poema for 2019, regular guest, author, speaker and podcaster Mike McHargue - AKA Science Mike - returns to the show. In this episode he shares in more detail the story behind is recent diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He shares the challenges he faces, and how it's impacted his coming to terms with major trauma.
We also talk about the difficulty and importance of getting a diagnosis, and the importance of ending stigma in both the church and wider culture about both ASD and mental illness.
Mike then answers several listener questions, including:
- What is the cultural difference between a geek and a nerd?
- Do his faith and scientific/rational thinking always compliment each other, and when do they come into conflict?
- How he would change his life if he was a woman?
- How do you truly love yourself?
And much more!
November 27, 2018
Today I welcome Nora Speakman to the show. Nora hosts the 'Liminality Life' podcast on the spiritual journey, living in the liminal space, and growing and discovering more about yourself and the divine.
Nora shares her story and the spiritual and creative journey which led to her beginning the podcast, and the lessons she's been learning. We talk about mystery, doubt, deconstruction, and non-dualistic spirituality.
We explore how our path and fight for what has always been ours, the purpose of our spiritual journeys, is not simply to impact our own lives - but are for the countless lives around us and those who will come after us. We discover the deeper truth that our spiritual journeys are both a gift and a mission.
November 21, 2018
This week my beloved friend Abi Lloyd joins me on the show. Today we discuss what it means to be successful, what our measures for success are, and how those measures of success can impact our lives.
Abi and I discuss healthy and unhealthy metrics for success we see in our culture and how they manifest themselves in our lives - how we can tie our value to our "success" and so if and when we have failures, those failures can be deeper and more damaging. We talk about how a healthy view of success shouldn't be dependent on our circumstances, but instead be about our personal growth and development.
Abi shares what success means for her in her life right now, and how our measures of success can change - with her ultimate philosophy of discovering joy in her every day.
Whatever field you work in, I hope this conversation can really help you find healthier measure for success.
November 13, 2018
Chris Morris returns to the show today to talk about the new book, "Whispers In The Pews: Voices on Mental Illness In The Church", a collection of true stories from 18 Christians with mental illness, sharing their experiences of mental illness in the church, which he compiled and edited.
Chris and I talk about his own experiences of mental illness and good and bad experiences of this within the church. We discuss what the church has done badly with mental illness, and how it can do better. Chris also shares how all of us - even those with mental illness - always have more to learn about mental illness, and the importance of hearing and validating each others stories, and ending stigma, especially within the church.
Chris has so much wisdom and experience surrounding both mental illness, chronic illness and faith, and this was a really inspiring conversation.
You can get "Whispers In The Pews" (which includes a contribution by yours truly) on Amazon now.