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.
November 8, 2018
Musician Mr Ekow, is my guest today. We hear his story, including the challenges of being an LGBT Christian, coming out to non-affirming Christians and his pastor, and how this impacted his relationships and own creative journey as a musician. He talks about being stuck in no mans land - wanting to be faithful to God, but also wanting to be true to his own identity.
Mr Ekow shows how he has faced both racial and LGBT prejudice and how this had an impact on his emotional and mental health. He then talks about the freedom he has found since coming out and how his story has impacted his music.
His story is one of struggle, courage, creativity and freedom. It's a story of hope, and the power of owning your story and the freedom which comes from being true to who you really are.
October 30, 2018
Father Nadim Nassar, the Church of England’s only Syrian priest, and an outspoken advocate for western Christians to recognise their Middle-Eastern heritage, is my guest today
Father Nadim shares his own journey, and then he and I discuss his first book, 'The Culture of God', and explore how there are three cultures Christians need to understand when they read the Bible: the culture of the Bible itself, their own culture, and finally ‘the culture of God’.
In our conversation, we see that ultimately it was Jesus who had direct access to the culture of God; and so we need to begin by understanding Jesus in his own first-century Middle Eastern culture - which, although he was a Jew, was under the rule of Syria. We unpack a few examples from Jesus life, where an understanding of his own culture opens up an entirely different meaning to familiar gospel stories.
Talking to Father Nadim was an enlightening experience for me, and I know he will really inspire, challenge and encourage you as he has me, and many others.
October 23, 2018
Pastor, author & activist Brandan Robertson returns to the podcast today, to talk about his new book 'True Inclusion', and what it means - and doesn't mean - to be a truly inclusive church.
Brandan shares from his own experience of pastoring a church, the lessons he has learned about what it means to make a church truly inclusive, both of the LGBTQ community, and those at different stages of their spiritual or even theological journey. He shares the changes he believes the church may have change as more and more people embrace the spiritual deconstruction and reconstruction journey so many are on right now - even so far as changing how we do church, and what the role of church is.
Brandan then discusses with me how churches need to become more prophetic, the challenges which lie ahead. To conclude, he shares his hopes for the church, and how he envisions we can have healthy spiritual community for all, whoever they are, wherever they are in their spiritual journey.
October 17, 2018
Barry Pearman, author, gardner, mental health advocate and former pastor joins me today to discuss his new book, 'Broken To Built', a devotional on the book of Nehemiah, and practical ways we can make space for people with mental illness in the church.
Barry shares his own journey and experiences with mental illness and how these inspired him to take practical steps to make churches a safe space for mental illness, and how these steps have borne fruit in practice.
Finally, we talk about the story of Nehemiah, and how his story of rebuilding Jerusalem from its ruins inspired Barry, and can inspire us to build a life of faith, living with mental or chronic illness - and how the creative process of writing these books has helped Barry on his mental health and faith journey.
October 10, 2018
Author & Discipleship Director Becky Castle Miller joins me today. Becky suffered from depression after the birth of her second child, and now does a lot of work in helping churches become safe spaces for mental illness, and advocating for church leaders and members to be better educated on mental illness.
Today she shares her own story, and talks about how her mental illness led her into a faith deconstruction and reconstruction. Becky and I talk about the importance of educating pastors and church leaders on mental illness, and how churches and individuals can practically serve and welcome those with mental illness in a healthy, loving way of acceptance.
We also discuss healthy and unhealthy models of power and kingship - the violent, domineering, aggressive models used throughout history, as opposed to the example we see in Jesus - surrender, grace, empowering others, servant-heartedness and peacemaking.
Becky is passionate about the church doing better with those facing mental health challenges and those going through a deconstruction, and has lots of wisdom and experience on how we can do this better. This is worth a listen for all those wanting a voice of solidarity on their journey, those with mental health challenges looking for hope and support, and for all of us seeking to become better mental health advocates.
October 3, 2018
Today I'm joined by Aaron Smith, AKA as Cultural Savage - an author and blogger. Aaron has been diagnosed bipolar 2, he's also a Christian - and has sadly encountered a lot of stigma, both outside and inside the church, surrounding his own mental illness.
Aaron has recently released his first book - "Cultural Savage - The Intersection Between Christianity & Mental Illness", a collection of essays where he shares his experiences of living with Bipolar 2 and how it has intersected with his faith, and how people of faith have responded to it. Today he shares some of his powerful and challenging story with us, and we explore together how mental illness and Christian faith could interact in a healthy way, and what healthy and unhealthy responses to those with mental illness can look like.
Finally, we discuss stigma within the church and culture around mental illness, how we can change this, and Aaron offers words of solidarity and hope to those facing these challenges.
September 26, 2018
Today I'm delighted to welcome author and life coach Felicity Morse to the show. Felicity's first book 'Give A F**k' was released recently and today we talk about the themes of the book - self-care, self-love, boundaries, victimhood and sensitivity.
Felicity shares her own story and how she learned how it's not selfish to love ourselves, but, in fact, vitally important to a healthy life and our ability to serve others. We discuss why sensitivity isn't a weakness, but a superpower, a gift we can give to the world, and how we can use it well.
Felicity also talks about victimhood - and how in many ways all of us are victims, but how playing the victim, sitting on our high horses, can actually be a form of self-hatred, a mask to hide us from the pain and fear we're feeling.
We also discuss the importance and healing power of physical touch, and how can underestimate it's importance, as well as the challenges of fidning healthy expressions of this outside an intimate relationship. Finally, we discuss boundaries, both healthy and unhealthy, and how we can set healthy boundaries for ourselves, and in relationships.
Felicity is both wise, fun, and hugely compassionate, and has so much to share on these subjects. Take a listen, then go check out her new book.
September 19, 2018
Today my guest is author Shawn Smucker. Shawn has been writing and publishing for nearly two decades, and knows all there is to know about the writers journey, the challenges, the highs and lows of being a writer.
Today we talk about these challenges, including how to maintain integrity whilst also promoting work, how to persevere when you're not having success, how to deal with rejection by publishing houses, finding your true voice, and how to live with success and failure. Shawn shares his writing journey with us, and the lessons he has learned, with great honesty and wisdom.
Shawn released his first novel 'The Day The Angels Fell' in 2017 and it's sequel 'The Edge of Over There' was released earlier this year. His non-fiction book 'Once We Were Strangers', sharing the story of his experience with a Syrian refugee, and it's impact on his faith, is released in October. He has so much wisdom on writing and the creative journey, and this is well worth a listen.
September 12, 2018
Today on the podcast I'm joined by Sam Hailes, journalist and editor of Premier Christianity Magazine, one of the oldest and most widely ready magazines on Christianity in the world. Sam talks to us about the challenge of editing a magazine which aims to represent different perspectives of the Christian faith, and different theological positions, and how he manages to do this whilst also holding strong Christian convictions of his own.
Sam shares his own journey into journalism and the challenges he's encountered along the way, and how being a journalist and editing Premier Christianity has impacted his own faith journey. He also talks about some of the most inspiring people he's met in the course of his work. Finally, Sam shares some words of wisdom and encouragment for people exploring professional writing or journalism as a career.
Sam has a lot of wisdom on writing, journalism and faith, and this was such a great interview to do. Take a listen then go check out Premier Christianity magazine.
August 28, 2018
Today the Poema Podcast returns with my friend, author and writing coach Jim Woods returning to the show. Jim knows pretty much everything when it comes to writing (though he'd never admit to that), and today we talk about the one of the biggest challenge any writer or artist faces - the challenge of completing creative projects.
Today Jim shares how he has faced and overcome those challenges, and what he has learned by talking to 16 different authors about how to finish a book. We also talk about what it means to find your creative voice, and how to be truly authentic in your creative work and share your story.
If you're a writer, or artist of any kind, and face creative challenges, find it difficult to complete a project or overcome creative block, this one is really worth a listen.
If you want to learn more about how to finish a book, you can join Jim's Finish Your Book Summit for free here.
You can also get $50 off his new courses on helping people write, finish and share their work, and books, here.
July 31, 2018
In the last episode before the summer break, I'm joined by author, radio host, and licenced mental health counselor Tiffany Werhner.
Tiffany shares her story and her experiences of post trauma mental illness, and her experiences of working with those who face mental health challenges. As a licenced mental health professional and someone who has suffered major trauma, Tiffany has a lot of wisdom and encoragement on mental illness for those facing mental health challenges - and for those who aren't.
We explore Tiffany's passion to raise awareness and end stigma around mental illness, and bring hope, support and encouragement to those living with mental illness. Finally, we explore more of the stigmas around mental illness, the impact major trauma can have on someone, the psychology of mental illness, and discuss practical ways those who know people with mental ilnnes can be a positive, practical support.
Listen to her radio show 'Moments Of Clarity with Tiffany' here.
July 18, 2018
Today I welcome back my dear friend Beka Lombardo to the podcast. Beka is an author, blogger, podcaster and mental health advocate, who herself suffers from depression.
Today she shares her story, and how her circumtances and her mental illness took her to that point of suicide. We discuss together the experience of suicidal ideation - when someone is considering suicide - as well as how and why people get to that point, as well as how to overcome that, sharing from her own experiences.
We also discuss ways to manage the challenges which come with mental illness and depression, some of the stigmas which have build up, and how those close to people with mental illness can offer practical, constructive support to those living with those conditions.
For those living with depression, this episode is one which will give you hope and remind you that you're not alone in your challenges - and for those you don't, it will raise your awareness and help you be a real support to your friends and family who do.
June 26, 2018
My guest today is writer, speaker and advocate for racial equality, Austin Channing Brown. In this episode, we discuss Austin's story in more detail, and the experiences she had of endemic, cultural racism as she grew up, as described in her new book, 'I'm Still Here' - and how her story has shaped her.
Austin speaks with great honesty about her own experiences visiting cotton fields as a child, and the reactions of white people around her, and how that experience compelled her to become an advocate for racial equality. With great frankness and insight, she shares a story of how systemic cultural racism can display itself, even at something as elementary as a job interview.
We also discuss white privliege, and how much genuine ignorance still exists in the Western World, even from those who would say they aren't racist, and how white privlege can blind us to the levels of systemic racism amongst us. Austin, with amazing grace, shares wisdom about how those like myself, with inbuilt white privilege, can open our minds and hearts to the stories and experiences of the black people in our midst, and to the systemic, cultural racism which still exists - and help bring the change and understanding which is desperately needed.
Austin is inspiring, humble and wise, and we all have so much to learn from her story and her wisdom - take a listen, and then go get her book. (which has been recommended by Chelsea Clinton, no less!).
June 11, 2018
Today, author, broadcaster and LGBT equality campaigner Vicky Beeching is my guest. Today we talk about her new memoir, 'Undivided', and Vicky shares with us the experiences of growing up as an LGBT Christian, how keeping this a secret from even those closest to her had an impact on her emotional, physical and mental health, especially as she moved into public Christian ministry in her twenties.
Vicky bravely shares the story of how she came close to committing suicide and what ultimately stopped her from doing so, and we explore just how damaging conservative theology around homosexuality, and purity culture, can cause such damage to our physical, emotional and mental health. We also discuss how Vicky faced the challenged of a diagnosis with ME and fibromyalgia, which limited the time and energy she could give to her work and relationships, and how this impacted the writing of her memoir.
Vicky and I also discuss the creative process of writing a memoir, and why it's so important to have a support network in place during that creative process, as well as the impact her own experiences had on her songwriting process during her career as a worship leader.
This an interview about the challenges of being an LGBT Christian, the damage of purity culture, trying to find your true identity, living with mental illness & suicidal thoughts, living with chronic illness, and how to pour yourself into the creative process and tell your story. But ultimately, Vicky's is a story a challenge and an inpsiration to all of us trying to find the courage to be true to our own story and live as our authentic self.
This is one of the most treasured, honest and moving interviews I've ever done, with someone who has become a beloved friend, about one of the best books I've ever read. Take a listen, and then go here and buy the book.
June 5, 2018
Today I'm joined again by two members of the Blacksmiths' Daughters - Julida and Sean Alter. This husband and wife team have now collaborated to form their own band, simply called Julyda. They've just released their first EP together, 'Do You Hear Me'.
In this episode we talk about the creative journey behind the formation of Julyda, and the EP itself. It's a powerful story, about faith, social justice, doubt, and mystery - which in many ways sums up the journey we'll all on, individually, and cooporately, in the world today.
We also explore the creative process behind the album, how we find our voice, how we can tell our unique stories in our art and how creating and engaging with music, writing and other forms of art can touch us and speak to us in unique and intimate ways.
You can find out more about Julyda and hear some of the songs from their amazing new EP at www.theblacksmithsdaughters.com/julyda
May 23, 2018
Today I'm joined by David Andrews, a poet and author from New Zealand. Today he shares his story, a story of faith, doubt and creativity. We talk about how his faith journey led him into poetry and then explore how what we create is birthed deep inside of us.
David also does a beautiful reading of one of his poems, and we discuss the story and creative process behind this poem. Together we explore the mystery and mysticism of poetry and music, and how this can connect with the deeper parts of our soul. We talk about being authentic in our art, and why it's more important to focus on the process, on the joy of creating - and not on the result of our work, or the numbers - and how this perspective plays out in our day-to-day lives.
David is a great guy and a hugely talented poet, and it was a pleasure talking to him. Take a listen!
May 9, 2018
Today I'm joined by my friend, inspiring writer and podcaster Andy Mort. Andy's work focusses on encouraging, providing support and community for highly sensitive people and introverts - people he calls 'gentle rebels'. Just like myself, Andy is an introverted highly sensitive type, and knows all the challenges which come with it.
Andy talks today about what it's like to be a highly sensitive introvert, how that can impact daily lives and relationships, and also the ability to have an impact with creative work.
He shares how those who aren't sensitive introverts can have healthy relationships with those who are, and how he discovered a way to have an creative impact even with those challenges, including the community he created for highly sensitive people and introverts and how it's been part of his own journey.
This was such a great conversation, and Andy is honest, down to earth, encouraging and wise - his words will bring hope and solidarity to all those challenged by being introverted or highly sensitive.
April 25, 2018
Today my good friend Adam Baker joins me on the show. Adam is a singer-songwriter and former missionary, and today he shares his powerful and inspiring story with us.
Adam tells us of his creative journey which led him and his wife Sarah into missionary work on the African continent. With great honesty, Adam shares how these dreams went sour, the pain this caused, and how it led him and his wife to question and explore their faith in a way they had never done before - and how this led him deeper into his faith, pursuing God as never before - an experience which turned into a song, 'The Pursuit' (which you can hear at the end of the episode).
Adam's story reveals once again that doubting and questioning God, far from being something we should avoid, is something to be embraced, and can be a fundamental part of going deeper with the divine.
April 18, 2018
Today I welcome my dear friend Brandan Robertson back to the show. Brandan Robertson is a pastor, speaker, author and LGBT activist from San Diego, US. Today we talk about his experiences as an LGBT pastor in the US, and about the release of a new book Brandan edited and compiled, 'Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT Christians'.
Brandan shares a few of the most powerful stories sent to him by LGBT Christians of rejection, prejudice and abuse by members of the evanglelical church, and the dark and profound impact these have had on people's lives. And I discovered in our conversation that many of these stories come from the church in the UK, which, far from being more inclusive and progressive, is causing just as much damage to the lives of LGBT Christians. This was horrifying for me, and shows us just how much work needs to be done on LGBT inclusion.
We also talk about the power of stories, over the power of theology and argument, to change people's perspectives, and how Brandan himself came to understand this.
Brandan also talks about his experiences as an LGBT pastor, with a church which whilst it has many LGBT Christians, still has people who disagree on LGBT theology - including members of the LGBT community themselves. And he offers words of encouragement and hope to members of the LGBT community pursuing the journey of faith.
This is one of the deepest, powerful and arguably most important conversations I've had on the podcast. Whatever your perspective, I'd ask you listen with an open heart and open mind, and allow yourself to be moved.
You can buy 'Our Witness' on Amazon now.
April 11, 2018
I'm delighted to welcome my dear friend Teresa Colón to the show today. Teresa is a writer, podcaster, and mental health advocate, who has a dignosis of Bipolar Disorder. Today Teresa shares her raw, honest and inspiring story with us.
Teresa talks about her long journey to diagnosis, and how being bipolar has impacted her day to day life. She shares how creativity, and in particular writing, helped her come to terms with her journey, and own the truth of her story - as well as bringing life and healing to others. Then she talks about how her diagnosis impacted her faith and her spiritual journey, and helped her understand how she is loved, blessed and precious - just as she is.
Finally, Teresa and I talk about our new podcast - my second podcast, to go alongside Poema - called Creating Normal, about creativity and mental illness.
This conversation with Teresa left me, and will leave you, especially those with mental illness, a message of genuine hope, and solidarity.
You can find Teresa's work at WoundedBirdsMinistry.com & the Creating Normal podcast here.
April 3, 2018
Today the on-off series 'Questions We Don't Ask' continues with a discussion of hell. Which, obviously, means the question is 'What The Hell?'. So many people have so many different perspectives on hell, it's such an emotive and divisive topic in many ways. It's one that deserves examination and deeper reflection, because what we believe about hell has a huge bearing, indeed is usually born from, who we think God really is.
My friend Charles Porter and I discuss the different perspectives today, each sharing our own views and experiences, the thoughts of some well known authors/thinkers on this subject and, as ever, it takes us into interesting and unexpected directions, ending with a discussion and experience of divine grace and Judas in the garden, which left us both in tears.
Like all the questions in this series, it's merely a jumping off point into a bigger, wider discussion of Christian spirituality that many of us are having. I hope you'll come join us.
March 27, 2018
Author, speaker and coach Allison (Ally) Fallon joins me today. Ally has written several books and her latest, 'Indestructible:Leveraging Your Broken Heart to Become a Force of Love and Change in the World', is about to release. It's a memoir about the often painful and challenging journey she has been on in the last couple of years.
Today, Ally shares her powerful testimony. It's a story of divorce, brokenness, and then overcoming deep pain and finding a way through to a thriving life. Ally shares about the first actions she took on realising her marriage was ending, and the first steps she took to rebuilding her life. With great candidness and courage, she shares about the major challenges she faced, both personal and financial, and how she confronted those challenges.
Ally also discusses the three key practices she discovered which can help people find healing and rebuild their lives - practices she lives out to this day, and which she now teaches to others.
Ally concludes by sharing about what she believes is the only way out of trauma and pain, and to rebuild a thriving life. It's a message of hope for every single one of us.
You can pre-order her book 'Indestructible' here and follow Ally on Twitter here.
March 21, 2018
Today my dear friend Mariana Ruiz joins me on the podcast. Mariana is a certified business coach and consultant, who works with creative people, people launching their businesses and helps them gain confidence and focus, and find their true selves. Mariana is passionate about authenticity and helping people connect with their true selves and do the work they were made to do - and share their unique story with the world. She cares most of all about helping people make an impact and becoming truly authentic in their lives and work.
Here she shares her powerful story of how she found her voice, how she moved from an overly busy life with no financial freedom and no purpose, to finding a clear purpose to her life, which has allowed her to make a positive impact on the world, overcoming deep pain and conflict in the process.
We discuss what it means to be truly authentic and having integrity in business, art and life, and Mariana shares how she manages to maintain her integrity whilst managing and marketing a successful business.
Mariana is kind, encouraging, and cares about helping people having a positive impact on the world - and she has so much wisdom to share.
March 13, 2018
Today Dr Kate Thomas returns to the podcast to discuss her latest book, 'Bulletproofing The Psyche'. We explore the different strategies Kate has discovered in recent years for both preventing and treating mental illness. She shares about her work on implimenting these strategies in her work in the the military, and how we can each implement them in our own lives.
We also talk about some best practices to treat mental illness, retraining our brains, and the concept of 'mental fitness' or 'resilience training' - training our brains to be more resilient, and to have mechanisms and strategies which can help us manage mental illness and cope with mental health challenges in way which is healthier and allows us to thrive. Kate also talks about the the importance of spirituality in combatting mental illness.
With great courage and honesty, Kate also shares about some of the challenges she's faced and is facing in her own life, and how the methods she teaches to others have been helpful to her on her own journey.
Kate is courageous, intelligent and wise - she has so much expert knowledge and experience in this area and I know this episode will be so helpful to you all.
You can find out about her new book at: http://www.bulletproofingthepsyche.com/
March 6, 2018
Today I'm delighted to be joined by filmaker Andrew Morgan. Andrew has just released his new movie, a documentary on Rob Bell called 'The Heretic'. The movie tells Rob's story, and gives an insider look into his work.
Andrew travelled with Rob on a couple of tours over the course of two years and recorded several of his onversations with him, as well as many of his speaking events. Andrew also spoke to many of his close friends and wife Kristen, all to get a deeper insight and understanding into who Rob is, what he's passionate about, and the issues and beliefs which drive him.
Andrew and I discuss the story behind the creation of the movie, and Andrew shares at length how making this movie was part of his own deeply personal and spritual journey. We explore how our art is often a reflection of our journey asnd how creativity can be part of a process of healing. We also touch on as well as what it's like travelling with Rob, what he learned from Rob, how the process of making this movie impacted his own life and beliefs, and the impact of making this movie during the rise and election of Donald Trump.
Andrew is a great guy with a lot of passion, wisdom and insight, and amazing stories to share - this episode's definitely worth a listen.
The Heretic' is available on iTunes and Amazon now...and having seen it myself, I can testify that it's an amazing, powerful, inspring, and deeply moving piece of moviemaking, and definitely worth a watch.
February 27, 2018
Today my dear friend, writer, podcaster and mental health advocate Sarah Fader, joins me on the show. Sarah, who herself faces mental health challenges, has become a strong and occasionally outspoken adovcate for mental health awareness. Sarah began the well known hashtag #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike, and founded Stigma Fighters, a website for those with mental health challenges to share their stories.
With great honesty and courage, Sarah shares her own challenging and inspiring story, and offers wisdom, encouragement and hope to all those facing mental health challenges. Sarah also talks about her new '10 Step Depression Relief Workbook' - and about cognative behavioural therapy based approaches to combating depression and other mental illnesses, and demonstrates how these can be used practically.
Sarah has so much to say about mental illness, anxiety and depression, and has a stubborn hope which will both inspire and challenge you - this is definitely worth a listen.
To get a free PDF copy of the Depression Workbook sent to you via e-mail, send a tweet with my own and Sarah's twitter handles - @JamesPrescott77 @TheSarahFader - with your e-mail and the hashtag #IWantMyDepressionWorkbook - Sarah and I will select the winners! (you never know, it might be everyone who enters. You'll have to enter and see).
February 21, 2018
Today “Science Mike”, otherwise known as author, speaker and podcaster Mike McHargue, returns to the show.
On today’s episode Mike shares his thoughts on the impact of social media on mental illness, and how regulating our social media time — as he does - can improve our mental health.
He also shares about his own recent spiritual journey, we touch on the recent shootings in Florida and talk about several methods all of us can use to improve our mental health - and a whole lot more.
Mike is one of the wisest, most intelligent and compassionate men I know, so sit back and get ready to be challenged and inspired.
February 14, 2018
Today my dear friend and longtime friend of the show Alexander Shaia returns to the podcast.
This time we talk about the benefits & challenges of community & how this led directly to the creation of what we now call Lent, and Ash Wednesday.
Alexander shares more of the history of Ash Wednesday - and the true symbolism behind the use of ashes.
Finally, we look at the pre-atonement concept of Christian spirituality, theosis, and discover the grace, beauty and love which gives it is power.
Alexnader is as wise and challenging as ever - this episode will blow your mind & transform how you experience both Ash Wednesday, Lent, and the passion of the Christ.
February 6, 2018
My dear friend Sarah Heath returns to the podcast today. Laat summer, challenged by her best friend, Sarah embarked on a journey into herself, going out of her comfort zone, trying to create the life she'd been running from. To find her 'Sonderlust'. (Or, you could say, find her Poema....)
Sarah is in the midst of this challenge now - to step back out into the world of dating after hiding away for so long, to be living in a place she loved, and love her work. If in a year she doesn't find happiness and joy, then she's committed to moving wherever her best friend tells her to go. To build happiness or make a drastic change.
This journey has led to her creating a podcast to chart her journey publicly, called 'Sonderlust'. The challenge has already brought up lots of issues around dating, realtionships, self-care, health, work, and identity. And she's still figuring this all out.
Sarah joins me in the midst of this journey, to share with honesty and wisdom about the lessons she's already learned, the challenges she's faced - and how this is a reflection of all of our journeys, into finding meaning and purpose to our lives, and stepping out of our comfort zones to create the life we've always wanted.
I can't wait for you to hear this episode.
January 30, 2018
Today I'm joined once more by my dear friend Laura Parrott Perry, who has just released her first book 'She Wrote It Down'. Today she returns to the show and we discuss the book, the powerful and painful stories shared in it, and power of sharing our stories.
Laura shares with great wisdom, insight and honesty, about how our stories will always tell themselves one way or another and about the choice we have to take control of our stories, by having the courage to share them - even if it's only with one other person.
Laura has a powerful, often painful testimony. I hope her story of healing and recovery from childhood sexual abuse, and alcoholism, will give you hope and inspiration to confront your own darkness, and find healing and redemption. Laura is one of the most courageous, and fiercely compassionate women I know, make sure you don't miss this episode (and then go buy her book!).
**Trigger Warning: Alcoholism, Sexual Abuse**
January 24, 2018
The Poema Podcast returns for a new series today as I interview writer & speaker Caroline McGraw. Caroline shares her powerful story about how she learned the damage perfectionism can do to our lives.
Caroline talks movingly about how she learned to break through the trappings of perfectionism and find a thriving joyful love beyond it - and how we can all do this too.
Caroline speaks with such honesty, wisdom and humour, and is so inspiring - it was such a blast to talk to her, so take a listen.
December 13, 2017
Today, with the last episode of 2017, we continue with our series on those difficult questions of our spiritual journey. My friend and recurring guest Charles Porter rejoins me to discuss the challenging question of what we do when we begin to outgrow our spiritual community, feel like it's time for us to move on, feel rejected or excluded from the community, or don't agree with the leadership and need to walk away.
This is a question many close friends and people I know have been asking, and it's something Charles has a lot of experience of. He shares his own story and the challenges and struggles he and his wife have faced, and how they've found a way to navigate through them.
This is a hugely important discussion, and a question I believe many are silently asking without ever speaking it outloud. It's a question all of us need to discuss, and examine - and may be challenge we all face at one point or another.
The podcast will return in the new year with more of this series and more - so enjoy this episode, and I'm sending you all much love and prayers for the upcoming holiday season.
See you in 2018!
December 6, 2017
The "Questions We Don't Ask" series continues today with arguably one of the biggest questions of all - why do we believe? My friend Daniel Skillman joins me for a fascinating discussion about the very reasons we choose to believe - why we believe what we believe, why we change our beliefs, and why we believe in anything at all. And what believing can do to us.
Daniel has lots of profound wisdom and insight to share, and as ever in this series, our discussion goes off to all sorts of places. Faith, doubt, questions, mystery, the mystics, church, belief...and lots more.
This series has been a huge eye opener for me on my own journey, I hope this episode challenges and inspires you too.
November 29, 2017
Today our we return to our series “Questions We Don’t Ask”, as myself and my friend Abi Lloyd discuss the challenging question of “What Kind of Life Am I Being Drawn Into?”.
As ever, this question takes us to some interesting and unexpected places, sharing our own stories and challenges, and draws out further, deeper questions about our faith, spirituality and church.
It also raises more questions about exactly what kind of life Jesus would have us live, and who God even is. I hope you’ll join us.
November 14, 2017
My dear friend, author and speaker Claire Musters, joins me on the show today. Claire shares her powerful and challenging testimony of how she had to confront the masks she was wearing, the darkness in her life, and how through the love and grace of friends, her devoted husband and God, she found a way to healing and transformation - and in the process discovered her authentic self.
Claire also talks about the masks we all wear, the different roles we play in our lives, and how to confront the challenge of taking off those masks and doing the work to discover our authentic selves, as she writes about her new book 'Taking Off The Mask'. What we discover in our conversation is that taking off our masks is a journey to discover our true selves, and to know the divine in a deeper, richer way.
Find more of Claire's work at www.clairemusters.com, and buy her new book 'Taking Off The Mask, on her website or on Amazon.
October 31, 2017
Kaitlin Curtice joins me on the podcast today. Kaitlin is a Native American Christian author, speaker and worship leader. As an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Citizen Band and someone who has grown up in the Christian faith, Kaitlin writes on the intersection of Native American spirituality, mystic faith in everyday life, and the church.
Kaitlin and I discuss her new book, 'Glory Happening', real stories of finding the divine in everyday places. We also explore how we can see the divine in the every day, why and how we believe, and how our spirituality can impact our creativity.
Kaitin is a woman of grace and deep spirituality, and has so much wisdom to share with the world. This one's definitely worth a listen.