Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Faith CartelMASTEREDaudlp
Faith_CartelMASTEREDaudlp SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, called, bible, religion, feel, read, pandemic, book, life, christian, cartel, nashville, religious, taught, david, satanic temple, story, satanism, podcast, politics SPEAKERS Will, David Dark, Stephen Bradford Long
Will 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hey, I'm Will and they call me the doctor. And I'm Joe, the maestro, we host a podcast called common creatives, where we break apart the art we love to see what makes it tick. Basically, we give you the definitive take on whatever or whoever we're discussing, you don't need to go anywhere else. So check out common creatives wherever you listen to podcasts.
Stephen Bradford Long 00:47 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com And this episode I am speaking once again with the amazing and the mighty David dark. He is an American writer, the author of life's too short to pretend you're not religious, the sacredness of questioning everything. Every day Apocalypse the sacred revealed and Radiohead, The Simpsons and other pop culture icons and the Gospel according to America, a meditation on a God blessed Christ haunted idea, which was included in Publisher weeklies top religious books of 2005. He also contributed a chapter to the book Radiohead and philosophy fitter, happier, more productive Following years of teaching high school English he received his doctorate in 2011, and now teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women, Charles bass Correctional Facility and Belmont University, where he is Assistant Professor in the College of theology. He is a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, and he is married to the singer songwriter Sara Masson. But before we get to David dark, I have just a few pieces of housekeeping. First, as always, I am relying on my patrons now more than ever, I am working less to reduce my exposure to the Coronavirus and I'm not teaching yoga at all. So my income has taken a considerable hit. If you're able to give to small independent artists, please do not just to me because we really do rely on you, or our ongoing creativity and our ongoing work. So for this episode, I have to thank Andrew, Donald champ Lu, Anya, Bethany, and Brock, thank you so much. You are my personal lords and saviors. And I really could not do this without you. And for listeners who might want to join their number, please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long for $1 A month or $5 a month. You get extra content every week, primarily my house of heretics podcast with the Christian minister Timothy. And we talk about everything from fisting to Fuck the police, and everything in between. So all the Not Safe For Work stories, all my all my deviant horror sex stories, you get those on Patreon. And I haven't traumatized Timothy too much, I think but if that interests you, please do contribute to my Patreon and it will ensure the long life of my work. Now you might be like most of us and in a position where you just can't support a small artists right now. And if that's the case, I completely understand there are other really great ways to support my work. One is to just leave a five star review on Apple podcasts. Another is to just subscribe wherever you're listening whatever podcast app you're on, go ahead and hit subscribe. And that tells our digital overlords to recommend the show to others. So for this episode, I'm going to read a five star review. This is from kahini wala, they say good news for queer folk. Wow, I just listened to two of three of the Timothy trilogy and it is a deep dive into queer theology fleshed out in a life. atheism or agnosticism seems to be the least painless option for queer people of faith and toxic environments. But Timothy refused to shy away from the liminal spaces of desire and mystery, equally accessible for straight and queer folks alike. This podcast is well produced and not too full of insider terminology or humor, although it is undoubtedly there. That is a very sweet review and if you haven't already listened to that trilogy that this reviewer is talking about. It is my interview with Timothy Wilds in which he came out out on air, lifelong conservative Christian and just shared his incredible story with my audience. So if you do leave a five, a five star review, I will read it on the show, I will also read a one star review on the show if I ever get one. So with all of that out of the way, oh, and then one last thing, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv, go to the satanic temple.tv and use my promo code at checkout to sacred tension all caps, no space for one month free. They have all kinds of rituals, lectures, livestreams documentaries, feature films, all kinds of stuff that you can enjoy while you are in quarantine. And so if you have an interest in new religious movements, and occultism, and religion in general, then definitely take advantage of that. All right, David Dark, thank you so much. It's great to have you here.
David Dark 05:55 I'm really glad to be back on I enjoyed our conversation. years ago, years ago. That was, I believe it was years ago,
Stephen Bradford Long 06:05 it was years ago. That was you know, that was in 2017. And you were actually my second interview. My my first interview is Chris Shelton, the ex Scientologists and then second interview I ever did was with you. And that was back in the day when I still had no idea what I was doing. I had absolutely no place to be. Yeah. And, you know, I wanted to have you on. I've wanted to have you back on ever since especially now that I figured my shit out as a podcaster. And and so now I feel like I can actually have you on the show. And do you some justice? Because I the I was still figuring out how the hell to do this thing back when you were on the first time. So...
David Dark 06:54 Well, I felt very well handled at the time.
Stephen Bradford Long 06:58 That's good. I'm glad. So first of all, how are you? How are you doing with the current state of the world for listeners? By the way, we are recording this on the 27th of October, it is just before the election, and this will air after the election. So this will air mid November. So we might. Yeah. So we might be coming to you from the nice sunny pre election world where the only thing we had to worry about was COVID-19 and forest fires. Or maybe or maybe the world will look much better by that we just don't know. So. So David, how are you dealing? How are you dealing with this year? How are you doing?
David Dark 07:41 Well, that's a really good thought experiment. And it's really interesting to imagine. Yeah, being heard by someone even myself.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:54 On the other side of this...
David Dark 07:55 so I'll say that for now. I am feeling some hope. I think that the last four years have been very clarifying. A big phrase for me lately is deferential fear. And that's just the fear that paralyzes people into silence and inaction. When they know that something horrible is happening and or abusive and or traumatizing. The last four years I've been in education, and realizing that even millionaires and I have in mind, I guess I would say mostly Republican elected officials, as well as famous people who could weigh in and say something, whether it's a musician, actor, famous authors, all that sort of stuff. It seems to me that many people do I once thought, after you make, say your first million dollars, I thought that deferential fear is not so much a thing. And you're kind of free to say whatever you want to say, Just say what you see, we might say. So I've been amazed at how deferential fear has reduced so many people to silence, which is also often a form of complicity. But I am feeling I'm an educator and or I get paid as an educator. And I think education itself is the overcoming of deferential fear within families, local, state national global, and I have been more energized in the work of helping people with their writing, helping people kind of access their own experience and listen to their own intuition more. And I felt more well energized and called to try to help folks with that whether it's in the classroom, or dealing with an honest question, or an honest expression of confusion on Twitter, or social media. So I am and I'll note that because I'm a 50 year old, who taught high school English for many years, went back to school to try to get a PhD, which was a dangerous move for somebody in their late 30s with three kids. But somehow we worked it out, I eventually got a job teaching at Belmont. And and so all that to say I am more comfortable than most, because my livelihood has not been torn down by this pandemic, I still get a paycheck, I still have a health plan. And I'm able to conduct classes online. So I want to recognize my privilege, while also noting that the pandemic itself has been very clarifying the way the election of almost four years ago was clarifying in that sense that at least in this country, there is no pilot. There are just people well, there are pilot sites, it's local organizations, neighborhoods, cities. But in terms of a federal response, at least for now, we we have a bunch of Frighteners, people who are doing whatever they can to hold on to their spots, and to stay out of jail. So watching that conflict avoidance occur among people who, who could behave very differently, who could risk something, and maybe risk something in terms of in terms of telling the truth, but won't that's been quite the eye opener, and it can have me, you know, feeling like I'm in a episode of Walking Dead or something. But I'm quite comfortable comparatively. And I'm enjoying talking to pay for
Stephen Bradford Long 11:48 great, you know, there is something about this pandemic, which is just kind of tearing away the curtain to reveal the man behind the curtain. It That's right, it's an apocalypse. Yeah, it is, it is an apocalypse. And it's it is revealing all of the underlying rot in our culture. And in our political system. You know, we we've, we have just kind of comfortably been cut adrift in terms of communities, in terms of, you know, it was it was really revealing for me because I managed a grocery store, how when the pandemic first hit the level of panic, that just swept through our community and and drove people to overbuy. And, and, and I couldn't help but look at that. And I mean, it was the hardest two weeks of my entire adult life. It was, well in terms of work in terms of the intensity of work like it, it was the most brutal working experience I've ever had in my life trying to manage a store through that. And but I couldn't help but look, look at it, and just think we are so estranged from one another. And we don't feel like we can rely on one another for help. And for security, and for resources that we that we all just rushed to the store at once and by you know, a lifetime supply of toilet paper and jam the entire supply chain it. I couldn't help but look at that and feel like it was just symptomatic of our of our culture of being cut adrift from one another. I don't know if I was Miss reading that but that was that was one of the ways in which I felt like this pandemic just revealed some underlying rot in our culture on multiple levels. So you were talking about death, deferential fear, and yes, and how you as an educator are working against that, that deferential fear, what does that look like? And what way are you are you trying to empower people through education,
David Dark 14:03 I have all kinds of little sayings like to love a person is to love a process. Every fact is a function of relationship. And I'm sure there's a lot I don't know if I had this. The last time we spoke, I don't find the word sin helpful. But if sin if we could give a definition of sin, that is helpful it is this sin is active flight from a lived realisation of available data. And is the denial of relationship is the denial of kinship. And so as an educator, I think the job for me as someone who too we read all kinds of texts I have a religion and science fiction course. I've got a world religions course I do a Bible course. And then all of those I think my theme is others have been here where we are. And they have left us some wisdom, that wisdom comes out of a deep awareness of relationship of finding myself in the other even finding myself in the person that I'm tempted to villainize. So in our writing, and in our research, I'm trying to teach folks to look hard at their sources. And to look really hard at the terms that leave them estranged from one another, I should say the terms which go unexamined, and therefore lead to estrangement, and the three big ones from a that always come up our religion, politics and media, I like to say that those three words are the most catastrophically unexamined words of our time. Because with religion, politics and media, I can blame everything, including my own behavior on someone else, the media, the media is a big one. Because we speak of the media as if it's this cabal of folks that are trying to hide things. I don't think that exists. But I do think that there's a there's what we call news, which is real news, such as where do I have to go to vote? Or where can I get surgical masks that my government is paid for? And that's real news news product is Trump slams Borak or Borat slams Trump. I mean, that is a story. That is not exactly news. But it is something that is sold as news and therefore generates clicks, therefore contributes to ad revenue. So part of my work is to help people think through their abstractions kind of see and experience themselves finding center, lest we let marketers do all of our thinking for us. And there's a this was Ron satanic, who said, If you don't use your own imagination, someone else we'll use it for you. And I think my VA is helping people access their own imagination.
Stephen Bradford Long 17:14 Wow. Okay, so to to run through those three things that you feel like those three terms that you feel like are just horribly unexamined? It is. Yeah. Media, religion and politics. And yes, and those three great abstractions that feel like they are just controlling and ruining all of our lives right now.
David Dark 17:37 Well, yeah, the way they contain that, which is ruining our lives. Yeah, we feel stupefied. We feel overwhelmed. If I can call that which I feel attacked by religion, or politics or media, I can kind of, I can gain some ground where I at least feel like I'm above the fray. But part of my provocation with that is, media is simply plural for medium. And to say, I'm against the media is like saying I'm against the paper, or I'm against postcards. Yeah. It's like media is just, it's just that. And yes, there is something that is called the media that you're going to want to think about. But there's also a deep sense of which there is no the media, there's just people. Similarly with politics, politics is just a question of how we want to organize our resources. And my, my provocation for that is where two or more are gathered, politics like that.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:48 I love that. Yes, it's true. And
David Dark 18:50 if two, if people are being good to each other, that's what we call good politics, if I'm quite happy to get to pay in taxes, a portion of my earned income, so that children can have lunch, right? Or so math books and laptops are available to the children of this nation during a pandemic. That's good politics. There is bad politics, there is toxic politics, but to say politics is if we all there is to talk about is how bad it is. That's that's not so useful. And religion, I define as perceived necessity. And we all have that. Yeah. And we all have an emerging evolving sense of perceived necessity. My, my perceived necessity, once upon a time, is that everybody had better get baptized or they're going to hell. I don't, I don't feel that way anymore. At all. Not even remotely, but I've my sense of it. My Beloved Community of Jewish and Christian tradition, Sacred Scripture, all of that as evolved considerably from when I was 15. And thinking that I better get baptized or I'm going to be be in eternal conscious pain. And so with all of those to religion or politics, I like to say that nobody ultimately is more or less political than anyone else. And some I would say the same thing about who is and isn't religious, I understand the damage, that the abuse the terror, that that which was called religion has done to people. But that doesn't mean that anything that can be called religion is therefore toxic. It's kind of like politics. True Religion, is caring about the people around you and looking after yourself. And true politics is kind of the same thing.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:56 You will be happy to know that your book Life's too short to pretend you're not religious was was a big influence on me in finding Satanism. So you are so so?
David Dark 21:11 Well, I love the title is purposefully provocative and a lot of people without reading the book. Yeah, think that I'm just gonna just sneak but anyone who reads it all the way through recognizes I think that there is no argument for the existence of God, or an argument against the existence of God in that book is just and I'm, I'm pleased that it had that effect. I'm nowhere near as well versed as you are in, in the Satanism that you now adhere to, but I love the film. Hail Satan. Oh, good. i Yeah. And I would be willing to say that the film Hail Satan is in fact gospel, because it is good news. For people who are trying to free themselves from mental slavery. It was just it was just as delightful as can be. And I love knowing I have at least Penny Lane and I follow each other on Twitter so I have a little bit of a connection there. That I'm glad to know someone who like you, who is a liberal and I love that this podcast is being sponsored by the Satanic Temple that's
Stephen Bradford Long 22:32 to me I'm so I'm so glad I'm so delighted by that and you know, I completely agree with you that that the movie Hail Satan by Penny Lane is is gospel it's good news. And you know, really the first moment for me when I looking back when David dark and Satanism had a weird had a weird, you know, like, midnight meeting at the Crossroads was when I was when I was interviewing Greg Stevens for the first time and he's now one of my very dear friends and Greg Stevens, aka priest Pena Moo. He's the director of ministry for the Satanic Temple. And he's been on my show a lot since then. And but we were just talking about, about religion and, and how much we value religion as as atheists and non theists and how we feel like religion versus atheism is a false binary and how we reject that, that false binary, but then, you know, I, I brought this up with Greg, and I mentioned you and I brought up kind of the thesis of your book, which is that or one of the Theses of your book, which is that religion is whatever guiding story is, whatever binding story is guiding our life, you know, whatever, whatever binding narrative is, is guiding our life. And yeah, white supremacy friends, exactly. And, you know, whatever underlying binding story and that can be a good story, it can be a positive story, but we always have we both, but we have to examine it and, and I brought this up with Greg and, and I was like, in my view, whatever binding story we have, that is religion, and he said absolutely. And that was the moment that was the moment at which David dark and and the Satanic Temple crossed paths for me and you know, I really test the pace to one another. Yes, exactly. You know, and a pass a good satanic pace, a passing of satanic piece. Exactly. And so, you know, I your book is, life's too short to pretend you're not religious was really a huge influence on me for understanding of just how expansive religion can be. And it kind of helped me come to peace with the fact that I am personally a non theist, but I am also a D deeply religious person, and there there isn't, there isn't much space in an atheist spaces right now for, for religion, but your book kind of was one step towards helping me understand that, that I can be fully religious I can embrace my religious identity, I can be happy as a as a religious person and I can accept the other part of who I am, which is a queer non theist. Yeah, yeah. So so your book was enormous ly helpful for me in that, and I hope everyone goes and read it.
David Dark 25:33 Oh, thank you. And thanks for kind of being a bridge figure in that, because I completely understand. When folks are, it's a useful word to say I grew up religious. When you don't have a way, you don't even want to go back to it, to think about it because it was so awful. I understand. We do that with politics as well. I tried to stay out of politics. I don't want to talk about religion, I understand, especially when we're down or abused, or bullied. Whenever those two words arise. Now, we're talking about politics. Now we're talking about religion, I totally get and want to revere the mental space in which folks try to get clear of that, maybe for a year, maybe for the rest of their lives. But I think one reason I think the argument is is necessary, is because we if we think that we have pegged the sort of multitudinous being of another human being, when we think of them as they're religious, and I'm not, that does get into a pretty dark denial, dissociative place. And I kind of do that with my Bible class, too. I, my students are often surprised when they realize that I'm not asking them to believe or accept anything about this collection, but I want them to at least know that it's maybe it's whatever a particular text in this collection of many different different texts, has to say. It's probably at least as interesting as what they're gonna hear on am radio, or something like it has information. There's an intelligence there, and it's worth intelligence. That's right. So whether it's the Hamilton musical, Toni Morrison's beloved, a Kendrick Lamar album, All of these are our contributions to the Earth Song Chronicle, including in case of Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes is arguably an atheist text within this collection that is often used to argue for the existence of God. So I'm just trying to some people know what resources that there's a, there's an ancient playlist there, collected by the Jewish community, in the early Jewish messianic community called Christianity that is going to have have some usefulness, but it's not there to, to destroy people, or silence people into submission. So thank you for your testimony about the book coming through for you. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 28:25 it really, really did. And, you know, I so appreciate what you were just saying about scripture, because I feel like I owe How do I even I was, I was just about to say, I feel like I love scripture. And then the moment I was about to say that I was like, I think it's a bit more complicated than that. I love and then there are other parts of Scripture that that fill me with kind of fear and loathing. And then but but it's worth to, yeah, I mean, the texts of terror like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the great flood and all of those, it's, it's horrific. And it's worth engaging with, because it's like this is this is our, whether we like it or not, this is our religious and this is our religious and literary and collective history. This is like the lineage of our of our thinking and our lore and our mythology, and you know, whether we agree with whether we think it's real or not, whether we agree with it or not, whether we are Christians or not, it is really worth engaging with. And that's one of the things available or so Oh, say that one more time.
David Dark 29:39 This is the available law. I'm definitely only available law, but I love it when somebody swears and to be a member of Congress for something and they swear on something other than the Bible. Whether it's the Koran I forget what it was. I've often said that if I if I had to do that, that I would swear on a copy of Hari M's monster. Amazing, this amazing album of wisdom and intelligence, and it kind of foresaw all kinds of things. But if we think of the Bible that way, it is one of among many pools that we can, that we can draw on.
Stephen Bradford Long 30:22 Absolutely, yeah. And, you know, I think that Satanism is a modern non theistic Satanism, or at least my own personal non theistic Satanism, because I can't speak for other Satanists is that, you know, it is a very conscious acceptance of our lore, it is the except for me personally, it is the acceptance that I have kind of this ruined city of my Christianity. And, and, you know, I live amidst these ruins of my faith and my Christian background and the Christian mythology, and it is almost more redemptive and more powerful and more healing, to take those ruins and to create something new with it. And, and to
David Dark 31:08 create great, let me just say, if you haven't written down that line about for you, your experiences, say, as is the conscious acceptance of your low heart, such as great.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:24 I might, I will write that down. Yeah, I maybe I'll write an article about that body,
David Dark 31:28 with my students who want to whom many of them want to revere the Bible, or this the Bible without having read it. One of my challenges is, if you were to say, I believe the Bible, and then I said, Well, can I ask you a question? Sure. Have you read the Bible? Really? Well, no. Okay. I know, you want to say that you believe it, because you've been taught that that's what you say. But can you actually believe it, if you haven't read it, you know, just kind of given them. So to consciously accept whatever it is, whether it's, you know, all seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Twin Peaks, or Kendrick Lamar, again, I hope that I'm somebody who has meaningfully accepted those things. But it's also kind of a life's work, this conscious acceptance of what's been put in front of me. So anyway, I wanted to praise that, because that's a great way of I think it's June Jordan, who says that poetry is, is a way of taking control of the language of your life. Doesn't mean you're bossy, exactly. But it's kind of a taking responsibility for your own spoken words, your stories, the witness, whether it's lyrical or artistic, or Yeah, to be a more conscious witness to to your own input, output, content, all that kind of stuff. So I'm done with that word of affirmation. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:08 Yeah. And, and the, to take, to take responsibility or to take ownership of, of the myths that have been given to us. And you know, I personally find it much more empowering and productive, to take the resources that I've been given and to make something new with it, you know, and, and it's our job Exactly. And to take this mythology that I've been given this, this broken, traumatizing mythology that I was given, and to make something genuinely good and beautiful from it, and there were parts I have to clarify, there were I still love the story of Christ, that story still moves me and I still, you know, and like, in my desk on my desk right now I have an icon of Jesus. On my altar right next to me, I have an icon of Jesus right next to the Baphomet. So to me, these these narratives, these stories are not opposed to one another there, there are different symbolic universes that I feel like I can move between. But yeah, oh, I just had a question. What was it? Oh, one thing that I do want to clarify for people listening is, you know, if you find that the Bible is is just too traumatizing for you right now, like, if, like me, you grew up queer or trans and the Bible is just too radioactive for you right now. The important thing is to heal from that and to not engage with it. If you feel like it's just going to bring up darkness for you. So don't don't interpret this as as pressure to engage with something that you're not ready to engage with. You know, and, and, you know, I, for example, I remember kind of in the last days of my Christian faith, I loved reading the Bible still, but it was a very love hate relationship, and I had to like Blair Metal music while I was reading the Bible just to like try to drown out the associations that I had with it, like there's a lifetime of toxic associations with that I had with the Bible. And so I would like blare metal music while listening or while while reading the Bible to try to like, reprogram some of those associations. But it's really hard because those associations with the Bible go really deep. And, you know, I actually this is an incident that I've been thinking about a lot lately, where, when I was at Montreat, college, tiny little Christian school, I was one of them that spoken among Yeah, I know you were you spoke there when I was there. Actually, I didn't see you
David Dark 35:41 speak. David Wilcox, and my wife performed that time.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:44 I think so. Yeah. I love David Wilcox, and I need to get him. I need to get him on the show. But I was one of the few out gay people on campus. And there was a math class. And I sat i this math teacher started every week or every class with a with a sermon, basically. And with Bible study, and there was an I remember just thinking each time like this is fucking math class, like, just just teach us math. Yeah, like for real? But yeah, I remember vividly one day coming into math class that that Monday, sitting down, and then the professor opening his Bible, and he turned it to Romans one. And Romans one for people who know the Bible is the is one of the most notorious verses Yeah, clobber passages they're called A, which have been historically used to condemn gay people. And he read it in full, occasionally looking up to stare me straight in the eyes.
David Dark 37:00 Oh, my gosh, that's like the opening of a movie.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:03 Yeah. And, and then he would riff on the passage. And just, you know, God has given men of, you know, God has given gay men over to their reprobate desires, or whatever it is to over to their perverted desires, or I forget, unnatural traded or traded natural for unnatural desires. Yeah, and now lust after men, and, and he would riff on it, and he would just stare directly at me. And it was the most uncomfortable, awful experience. I just wanted to like, crawl under the desk and die. Sure. And it's like the Bible publicly being used as a weapon against me. And, and the class was dead silent, because everyone knew that I was gay. And everyone knew that it was directed right at me,
David Dark 37:56 and love to hear from everyone in that room. Now how they remember that? Yeah, same,
Stephen Bradford Long 38:01 actually. And I'm thinking that I might reach out to some of them and see how they remember it. But yeah, so you know, I guess I just tell that story to emphasize that people have horrific traumatizing experiences with the Bible. And sometimes the best thing we can do is just let it go for a season. And I can hear from it. Yeah.
David Dark 38:20 Or I don't want to push it. But like, oh, have it indefinitely? You know, like, Yeah, I'm not going back to that. Yeah, exactly. I want to let everybody off the hook. As much as I'm into it, you know, the idea that you have to keep going back to it to the hole, because this is crazy. I can't believe I've got to try to do this. But I almost want to say to the idea that you have to keep going back to the whole. I almost want to say Get behind me Satan.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:52 Fight. I know exactly what you're saying. I completely understand. And it's almost that
David Dark 38:59 we're referring to sort of the spirit of accusation to the biblical saying to them. That's right. Yeah. Let it go.
Stephen Bradford Long 39:08 It's similar to that passage in Proverbs about a dog returning to its vomit. And that's true. There are times when the Bible really is that vomit that we just have to let go. That's right. So, David, you're a bit of an unconventional Christian, I would say. I'm curious.
David Dark 39:27 I accept that the adjective as a compliment.
Stephen Bradford Long 39:32 Coming for me, it definitely is a competition.
David Dark 39:35 In our day, Christian. I tried to call Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Christian today. And somebody said, you know, the word is so lost that that's one of the most I know you're trying to give her a compliment, but don't do it. And yeah, so I am unconventional and I completely understand that like the Word Evangelical, the word Christian in some areas is practically synonymous with white supremacist, anti master at this stage, I don't think that's the case. But one can be forgiven for presuming at least among white people. That Christian refers to someone who's denial of their own desires and or their own footprint, their own responsibility in the world is a form of care. So I'm recognizing that and I'll hand it back to you on the Yes, I can be called something of an unconventional Christian.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:43 Well, you know, I was just wondering, how do other Christians respond to you like, what is it like being David dark in the Christian world? And Tennessee?
David Dark 40:53 Oh, that's great. That's really great. I would say within the last four years. Oh, that's, that's such a gift of a question. It's taken me a moment. I think because I am now tenured faculty at a school, I have a little more freedom than I would if I was a minister, that a predominantly white church, and I believed in climate change, or something like that. And it would be different if I was at a different stage of my own life. When I taught high school, I taught high school at a at a what was it a Presbyterian Academy. I was an English teacher. So I could say things that most parents would disagree with. And very timely, people would think, Oh, well, he just being a devil's advocate, when in fact, I was saying that I actually thought, I think I do feel like I'm on a kind of mission to pull Nashville, the best of Nashville, whether it's, you know, Dolly Parton or Taylor Swift or Jason Isbell, or the lunch counter sentence, which occurred here, it was in 1959 1960, that the Reverend James Lawson, and students from Fisk and elsewhere, be segregated the lunch counters by sitting there and getting arrested and getting beaten without fighting back. There's so much good here in Nashville, that Nashville is also the Vatican of Christian marketing. We could say we're the marketing foist that what I sometimes call the faith cartel, where Republican politicians refer to Christ and they get a pass. And as we know, it'll basically it again, I have no idea where we're going to be when this broadcast, but at the moment, that faith cartel of white people who think of themselves as Christians have formed a circle of protection around a white supremacist sexual predator for four years. And that's a new thing for me. I mean, it still feels like rather recently, that I woke up and realized that Donald Trump had won the presidency, with the help of people who had famously succeeded in marketing themselves as being all God, I won't give you this, this is a good thing to be talking to him about. I won't give if we think of Christianity, as a kind of philosophy, for peasant revolutions that occurred in Jesus's understanding of the prophets and his social vision of sharing your stuff, and loving your enemy, all the great, the great, great stuff in the gospels, if Christianity is that, then that is a movement that I am kind of hell bent on not surrendering to a white supremacist terror cartel that has advertised itself as being biblical and or God. So I'm, I'm pretty outspoken and I have felt called to be more outspoken over the last four years to double back to what we were talking about earlier, as I've watched people that I've known my whole lives, my whole life. Completely kind of give in to the two of white supremacist terror movement. So that I do I feel safe and comfortable I. I write about all kinds of things. I do reviews of albums, and I weigh in with various publications. When LeBron James said Uh oh goodness, what was this? This was in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times, LeBron James tweeted something like, fuck this man, we've got to do something. And I had the opportunity with face magazine to write about that and say that that was what I call a profanity prayer. Because William Blake says that honest indignation is the voice of God, that real honest indignation in the face of evil, abuse. oppression, is the voice of God. And so I occupy this strange space where I do believe in God, but I don't, oh, to go to blank again, like said, the vision of the Christ, that thou does see is my visions greatest enemy, and the lake saying that to christen them, and to tyranny that tried to market itself as divine, I feel very much kinship with him. And the more I read, like the more I'm about ready to believe that everything that we call rock and roll kind of starts with Blake and away. I mean, it's not like a direct line. But that Blake Blake was, yeah, Blake really was in he likes that religion and politics are the same thing. And so I think I'm trying to pick up what he laid down and shoot off a signal flare in the country music capital of the world. I'm a I'm a Nashville lifer. And I love Nashville. And I'm trying to take what's best about it, both in my conversations with people locally, as well, is it the, you know, the rest of the world I'm, I feel like I'm kind of fighting for Nashville, and loving it to it. So I would love it if I would love to write a novel that takes place in Nashville, and get it some of the contradictions in the trades. And the toxic associations that occur. This is a strange little strange tangent to go down in the sense that you know who Michael W. Smith is, you remember?
Stephen Bradford Long 47:14 Oh, of course. Yeah. Worship worship RFA for people who don't know.
David Dark 47:17 Yes. So he's been at it since the 80s. He came to my high school when I was 17. And I gave him a student newspaper, I'd written an article about Walt Whitman. And I liked Michael W. Smith at the time, and I gave him that article. And they looked at me and he said he would read it. And ever since then, I felt, and I taught one of his kids, when I taught at that high school, I've watched him try to do really good work. One of the things that he does is he's got a kind of safe team space, called Rocket Town named after one of his songs. In downtown Nashville. I've seen Death Cab, and Pedro, the lion play there. It's kind of an all purpose event space. That's cool. Last week, Rocket Town, at least rented out the space for a viewing party of the presidential debate that had gone rich and big and rich, and Tony Lowen kind of officiating, that really bothered me. Not just because I that are sort of Fox News personalities at this stage. Not because, I mean, it was kind of a pro Trump thing. It looked like that to me. And I thought this is a real shame for Rocket Town, rocket towns a safe space for youth. It usually avoids partisan politic, perception. And I put the flyer up on Facebook, and it said, you know, if anybody is able to get through to management, or to Michael W. Smith, or itself, please let this be one little thing. Thanks. How about we not do this have helped we don't let Rocket Town host this kind of event, especially during a pandemic, because we don't want another super spreader occurrence. And that's the kind of thing that can I'm kind of doing two things simultaneously. I am loving, I hope, Rocket Town and Michael W. Smith. But I'm also saying think a little harder about your your brand, you have a legacy that is soiled or is darkened, in a sense, through your association with Jerry Falwell Jr. or Mike Pence, or any of these figures, all of them are of course, human beings themselves, who are trying to make a living trying to leave a legacy behind but so I'm kind of jumping all over the place, but I long for Nashville to live up to its best moral visions, and there's lots of that here. And I can sometimes get people upset with me for saying anything all about something like that, but it 50 I feel a little more like an adult. Speaking to peers. rather than a young whippersnapper or troublemaker, so I know I in I can't believe I'm gonna say it out loud, but it's part of the flow. I have a PhD in religion now. Yeah. So I might, it could be that I might have some counsel for you, that would help not because I'm an academic, I kind of stumbled into that a little later in life. But because I've been around, I've been here all this time. And I've treasured the cultural products of Nashville. And I don't like watching those cultural products get pulled into a white supremacist marketing scheme, any more than I like hearing John Fogarty and Springsteen being used at a Trump rally. So I write about stuff. I tweet like mad all day long.
Stephen Bradford Long 50:48 You really do I watch you all day long on Twitter, like, just going to?
David Dark 50:54 Yeah, and I think that it is because like, if I read a William Blake line that I that did not grab me before I can I do write it on a piece of paper, or I put it on a computer file, but I would say Life's too short to not put it on Twitter. That anyone who's is it's gonna be there. It's more permanent than a notebook. I might lose a notebook. Yeah, but unless I have my account deleted, I can do it. David dark search with the tail back pain or Northrop Frye, or whoever, Toni Cade Bambara. And it's like, oh, I quoted Toni Cade Bambara, back in 2011. You know, and it's there forever, and it's there after I die. There's a sense in which that Twitter feed is a more lasting document than any book that I write, or any review that I post. So that's a long response to a real gift of a question. And that's kind of, I think, I'm a teacher, primarily in the months between finishing at Vanderbilt and not getting a full time job. I tried to just write and not teach. And I found that very difficult, because the, the free association back and forth with students, when we're looking at material together, that's where I kind of get the idea for the next paragraph. So teaching first and foremost, as long as I can get paid to do it, but even then I'm probably going to want to do book clubs or go on social media to get into it with somebody.
Stephen Bradford Long 52:31 So there's a quote from an interview I did with Lucien Greaves, who is the founder of the Satanic Temple. And I remember him from the movie. Yeah, he's, he's fantastic. He's amazing. And he and I wrote an article about this, which I will link in the show notes, but part of this quote from Lucien that I just found so interesting, talking about other religious groups talking about theists, theistic Christians, he said, Now, I'm not willing to just entirely disregard the progressive factions of these belief systems, but I am willing to work as an ally with them, when they understand what I believe who I am, and they don't ask me to do otherwise. And I feel like when we really make some inroads in the fight against theocracy, we are going to make those inroads by alliances with progressive Christian groups, progressive Jewish groups, progressive Muslim groups, and other established religious organizations. I read that because I feel like you're very much kind of a kindred spirit. And I feel like you're one of those Christians who will just tenaciously not cede the ground to the theocrats, who will just tenaciously Not, not let the gospel go, the gospel being the good news, the radical social, you know, complete reframing of humanity and society that the gospel offers us. You're just not willing to let that go. And I really think that the war that we're in against what you called the faith, the faith cartel cartel? Yeah, the war against the faith cartel, it can't just be the satanists and the atheists fighting them. I think that the real I think that, that what will really overcome them, is people are what will really overcome that ideology is other Christians. It's going to have to be other Christians to to make the stand and say this doesn't represent our faith and we refuse to let this be the only kind of Christianity and and so it can't just be the satanist and it can't just be the atheist and the humanists and whatnot fighting, fighting against a you know, fighting against the faith cartel. It has to be other Christians and I think that's one reason why your work is so valuable and inspiring because you're one of those other Christians who's who's just like putting Your foot down and not budging and being like fuck you. And
David Dark 55:05 I want to mention to Patti Smith, it's one of her famous songs. People have the power. Yeah. And a beautiful line in that song is people have the power to wrestle the Earth from fools. Yes. And I love wrestle, because wrestle is both Jihad and Israel. Israel it strives with God and jihadist struggle. And within Islam, it is said that the greater jihad is the energy hot. It's kind of that work with your own imagination with consciously grappling with your own lore. Yeah, we might say, and I won't. Yeah, with the faith cartel, I will not cede the genius genius of Jesus and the prophets to that terror effort that attempts to collapse. In theocracy. It's funny, this is a strange passage that probably didn't come to me. I mean, I'm sure my eyes scanned it, but I didn't read it until a few years ago. In Judges, there's a little thing called the parable of the bramble, in which one brother is trying to become the king, and he has all of the other brothers killed. And then the surviving brother tells this story, both to his murderous brother, and to the people who helped the murderous brother kill the male members of their family. And the parable of the bramble is essentially saying that a day came when all of the trees were trying to appoint a king among themselves. So they go to the olive tree and say, You rule over us and the olive tree says, Why would I do that I, I give this oil and it makes everybody happy. And they go to the fig. And the pig says, Nah, no, thanks, have a good time just providing figs which are sweet. And they go to the vine. And the vine says no great time, providing wine that makes the hearts of all people glad. And then they go to the bramble which is the bush, which is only for burning. And the bramble says sure I'll do it. But if you don't do what I say, I'm gonna burn you off. I'm gonna burn down all the cedars of Lebanon. So it's this crazy little parable, which I think is an anarchist parable, because it's suggesting that the one who wants to rule over others is the most worthless, there's almost a Buddhist sense to them. And I think that the prophets, of course, and what is called the Old Testament, advise against anyone being a king, advise against any centralized authority. So I think within the Scripture, there is something like that anti theocracy impulse. I just in your description of that struggle, and it's it's thorough, it's Whitman. It's Sojourner Truth. We just have all of these folks in our history, who have fought against those who are prone to confuse the voice of God for the voice in their heads. And it is one Yeah, it's it's emancipation of the mind. And overcoming what Bruce Coburn calls the, the inner fascist architecture within us that once again, this goes back a little that goes into deferential fear, and the hail satan film and everything you're talking about is about overcoming that. And I'm in because I think it is a righteous, a righteous work. That, to me isn't contrary to that which I call Christianity that is at the heart of anything worth preserving. I like to say that Christianity is transparency, or it's nothing at all. Or it's abuse. Yeah. So thank you for counting me as an ally in this because that's, that's what I live for.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:02 I think that's a great note to end on. David dark. Thank you so much for joining me.
David Dark 59:07 Thanks for making me a part of this and I'm happy to do it again.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:11 Let's definitely do this again. Well, that is it for this show. As always, the music is by the jelly rocks and 11 D seven you can find them on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to music there will be a link in the show notes. The artwork is by Rama Krishna Das and the show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as a production of rock candy media as always hail satan. We will see you next week. Guys Excuse your seat