Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Jon SteingardMASTERED8dqwv
Jon_SteingardMASTERED8dqwv SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, christian, satanism, atheist, feel, christianity, life, belief, faith, talk, satanist, agree, exists, thought, religion, christians, rock candy, part, world, tenets SPEAKERS John Steingard, Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Langston
Matt Langston 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hey guys, my name is Matt Langston. I am a music producer, a mix engineer and an avid unicorn enthusiast and I would like to invite you over to my podcast 11 D live on eleventy life we get to talk to your favorite artists, producers and creators about what makes them tick. We take deep dives into where they get their juiciest inspirations from and how they keep from being cynical about all of it. We even get to pull back the curtain on my band eleventy seven and share some fun insider tips and tricks for our fellow bandmates and creators out there. So be sure to check out eleventy life right here on the rock candy Podcast Network and wherever you get your favorite shows.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:14 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. In this episode, I speak with John Stein guard, former frontman of the Christian band Hawk Nelson, he made waves last year by announcing his departure from Christianity. And I wanted to have him on the show to talk about his journey away from Christian faith. It's an amazing conversation. And we talked about everything from philosophy to growing up Christian to being in the Christian music industry and what led him out of that world. It's an amazing conversation. And I really hope you enjoy it. But before we get to that I have just a few pieces of housekeeping first, as always, I have to thank my patrons. They are the lifeblood of this show. I really can't do this without my amazing patrons. And if you want to join their number, or $1 a month or $5 a month, you can get extra content every single week including my house of heretics podcast in which the pastor Timothy and I have conversations about everything from religion, to politics, current events, just all kinds of stuff whatever's happening in the world. We talk about it on the show. So this week, I have to thank my latest patrons Joe deja vu, Brendan, hazardous heart, Victoria and gutter sniper, thank you so much. You are my personal lords and saviors. And I really could not do this without you. Now if you're unable to get financially, there are other ways to support the show. One of the best ways is to just share it with your friends, subscribe wherever you're listening. And if you're able to do just a little bit more if you're on Apple podcast, please leave five stars. And if possible, write a nice little review that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth showing to others. Now, I also have to thank my amazing Discord server, there is a link to my Discord server in the show notes. If you're not content just listening to the show, and you want to actually engage with the audience of the show, engage with like minded people who enjoy my work, then please consider joining my Discord server. It's an amazing little community. Every day, there's new stuff going on there. I'm just absolutely thrilled by the community that is building around this podcast. So if you're interested in that, do please go to the show notes. There is a link there to my Discord server. And finally, the show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. Go to the satanic temple.tv. And at checkout use my promo code sacred tension for one month free it is a streaming platform by the Satanic Temple. If you're interested in new religious movements and rituals in amazing lectures, all kinds of fascinating stuff. There are live streams, talk shows, live events, movie nights, all kinds of stuff going on at the satanic temple.tv So if that interests you please take advantage of that deal. use my promo code sacred tension, no space, all caps. Alright, with all of that out of the way. I am delighted to give you my conversation with John Steingard. John Steingard, welcome to the show.
John Steingard 04:49 Thanks for having me, man.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:50 So let's just get right into it. You You were the frontman of a pretty poor Bueller Christian band called Hawk Nelson I, I'm, I'm basically a boomer. So I don't know actually how popular that was. But I'm told,
John Steingard 05:08 I really don't know how popular either. I think most people in bands are living in some alternate reality where they're incredibly popular or horribly unpopular, depending on how you write your own narrative.
Stephen Bradford Long 05:21 Yeah, especially if you're a nerd growing up. And yeah, you just carry around that, you know, bullied nerd status your entire life, by the way, yeah, my, my cat is yelling in the background. So dear listeners, if you hear my cat yelling, that's Wednesday, my partner just recently took her outside on a leash for like, the first time in her life. So she's taken the red pill, and now knows that the outdoors exists. And it's just like, and taking the red pill and like the, the actual literal, you know, reference to the matrix, not this URI right wing says, Sure, just my cat has not been read pilled by like Q Anon, or the men's rights group. Sure, just to clarify, right, but now she's like, at the door non stop yelling. And so if you hear her in the background, that's why Okay, so you were in the band Hawk, Nelson. And, you know, I'm told by the kids that it was pretty popular. I remember one of my friends actually, one of my assistants for this show show was really into your music and, and showed some of it to me, and I was like, Okay, great. This is cool. I like it. Right on. So But then something happened, what happened? Well, for me or for you, were you for you. What happened? Well, were you were in this Christian band. Yeah. Where did that go?
John Steingard 06:40 Yeah. So I mean, essentially, I was, it's been pretty much my entire adult life. I was, I started touring with Hawk Nelson when I was 20 years old. So just not that long after finishing high school. And I continued to do that until just about a year and a half ago, something like that. And we sort of at the end, we sort of decided to sort of taper off gradually, I want it to come off the road, I've got two kids now. And the life of a touring musician, is one that I had done for, you know, a decade and a half. And I was anxious to sort of explore other aspects of life. And so as I began to sort of transition away from from doing Hawk Nelson and doing Christian music, I started to ask myself the question like, What do I really believe if my career is not dependent on me believing anything in particular, and it occurred to me that I hadn't really thought about that really deeply, pretty much my entire adult life, because I was in this career that required me to not just be a professional musician, but be to be essentially a professional Christian. And, and so I had an incentive to not think about it too much. You know, I wanted to just continue with that. And so as I realized my life was heading in a different direction, and I had the freedom to just sort of really contemplate what I actually thought and had the additional sort of pressure of raising two children and teaching them about the world, it became apparent to me that I really need to think needed to think more about what I believe. And as I went through that journey, I gradually became less and less certain about my Christian faith. And that really, sort of, especially once we get into lockdown, and 2020, I really, I really leaned into that, and, and found that I just didn't, I didn't really find that I could believe in God anymore. And that was actually sort of an unwelcome thought at the time.
Stephen Bradford Long 08:43 I completely I completely relate to that. Yeah.
John Steingard 08:46 Well, it was Did you have a similar experience? Or...
Stephen Bradford Long 08:49 Yeah, I mean, and, you know, my, my listeners are probably so sick of hearing me talk about my story. But, you know, looking back, I realized that I was, I had been losing my faith for about a decade. Yeah. And it was entirely it was, for me, it was entirely environmental that, that where I was put in this very Christian situation where I felt like I had to perform. And I think that was reinforcing belief in a way that I wasn't aware of, hold on, let me close the door. The cat's yelling. I think that reinforced belief for me in a way that I wasn't even aware of. And yeah,
John Steingard 09:30 and and that, that, that I so identify with that that was very similar for me. Yeah. And maybe maybe you'll relate to this too, like, because I've had some people since then say like, oh, well, you know, this whole time you knew you didn't believe and I'm like, No, I didn't I like actually, I did. I did believe as far as I knew, like,
Stephen Bradford Long 09:50 there's, there's this sense of being hidden from yourself. And and there's this, you know, it's almost like, I know this is a really, really hold on my mind. I have six cats. And they are. They are very active tonight. Just a second. Sure. Okay, all the cats are out there. There was a there was a toy just on the other side of the door. Watching this, Paul. Yeah. Anyway, um, okay, I'm so sorry. The cat's distracted me. Um, yeah. Well,
John Steingard 10:23 we were we were kind of contemplating the thought of like, what, what does it mean to believe? And if you think that you believe yes, yeah, but maybe maybe you're not sure. Well, what what constitutes belief?
Stephen Bradford Long 10:35 Well, you know, there's this scene, I know, it's kind of a nerdy reference. But sixth sense, the film, where there's that moment at the very end, where Bruce Willis puts all the pieces together, and realizes that he always knew he was a ghost, but hadn't was never able to accept it. Yeah, and, and there's this, it's like that same moment, where it makes sense only in retrospect, that, that my faith was crumbling. But I had such a vested interest in protecting myself and protecting my ego and protecting my, my status. You know, we're social creatures. We're, we're social apes, we will do just about anything to light our ourselves in order to maintain social status.
John Steingard 11:29 Yeah, I agree with that. And, I mean, I think there were signs, like, there were certain things that I always felt, and I always felt uncomfortable with. But I couldn't really put my finger on why. And it wasn't until I sort of really dug in and had the courage to really questioned things, where I started to go like, Oh, so that's why that always struck me as odd or that's why I always had like, some sort of a weird gut feeling about that issue or something like that. And, and once I began to, to really face those ideas, and those doubts head on, if the process started to accelerate pretty quickly,
Stephen Bradford Long 12:11 was there was there a feeling of inevitability about it? Of like, like that, this was almost like you had a terminal case of doubt. And that, because that was the case for me, I shouldn't, you know, ask leading questions like that. That was no, that's okay. That was the case for me. Where, where my doubt, felt terminal. And I think I knew that if I looked at it too hard, it would lead me down a very frightening path. And yeah, you know, I, you were just mentioning that you Sorry, go on. Yeah, I
John Steingard 12:46 think to, uh, in a way that, that I did feel that I felt perpetually drawn towards my questions, right, where I was like, it's, it's inescapable for me to ask these questions and to go down whatever path they take me on. So that felt inevitable. I really as I was walking out the path because I spent two years like, really intensely studying scripture, studying theology, studying science, evolution, cosmology, biology, genetics, like I just, I just really, I was really hungry to be like, okay, like, if there's a truth out there that can be known about this, I want to know, and I think I always knew that wherever that path was going, there was no way that if I found myself believing sometime in the future, there was no way it was going to look like what it used to look like. So that felt inevitable. I was like, okay, where I was, there's no going back now. You know, you mentioned the red pill. I mean, the matrix is like, a great example because because it's like, once you're unplugged from the matrix, you really can't You really can't go back. And so I feel that way even now. And there's parts of Christianity and parts of belief in spiritual things and spirituality in general that that I I really am continuing to be curious about. But But no matter where I'm headed in the future, there's no way it's going to look like what it used to look like. I mean, that's, that's for sure. Once you see once you see you can't unsee
Stephen Bradford Long 14:26 Yeah, yeah, you can't go home again. And there really is this sense of of almost mourning. I think I think I'm over that mostly, you know, I think I'm mostly over the grief now but but there are times when it still hits me of just this realization of now that I know what I know. I can never go back to my childhood faith. I can never go back to that place. Yeah, was so secure for me and and I really am a reluctant atheist, you know,
John Steingard 14:58 I interesting. I I
Stephen Bradford Long 15:00 really am. I don't want to be an atheist. I didn't want to be an atheist. Now I, I'm really, I feel like making do the best I can. And I think it's true. And that's why I am an atheist not because I like it not because I'm not because I want it to be I really, it really felt like the loss of my faith felt like the loss of my grandmother. It felt like the loss of a family member and mourning, it has been a process that is incredibly hard to communicate to fellow atheists, especially atheists, and non theists who have never been religious. It's like, how do you even begin to articulate this thing? Yeah, that never existed. And yet, you feel its loss? Massive, right? Yeah. It's incredible. Yeah, I
John Steingard 15:51 sort of I, when I, when I'm in those conversations, I try to communicate, it's something like this, that, because I'm Canadian, originally, and I live in San Diego now. I love living in San Diego, I am happy to live here. I'm grateful to live here. But Canada will always be where I'm from. And yeah, I don't I don't prefer to live in Canada, at least not right now. And, but, but it's always Canada will always have a place for me that I feel connected to. It's like a homeland, you know? And yes, and, and for me, Christianity feels similar. Where it's like, that's, that's how I grew up. That's where I come from. And there's actually a lot of things about me that, that I got from Christianity, and there's some things that I think are healthy to hang on to. Absolutely, the difference is, is is whether or not Christianity owns those things that that I think have value. So for instance, like morality, like I think I have my moral sense and my moral intuition about my actions and the way that affects other people. They're very, they're very, they still are very closely aligned with with Christian values. But I just don't think it's because Christianity owns morality, I think that there's something bigger going on. And, and Christianity tracks with morality, in a lot of ways that I think are are good. And it it diverges in a few ways that I would disagree with, but you know, that's but I still I still look at Christianity almost like, the way I look at Canada. Like, that's where I'm from, and I'm grateful for it. In that sense,
Stephen Bradford Long 17:31 do you? But you know, Canadians in general, are much nicer, just on average. You know,
John Steingard 17:36 that's a stereotype that I know, I would challenge a little bit because, because it is largely true, but but Canadians we have our own language of, of dissent and our own language of disagreement, you know? Yeah. So instead of being really like overtly, like, like, Screw you, bah, bah, bah, bah, Canadians are like, you know, oh, well, you know, I guess, you know, I guess everyone has the freedom to believe whatever they want to believe. But it's a subtle, passive aggressive, like, now you're,
Stephen Bradford Long 18:05 you're it's wrong. It's definitely the same in, in in the south in the southeast where I am am I'm in North Carolina. I'm in Asheville, and oh, yeah, I love Asheville. Yeah, yeah. Southerners, you'll, you'll never know that they hate you. But anyway. So how, what happened? How did you? How did you break this news to your community that you were an atheist?
John Steingard 18:33 Right? So, um, well, for a while I didn't and, and, and for a while, I wasn't sure where I was at exactly with everything. I just, I just knew I was really struggling to believe what I had always believed. And then eventually, I reached a point where I was certain enough in what I thought and how I really didn't feel like I could believe in at least the the expression of God that I had always believed in, and that, you know, the thing that people mean, when they say God inside of Christianity, I just, I couldn't believe in that anymore. And eventually, I felt like it would be dishonest not to say something publicly about it. And so because I had been so public with my faith for my entire adult life before that, so in May of this year, 2020, I, you know, early in that month, I said to my wife, I think I'm ready to say something publicly and I I assumed she would try and talk me out of it. You know, I assume she would say oh, don't do that. You'll ruffle ruffle too many feathers. I don't know if you're familiar with the Enneagram. But she's a nine. Yeah, so. So she's a peacemaker, so she doesn't typically want condors.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:43 What are you out of curiosity?
John Steingard 19:45 You know, I discovered that it can change
Stephen Bradford Long 19:47 it does, because I can't because and for everyone. So outside of the Christian bubble, who have no idea what we're talking about right now, that's fine. I'm so sorry. Yeah,
John Steingard 19:58 it's just personality. They, it's like a personality type thing. And I know there's tons of them out there. So this is just one of them. It's number. It's numbers one through nine and, and nine is Peacemaker. That's what my wife is. The last the first time I took the Enneagram sort of quiz thing, I came out as a three, which is the achiever, which sort of makes sense, because, you know, I'm self employed. I've you're not
Stephen Bradford Long 20:20 you're not on the couch all day smoking pot. I mean, maybe you are, but you're doing more than that.
John Steingard 20:26 Well, I'm not on the couch smoking. Right.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:29 Right. You're, you're you're in your, your space chasing shuttle. On the road. Well,
John Steingard 20:36 that's a whole other conversation we'll get into but, okay. I do live in California. So it's, it's perfectly legal here. And and I only really discovered it recently. I know that sounds silly. Not like awkward,
Stephen Bradford Long 20:49 like a good Christian boy.
John Steingard 20:51 Right? Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:52 You we were those we are that type of person. I was just talking about this with Matt Langston. Who, of course, had you on the show the other week? I know Matt, where, where it's like, we're all like Kimmy Schmidt just coming out of the bunker in our 30s. And, and discovering for the first time that our lives in the evangelical world, we're just not normal. And it's like, now we're discovering all of these things that we should have discovered. And sure, cool. Anyway, go on. No,
John Steingard 21:23 I I've lost my train of thought now.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:25 I'm so sorry. I was asking I derailed you. I I asked you what, what happened? Or how did people respond? When?
John Steingard 21:36 Right? Right? So eventually, I decided to say something publicly. And oh, we're talking about Enneagram. That's, that's right. So I was three, I was a three I was the achiever, which, which sort of makes sense, because I've always been sort of entrepreneurial, and that kind of thing. But I took the test more recently, after all of this stuff. And I came out as an eight, which is the Challenger which I was like, Yeah, that makes sense.
Stephen Bradford Long 22:02 You know, like, I can definitely see that. And, and so whenever I asked people what their number is, I was raised with the Enneagram, actually. And so I've been really, yeah, my parents taught it. And so I was taught the Enneagram in utero. And so I feel like I can peg people pretty well. And I was like, This guy's an eight. I know that he's an eight. And I was right.
John Steingard 22:30 Sure. Yeah. Well, um, yeah. So I mean, in any case, I I, after talking to my wife and hurt, she, surprisingly, she was like, You know what, go for it. I think COVID had just beat her down. At that point. She was just like, do whatever you want, honey, I don't care anymore. And so, so I wrote this post. And once I had it written, like, once I had it actually typed out, I was like, There's no way I can wait to post this. Like, I was so anxious to post it because it felt like it felt like a coming out in a way and I don't feel like you know, as a 37 year old, straight dude, I don't feel like I really have a right to use that phrase. But that's the closest thing I I think I could say, to sort of define what that experience felt like for me
Stephen Bradford Long 23:15 as a as a gay person I give you permission to use. Thank you. You're welcome.
John Steingard 23:21 Well, you understand I want to, you know, I'm hesitant to claim that term. But But yeah, so I posted this thing I remember, I got it ready on Instagram, I hit post, and then I put my phone down. And I just freaked out. I was like, Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, because I knew my life was gonna change. I didn't know how it turned out, you know, for three or four days, it made a bit of a stir in Christian music, but not not much beyond that. And that's sort of what I expected. And, you know, I kind of thought it would all simmer down and and everyone would just go about their lives and in Christian music when, you know, when people when news had happened, I've just I've seen people move on so quickly, you know, so I'm, so I'm aware that I'm not the center of everybody's universe, and people might go like, Oh, wow, that's crazy. And then, you know, move on with their lives. But what ended up happening was about four days after I posted Fox News ran an article about me. And then and then CNN and USA Today and New York Post and it just went Baba, Baba, Baba Baba, and it was like ended up being, I don't know, 15 or 20 news outlets that ran an article something along the lines of Christian singer says he no longer believes in God. And at that point, I was like, Oh, wow, this is hitting a nerve and I didn't really see that coming. And that's been sort of a mixed bag ever since but the good side of that has been it's connected me on you know, on Instagram and Twitter and stuff like that. It's connected me with so many people in this space, sort of put tween fundamental Christianity. And, you know, and and, and then total atheism, there's this gray area where a lot of people are curious and wondering, and it's, you know, maybe people like me that grew up in, in church and are sort of questioning things, but don't feel like they have a space to do that safely without, you know, risking their, you know, their, their family relationships, their careers, their, you know, whatever. And I've been able to have a lot of really meaningful conversations with people that are in that space since then. And so I'm really grateful for that.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:35 Yeah, you know, there's this kind of weird interstitial space where it isn't quiet people aren't quite, you know, full Richard Dawkins. Yeah. And I don't know, I kind of feel like that era of atheism is, I won't say over but much less popular. And there's a much more open, curious form of atheism replacing it.
John Steingard 26:04 And I personally, that's sort of what I would identify with.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:08 Yeah, same. Yeah, I personally identify as a non theist. And when people ask me what a non theist is, I just say, well, a non theist is an atheist who isn't an asshole about it. And but, you know, it's like non theism, it is associated with religious traditions. And I consider myself a deeply religious person, even though I am a non theist. And so non theism is associated with religious traditions and just has a softer connotation. And yeah, and so I feel like that is more in line with the tone of who I am. But it means the exact same thing ultimately as atheists. Sure, which is just Yeah, odd.
John Steingard 26:53 And I've sort of struggled with labels this whole year. I understand. Because for even the idea of of actually saying, I don't identify as a Christian felt strange, because that's my whole life. It's just been, as it's been as normal to say that I'm a Christian, as it is to say that I'm Jonathan, you know, you know, to say my name, it's like, as it's as a part of me, or so it seemed, for a long time. And so giving up that label felt strange. And then, and then sort of going like, well, what label do I use and, and trying on all these other labels felt like, trying on these clothes that other people have worn? That I'm just like, is this does this fit me? I? I don't know. And, you know, the closest thing that I could find to a word that felt like it made sense was agnostic, but it's also sort of a cop out term. Because it's like, when you get into the nitty gritty of what these terms mean, it's like, well, agnostic refers to knowledge. And then, you know, atheist refers to belief. And so technically, every agnostic is an atheist. So, or more or less, yeah, more
Stephen Bradford Long 28:12 or less. All right. Yeah. Yes, I'm totally following. I'm totally tracking with you. Yeah.
John Steingard 28:16 So the whole labels thing I've struggled with, for that, for those reasons. And then also, I sort of came to the realization that whenever we use these terms, we're using them as shorthand, to get a sense of who someone is as quickly as possible. Yes. And I sort of I sort of realized that maybe there's a better way to go. And like, if I'm having a conversation with someone, and I want to get a sense of who they are, instead of asking for a label from them, maybe I should just talk to them for a while. And and and get to know them on a more meaningful and specific level instead of trying to skip ahead. So that's just something I've contemplated. I don't have like a strong position on, you know, what I think is the best way to do that. But I
Stephen Bradford Long 29:04 yeah, I agree. And there's also kind of this, this anti atheist propaganda campaign on the part of a lot of Christian apologists, where they will try to tar they, they try to tar atheists as like this boogeyman and atheism really sparks actually, I've had John Morehead on the show quite a bit. And he's an evangelical who studies evangelical emotional responses to other religions. And he, he Oh, wow. Yeah, it's fascinating and, and so he's, uh, he really gets inside of their head and really like picks up heart the emotions that they feel in response to different groups. And he said the primary emotion that they feel towards atheist is disgust. Yeah, is that there's something about atheism, there's something about the word atheist that just really triggers disgust. And I think part of that is, is deliberate. I think part of that is on the part of some influential people just trying to paint atheists as in addition to just trying to tar us in as black a color as possible. And then I also just think it's our in group bias. And it's, it's unconscious. And, you know, I think it's probably both of those. And so I find it. Yeah, I find it best to just avoid the word atheist because the honestly, the word atheist gives me more trouble than the word satanist if you can believe it.
John Steingard 30:43 Well, I have some questions about that.
Stephen Bradford Long 30:45 Yes, yes, of course. So he's asked,
John Steingard 30:48 so I, I don't know a ton about Satanism. Sure. Do you even say Satanism? Yes. Okay. All right, is it felt like it felt like a word that made sense given given the word Satanist, you do?
Stephen Bradford Long 31:03 You do? And D so Satanism? Yeah. So
John Steingard 31:07 like, I was interested in what you were just saying, because I for a long time, I mean, I was raised in a Christian home, my dad's a pastor, I was, you know, in, in Christian culture, my entire life, most of my friends are still Christian. Plenty of them have not disowned me to their credit. So. But definitely, I know what you mean about the the, the aversion to atheists, or that maybe the fear I think of, of people that would, you know, have that label and then satanist in my, in, you know, my upbringing, I would think that that's something I would be even more afraid of. So, so what's interesting is, like, when I when I started talking publicly about not believing in God anymore. I had a few atheists, you know, podcasts or shows reached out to have conversations. And I was like, well, I should talk to them. Because, because I don't feel like I should be afraid to talk to anybody, like, at this point in my life, and in my journey, like, I want to, I want to talk to people that I wouldn't have talked to a year ago or two years ago, and like that, I want that. And so I went on, you know, a few shows that are that are, you know, hosted by atheists and, and I discovered, I'm like, Oh, these, these people are just a lot like me, I want to say a lot. When I say a lot like me, I don't mean the me that I am now. I mean to me that I've always been like, like, like this person that I'm talking to is so much like the me that I was when I was a Christian. It's like there's just we're just not that different. Yeah. And, and, but I've never actually spoken to someone who who would would consider themselves a Satanist. So So here's my here's my and this is for your listeners. If this is retreading you know, old old waters, we don't have to linger here. But I'm curious as to if you could sum up basically what Satanism is to you. And, and my impression is that it's it's a little well, I don't I don't even want to get into my impression. Why don't you tell me what it is to be happy kind of how you got into it and what it means for you.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:16 You know, it I'm so delighted that you bring this up, actually, because I've just told our office manager at Rock Candy who books the shows for me to just really lean in with the Satanism because nothing. At first, I was terrified. You know, at first, I was afraid of scaring guests away. I I am scoring a lot of interviews now, I think because people are just so intrigued by the Satanism. Sure, like one one person's assistant got back to me it was like so it's it's very It's normally very off putting to be asked, Hey, come on to my satanic podcast, but this is actually very interesting. I so I'm learning I'm learning that the Satanism is a hook for a lot of deaths. I'm glad I'm glad you bid.
John Steingard 34:08 I mean, I would have if you hadn't been a Satanists. I'm, I'm sure I probably would have said yes. Anyways, sure. But I will admit, it carried a bit of additional intrigue. Yeah. And, and there was an element of like, I probably am not going to tell my parents that I went on this particular podcast because that'll scare them. That'll scare them more than me talking to atheists.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:36 I understand and you know, also as as a Satanist. I have to give you a welcome to the unbelieving fold. You know, I have to personally welcome you into the throng of Satan. As we all know every atheist is so there is okay. There's a bloodletting orgy after the show and your work over Skype. There they are right right outside your door as we speak, I had
John Steingard 35:02 this is this is this is why I was scared. Okay, so you asked, please Please enlighten me you asked
Stephen Bradford Long 35:11 What does Satanism mean to me? So first of all Satanism is non theistic, in general Satanism is non theistic. So, the vast majority of Satanists are not just kind of the new school of Satanism with the Satanic Temple, but also the old school of Satanism with Anton LaVey. It has ever since Anton LaVey, it has been predominantly non theistic. I see a religion versus atheism as a false binary. And I think that there is a tremendous amount of richness and good within religion that, that connects deeply with some people. And this is not to say that, that people can't be happy without religion. But it's more to say that I personally don't want to live without it. And so can people thrive without religion? Yes, absolutely. But I don't want to. So I'm not going to. And I think everyone needs to be offered that choice. And I have always been a deeply religious person, I suspect that I always will be. So I needed a space within non theism within atheism, in which I could be deeply religious, and Satanism offered that to me. So I see atheism and religion as a false binary and Satanism is my Satanism is the adoration for the symbol of Satan as the ultimate outsider, as the champion of enlightenment, as the champion of reason, and compassion, who stood up against horrific undue authority against incredible odds. And so this doesn't make much sense, though, if it isn't rooted in the literary tradition, of going all the way back to Milton of a valorizing, Satan and reimagining Satan as the heroic figure. And, and so, you know, in the same way that the Eucharist and the cross makes zero sense as symbols of redemption, and love, you know, a horrific divisive state torture and cannibalism. Make zero sense, when you divorce it from the tradition from the stream within which it exists. In the same way, this figure that is seen as the ultimate form of evil in our culture, you can understand that as the great antihero who stands up against undue injustice and stands for the outsider, unless you place him in that literary stream, right as reimagined him. So that's
John Steingard 37:58 really interesting. I I have had a lot of experiences, since stepping back from Christianity, looking at it from the outside, going, like, Wow, if I didn't grew up with this, that would that would seem strange. Yeah, exactly. Like exactly some of the things that you said, like, you know, like the Eucharist. It's like, this is my body and like, Catholics believe in Transubstantiation. So they've made it literally cannibal Yeah, like Catholic and I asked a Catholic, so I got a chance to do a private Skype call with a with a Catholic Bishop a few months ago, because he has a web show. And he mentioned me in the show, and I sort of email that because a bunch of people were sending it to me, I emailed them and said, Hey, like, if, you know, if you wanted to talk to me, we could, you know, we have the internet, we can talk. And so I talked with this Catholic Bishop for 90 minutes, and he was actually super generous with his time and with his thoughts. He's very, very sharp and very studied. And I asked him about Transubstantiation. And I was like, like, that's, like you really believe that,
Stephen Bradford Long 39:06 like, and that is, that's legit crazy. There's, there's just no way around it. It's crazy. Unless you're in it, and it makes complete sense. That exactly right. And that's the power of faith, you know, and that's the power of these traditions in these communities is the the moment you step inside that flow stream of of tradition and the moment you step inside that social space, Joe Joe lay calm because he's on the show all the time. He he wrote, Speak of the devil, which is about TST but he he calls these para causes shared imagined worlds and when you step into that shared imagined world and by imagined imagined is not a denigration imagined dough is not a denigration in fact. Some of the richest and most valuable experiences we have come in the form of pay Eric columns
John Steingard 40:01 and I've never heard that term but but shared imagination I'm familiar with Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:04 Shared shared a man is shared imaginative world and religious tradition is one of those parallelisms one of those shared imaginative worlds and the moment you step into it, it makes sense. Yeah, way that it never will on the outside.
John Steingard 40:18 Yeah, I mean for your audience. I mean, first off for any of your audience that doesn't, isn't familiar with the concept of Transubstantiation. Catholics believe that when they take the wafer, and the wine, and they, they, they, it represents the body of Christ, and I come from a Protestant tradition where it just metaphorically represents the body of Christ, and the blood of Christ, you know, the, the wine. Catholics believe it literally turns into the actual body of Christ and the blood of Christ once you eat it. Yeah. So, so that's, like, for me Protestant, you know, background that's crazy. And for anyone who's not a part of Catholicism, that's crazy. And, and, you know, with regards to like, you know, if you think that you don't participate in shared imaginative worlds, you're wrong, because every time you spend $1, you're participating. Exactly. Because money money is is shared fiction, especially once it's divorced from the gold standard, which it was in 76. Like, since then it's it's a made up thing that has value because we all agree that it does human rights. Human rights are a made up thing but but I think that we can all agree that that the world is better if we agree that they exist
Stephen Bradford Long 41:35 language as well, language, you know, it to quote Dumbledore Of course, it's all in your head, Harry, but why on earth does that mean it isn't real? Why on earth, why on earth would that mean it isn't real and, and that's really the case with religion. And, and so I see religion as a, I, when I try to explain this utterly befuddles theists, they really, really struggle with this, when I talk to them about this, you know, and they all they'll ask me, and, like, how can how can you be religious? Because for them, the core of their religion is based on their belief in God, at least that is, that is the case with most Christians that I encounter and, and what I try to articulate to them is okay, you've had experiences with God, haven't you? And they always say, yes. And it's like, this is very real to you, isn't it? They say, Yes. And I say you've, you've talked to God, you've had that experience of talking to God of communicating with them. And they always say, Yes, of course. And I say, I believe that all of those experiences are real, even though I don't believe your god exists. And I believe that I can also have that experience, even though I know that God isn't real. Does that make lots?
John Steingard 43:04 Yeah, and yeah, I think I've danced around that idea for a long time. But I've never heard it articulated that well, so that that I mean, dude, that's a gift. Thank you for that.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:15 I'm glad I'm glad that I've had, I've had
John Steingard 43:18 these conversations with my parents, for instance, and I've tried to communicate to you know, my mom and dad, like, like, I see how your faith gets put into action in your life in ways that I want to affirm. Yes. But But I don't believe that the God you, the God that you believe exists, I don't think exists. So how, like, the thing that I've struggled with is, is simply by exploring what I've explored and believing what I believe. I'm essentially saying to my parents, like, I think you're wrong. And, and I've, and I don't know, part of me wants to say that, you know, what I mean, like, I don't have any, my rebellious teenage years are a long ways off now. And I have no desire to like, stick it to my parents, I love my parents. And so I don't know what you just what you just explained. That's a really good way to look at it. Now. I'm gonna, I'm gonna be thinking about that for some time.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:22 I'm glad. I'm glad that's helpful. And also, I'm just not I mean, what you were just talking about your parents. I'm, I'm just not interested in putting myself at odds with the vast majority of humanity. Yeah. You know, I mean, the vast majority of humanity has some kind of supernatural belief and, and I really think that, that non theism or non supernaturalism or what have you, is, is a highly unnatural state. For Humanity. I think it is an incredibly unnatural place to be and that wasn't not unnatural in terms of wrong, but just unnatural in terms of new and
John Steingard 45:06 yeah, it's not, it's not in line with what human how human beings have thought historically. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 45:13 And I'm just, you know, I look at the world we're in right now. And I think it requires not making a big deal of belief. You know, we're, we're living in a world where climate change is real. And there's a very dark future ahead of us if we don't do something about it. And, and just all kinds of issues like that, and I just don't see how making an obstacle out of faith or, or disbelief is helpful. Yeah, to the flourishing of humanity at this point, you know, I don't think it is, it's helpful. And I know that there are atheists out there who disagree with me strongly, but honestly, a lot of a lot of it is personality type, I just don't have the time, I already have a fucking full time job, I don't have the energy to to have those to just be at odds with other people. And like, I want, I want more friends in life, I don't want
John Steingard 46:11 yeah, and, and I mean, so for me part of the motivation. Part of my journey away from Christianity had to do with the problem of suffering or the problem of evil. It's just sort of a classic philosophical problem. But for me, it was like, brought to the foreground of my life and not for me personally, because at 37 years old, I'm actually sort of surprised that how, just if I look at my life, compared to a lot of people how little I've suffered, it seems actually, like downright unfair, that I've suffered as little as I have. But I've, I've witnessed unbelievable suffering, that really put a dent in my ability to believe in God. And and since then, I feel tremendously motivated to be a part of alleviating suffering wherever and whenever I can. Yeah. And that's been a huge motivating force for me. And so I've worked over the years I've worked with, you know, Christian, nonprofits that are doing really good work. And I go, like, hey, they're, they're feeding and clothing, 1000s of kids in this area, like, and they're also giving them a Bible like fair enough, like, like, am I going to try and sink that organization or, like, convince them that they should change? You know, I don't, I don't want the good work that they're doing to stop. And so I want to find ways of, of participating in stuff like that. And I'd rather, I'd rather fight I'd rather put my energy towards making people's lives better in tangible ways, then nitpicking over exactly how we do it. And so I just don't feel like it's productive. For me to go on a crusade trying to convince everyone that God's not real, I'd rather convince everyone that we should alleviate suffering, and, and hopefully convince people, that there's actually suffering that exists that maybe you're ignoring because of your faith. And, yeah, and and those are the situations where I might try to nudge people and be like, Well, maybe you should consider this, but always with the, always with the posture that like I believe the best in you. If you know, and it really has missing sometimes from some of the atheist perspective, it's like, it's like, are we believing the best about people? And I, I think you can accomplish more if you're willing to do that.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:41 My goal is always to well, my concern is always how do people treat each other? And, and I am way more concerned about how someone treats their neighbor than I am with what some with what religion people believe. And, and so I feel like my goal when I talk to Christians is not to and I and actually, this is the first time I'm verbalizing this. I feel like my goal when I talk to Christians, and I still talk to quite a few, because I just refuse to cut ties with that world, I refuse to do it. And, you know, regardless of whether they run away screaming for me, I will always try to be hospitable to them. And my goal is to help them be a better Christian. Or my goal is to help them be a better person. And if that means helping them be a better Christian than so be it. You know, my goal is not to to d convert people. My goal is to help people be better. And if in the process of that someone ends up losing faith, that's fine. I don't I don't care. I just genuinely don't care what people believe and I care about How they treat each other.
John Steingard 50:01 Um, I think that I think that people's beliefs are best expressed by their actions. And so, exactly. And so I don't need you to tell me what you believe I just need to see how you live. And I'll know, you know, and, and by that measure, I actually know a lot of Christians that I, that I admire, because they're walking out their beliefs in a way that that I think is incredible. And no part of me wants to take that away from them, or to deprive the world of what they're doing, you know. And so, so, you know, I guess you could look at this in a somewhat pluralistic light, and go like, I think that good is worth aiming for. And we can have philosophical, you know, debates about why I think that, but you know, I think that if we're aiming for the most good for the most people, there's a lot of ways in which Christianity gets you part of the way there, and so does Buddhism, and so does Taoism. And so does, you know, Islam, and so does Hinduism, and Judaism and Jainism for sure. Yeah. So it's like, there's, I don't necessarily believe in the sort of metaphysical realities that most Christians believe in, and Heaven and Hell and all that stuff. But, but I do think that there's a lot of Christian values that that track fairly well with reality. I think that there's a few issues on which I would disagree. But but in the majority of cases, I, I think that most Christians, their faith tends to lead them to more or less be pretty good people. Yeah, when it's when it's walked out in a healthy way. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 51:56 I think that's probably true. And, you know, I know a lot of, in one of the reasons why I can't cut ties with parts of the Christian community is because I was saved by Christians. I mean, I, I don't mean that figuratively. I mean, really, literally, you know, when I was coming out, when I was coming to terms with my orientation, when I was at some of the darkest points in my life, it was radically loving Christians who saved me my life is a testimony to Christian love the fact that I am here, right now talking to you is a testimony of radical Christian love, who were willing to walk with me through some very, very dark places and affirmed my orientation and affirmed my life in a way that no one else did. You know, yeah, that's awesome. Which is, which is why it was so heartbreaking when I lost faith. Yeah, I didn't leave Christianity because I was hurt by it. Of course, I was hurt by it. And in a lot of ways, Christianity feels like an alcoholic parent. You know, it's kind of this brutal, abusive, love hate relationship that I have with it. But I didn't. That wasn't the reason why I left. I left because I just stopped believing in it. Yeah, yeah, that's,
John Steingard 53:24 that's me too, man. I think I think there's a lot of, there's a lot of times where there's this perception, within a faith, I'll speak for Christianity, because that's the one I'm most familiar with. That like, but there's this perception sometimes within it, that when you leave, it's because you have some horrible sin in your life, or you're trying to justify these awful things that you want to do. And you leaving the faith is how you justify it and,
Stephen Bradford Long 53:52 or you are so hurt. You were so wounded by the DRI that I couldn't exist in it any longer. Sure.
John Steingard 53:59 Yeah. And for me, it's like, I sort of left Christianity unwillingly. I mean, to a degree, I mean, I definitely, I walked out on my own two feet. So it's not like I was dragged out, but But it was my home and my community and my family and like, and it was everything for me. And, and so it's not like I it's not like I had a great time. I mean, I mean, throughout 2019, I was really processing all of this stuff, and studying and learning more and, and I got really depressed, I got real low. And I started going to therapy for the first time. And it it was amazing. Like, I mean for your, for your art for yourself or your audience. Audience if anyone considering even thinking about maybe going to therapy, stop thinking about it and just do it because I had a really good experience and it really helped me process things in a healthy way. And my therapist wasn't interested in trying to get me to believe anything in particular or disbelieve anything in particular, she just wanted to see me healthy. And I did 95% of the talking in our sessions, right. And, and she created a space for me to be able to work this stuff out. And she mostly asked really good questions. And I'm so grateful for for that experience. Because it really, it really helped me through what could have been a much darker time than it was.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:37 And how did how did your friends respond to this to you're coming out as a non believer?
John Steingard 55:46 Yeah. Mostly very, very friendly, mostly very kind. I know, a lot of them are sort of grieved by it. Because they, you know, they, most of my friends are still believers. And so I think to them, it was sad. And but I didn't have a lot of people hating on me, not people that knew me. People that knew me personally, were very, very kind. There was plenty of people on the internet that don't know me personally, that were there were plenty vicious.
Stephen Bradford Long 56:19 I read so many comments. You know, I remember. Actually, I remember hearing about this. I forget how many months ago this was when he first made that announcement. And then it blew up. And I was I think it was on like charisma magazine or something. Yeah, that sounds right. Yeah. And I was I was reading the comments on it. And I was like Jesus Christ, if they think if they think John Stein guard is the sign of the devil in our culture, and that was it was like, stuff like that, like, John Stein guard, losing faith is a sign of the times and that the church is crumbling, and just all kinds of crazy stuff like that. And Jesus Christ, we should never let them know that I exist.
John Steingard 57:01 Well, I mean, yeah, so what was super interesting to me, man, is that I had a number of friends sort of privately tell me things that they don't say publicly. As a result of me being very public. So I had, I had one friend that that came out to me as bisexual, privately, once once, he realized that I was a safe space to talk about it with and he's, he's not out publicly. But he's someone that I've been friends with for ages and ages. And I, I love him like, he's one of my dear friends. And, and I felt so honored that he shared that part of his, you know, his life with me and himself with me. So that was that was super cool. And, and then also, like, I had a number of my Christian friends privately tell me that they had, they had come around to believe Christian universalism, which is basically the idea that, that Jesus will save everyone in the end. And so that, you know, they told me like, I'm not worried about your soul, I believe you're going to heaven still. But I just, I'm saddened that you can't experience the reality of God's love here. And now. So I had some of that. And then I had a few people who are public figures in Christianity actively, that privately messaged me and said, You know, I haven't, I've actually, I haven't believed in yours. And I'm just stuck, like, wow, I don't have another career. I've put everything into this. And so I have to see it through and I don't have any other alternatives. Now you could nitpick with them and disagree with them about whether they have alternatives, but I feel empathy for their situation and going definite, you know, like, man, and like, we're talking like, artists, pastors, like imagine going your whole life as a pastor, and then ending up in, say, your 50s or 60s and then just realizing one day,
Stephen Bradford Long 59:00 you don't only leave this and it's your income, it's your entire community. It's your entire life. I mean, honestly,
John Steingard 59:05 you come out and as a as a non believer at that point, you have you lose everything.
Stephen Bradford Long 59:10 Yes. And and you have no support system to catch you as well. I mean,
John Steingard 59:15 and people will abandon you. Yes, they will. They might be nice to your face, but like all the stuff that counts will be gone. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 59:22 definitely. And it's interesting, you bring that up, because, you know, years ago, I I would encounter these people. This was back when I was still coming to terms with my orientation and being gay and I was still very much a Christian. But I encountered all these people who were in ministry, and either discovered they were gay and and couldn't be honest about it. Or we're in heterosexual marriages, and got married because they thought that it would fix them and now decades later, realize that it never did. And now and the words that one person told me was, I am living half a life. And I just made this vow that I would never put myself into a position where I couldn't be 100% honest about where I am. And that I just, I just wouldn't do it, that I'm not going to do it. And I think that that vow has served me pretty well. Good. I just, and so, you know, I was going to pursue ministry. I really, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Back Back. When I was in college, I was on a route to either becoming a pastor or youth ministry, you know, going into some kind of ministry. And I decided against it because I was like, I don't ever want to be put in a place where I have to stand up in front of people and lie. I just can't do that.
John Steingard 1:01:03 I identify with that so much. And it
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:05 honestly, it scared me watching these people. It's scared me away from it. Yeah.
John Steingard 1:01:10 Yeah, I feel the same thing. I, I realized, because I started doing video production work four or 556 years ago. And I was doing it while I was still in the band. I was sort of utilizing the downtime I had on show days during the day, you know, if I didn't have to do anything until like four or five in the afternoon, I had all day. So I would go on YouTube and learn, you know, filmmaking techniques and gear and all this stuff. And so I started doing film work, and that business really grew quickly. And fairly quickly, I realized I could do this full time if I wanted to. And for a time, I basically did the band full time and film work full time, which was not really good for my marriage. But but when it came time to sort of pick one, part of the reason that I went with video production and film film work is because, well, a, I was going to have the freedom to set my own schedule a lot more, and be home more with my family. And be it just it avoided the exact thing that you just talked about. Because I think at that point, I was beginning to have just the beginnings of of real doubt. And, and I was it's hard for me to know exactly how conscious this was for me or whether it was just under the surface. It's hard to know. But I think I knew a little bit at that point and a lot now that like I am I'm terrified by the idea that I might have to be beholden to a particular belief in order to continue paying my bills. Yes. And and
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:51 fine. Does people cherish people.
John Steingard 1:02:55 It's like if you it didn't scare me when I was for the most part when I was a believer, because I just assumed that this was part of me forever exam No, and, and then once you begin to question it, even the tiniest bit, you go whoa, whoa, whoa, like the consequences of this? Are? If I start doubting this, the consequences are massive. All right. Yeah, yeah. So I, you know, I think as I became more and more entrenched in the film work that I was doing, and less and less than ensconced in Christian culture. I like that transition coincided very, very neatly with my transition away from Christianity because I, I felt increasing levels of freedom and confidence going like, okay, I can ask these questions and go and we're not going to be destitute.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:44 Yeah, no. Yeah, definitely. So talk speaking of belief, if I may backtrack just a bit. Yeah. So in terms of what I believe, you know, you were you were asking earlier about my Satanism I would be incredibly remiss not to read to you the the tenets of the Satanic Temple and so when people ask me what do I believe? As a Satanist? This is what I believe these are the core Yeah, we're fundamental tenets of of tst. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures. In accordance with reason. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions. One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend, to willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forego one's own. beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world, one should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's belief. People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one's best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought, the spirit of compassion, wisdom and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word. So in terms of what I believe that's that's it, those those seven tenets are what I believe as a Satanist. Those, those are my core religious beliefs.
John Steingard 1:05:24 That's so reasonable, isn't it, though? Yeah. Well, I mean, there's like, there's very little in there, that that, that most people I, I struggle to find very, very much in there that most people would agree with.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:40 There's very little objectionable. There's a couple
John Steingard 1:05:43 things like I could see with most faiths, like, you know, I, one of the things you describe seem to indicate that reason sort of supersedes written commands like or scripture, something Yes, like that. So yeah, there's that Protestant Christian faith that I grew up in would have a problem with that one, but
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:00 also bodily autonomy. The Christian Yeah, I grew up in what happened on that one problem with bodily autonomy, but in general, and also, you know, they're, they're written to be deliberately vague, as well.
John Steingard 1:06:14 So but here's the thing, if you if you take abortion out of the equation, then I think most Christians would agree with the bodily autonomy thing. Absolutely. Yeah. So it's like, it's like the only reason that they're even going to a place where they might not feel the way that you feel about that is just on that one issue
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:32 or, you know, certain sexual practices as well. That would be a deal breaker for them. Probably.
John Steingard 1:06:38 Yeah. Yeah. I think I think that's right. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:40 And but but yeah, and you know, the, the tenants are written to deliberately vague, they're deliberately open ended and really the life of the Satanic Temple, a lot of it and you know, I'm not speaking as an official spokesperson, I'm just a member, who's kind of an observer and participant in this is a lot of the life comes from the ongoing conversation of what it means to embody the tenets and, and different people have different perspectives. And that's amazing.
John Steingard 1:07:14 Well, and it sounds updatable.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:07:17 Exactly, that's, that's the whole idea. And you know, Lucien Well, Lucien Greaves, the founder, he was just recently on the show, and he was tell he was talking about how you've probably seen our Baphomet, the, the, the image of our Baphomet. That's what everyone recognizes. He was talking about how one of the possibilities for the Baphomet was to engrave in stone in in the Baphomet itself on the back the seven tenets. And he decided not to do that, because he said that, that's kind of what we're avoiding. We don't want to engrave these things in stone, they have to be open to, to being updated. And, you know, we don't want TST to go through what church of Satan has gone through, which is where Anton LaVey dies, and and now the followers have have just kind of calcified his words as holy writ, and
John Steingard 1:08:11 right. And it's which is, which is potentially part of the problem with
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:16 see what touches all religion now, all because
John Steingard 1:08:19 because this is the thing about religion is that is that. And I try to challenge my Christian friends on this point, when you have a holy scripture of some kind, that scripture becomes non updatable. And when when all of your beliefs are based on that, then it essentially locks you into a way of thinking that's that's, that's entrenched in however people thought, whenever that scripture was written, minus the interpretation, which changes which, of course, people don't want to admit, changes, like, No, we're, we're interpreting it properly. I'm like, well, so So says you but you know, the other 47,000 denominations disagree.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:03 I think it's actually the exact opposite. I think, I think the real life of religion is actually the tradition. And, and it is the tradition that Alex would agree with you on. Yes, yeah. And I and I agree with the Catholics on this, where and even this is even true of biblical literalist. I, I think that religion is a social construct. And and as such, you know, it's kind of this ongoing living thing. And religion exists in the minds of people, not in the words of a book.
John Steingard 1:09:37 And I think that that's true, but I think at least from the circles that I come from, there would not be a willingness to admit that that
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:46 Oh, no, no, this is this is definitely a this is definitely a matrix kind of situation. Where, you know, I think that a lot of people would be afraid to admit that I Yeah, and I think Well
John Steingard 1:10:00 as they wouldn't like, for instance, like, most of my Christian friends would not, would not, would not
Stephen Bradford Long 1:10:06 would not concede it. And I think that they're wrong. You know, a lot of my my Christian friends would as well refuse to concede it. But the reality is we are always reading and we are always interpreting if we aren't in the book doesn't exist.
John Steingard 1:10:21 One of the things I like to I like to do is I like to challenge my Christian friends, on the issue of, of affirming the LGBTQ community. So one of the one of the things that that I tried to communicate, it's like, Hey, if you like in your gut, because when I was a Christian, like, when when the same sex marriage law was passed by the Supreme Court, my gut feeling right away was like, this is a good thing. Exactly. Yeah. I just that was my gut feeling. And I was a full on believing Christian at that time. And I knew that I couldn't say that publicly. Because I,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:10:57 you would experience what, what the jars of clay got Dan Hazleton, what he went through, where he didn't even come out in full support. He didn't even come out in full support. He was just like, hey, guys, maybe we should stop being assholes about this. And that almost cost him his career. It actually,
John Steingard 1:11:15 I mean, it basically did. Because after that, they had to radically change the way that they did their band, because they weren't. I mean, I didn't see them at Christian festivals for a while after that.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:25 Wow. Amazing. Yeah, but,
John Steingard 1:11:28 you know, so. So. So one of the things I try to communicate to my Christian friends who maybe share that gut instinct, but are having a hard time justifying it within the, within the culture of Christianity that they're a part of, as I say, look, okay, so you and I both agree that slavery is not awesome, right? That that the fact the fact that we no longer believe that slavery is okay. You and I would agree that that's a, that is a good thing. And we've that's progress, right? And they would they always say, Oh, yes, that's progress. And I said, Okay, well, the Bible pretty clearly is fine with slavery. And and I could show you all kinds of verses that indicate that I think that you and I would agree that even with like Christian within Christian values, the journey from being okay with slavery, to not being okay with slavery is, is an expansion of, of, of the very same grace and love and kindness that you have already, as a Christian, it's an expansion of that to, to be a better representation of and a better expression of those, those beliefs and those values. In the same way, I think expanding to include affirmation of the LGBTQ community's right to exist in the first place, plus their their legal rights to have to be able to, you know, Mary, and, and be in a relationship that's committed the same way that my wife and I are. That's an expansion of that love and grace and kindness that you already value in the same way that it was expanded to say that slavery was wrong. And so by affirming the LGBTQ community, you are, you're participating in a tradition that Christianity and Christians everywhere have already participated in, you know, and I'm, I'm harkening back to the thing that you mentioned about tradition, like, like, let's like, I firmly believe, 100 years from now. Nobody is going to think that, you know, same sex marriage is wrong. Agreed. You know what I mean? We're gonna look back and be like, that was so backwards, the same way that we look back at slave owners and be like, I can't
Stephen Bradford Long 1:13:48 believe they were, or interracial marriage, you know, interracial marriage. I'm just
John Steingard 1:13:53 like, come on. Like, we look back at that. And we're shocked that we ever thought it was a bad thing. And it's going to be the same with same sex marriage and, and homosexuality and bisexuality. And, you know, transsexuality I mean, like, it's gonna be the same, and by clinging to dogmatically to six verses in the Bible that mentioned homosexuality, in a context that the homosexual practices that existed at that time look nothing like they do today. clinging to that, I just think you're on the wrong side of history if you do that.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:14:30 And, you know, this is exactly what I was talking about earlier, where it's like, my goal is to help Christians be better Christians, and this, these kinds of conversations have of pushing them on on certain issues. It's like I'm trying to get them to be better to get them to to a Christian theology that allows them to be a better person. Yeah, because I see that as an easier battle. You know, it's like it's, it's an easier battle to push them more towards accepting theologies than it is to push them towards godlessness, you know, to be the, the godless heathen that I am?
John Steingard 1:15:12 I? Well, I mean, I think a lot of it comes back to what we've already talked about, it's like assuming the best about people, absolutely. No, if you if it, I always try to take the approach, like I had, you know, I've had conversations with relatives of mine that believe differently than I do. And, and I've always, you know, especially on the, you know, homosexual issue, I always say, like, look like I know you to be a loving person, and someone who wants to be kind and loving and supportive of other human beings, like, that's who you are. So I want to encourage you and help you find a way to extend that beyond the people that you've been able to feel like you were free to extend it to so far. And and if I can help you do that, I'm way more interested in that conversation than I am in convincing you that God's not real, you know?
Stephen Bradford Long 1:16:08 Yeah. So it really sounds like a lot of what is motivating you is this goal to, to help other people and yourself just be better human beings. It's like, yeah, how do we, how do we treat each other better? And
John Steingard 1:16:23 right, well, and then I get like, a little bit irritated when I get caught, you know, talking to a Christian apologist who convinces you know, he's trying to convince me that I have no, I have no grounding and reason to even Oh, my God, undertake that it's your eyes, man. I'm just like, and I'm just like, Okay, well, we can have that conversation. But it takes away from, you know, it's a cheap point to me. Yeah. And, and, you know, and then we'll end up inevitably talking about Nazis. You know, it always goes there. It's true. It's like, well, if you believe morality is subjective, then Mother Teresa is no different than Hitler. And I'm like, Well, they're both humans. So in a way, they were no different. Yeah. But, but, you know, you're trying to get me to say something that makes me sound horrifying. And, and that doesn't mean you're right.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:17:21 You know, Mother Teresa was actually a terrible person. What she actually yeah, she was, in my opinion, in my opinion, she was a terrible person.
John Steingard 1:17:30 Maybe I need to do some research because that really bums me out.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:17:33 She fetishized death, and withheld treatment from people in a way that was really horrifying. And she was a very, she was a deeply ill woman, and the fact that any of us have, have canonized her as as, like this icon of, of human rights is just absurd. And that is entirely my opinion. There are people maybe Hitler All right, well, we need to wrap this up. But on that, I don't know how we're coming back from that now that now that now that I have destroyed your your vision of Mother Teresa, no.
John Steingard 1:18:18 I mean, she's in the foundations of my life, man. He was a deeply complicated person.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:18:23 And I'm not gonna say she was evil because I think that's too simplistic, but she did do some really problematic things. And she, she's she's much darker, she is a much darker person than I think of her popular image. Anyway, with that said, this has been great. I've thoroughly enjoyed this. And you're welcome back anytime. And
John Steingard 1:18:49 thank you so much for a great conversation, man. I really appreciate it. And pleasure.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:18:54 Let's stay in touch. Let's stay in touch. I feel like I feel like we have a lot more to talk about.
John Steingard 1:19:00 I think we scratched the surface I
Stephen Bradford Long 1:19:02 think yes, absolutely. So you're welcome back on the show anytime and and also, let's just let's keep talking because I feel like there's a lot more there
John Steingard 1:19:10 to talk about awesome. Sounds good, man. Thank you, of course.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:19:13 All right. Well, that is it for this show. The music is by the jelly rocks and eleventy seven you can find them on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. The show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings. As always hail satan. We'll see you next week. I was six years old Promise. Season