Podcasts/Sacred Tension-ST Godless Awe8tmu7

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ST_Godless_Awe8tmu7 SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, christianity, feel, world, fucking, life, christian, music, person, experience, culture, rock candy, creating, weird, church, podcast, marilyn manson, talking, conversations, god SPEAKERS Timothy McPherson, 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 01:00 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. All right. Well, before we get started, we have just a few pieces of housekeeping. First, as always, I have to thank my patrons they are enabling my crippling content creation addiction, and I truly could not do this without them. So for this week, I have to thank Jeremy 13, Sarah, Justin and Paul, thank you so much. I truly could not do this without you. Last month, I had to repair my van and all of you are the only reason I was able to do that. So for people who wonder what my patron funds are going to it really is like going to practical life stuff like repairs and mortgage and keeping my six cat children alive. So thank you so much. And if you want to join there, if anyone in the audience wants to join their number, just go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. For $1 to $10 a month you get extra content every single week including my second podcast house of heretics with the former Salvation Army officer Timothy McPherson

Timothy McPherson 02:28 or $1,000 a month is also an option. He just decides that they want to be that that generous, it's still going to the same place still going to all that positivity absolute. All this all this van repairs.

Stephen Bradford Long 02:44 Thank you, Matt. I'm also one of the

Matt Langston 02:47 totally inappropriate for me to jump in.

Stephen Bradford Long 02:49 No, that's fine. You shouldn't jump it. I don't care. You're welcome. All right. Also, one of the best ways to support the show is to leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth sharing with others. So I'm going to read a positive review. This is from Ari ordinay Wozniak in Great Britain. They say my favorite podcast by far sacred tension is a brilliant podcast, educational, witty and thought provoking, hosted by one of the friendliest non theistic Satanists you'll ever meet. Each episode is the highlight of my week. Very sweet. That's very nice. And if you kind would also like to leave a nice review or maybe a not nice review. Maybe maybe you have some nasty things to say about me if you leave us if you leave a review like that. I'll read that one on there too. So all right. Well, with all of that out of the way, Matt Langston. Hello. Hi. How's it going doing it?

Matt Langston 03:53 We're hanging out we're hanging out in the virtual in the virtual lounge.

Stephen Bradford Long 03:58 Yes, this is the first time that we've done something not in person.

Matt Langston 04:02 Yeah, it feels kind of weird because I'm so used to you either being over here or me being over there. But let's be honest, anytime that happens, it's an all day affair. It is an all day affair. Like if we could do like half an hour's worth of content and then the next five hours are just goofing off and falling off porches and it's just you know, it's a heavy day. It's a heavy day.

Stephen Bradford Long 04:28 It is a heavy day. Yeah, no, I did fall off my porch last year. And it was a humiliating moment in my life. And like I so I had like a wicker chair thing, and the back leg had just inch off the back of support.

Matt Langston 04:50 Like replaying this in my mind as you're talking. I'm

Stephen Bradford Long 04:53 just as lowly sailed backwards. I ended on my upper back and like rolled over my head and just rolled down the hill along with like all the cushions in my laptop and books and just it was it was profoundly

Matt Langston 05:16 it was I mean for you is profoundly humiliating for the rest of us. I got to see it. I feel like it's it's still continued to be a wellspring of joy and hope in our lives. I don't think I've ever seen a human being go through as many as half a second as I did. It was like surprise, all fear, and then existential dread. And then all of a sudden, it was just like acceptance of your face. I saw your legs fly over your head. It was it was pretty amazing. Yeah, I give anything to rewatch that it holds up after multiple views. So

Stephen Bradford Long 06:00 it just like dude, okay, so

Matt Langston 06:02 yes.

Stephen Bradford Long 06:05 You have a first of all, Hi, how are you? How's it going?

Matt Langston 06:12 Great. Great. I'm doing so good. I spent the entire day yesterday with Jessica in the rain. You're just to clarify, she is your wife, Jessica is my wife. And and yeah, she had a day off of work. And we were trying to figure out what to do. And we're about to start doing respite for teenagers. So we've got some different things we need to buy for the house. Like we legally have to have like a chest of drawers there and we don't have them. So I was like, well, let's go to IKEA and see because you're fucking peasants. Because we're peasants. And, yeah, it was just an entire day in the rain. IKEA's out of everything. Which if I was paying attention to anything, literally anything happening in the world right now, I would have known that. But yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 06:58 so we should probably tell everyone who you are. Since it's been a while since your you've been on the show. So you are Matt Langston frontman of eleventy, seven, and also King of the Rock Candy universe, which is the podcast network that we're on and you do the music for the show. And longtime friend you were you were the one who got this show started. You're the one I went to. When I was like, hey, I want to do a show. Can you help me start it? That was four years ago. And you were though oh

Matt Langston 07:26 my god. It feels like six months? Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 07:30 that was four years. That was 2017. That was August of 2017 when the show started Oh

Matt Langston 07:34 my god. Yeah, that's That's so crazy, though. That's the That's the origin story. That's your villain origin story.

Stephen Bradford Long 07:42 That is the villain origin story. And so you were the one who midwifed this show into existence and you do the music at with eleventy seven. And you have been a friend of the show ever since. So yeah, there you have it's true. A friend a friend of Steven, so you have a new album out. It's called Revenge of the mountain medley it's very country and let's see i i described it as it makes me want to fuck a trucker in a cornfield. It's great. So good. It's it's really, really good. And it's like a follow up to oh, he's taking his shirt off. It's hot in here. Okay, so

Matt Langston 08:27 I'm sorry, you. You said trucker and I immediately got you you immediately got

Stephen Bradford Long 08:31 hot and bothered to just rip your clothing off. Yeah, Revenge of the mountain medley. It's like a follow up to a thing you did 10 years ago. And the previous one has your biggest song ever that has blown up. Hold on. Let me see how many listens? I was gonna say dandelion wine. I was like No wait. That's Ray Bradbury's

Matt Langston 08:56 Dandelion Wine.

Stephen Bradford Long 08:58 3,816,208 listens on Spotify for Appalachian wine. So that's Wow, that's a lot.

Matt Langston 09:09 Several.

Stephen Bradford Long 09:11 And this is a follow up album to that. And I kind of feel like a lot changed between then and now. Because I think back then, so you released the first one in 2012. And you're still a Christian back then. Correct?

Matt Langston 09:30 Yeah, shit. Yeah, absolutely. 2012 I would have absolutely described myself as a Christian and even back then sort of knowing how problematic that is and not not necessarily feeling a sense of pride in that, but yeah, it was that was totally so yeah. 1010 years ago, we released this album. It was supposed to be a complete joke. We were just kind of ripping off all of these weird folk tunes and stories that we had heard growing up. And then the one like serious song on that whole EP was this narrative that I wrote that was kind of based off a lot of Native American lore in origin stories, and it ended up being like the, I guess, the most popular thing that we've done to date, but it sounds nothing like us. And it was completely by accident. So yeah, the, the universe has a nice way of like, high fiving you but in the face.

Stephen Bradford Long 10:30 You're previously punk rock, and then synth pop. And the one thing that blows the fuck up? Is this random countries? None of that. So yeah, now and I'll put some music from Revenge of the mountain madly in this episode, maybe maybe at the close, so people can wait and hear it at the varia Yeah,

Matt Langston 10:59 it's not it's not worth getting into now.

Stephen Bradford Long 11:01 Yeah, we don't need to do like a track by track tear down now with this new one revenge. You're writing from a very, very different place. It's a where would you describe this place in comparison to the place from which you wrote attack?

Matt Langston 11:19 Um, that's a really great question. You know, I sort of feel like a lot of the things that I write are kind of trying to are, they're sort of like therapy. For me, there are things that I wish that people were reminding me of, or these narratives or stories that I need to remind myself of, and most of the time, it ends up sounding pretty happy, because I struggle with my mental health a lot. And so part of my part of what I've worked into the art histories that I feel like I'm trying to put out to the world are kind of these reminders that like, everything's gonna be fine. You know, these sort of pick me up sort of anthems, you know, just to kind of ingest after coffee. It is great warning with medication.

Stephen Bradford Long 12:05 Like, oh, think all of your all of your music is like fantastic morning music. Like if I'm super fucking hungover, and I was up till 3am And I have to, like, pull my shit together and get to work or else I'll get fired. Some 11 D seven is what the doctor ordered.

Matt Langston 12:25 Yeah, that's true. It's kind of like every time you stream in 11 D song online, a Satanist gets his coffee. And that's the magic. Okay, okay, magic. We're really going for it. Okay, speaking.

Stephen Bradford Long 12:37 Speaking of which, I have to say this as so just to encapsulate the spiritual journey that you have been on. Right, right over over the past 10 years, you went from being a Christian pop artist who would play Christian festivals and churches all over the place to last year? No, this year, your music was the theme music for the Satanic Temple ordination course.

Matt Langston 13:10 That sounds so fun to almost forgotten about that sounds so silly when you say it out loud.

Stephen Bradford Long 13:15 So so your music is is the theme music? I think it's from a which song was it? It was from from Red? No, not from Red science. It was from basic Liches birthright. The song birthright is like the theme song for the ordination course. So every ordination of course, a video opens and closes with the instrumentals from that song.

Matt Langston 13:42 Yeah, I mean that it's, it's quite a character arc. Yes, it go from like, you know, fist pumping pop punk anthems about God, you know, at Christian music festivals in the 2000s.

Stephen Bradford Long 13:55 Listen, I was there too. I was I was at those Christian music festivals. So I have been on that arc as well.

Matt Langston 14:02 They were super fun. I mean, if everyone wasn't being sexually shamed, and given a lot of trauma to work through later on in there. Oh, yeah. It was a good

Stephen Bradford Long 14:12 time. It wasn't good time. No cornerstone was a good time as fucking dysfunctional and awful as that place was. It had some good moments.

Matt Langston 14:22 Yeah, that's a that's the thing. Like, I definitely like growing up. We talked about this on the podcast before, but like I very much come from this like youth group culture was felt like a very religious teenager, like I was very devout. Whatever thing that I was going to be into, I was going to try to do it to the best of my ability now that played out really differently within like once we got signed to a record label and we started touring around the world. And it was all of a sudden we were just like thrust into like the butthole of Protestant evangelicalism all across America,

Stephen Bradford Long 14:58 right and at the rollout ans,

Matt Langston 15:01 yes, American Christianity. And that's kind of what it was like, but you just you see too much at one time, like us, you saw all the worst parts of that. And it was like, kind of through that experience that all of us kind of started scratching our heads going, Well, wait a minute, this is different. And everything we've been told about the world is kind of not true. And it seems like most of the people that we're encountering, that are manipulating this message of like, peace and hope and harmony and oneness with everything are fucking it up for everybody. And they're using shame as this tool to control and manipulate. I could go on for hours about this.

Stephen Bradford Long 15:40 That's great. Go on, go on for hours.

Matt Langston 15:43 Yeah, but I just I sort of came to a point where I was like, No, I, I need to get in touch with myself, I need to continue doing my own research about these things. Like I've always had really hard questions to sort of ask about Christianity, and never got any answers. And so when I decided to start looking for those answers myself, and not only that, just acknowledging what's happening around me, acknowledging the damage that that culture is doing, and acknowledging the things that it did to me growing up, that I'm still having to sift through, I think it was, it was one of the hardest, but healthiest things that I've ever experienced in my life. Very, very proud of some of the things that we were able to do like proud of a lot of the love that got shared and spread and the fun that we had playing shows and being a part of that crowd. But yeah, I think it became really clear to us that we had zero interest in propping up an evangelical agenda. And being a part of that machine. So ultimately, we just ended up leaving it and left the Christian music industry and ultimately left our, our faith to some degree. But when people say that, when people say, Oh, you left your faith, it's weird, because I don't feel that internally. I feel like, oh, no, I just, I just moved past some I just, you just grew. Yeah, I just grew, I don't know. And it's, it sounds weird to say, like, leveled up, because I don't, it's not coming from a place of feeling like I'm better than anybody or I understand something that other people don't or that have anything that other people don't. It's just no, this was always going to happen. I was always going to intellectually get to this place where I have to leave this other stuff behind the lesser truth gives way to the greater. Right. So yeah, that's like a little how it felt for

Stephen Bradford Long 17:41 me. So it's like you saw the sausage being made?

Matt Langston 17:45 Yeah, you see the sausage being made. And you also see that, like, people, people were looking for how there's, there's some beautiful imagery and story, and metaphor and allegory in Christianity, and there's still parts of it that I absolutely love. And that informed my life even to this day, but it's the kind of thing where it's like, once you're outside of it, you can't go back. Like, once your understanding of that has shifted everything, everything kind of changes.

Stephen Bradford Long 18:16 Yeah, I have a friend I've had I have several friends because I I try to stay connected to various religious traditions. And that, to me, is part of my Satanism because Satan rejects false binaries, He's the great Trespasser of boundaries. And so I stay connected with a lot of Christians, and those are meaningful friendships to me, and I don't want to lose them. And I call myself an ecumenical slut. Like, I just get down with all of the religions like I, I want to, I want to hang out and get to know all of people from all different types of backgrounds and religious backgrounds. But yes, one of my I have several Christian friends who have told me in various ways, I don't think Jesus has done with you yet and he is going to actually use those used those words. So

Matt Langston 19:15 scary. And I don't think I've done with you Yes,

Stephen Bradford Long 19:19 yes. Yes, it's like 50 Shades of Grey like I'm not done with you yet.

Matt Langston 19:24 50 Shades of Grey, Stephen. And I'm like,

Stephen Bradford Long 19:31 once you know, once that cat is out of the bag, it you can't

Matt Langston 19:38 it's you can't put the toothpaste back. You can't

Stephen Bradford Long 19:40 put the toothpaste back in the tube. You can't put the horse back in the barn. It's the metaphors go on the IKEA I don't feel like I could ever fit myself back into that belief system. Its impact possible I feel like I would have to somehow break the laws of physics in order to do that. Because what I know about myself has so utterly transformed. I cannot get back in to that right it would be Embraceable. And Christian faith in general I'm in I mean, credo Christian faith, believing that Christ was born of a virgin was crucified dead and buried on the third day rose again, I mean, just basic, that that you know, God is three in one Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, like the basic shit that is central.

Matt Langston 20:35 These are like the greatest hits of Christianity. Yes, exactly. Virgin Birth three and one fathers. Oh, now preach.

Stephen Bradford Long 20:47 So, so yeah, the basic stuff like the creedal faith that's in the apostles and Nicene Creed, I don't think I will ever be able to return to that. And I in order to do so it would take, it would be like, I would have to, like enter a black hole and go through a wormhole in order to do that. Because it knowing what I now know, about myself about the world, about things like the human mind, and meditation and spirituality, I don't think I will ever be able to return to that.

Matt Langston 21:26 I think, yeah, my biggest understanding of Christianity that I felt like shifted was that once I was kind of outside of it, it it made perfect sense to me in that Christianity is a way of experiencing a oneness with everything in the same way that many other religions are. It is a set of, of beliefs, and stories and narratives that are constantly in the person of Christ, constantly inviting people in different parts of culture, specifically for the time that he was here, inviting people into the oneness of all things. And my experience growing up with Christianity is that everything I learned, or was indoctrinated with was to experience to lean into my separateness. From everything, and how different that was, and it was in it just became this toxic and damaging thing in my life. Having said that, I it's like, it's this weird thing where I don't have I feel like I have more empathy now, for other Christians than I did when I was on the inside of Christianity, too. Yeah, I also. Yeah, I also feel like I have more in common with a lot of Christians now. Yes, yes. Yes, absolutely. It's almost like everything that Christianity was promising me or that people told me that God was about and was for, I've never found in Christianity, I only found it outside of it. And that's just my personal experience. It was this weird kind of Christianity, where we, if you weren't a Christian, at some point, things were gonna get awkward, right? If at some point, somebody realized that you didn't sort of align with that theology, or that you had these beliefs that the church at large would have considered to be heretical, that's going to have like a massive effect on the rest of your relationships and within the community of people that you're a part of, because all of a sudden, you've become an outsider. You know, you've asked one question too many, or you've decided that you're not going to submit to the authority of the Church, whatever the fuck that means. And so you're, you're lesser than your outside of the group, you're not quite the chosen few anymore. And I always thought that was kind of horseshit.

Stephen Bradford Long 23:45 Yeah, you know that, that reminds me of this very bizarre process that I've gone through, and you've probably you probably relate to it as well, where I was, at one time very much an insider within the church, as an insider, I would have specific types of conversations with people. Yeah, I would hear what people actually thought about shit, right? And then I shifted to being an outsider. And suddenly, the way my former fellow Christians perceived me drastically changed. And it was this very weird experience of being suddenly on the outside of this culture that I was raised in that I was embedded in and noticing the tangible shift in how people interacted with me. Yeah, and and the ways in which people saw saw me how they would interact with me, the ways they would edit themselves or phrase things. It was very subtle, but it it was just a like a weird, fascinating transition. And there was very clearly an inside and an outside like, you know, when you're on the inside or the outside it with that world that

Matt Langston 25:01 you experience very viscerally the cognitive bias that people have. Oh, yeah, you are for you.

Stephen Bradford Long 25:07 Oh, yeah, definitely. Do you? Do you ever miss that world though? Like, are there? Is there anything from evangelical Christianity that you actually miss?

Matt Langston 25:20 So real talk, I've had people who were very close to me, who were some of the sweetest, kindest, most well meaning people in the world. And they always, I feel like they asked me questions like this, where they're like, Well, what but you know, what's the one thing that you really miss about Christianity and, and they're all within the context of these conversations, it always kind of goes back to community. And it's this idea that somehow because I don't identify as a Christian anymore, that I've lost that community of the church, that I've lost that sense of belonging and purpose, and that very human desire to be a part of something greater and to be experiencing life with other people. And I always feel like they phrase it to me in this way. That's kind of like a gotcha moment, or supposed to be a gotcha moment. Like, see, not everything about Christianity was bad. No, you're absolutely right. They're beautiful, wonderful things about Christianity. And we have friends who are very much a part of those bodies of believers. And I'm not like actively inviting them to not do that. It's not for me to evangelize anything else to anybody. I got so much of that in the church, and I'm not willing to perpetuate my own understanding of how people should live their lives anymore. But yeah, I feel like my sense of community only grew outside of that, like maybe there was a short season, where it was like, Oh, well, we're kind of shunned by people. They're asking us to come to church, or people don't want to have you know, these sorts of Bible study discussions with us anymore. But the amount of empathy that I started to have and started to grow for other people, opened up the community of people that I hang out with to be more inclusive, it was everything the church kept saying that community was supposed to be, and it didn't happen until I was outside of the church. And now it's like I don't I love having conversations with people of different faith, I find it infinitely fascinating. I'm way more interested in people's stories and how their faith has shaped their life. Whether or not they're Christian or something else, all of it feels safe to me now. Yeah, all of it feels like fair game, it just feels like I just want to know, I want to understand you because this miracle of creation that we're living in right now, is the thing that this miracle of consciousness that we can interact with each other, that we can share those experiences and have have a greater collective experience together. And we don't have to put these labels on it or have to be in the church to have that happen.

Stephen Bradford Long 27:52 Yeah. So where what would you describe as your spirituality now?

Matt Langston 27:57 Um, that's a really great question. I feel like it's, I feel like I'm just trusting myself more. When I, when I come into contact with beliefs or teachings, or I don't know, stoicism, that that I find really helpful or that I feel like resonates with me or that feels true. I lean into that I've learned how to trust myself. I feel like a lot of what the church did was like, basically berate you into never being able to trust your emotions, never being able to trust your feelings and never being able to trust your gut. Because you could always interpret the Bible as do at saying that your gut is wrong. So you're constantly in this weird double mindedness all the time, because you're like, Well, I'm witnessing things that I don't necessarily agree with. But the Bible says this is fine. But why is that? Okay? And that's not I, gosh, probably four or five years ago, I was introduced to a lot of the teachings of ROM Das, and that led to these thinkers like Alan Watts, I got really into some, some Buddhist practices, have been doing research into the Hindu religion, all of it just feels all of it feels like free. And like I can experience this, this world and these beliefs and these different ways of interfacing with the miracle that we're all here in a completely safe way, and I can decide for myself, which ones of those things work for me and which ones don't? Yeah, and that's something I was discouraged against doing when I was in. Christianity was always like, there's only one true religion, there's only one thing and I'm like, Okay, so you've got a monopoly on truth. So you've decided based off of almost no, almost no, like understanding of what religion has looked like throughout the course of the existence of man, that somehow you've got the thing and And this is how we're all supposed to do it right here in the middle of fucking nowhere South Carolina. Okay. The hubris

Stephen Bradford Long 30:09 I feel like there's this perception that Christianity slash monotheism has a monopoly on all all at the universe wonder at the world around us kind of a, a mystical or at the way things are. And I don't know if so I would describe myself as an atheist as a atheist slash non theist. I liked your word. Sure. I'd like to call myself a non theist, though because it when people ask me what it means I just say, a non theist as an atheist who isn't an asshole about it. And but one of the misunderstandings that I run into all the time is people assume that kind of a mystical all at the nature of the universe, and the fact of being and consciousness and the cosmos. Yeah, can only be experienced with a particular supernatural dogma that I can only have that if I believe in a particular God. And what I have found in my own experience, and this isn't this probably isn't true for everyone. But it's true for me is that when I left that, behind my sense of expansive wonder, yes, world is so much more palpable. It's overwhelming now. It's, it's like this, this all that feels like it just threatens to intoxicate me. Whereas I would only ever have that, in tiny glimmering moments in Christianity, and it I really feel like my faith was actually a buffer against sheer reality and sheer mystery. Right, right. And I think that, you know, I am a Satanist. That's my religious identity. Right? deeper than that. I am a practitioner of a religion of the present moment, right? Like a I am a practitioner of a religion of the fundamental wonder and inexplicable pneus of reality. And just seeing in perpetual, all of that. I mean, just like the fact that anything exists at all, and I have no fucking clue why. Yeah, that is insane. The mystery of consciousness, I have this this conscious experience of the world, it is like something to be me. And yeah, why is that? And I will never know.

Matt Langston 32:53 Yeah, cuz you, you and I have sort of, we have very paralleling experiences, you know, I feel like within Christianity in our understanding of it, and we have a lot of conversations about oh, shit, this thing happened when I was when I was growing up. And now I realize how it's affecting me. Now. It's affecting the way that I view people. And it's where a lot of my therapy adds in those kinds of conversations and stuff. But I, I couldn't have said that any more eloquently. You're exactly right. It is it's almost like somebody just takes the veil off the universe, and everything is fair game to be in awe of yes, there. It's no longer like trying to spending all of this mental energy deciding, well, this is this is good. And this is bad. This, this thing must be evil and lead to destruction. And this thing must be the straight and narrow path. For me, it's like, those are the kinds of things that I understand the Bible is actually talking about, you know, Adam and Eve in the garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's like, to me that narrative was all about like, don't like quit deciding that, you know, because the the thing was that you would somehow know the difference between right and wrong, that you would know the difference between the sacred and the secular. And for me, I feel like where I've landed now is that, oh, no, no, no, all of it is the miracle of just us being here is sacred. It plays itself out in these weird and kind of fucked up way sometimes. But you only create more separateness amongst you and within your heart and your ability to interface with other people's hearts. When you're deciding when you're making these kinds of judgments about your reality around you. I know this might sound kind of heady, and

Stephen Bradford Long 34:42 no, no, this is great. I mean, it reminds me of something that my friend, Pinna move from the Satanic Temple talks about he and I think this might be actually the title of a book that he references a lot but he talks about how when there is no God, everything sacred. Right, right. And yeah, there is. And he did a service a while ago about the concept of holiness and how holiness and unholiness are almost like a false binary. And, yeah, that's very much the experience that I have, that I have. I have this even deeper sense of profound holiness and sacred and you know, holiness probably isn't the right word. I would call it sacredness. Yeah. Or something divine, something divine. Yeah. And I know that it's really strange for probably very strange for people to, to hear I call myself an atheist, and I use words like, divine and spiritual and mystical. But to me that is not at all a contradiction in the same way that I don't think religion requires God or the supernatural. I don't think mysticism requires God or the supernatural, I think, I think those are false binaries that we have in the West, that are very western centric, and very Protestant. And also very informed by people like Richard Dawkins and the new atheist movement. Right. Yeah. And absolutely. So for me it. It doesn't make sense to divorce mysticism from a lack of belief. I mean, it right, because to me, mysticism is something fundamental to human nature. It's something it's like saying, to me, it's almost like saying, well, because you no longer believe in the evangelical view of marriage. You now have to forego orgasm. Right, it's like, yeah, I mean, yeah, that's how absurd is. That's how absurdist it feels to say they're, you know, how can you consider yourself a mystic if you don't believe in God or the supernatural? I'm like, No, mysticism is a fundamental feature of humanity in the same way orgasm. I won't say everyone experiences it, but most people do. And to, and it's almost like saying, well, because you don't believe any particular religious view of how that should happen in a particular type of marriage, then you should no longer experience it. That's what it seems like to me.

Matt Langston 37:31 Right. Right. Yeah, I agree with that. I agree with those sentiments.

Stephen Bradford Long 37:36 I want to go back to something that you said earlier on. The you said that you saw the sausage being made in the Christian industry, what, what was the sausage? What were the specific things? What What were the particular things that you saw that were where you were like, Oh, this, isn't it?

Matt Langston 37:56 I think I think seeing a lot of the well it was it was a lot of different things. I'll try to itemize a few of the greatest hits. One of the most egregious things I think that we saw was the the celebrity worship of people, the platforming of people who were incredibly toxic and bullying individuals. It was this worship of the cult of personality. And this is like, you know, the rise of the mega pastor that you can kind of trace back from the fifth comes in the building on Mark Driscoll era, the Mark Driscoll is of the world and it's easy to point the finger at people like him who had this, like, you know, massive fall. But it's also even more disturbing that in our experience, most of these like megachurch type places, and we've met a lot of these pastors, I won't go into like details and name names or anything but the power players in the Americanized Christianity, I don't think we've met a single one of them that there wasn't something concerning or are very different from than what we understood Christianity to be the way that they sort of created this cult of personality around them, the way that they became the Christ of their own situation, that they protected their own power, the way that they had a narrative about themselves that they equated as being divine, that how everybody was always saying that they were chosen by God or God had put them in that place. And then you get, you know, 1520 minutes with other people at that church and all of a sudden you realize like, oh, there's all kinds of like sexual misconduct and this youth pastors like fucking these three kids and you know, so and so is trying to keep it, keep it under wraps, and then there's all this this weird sort of vying for power and pastoral positions within the it's just it is creating the same bullshit over and over and over again. But somehow, it's okay. Because it's all being done under the guise of Christianity. No, it's you're creating a business, you're creating a power structure, you're creating a president of a company, you're creating a CEO, and you're giving them all the power that comes along with that. But instead of just letting them do regular business shit, and we can decide on how well that's doing, because either stocks go up or they go down, this is tied to a religious belief that you have. So this person clearly going off the rails into like narcissism is in charge of and believe that they're in charge of the spiritual well being and health of an entire group and flock of people. And that's really dangerous. Yeah, this is like Mark Driscoll is not the only passed on all the Hillsong shit that's been going on.

Stephen Bradford Long 40:51 I don't know what his function has been going on. People can look it up on online, or do you want to do a little bit of what's going on at Hillsong?

Matt Langston 40:59 I'll just say, like, all of the all the major players in this, we were telling people this like in 2009, or 10, you know, when we were still Christians, we were still like a part of it and trying to be actively engaged in that this is a house of cards. And if you think that like Mark Driscoll is the problem he's not like, or that pastors like Mark Driscoll the problem they're not it's an entire culture, that platforms people like that. Yeah. And it's a sinister way of manipulating people emotionally, not for their own benefit. But for the profit of institutions. And egos. It really

Stephen Bradford Long 41:36 reminds me of the yoga world, honestly. So I was for people who don't know I was a yoga teacher for years. And I might go back to teaching yoga. My my teaching was put on hold because of the pandemic, but the the yoga world is just so terrifying. Because the vast majority of yoga gurus that I can think of are just horrific abusers, the vast majority of them, and it's this a guru culture that combines ego mania, and spiritual enlightenment and narcissism abuse with people who are desperately searching. Yes. And that fusion is just deadly. And you know, the documentary wild wild country is a really good look at that. It's brilliant. Yeah, but but the thing is wild, wild, wild country, on Netflix plays out in so many more contexts than you might realize.

Matt Langston 42:43 Like it's the same story getting told over

Stephen Bradford Long 42:46 and over and over again. I mean, the Yeah. And like from John friend who was on I can't remember his particular school honor, sorry, I think, but and then, like John friend and Bikram and Osho. And just the list goes on and on and on of this. Sue, oh, and Yogi Bhajan, who did Kundalini yoga in the United States, that fusion of kind of Guru, celebrity and narcissism, that combined with super vulnerable people who are basically told, respect and love your teacher, your your teacher is your guide? It's Yes, so dangerous. And I see so many parallels between that culture. And yes, the evangelical culture.

Matt Langston 43:47 Exactly. What I've noticed, the most succinct way I have of saying this is that there are cultures and subcultures that that will use really kind of nice, warm, fuzzy, cozy rhetoric, to slowly chip away and erode your own agency, and your own ability to understand what is happening and to be thinking about how you're growing, how you're changing how you're evolving in a healthy way. And it will cause you overtime to default, all of those answers. You know, people are happy to give you answers if you're not willing to think for yourself, or if you're too stressed to think for yourself, or if you feel overwhelmed by what's happening in your life right now. What's happening emotionally relationally. That's why a lot of people come to places like churches or to gurus or to Yogi's, like they're seeking help, you know, they're overwhelmed, and they're like, something needs to change. I feel like there's something great, there's a better version of myself that I could be and I'm not sure how to get there and instead of empowering people to find that for themselves, and to maybe even use religion as an interface for exploring that. People can Have whittled it down to No, this is the way. This is the one answer. They create those binaries. They say, Oh yeah, well, it's the straight and narrow path. And I'm the person that has the key to the straight and narrow path. I can tell you how to get there. I can tell you how to live it. And not only that, I already am with my actions. And with the success that I'm experiencing with it, like how else would I have become this great mega pastor? success successful spiritual teacher, if not for some kind of divine influence.

Stephen Bradford Long 45:29 If I wasn't using the right if I weren't, didn't have something

Matt Langston 45:33 that you didn't have. You're just creating an emotional economy to fuck people over with when you do that.

Stephen Bradford Long 45:41 There's something fundamentally codependent about a lot of evangelicalism like it, it creates codependence, it creates just raging codependency and people.

Matt Langston 45:56 And that's partially our fault too, though, right? Like, we see people that have an incredible platform, they're a best selling author. They're an incredible musician, or they're somebody who has this sort of following of people, and they're willing to get up and teach everybody. And so we're willing to sort of suspend and we take it. Yeah, yeah. And we take we accept it, we would platform them, we buy the tickets to the thing, we buy their book, when they come out, we talk to our friends about their book. And I'm not saying all of that is bad. I'm just saying there's a difference between creating a cult of personality and falling at the feet of someone's ego. And then somebody genuinely pointing you in the direction of empowering you to be able to become to overcome the things that you're trying to overcome in life. You know, there's to elevate your your person, your spirit,

Stephen Bradford Long 46:45 there's a weird parallel there of you know, it's a cultural problem. And the audience is, the audience isn't passive in this, the audience might share some responsibility. There's a parallel though there for me with Marilyn Manson. Because, right, because like I have been a diehard Marilyn Manson fan for basically for most of my life, and I adored him. He was he's been a huge influence on me. But the thing is, all of the fans knew that there was something very wrong. They we knew, because he told us that he was abusing people from the very beginning. And so people like me, just kind of accepted that. And I think part of it was that it was so outrageous that we never really believed it. Or we allowed this this aim, we allowed this suspension of morality so that Marilyn Manson could exist in this amoral space. And that was part of his magic. That was that was genuinely part of his kind of spell. Well, that's

Matt Langston 48:01 part of the artistry too, though, right? Yes. He's

Stephen Bradford Long 48:04 very simple, simple ideas that are very exaggerated. Yeah, exactly. And very, very, like brought to, to the end of of as big and as grandiose and as salacious as they can be. And that's part of what attracts people to those things is how odd or weird and unedited and cultural it is. Yeah, it's cathartic. And I and the thing is, you know, Stephen King can do that, and can do it in a very safe way, right. And so it's important for us to have art that explores and indulges in kind of the darkest parts of human nature, because that means that we don't act it out in real life, it actually reinforces the boundary. Yeah, it actually reinforces the boundaries. And so it allows us to experience things that we would never experience, but in a safe way, right. And so, and Stephen King has basically said this, you know, he, he's talked about this, but then Marilyn Manson was actually doing it. And I think most of us knew that he was interesting mode. I think I knew that he was, I knew that there was something wrong. I knew that he was probably an A, I knew that he was probably a horrific person, but because of the veil of of the veil of unreality that surrounds Marilyn Manson, and because of that, that bubble of a morality that we put them in where it's like he's kind of an alien creature that doesn't have to adhere to our to the moral code that the rest of us do. I I'm not saying that I'm responsible for for the horrific abuse and torture that he did. But I think that I did take part in a culture that enabled it.

Matt Langston 50:05 Yeah. But that's what makes it that's what makes it so hard and so defeating, whenever things like that happen, because on the one hand, you have artists who are creating this really brilliant art that is hitting specifically at places in culture that nobody else is doing. Yeah. Which he does a home he does. And so you have this entire group of people. And let's just say, for Marilyn Manson, it was teenagers and 20 Somethings. For pastors. It's just spiritual seekers. Right. Yeah. So you're you have these things where you're offering people like a little bit of a glimpse into making them feel seen, helping them feel heard, making them feel less weird. You know, like, for me, those artists growing up, were the ones that I was like, Oh, shit, I the way that they're viewing the world that says, This is it. They're putting into words what my human experience is. And there's something incredibly like you said earlier, very cathartic about that. And so you create this social capital with people when you offer it, to give them experiences like that, and when you put your art out into the world, but then on the one hand, you're you're creating this one thing, but you're also capable of doing all this other shit. And so with the other hand, you're like, absolutely fucking over everything, you know, that you're doing with the other hand. So it's like, that's what makes it so difficult, and why people's hearts get broken in such a profound way, when they feel very seen and heard and cared for. And then all of a sudden, these people turn out to just be humans who were kind of just as fucked up as everybody else is. And the only difference was that they were sort of given a platform. But that platform amplifies the good and ultimately the bad at the same time. Yeah.

Stephen Bradford Long 51:50 And they were given permission by that platform to do Yeah, horrible, horrible things. Yeah. And so you know it. Yeah. It's just something that I've been thinking quite a bit about, like I am doing self reflection on because I heat you know, Marilyn Manson told us, he told his fans exactly what he was doing. And basically, we didn't have a problem with that. And there are so many parallels between that and say, Mark Driscoll. Yeah, we already talked Off mic about the Mars Hill podcast that super huge right now the rise and fall of Mars Hill, which is super weird. It's such a bizarre thing, because it's like, it's by Christianity today. So it's like one weird, dysfunctional, conservative Christian sect trying to examine another weird, dysfunctional, conservative Christian sect. And so it's like the most bizarre train wreck that I just can't look away from.

Matt Langston 52:58 Can we just like take a second to go back on something that you said tickets it what you're talking about reminds me right now, yes, of course, these experiences that you've had, where people are like, like, if you are a Christian, and you are saying to people, God has not done with you yet. I would implore you to please like, please step back for a minute. And just like take taking emotional inventory of why you're saying that to somebody and what that sounds like. Because for me, because I have people still in my life, who are like what God's not done with you yet? Well, what I feel like that does is it takes away your agency. And it basically says that there's, at some point, you could gain a certain amount of respect for me, but you won't have it until you do this thing, that somehow there is a plan that I know or that I know that God knows that is for your life. And at some point, you'll wake up to my way of doing things to my belief, to my understanding of what God is. And it basically puts you back at the place of like being God, which is like a very anti Christian sort of sense of it, depending on how you look at it. But I've always hated that. Because when people say that, to me, it's kind of like going up to somebody and saying, You know what, one day, you're gonna get your driver's license. It's like, motherfucker, I've been driving for 25 years. I'm already doing it. I'm already doing the

Stephen Bradford Long 54:23 thing. So yeah. As as you were talking about that the thing that came to mind I forget the the cognitive glitch, the name of this cognitive glitch, but basically, it's the glitch where evidence that opposes your views, is flipped to basically fortify and force them right. fortify your views. It's almost like it's almost like that but lived down and embodied. It's like the existence of a non believer in your life becomes just a another come becomes evidence of of God, it becomes evident it gets, it reinforces then the narrative of evangelical Christianity. And so this other person who's like, across from you, who doesn't believe the same thing as you? Yeah. That the whole God's not done with you yet narrative, what that actually is, is taking the existence of this other person who has a different worldview and who you could engage with seriously and instead, but literally just incorporating them into your worldview in order to reinforce it. Yeah. And I think that's why it feels so dehumanizing, because it's basically using that other person as a tool to reinforce your theology. And that just Yes, feels so gross. When you're on the receiving end of it. It right feels

Matt Langston 55:55 awful. And I do, I mean, I guess I should back up here for a little because as we're talking about this, like I'm, I'm airing my grievances that I have with this specific, you know, sect of Christianity and my personal experience with it. But also at the same time, these conversations are important, it's important for us to be able to say to people in a concise way, this is what's happening with me. And with the culture at large. When you say things like this, when this is your rhetoric, this is the God's not done with the rhetoric, because when you're on the inside of it, there's nothing in these people that like they would consider to be ill intent. These could be like, the nicest, kindest, wonderful people, your house burns down, they're happy to let you move into the basement, you need anything at all, childcare, food, whatever, they're going to be the first people that show up and provide that for you. So I don't mean to widdle these amazing wonderful gracious people down to justice, one conversation they decide to have. That's a little bit not well thought out. Absolutely. Because cuz yeah, I think that I think that everybody is, is doing their best. And that's one of the things that being outside of Christianity is sort of driven home with me over the last few years is like no, just always assume that what somebody is giving you is a is everything they're capable of giving you in that moment. Yeah. Because it might be all that there is. And there's more truth in that, than it is like deciding, you know, after the fact that somebody's a piece of shit by your standards, and you're not gonna have anything to do with them or believe what they have to say,

Stephen Bradford Long 57:27 assuming good faith also just makes life so much easier. It oh my god, it makes you a better person. It makes you a better person. I mean, it Well, yeah. I mean, it makes me a better person. And it, it just makes life so much easier. And yeah, because if I if I approach a conversation, assuming that this is actually a pretty good person who might believe some terrible things, yeah, and but does so sincerely, that really changes how I approach that person and how I see that person on a fundamental level. And I read

Matt Langston 58:06 a book is you and you and I have been there. Yeah. Like, I've had the eyes experience. And I've been that person. Yes. Yeah, I have been the solution. I was, you're an asshole. You're an absolute asshole.

Stephen Bradford Long 58:18 I am. I can be like, I was that person in the Christian world? Who said those things? Yes. And one of the reasons why I am no longer that person is because people show people demonstrated charity in good faith to me. Yes. And, you know, I read a book last year called The coddling of the American mind by Greg Lukianoff. And Jonathan Hite. And

Matt Langston 58:47 it's fake or suited.

Stephen Bradford Long 58:49 What was that? Of course? Of course I did. And, you know, there there's a lot to criticize in that book. And I might do like an in depth autopsy of that book at some point on the show, but it's worth reading. And it's, its premise is that there are three fundamental untruths. And one of the untruths is the untruth of us versus them. The world is divided between good people and evil people. The world is a battle between good people and evil people. And that is so deeply untrue. And I actually think that the, the real tragedy of humanity is that people do evil things, because of their operating system because of the software that they are running. And it doesn't necessarily that very often, yes, it does have to do with their character. It does have to do with, you know, some fatal flaw in their personal makeup. But in my experience, more often than not someone believes someone does someone believes something that is harmful because They actually genuinely believe it. And they're often people of good character. And so I know people who believe things that I think are just absolutely horrific. Write that about gay people about trans sure, when manifested in reality, right, the tragedy of human nature isn't that they are bad people, the tragedy of human nature is that they're actually really good people. They are people of good character. They are people of integrity. They are people who are self reflective. There are people who want to do the best thing. There are people who genuinely want to love others and serve others and see the world arrive at a better place before they die. That is who they are. The tragedy of human nature isn't that bad people do bad things. The tragedy is that good people do bad things, and believe things that run an operating system that distort their reality, so that it doesn't matter how good they are. They're no matter their goodness, they still do horrific things in the world. And their beliefs have consequences. And that, to me is a way scarier reality. Right? Like that, to me is way scarier. Because it requires confronting genuine goodness and humanity within people who do bad things that is a way harder, and way more frightening prospect, but but for me, it is also freeing to do that, because it means that there is actually a chance of redemption. There's actually a chance of, of finding common ground and changing of transformation. And I and also I've just seen it happen too many times. I've seen people change their minds too many times to believe that that doesn't happen. Right? Right. I think we're coming up on our time should not go oh, we

Matt Langston 1:02:12 totally are. We totally are. And I'm sure

Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:15 and I'm sure you have, you know some unicorns to attend to. So his house by the way is fucking festooned with unicorns. There are so many goddamn unicorns in the Langston household. It's kind of overwhelming.

Matt Langston 1:02:30 It's a Yeah, it's a shrine to all things corn. Yeah, but this is, this has been so. So fun, obviously, like love talking about this kind of stuff with you, Stephen. And I think that these kinds of conversations, I like I would just encourage other people to quit listening to conversations that you and I are having and go find a friend to have

Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:56 them. Go go find a person to have conversations with

Matt Langston 1:03:01 these kinds of moments. This last hour that we spent, this is the kind of thing that helped me grow. That helped me to develop empathy and care for other people in a way that I had not ever known before. So Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:14 same. Ah, what song should what song from Revenge of the mountain medley Should we close out on?

Matt Langston 1:03:22 Oh, gosh, for Sacred tension. Heaven for devils.

Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:28 Okay, I can do that. Well, we'll we'll close out on heaven for devils. All right, any final thoughts before we wrap up? Where can people find your music by the way?

Matt Langston 1:03:38 eleventy seven is a live.com. You can open up a Spotify app and type in eleventy seven, we are there any streams likes hearts. shares that you want to give out to us are always greatly, greatly appreciated. But having said that, there are a lot better things you could do with your time and your life and I encourage you to find out what those are.

Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:58 No, you can't there's nothing better than to stop downplaying yourself you need to become the next Mark Driscoll in unicorn form you need to become a good Colt guru. And you no demand that people listen to your music and find all their spiritual truths in eleventy seven

Matt Langston 1:04:18 only if you're only if you'll agree to be the one that takes me down and then brings the first set of serious litigation against my

Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:27 perfect All right, well that is it for this show. The music is by eleventy seven the theme song is wild. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and is a production of rock candy recordings as always Hail Satan and thanks for listening in my bloodstream, fantastic Got my soul in my name is Megan she's she's six. Now can be asked to CJ