CVS Live Guest - 2023-01-05 - Jonathan Lyonhart

Author Streamed Thursday January 5th, 2023

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Dr. Lyonhart is a theologian, philosopher, author, and ordained minister, as well as a husband to Madison and a father to S�ren and Augustine. He is an Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Lincoln Christian University, as well as a Fellow at the Cambridge Center for the Study of Platonism at Cambridge University, and a co-host of the Spiritually Incorrect Podcast : spirituallyincorrectpodcast.com

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These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
gonna go live here and we are live I'm here with Jonathan Jonathan how you doing good how are you pretty good thanks for taking the time thanks for coming on I guess uh I'd like to start by having my guests go back way back to the before the Age of Reason when you're a young lad in Vancouver Canada supposedly and uh your first sort of inclination that there's a God there's religion uh who is Jesus and all these sorts of things uh and just touch on the highlights of your whole upbringing up until early adulthood go through the adolescence puberty all that nasty stuff and then up till today how old are you today where are you living today and how's your faith walk going so it's a lot to ask but it's uh it's a good challenge and people always rise to the occasion with some good highlights so just everything then yeah well you said before the Age of Reason which presupposes that there isn't a light Enlightenment that eventually comes uh but I don't know if that's the case um I'll I'll go back to the beginning then yeah I'm from Vancouver Canada I was born and raised in Canada my kind of story my family didn't go to church initially as a child but we started going at some point in my childhood and I've never been able to pin down the date or the exact reasons why everyone has a different story for why we started going to church and I have no idea which one's correct um but we started going to church maybe I was like nine or ten or something and Vancouver is an incredibly secular place or at least a non-Christian place I think there's a type of spirituality there but it's certainly not Christian I believe it's the least Church place in North America and you said you're in Montreal right yeah okay well Montreal's secularizing quite quickly as well oh yeah yeah very much so um growing up in that context it was interesting because I think a lot of American Christians you know they have a very specific experience of this Evangelical culture and World in which they exist and I just never had that my upbringing feels thoroughly secular and then one day a week I went to this other realm this narnian place that was hidden away but those two worlds never bled into each other in any way um and so I had a very thoroughly secular kind of upbringing I think is probably the way to put that with this sort of odd church thing on the side and I think I probably would have left religion altogether which a lot of my family have and did um but I right as I was kind of getting to that age where I was questioning everything um a new youth pastor came in who just heavily invested in me and he was just very patient and almost a second Father Figure and uh just learning from him and journeying through life with him just kind of changed everything for me he gave me an alternative way of of kind of experiencing reality um and I I think yeah that was just highly influential on me um was having this this person who takes their faith seriously who's intellectually engaged but it's also just an incredibly caring person um and that kind of changed my direction I think I was planning to go do a two-year thing and then transfer to UBC in Vancouver um but at the age of 17 I kind of had this sort of almost conversion experience uh where um just kind of almost overnight I went from I don't know if I believe or not like maybe I do maybe I don't two I'm gonna go be a minister and I kind of haphazardly said well where did you go and Steve Pastor told me and I said well I'll go where you went and I didn't think anything else about it was one of the dumbest decisions I've ever made it was totally random I didn't give it much thought and where he went to do his schooling was a undergraduate Bible College in the Bible Belt in Joplin Missouri so I went from least Church place in North America Vancouver to one of the most conservative like it's like a fundamentalist Bible College in Missouri um and so I moved down there at 17. I'd never been there to visit didn't really know what to expect I show up and my background in Vancouver you know being there like I was I would say I was Christian but I was all the things that evangelicals don't identify as Christian at the time I I was pro-gay I was pro-abortion Pro feminism all of these types of things and then I showed up in Missouri and it was just like there was this huge kind of clash that happened in my first year um but I managed to get past that first year and I think I started to be a bit humbled and to open up more conversationally and listen more to the community and I think the community was learning how to engage with me and be patient with me and and I think we started to learn from each other and I I ended up with some really amazing friendships that I still have today um every night at 9 00 PM I talked for five minutes to the same group of four guys that were on the dorm floor with me then they're all pastors now but we talk every single night and so those friendships were very formative um formative for how we think about faith but how we live for our marriages are just general way of being and our ministry um and so uh that was a very challenging transition to a small Conservative Christian place um but I was really appreciative to have had that experience um and then after doing that I moved back to Vancouver where I did my masters at Regent College um and I got out of this kind of conservative environment just in time to miss the whole Trump Fiasco uh and so my my memories and Nostalgia for that context um kind of I I had that kind of nostalgic remembery of that and then I watched in horror from the outside as that kind of world felt like it jumped off a cliff um and I've still been processing that for a while um I mean I don't know what your thoughts on on that but it's it's a confusing time to have affiliations with evangelicalism um I just watched excuse me I just watched uh horrifying documentary about uh Liberty University and the uh Jerry Falwell Jr the sex scandal I I knew nothing about it I knew nothing about it I hadn't heard anything about it I just knew Jerry Falwell senior was a big player in the Evangelical scene back in the day I had no idea what Liberty University was or what his son was up to and it's nauseating just lifting that rock and taking a little peek underneath it the most depressing part for me was that the pool boy if you know the story the pool boy was ostensibly Catholic and that just put a stake in my heart it's like you should know better you should have some uh self-control and you should know what the church teaches about intimacy marriage and all those things so that was the most depressing part you know when an Evangelical flies off the rails doesn't hurt me quite as badly as when when a cat has no offense to anyone who's not Catholic but well I don't know the story I guess I thought of the pool boy Moyes the victim than anything but I I don't know the story well enough yeah it's hard to say like who's the victim we're all victims of Satan's lies let's put it that way yeah so uh in terms of your siblings how many siblings do you have uh I have one sister that's it yep just a sister so okay okay so pretty small family and uh are you close with your sister and your folks or yeah I think we're pretty close um so I but you're the only religious one my mom is religious um I mean I don't want to talk too much about my family in a public context of course um so I'll kind of I won't go too far into that um but we have lots of interesting discussions I think is what I would say okay yeah yeah yeah yeah just police yourself police yourself because I'm very open and I have no shame and I talk about everything um there are a few well I'm pretty open about everything that has to do with myself of course of course of course but I just like to get the context of the family we have a pretty good idea that you come from Vancouver and what that was like and all that sort of stuff so I won't press you at all but um you know it's it's about you the the plot this episode is about you and your walk with God and I want you to talk a little bit now before we start sort of jump into some of the interesting books that I'm looking at behind your head here um I want you to talk about the dark the darkest times in your your faith Journey uh you know you said just before you had this sort of reconversion moment at age 17 or 18 whatever it was you were dabbling maybe a little bit with some uh darker world view or something like that uh was puberty an issue like was sexual sin something that uh dominated you at any point just talk as as much as you're comfortable again just be uh police yourself as best you can ah I'm just gonna turn it open yeah so um I think like many people I was growing up right as the internet was coming into homes and so I had a laptop in high school and so I think um pretty much like almost anyone I know from that time period pornography was an issue and that's something that took years to kind of fight my way out of um and I think of it sort of like being an alcoholic recovered alcoholic where it's like you could have been a recovered alcoholic for five years but you still can't take one drink because you could suddenly fall off the deep end yeah um which I'm not embarrassed of because my impression is that about 95 of the population is in the same boat exactly um so and I I think my impression isn't just that porn is sexual sin I think it opens you up to this whole world where you have to keep going darker and more intense and more insane and it just it takes you into a dark place um that I don't think you would have ever expected the first few times you tried it so that's that's a factor of course I think part of it uh was my parents went through a divorce when I was 16. um and that's not as bad as being younger but it's also a formative time and I think I yeah I think like most kids I had a sense that I didn't really fit in anywhere um a sense that I didn't know who I was but you know I uh it's you know and I think in Vancouver um I I had a real sense that I didn't know how to bring together the two pieces of my experience this secular world and this religious one and I don't want to say the religious one one out because I think I have a very weird merger of the two that a lot of people don't seem to resonate with but you know so what happened geographically another is that important but it's kind of interesting like he went down to Missouri how do you say that Missouri I don't know I just felt like misery no uh no no where'd you go from there though so I finished my undergraduate degree there then I went and did my Master's at Regent College and during that time I got married to a girl that I'd met at the college in Missouri and we've been together 11 years now um and we have uh so we she moved up there and uh she couldn't work because of legal stuff because she's American so I ended up going and getting a Ministry job for five years and I was the English pastor and a Chinese Mennonite Church which those exist I didn't make that up um and so I did that full time for five years while completing my Master's part-time and then we moved to the UK we were gonna start trying to have a family but then we weren't able to have children we tried fertility stuff it didn't work so we said okay well maybe we'll adopt in the future but if we're not going to start a family now why don't I go do my PhD so we moved to England and I did my my second Masters and a PhD at Cambridge University and in the middle of that we somehow mysteriously got pregnant which we thought wasn't supposed to be able to happen but we did get pregnant mid PhD and it turns out it was twins twin boys so uh that was fun being in a foreign country uh mid-phd and my wife was the one who was the breadwinner because I was doing school and she was working but then suddenly she was pregnant and couldn't go to work and then she had to stay home with the kids so it was a pretty insane ridiculous period um but thankfully things finally started to get in place when I finished my PhD at the end of uh 2020 just in time for covid to come and screw everything up again and we've basically just been sprinting ever since trying to catch up our kids are four now um and they both have autism so our lives our lives have just been insane but after the PHD I um I got a job as an assistant professor of Theology and philosophy at Lincoln Christian University which is actually part of the same movement that my undergraduate was um and so it's it's been an interesting time of leaving that context being outside of it reflecting on it coming back into it and that back and forth has been interesting um I think my whole Faith Journey has been one of taking two extremes and trying to find a way to marry them um and in some ways that's the same incarnational task of trying to find out how Christ manifests in culture um just over and over again and so that's that's been exciting and challenging and interesting so wow so uh remind me if I didn't catch it how many years were you in Cambridge uh three three years okay I spent about uh two years in England between uh well we lived a bit in Scotland Leicester which is in the Midlands and then London uh traveled around a lot but we never went to Cambridge but it's about halfway between uh Leicester and London um so just uh just sort of for fun to reminisce about England because I love England I love the the landscape and the rain is better there right it's it's a nicer rain yeah well in Cambridge actually has the least rainfall in England I believe so ah yeah so it's kind of Sunny yeah there's not much rain there which actually made me sad because I grew up in Vancouver and unless there is rain I don't feel safe um so yeah I I often will just play rain and just have it playing in the background so um that reminds me of some Scandinavian country where it rains the city where it rains the most and they have a festival of rain and they habituate the kids to love the rain it's very cute very touching but yeah the rain is nice in in England I didn't like it in Vancouver I lived in Vancouver I hated the vibe or the lack of vibe whatever it is and this is no offense to you and to your kind okay to each his own but I'm East I'm east coast and I am East Coast okay we hate all of you I mean you could have said you were from Toronto that would have been really bad but um no Vancouver is very snobbish towards I don't even know what to specify just everyone who's not in Vancouver um so yeah it's I understand it's a special place it's a very special place we lived in uh kids beach which is nice oh yeah that's right around where I lived in false Creek right by Granville Island oh that's where I grew up yeah Kitsilano is kind of Yuppie kind of like hippie hobo chic whatever and we met a lot of interesting people there I don't know if you know Chris Ward he ran a junk shop there in Kitsilano Chris Ward older guy but eccentric very eccentric we met a lot of eccentrics there it would have been amazing if I randomly knew this one guy in Vancouver it could be so it could be yeah so anyway enough about the Nostalgia um but what did you eat when you were in England did you like the food or yeah just a lot of pub food yeah it's good though the chips are good yeah the chips are great the the thick chunky chips um even the mercy peas all of it is part of the aesthetic what I really adore though is the British the full English breakfast so at my college at Cambridge um everyone gets their own College which is sort of like a Hogwarts house and uh they had a two a breakfast each morning a full English breakfast that was only two pounds if you were a member of the college and so every morning I would go before uh class and I would get a full English breakfast so that's sausages beans bacon uh black pudding uh Tomatoes toast all of this it's an insane amount of very greasy very British food and then I would get it on a plate and then I would go sit in the dining hall which is essentially like the dining hall from the Harry Potter movies um because those the dining hall from the Harry Potter movies were actually filmed in Oxbridge so and I would just sit there alone because nobody else woke up at 7am to go to the breakfast and I would just quietly eat looking around at this insane dining hall with tapestries surrounding me and just sausage dripping down my mouth so it was it was glorious amazing amazing yeah you know I was surprised because I'd heard so many people bashing British uh what do they call it like the food the their uh that they're I forget what the word is for that but just the way that their food is that it's not good but I love the grocery stores I really love the variety that they had and the special items that they had that I couldn't find anywhere else and even their little you know they're little they're packets of crisps and their their cookies and everything it's just it's just it's just cute you know and uh yeah so I really love it and the people I found the people very cold and hard to get to know they're polite they're nice but you can't break through the barrier like what do you have to do to get close to someone there I have no idea the immigrants on the other hand you know the East Asians yeah they'll they'll open their heart right away but the British oh my God it's tough they're tough yeah well my dad's actually British I have a British passport for that so I'm I guess I'm used to it but I did I did I I did have a similar experience where I found the British people to be constantly unamused by interactions with me so and I I regularly would hear people say things like as I walked away they'd say in the back of their breath Americans and I would get to yell I'm Canadian back when it was it was wonderful so so how much did you culturally uh adopt when you were living in the states did you become American um well my wife's American my children were born in England so they actually have tri-citizenship American British and Canadian um so uh I think I feel like a person who has no home and no culture or identity I feel like I don't know who I am anymore because I've lived in three different countries for substantial periods of time and I don't I can enter into the world of any of them and talk the way I talked at that time and place and think that way and all of them make sense in their own right and again this comes back to how is God going to bring together these different worlds for me and uh there's been mediation on some things but overall I just feel like a compartmentalized person um and uh so I yeah I feel American I I understand my American friends I get the politics I get all of that stuff but I also feel Canadian looking at America and discuss going what the hell guys uh you know and and I I just yeah I just feel all of those different angles well you look like a a endorsement of Vikings so you can identify also with your roots going back many uh decades and many well centuries even right to uh you've got some horse blood in you probably right uh well hopefully we'll see so we'll see where I end up when I die if it's Valhalla I gotta have a sword well I do have you got the hammer I do have this right here so that helps I have to die holding that I can't just die I have to be holding that when I die and so geographically right now where are you I have no idea where you are right now so I'm in Illinois I'm uh just south of Chicago in Lincoln Illinois okay so I'm I'm back in the States well Chicago I find Chicago I've been to Chicago I find it it's a very Canadian feeling City I feel like you know if you avoid the bad neighborhoods it feels clean it feels uh bright and light there's there's a it's called the Windy City but there is a lot of fresh air there I find uh just spiritually I find it fresh this was decades ago now so it may have changed okay but uh do you agree that it's a pretty easy breezy vibe in the good parts um well I've only been there maybe two or three times oh okay but uh uh so I I like Chicago um I think any big city in the states feels closer to me because of the Cosmopolitan and multiculturalness yeah of inherent to urban areas yeah um that feels closer to Canada for me and that might just be because I'm from Vancouver as well which is a big city but um I definitely associate America with small conservative towns and Canada with big liberal cities but that's because I lived in a city in Canada and a small town in America and I haven't lived uh in a small town in Canada or a big city in America I see oh very interesting wow very interesting yeah so uh I don't know if you've been to Quebec but Montreal is completely different from the small hick towns and uh you know I'm I don't know if I'm left or right I try not to be left or right just try to be Christian but um I'm way more comfortable in the big city than I am in the country because I just can't relate I just can't relate to that vibe and I like to have the diversity like I I'd rather live in an ugly dirty crime-filled sin city than in uh tightly controlled uh conservative uh Country Bumpkin atmosphere and I have lived in the country here in Quebec and I did not enjoy it I did not fit in I was not welcomed I was not loved and I was not accepted and I felt like I was the you know I was discriminated against for being an anglophone you know which is weird because I don't feel that in Montreal at all yeah so anyway back to religion the topic at hand here what denomination are you today and how many denominations did you toy with or dabble in so I initially uh when we first started going to church when I was younger we were in the Anglican Church um the community I was a part of when I went to an undergraduate Bible College was part of the restoration movement um which is a a Christian an Evangelical denomination in the states um and then uh when I moved back to Vancouver to do ministry I was part of a Chinese Mennonite denomination yeah how would he characterize the Mennonite faith um well it's it's interesting because I have a specifically Chinese version of it um so in many ways these these communities were immigrants who came over for China who weren't specifically Mennonite but needed a home friendship Center or whatever yeah and the Mennonites took them in so uh there's a lot of Chinese Mennonites who aren't pacifists who don't identify with a lot of the things that make you Mennonite but they're Mennonite because the Mennonite Community gave them a denominational home when they immigrated and they just uh so um so I there there's definitely some things I like about the Mennonite Community I and again this is this is the the tension I I feel at home in all of those contexts and in none of them so yeah wow so did you did your appreciation of Chinese culture language and the people in the food uh get affected by dealing with these people at all um I'm still unpacking that um because it's it's still in the last 10 years or so um and so I find I don't understand it period until quite later um after it's happened I think there were definitely moments where I realized just how massive our cultural assumptions are um and how easy how how easily they differ on things that we just assume all normal rational people would agree with you on um I mean that's been the case not just with uh my Chinese experience but with every different place I've gone um food wise it was too authentic for me on many occasions you know we would there this at every Chinese celebration we would all go out to a to a restaurant and without fail if it wasn't dim sum it was this traditional Chinese 10 course meal and the first thing would always be jellyfish and it didn't get that much better from there I remember one time I went out with uh the Chinese Pastor on because our church had two pastors a Chinese pastor and an English pastor and I went out with the Chinese Pastor to an authentic Chinese restaurant and he said he would order for me and I said okay just nothing that's too seafoody and he said okay it won't have a lot of seafood and it comes out the plate it had four mini octopuses on top of it I'm not like I'm not there were actually little baby octopuses right on top and I was looking at it and he's just like what this you know it's just oh so that you said food so that's the foodie character was fun I did fall in love with dim sum that is that is an amazing experience but um as for the cultural encounter it I I got a lot out of it I enjoyed it a lot I think funnily enough I actually it was an advantage in some ways to not come from the culture the the turnover for English Pastors in our denomination was an average of two years and I was there five years so by the end of it I was actually I believe the longest serving member uh even though I was the only white guy in the denomination um and I think what was helpful was that a lot of the Chinese churches were trying to force the English pastors to do things the Chinese way but the English pastors well they might be ethnically Chinese were mostly raised in Canada and so there was a lot of turnover because they just they kept getting forced to run their Ministries in ways that were antithetical to everything they believed in and but with me nobody thought I was going to be able to do things the Chinese way so they kind of just let me do what I wanted um so there was a lot of pressure on actually ethnically Chinese pastors to honor their Chinese roots whereas with me everyone's like well he's he's white well it's just he's just not gonna get it he's an idiot just let him do what he's doing he got carte blanche pun intended so um I've been looking at you I want you to promote your book uh maybe do that first and then we'll talk about some of the books behind you oh yeah so this is uh my book that came out in recently mono3ism and absurdly arrogant attempt to answer all the problems of the last 2000 years in one night in a pub uh so that's available on Amazon uh it's also available as an audio book on Amazon I got a Hollywood actor guy to do the voices so this is It's a Socratic dialogue back and forth set in a pub um and it's it's about the Trinity and Free Will and the origins of the universe and how all three of those things are deeply related so who is in the pub with you uh so there's three characters or it's fictional there was no Pub there was no Pub night really there's no Pub it's it's not a real pop fiction okay okay it's a fictional pop so so you put you but who did you put in the pub uh there's uh two professors arguing and then there's a waitress and they all kind of get into it so okay I've enjoyed books like that I've read uh at least one that I can think of I can't remember the title of it but I I remember it was a short book and it was uh just a conversation and they all had distinct roles to play uh there was a calvinist uh some sort of uh platonist I can't remember I should dig up that book that was a funny one but um I'm a big fan of Socrates he's my absolute all-time favorite secular philosopher of all time I like Plato a lot because I have to give him credit for giving me Socrates like you know yeah um and I may be uh misunderstanding who Socrates was because I see it through the lens of Plato but I'm not as big a fan of Aristotle I just think he's whatever boring dry I just don't I just don't feel a Vibe that's probably a pretty common pretty common attitude to have right it is and I in Reading Aristotle I do find him a lot harder to read you know in Plato's Plato writes these conversational things yeah yeah um though I think it's it's notable that we don't actually have that much of what Aristotle actually wrote A lot of it is stuff kind of put together later and so I've heard some say that Aristotle was supposed to be quite an actually enjoyable okay writer or uh pretty good at rhetoric but we just don't get we don't get that we're getting as uh dimwitted students notes and stuff like that I would be terrified for the record of me to be based on what my undergraduate students wrote down in class you're gonna get a lot of stuff that's just not yeah so yeah that's he may well have been the BR the greatest and the brightest of the three yeah so what were you gonna say so well anyways um that's kind of the socratic format of the book uh it's meant to be Lively and playful and fun uh but at the same time I uh this was not meant to just be solely a popular level book uh I'm trying to put forward a what I consider a novel academic argument um and some people have said well then you should have written a more academic book but my sense is that actually the socratic dialogue is the most ancient of academic formats um if you know if we're really going to go back to the Greeks um so yeah it's what's your thesis basically uh the argument that unfolds at this Pub is one guy just doesn't think the Trinity makes sense and the other one says you're right it doesn't make sense um but I think that it doesn't make sense in precisely the same way that the origins of the universe doesn't make sense and if they're actually the same problem then you can no more deny the existence of the Trinity then you can deny your own existence so that's that's the argument is that yeah the Trinity doesn't make sense but when you look at the origins of the universe how anything got here at all it also doesn't make sense it those discussions also break down and crucially I argue in the book that they break down for exactly the same reasons that discussions about the Trinity break down the same fundamental philosophical Enigma that is present at the origins of the universe is also present when we talk about the Trinity and if we uh if that is the case if it's the same problem philosophically manifesting in both then you can't deny the Trinity for being irrational any more than you can deny your own existence because somehow or other were here the universe did begin to exist and so that's that's the argument it's pretty cool you know I I studied philosophy as a hobby for uh over a decade probably a well my whole adult life really on and off you know just as a hobby but I was struck by the four antonomies of uh Kant and he talked about the uh you know the the boundaries of the universe and what you know just like there it's just lose lose like you pick a side you're going to be wrong like it doesn't matter what you do and I you know I disagree with him about the existence of a necessary being I think that we can know that with certainty um just through the the natural light of Reason um but uh I notice he named your kids uh Soren and Augustine so are you a fan of Kirker guards philosophy and Saint Augustine's philosophy and I'm always afraid to say that I am because as soon as I say that some Augustine scholar starts talking to me like I I should know everything about him but um so one of the first books I read after my sort of conversion experience was Saint Augustine's confessions yeah me too and that was that was a formative encounter I think his autobiograph graphical reflectiveness uh just really swept me up um and also his musings on the nature of time and God's relationship to time I mean that's very much what the book ended up being about uh you know the origins of the universe how did time begin how's that related to the Trinity and God um so Augustine's confessions were very formative for me and then I was reading uh Kierkegaard sickness unto death fear and trembling well we were trying to have kids the first time and I I I guess I I slowly inceptioned my wife to think that was a cool name so I I definitely won the naming battle I guess the name means like strict or severe or something like that yeah it's like stir like the way it's supposed to be is like sun like that's where you're supposed to start yeah what about uh another famous uh philosopher an atheist philosopher that I am reading right now Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy have you read it I have uh yeah oh yeah I love that I think um in a weird way his writing style very much Echoes my own ah and that's that's kind of the bridging of my secular and Christian worlds is that I think I I tend to come off more like a product of that world but with the views of a Christian well so he he was a hardcore atheist and he made no bones about it but I've I just started rereading it I read it when I was a teenager but I just started rereading it and a lot of the people that I tell uh that I mentioned the fact that Douglas Adams was a devote atheist and they're like really I thought I got the impression that he believed in God like that's the impression you get right like he's delving into the mystery of the universe he makes fun of evolution I'm a young Earth creationist I don't know about you but um he makes fun of evolution I find it hilarious but he also pokes fun at God too but um I get the distinctive impression that he's concerned with these deep issues anyway yeah there's that great bit where they're building the worlds and they make sure to get the dinosaur bones in there it's a trick everybody uh well and he also has that I think it's him where the puddle says this puddle's quite nice it seems perfectly shaped the puddles reflecting that the hole in the ground that he's in is perfectly shaped to accommodate him and so must have been created specifically for him as a puddle and there are those those Great Moments well I mean of course the whole thing starts with you know in the beginning God created the the heavens and the air are fenced this has been considered a bad move so yeah well we have to have a sense of humor I mean uh Christians some Christians anyway give Christianity a bad reputation just because they're Sauron you know we have to have joy what's your impression and I'm gonna Grill you on some of the books behind you but what's your impression of the uh the Catholic saints and the Catholic church and uh the you know the the obviously messy Fallen world that we live in and how the church is obviously prone to corruption and worldliness and all these sorts of things and uh one of our popes just passed away and we've got Pope Francis that took over from him and all those sorts of things there's a lot to talk about in terms of just impression Impressions you have from without from outside of the Catholic Church uh you could even talk about relatives friends and relatives you've known who have been good Catholics bad Catholics um just generally what comes to mind when the topic of Catholicism comes up for you okay well you've made a mistake because you've given a me a chance to talk about my own podcast here so I'm going to hijack and self-promote a little bit more we actually uh so I do a podcast the spiritually incorrect podcast and we just had John Reimer from Eastern University he's a historian on to talk about the subject who's afraid of Catholicism and to go for that topic uh so I it has been on my mind this last month um if you're interested in that subject obviously check out the episode on spiritually yeah I linked it in the description of this episode hey well this I mean this is you know I'm learning how to self-promote uh shamelessly um anyways and talking to him it was just hit the nuances he brought as a historian yeah he's Catholic he became Catholic he was originally Protestant he just he he does what historians do best which is complicate the crap out of everything and and you know it really makes clear any time a Protestant tries to say something about say the Reformation you know and to say well this is what the Catholics were doing and Luther reformed and well it's more complicated than that you have to think about this this and this and um I find that Catholicism is so rich and complex that anytime I think I've pinned it down or critiqued it I just haven't read enough is really what the reality is um and I you could say that for protestantism too uh you really said that for anything um but we can caricature Calvinism pretty easily for example yeah very much so my uh my mother is currently has been dating long term for almost a decade a Catholic and so they go to mass together now so it's it's it's in my family and it's it's never been something I was terribly uncomfortable with um I think there are certain prejudices that kind of abound culturally about the Catholic Church as there are um with evangelicals um which I'm sure I share in knowingly or unwittingly but well you never told me what you are you non-denominational you're Evangelical what are you well I'm not answering that question well currently currently I'm part of my school as part of the restoration movement um is that about the movement of the Holy Spirit uh no no it's not it's not do you mean in a charismatic sense or yeah like this is the restoration is going to be like the another Pentecost a Pentecostal sort of style thing well acts uh Acts 2 is pretty foundational for the movement so there is a huge emphasis upon uh returning to the early church uh there's a huge pushback against tradition um and different doctrinal things that divide and an emphasis on just getting back to the Bible which of course uh ends up creating divisions of its own because nobody can agree on the Bible but let's not talk about that um so yeah it's it's an interesting movement um I think any movement you're a part of you have things that feel right and things where there's tensions and of course uncomfortable being here in those tensions right now and uh it's it's been a it's been it's been home for the last year and a half and yeah is there any tension between you and your wife and just to go first I'll go first my wife is the most staunch and violent anti-catholic you'll ever meet so there's some tension in my home so uh uh I know you're not asking specifically about Catholicism but my wife has said that if I become Catholic she'll leave me um so I I could see myself slowly drifting into the Catholic thing eventually because that's a lot of more academics tend to have that kind of moment I've noticed a lot of my academic Christian friends end up becoming Catholic um and I could see them eventually ganging up on me and convincing me um but my wife is very set on the fact that women can't be priests being a deal breaker for her um and that's something she's wrestling within her own context as well um because that's not a non-issue in protestantism it's just that protestantism has a more diverse range of perspectives on it perhaps um you can tell her that it's not as unified you can tell her that the church the Catholic Church teaches that she is priest prophet and King okay so welcome home welcome to the Catholic Church well you you can try man you call her up and you go for it yeah yeah I always like to interview the spouse or the partner so if you want to give her my contact information and we'll make it happen that would be fun because I get the other side of the coin what what did he tell you Jonathan oh he got it all wrong he got it he got me backwards but uh no I'm just cutting I'm just kidding but um you know there's always there's always tension between any two human beings this is the funny thing like you could have two pastors from the same same denomination and they're going to have a lot of differences they don't have to focus on the differences they can focus on the Common Ground uh it's a choice it's a choice like um there are deal breakers there are red flags where it's like I'm not gonna let that one slide like what you said I need to clarify okay did you mean what I think you meant um because people have some wacky ideas and it sometimes you don't know until it just slips out in the course of a conversation like you don't believe in The Eternity of hell what you know you don't believe in the The Immortal immaterial Soul what like these are actual things I've had conversations with Christians where I'm just mind blown uh during my I've been doing this podcast for about six years I've talked to all kinds of people and we talked about the Canon of scripture where we didn't talk about it because we're not supposed to talk about it it's too hot of a topic but I met a guy who believes that he has the infallible Canon of scripture revealed to him by God himself and it's only four books right and it's like what what are the books uh I'd really like to know that I would need to pull up the reference let me see if I can that's huge he figured it out well he didn't figure it out he was he had a revelation we've been waiting for someone revelation uh if you can just uh you don't actually need to give me the books that's fine okay obviously one of them is my book here you go so so um as to your question about my wife I think more generally beside casolithism um I think we're both the the interesting tension is I went from incredibly Progressive to an incredibly conservative context she grew up in an incredibly conservative context and then moved with me to Vancouver in the Progressive context and so we've kind of been Benjamin buttoning it where we're both starting at opposite hands but mating in the middle um like he does with Kate Blanchett um in the movie where um I became less uh I don't like the term liberal but less stereotypically liberal and she became less stereotypically conservative and somewhere in the middle is where we've met and there's there's some tension when she you know almost goes back to some of the progressive things that I've personally worked through um because that scares me because those are things I've I've worked through and so I'm scared of those things in some way you would think I'd feel unscared of them because I'd overcome them but no then you're scared of it and she's scared that I'll go to certain views that are conservative but at the same time I think we've done a good job of constantly communicating through this whole process and I think we are journeying together well uh or at least we're trying to journey together well and she finished her master's uh in church history she's wanting to do a PhD and I think this is a juncture in our marriage where it would be really easy for me as the man to just not be supportive with that Journey she's going on and that would be the beginning of a rift that could slowly pull us apart and I'm praying and trying really hard to not let that happen um because I want to support her the way she supported me um and that's hard to do um and I'm not great at it but I'm I'm well that's what I'm trying to do and I think I think we are succeeding so far no you get her on here she might be like hell no so yeah uh well you you touched on you know we've been talking uh it's come up a few times this idea of conservative Progressive whatever however whatever words you want to use we get the idea left right or whatever um it doesn't really matter what label you use everyone's going to fuss about the exact word that we use doesn't really matter but um what is a caricature that you could paint in Broad strokes and it's just silly it's just for fun of the left and the right in Christianity um what is a liberal Progressive Christian what does that look like and feel free to poke fun and exaggerate and then on the other side on the right just sort of uh how would you characterize it I mean if I'm just gonna paint the caricature um the conservative fundamentalist Evangelical Christian it's got a Bible in one hand uh a gun in the other um they're being carried around by immigrants well preaching against immigration but also insisting they're not racist and that systemic racism isn't a real thing uh uh you know well saying that they just believe in the Bible and nothing else even though what they actually mean is they have adopted a very specifically 20th century American post-enlightenments view of everything that is the Bible yeah and as they as they're pretending to not have a metaphysical worldview that they impose on the text uh they go ahead and proceed to do just that um and so you know crying about uh unborn aborted fetuses well their guns Go and Kill thousands of children in schools that's the caricature at least right um so uh at the opposite end you have the caricature of the person who's the progressive person who doesn't really believe in sin uh and yet is constantly talking about the systemic Injustice in the world that those damn conservatives keep ignoring um and so uh there in many ways influenced this is the caricature but there are marxists not just in economics but in their view more broadly of how Society works it's not driven by a God above it's driven by social economic and political factors they um are imposing will over life and so they're willing to sacrifice unborn children to Malik in abortions to uh you know uh in order to preserve human autonomy and freedom um and so all they care about is individual freedom and then that contradicts somehow with the American Republican belief in Freedom and both sides have a weird view of what freedom is um you know because Republicans want freedom for guns but not homosexuals and um then people on the other side the progressive side uh don't want freedom for things like Guns Etc but then they do want free like it's just it's confusing to me I don't even use it yeah you did touch on an interesting point though with the freedom the freedom being at the heart of both sides that's very interesting that's very very interesting yeah well it's I mean it is it's they're both sides think that they're emphasizing Freedom they just have they apply Freedom selectively for certain issues and not for others um but again these are the caricatures and like I said I can see both of those sides I've lived in both places so you wanna don't ask me which one's correct yeah yeah well there's there's the middle way there's that just mean and so I was going to ask you as a follow-up question what would Jesus do what would Jesus say what does Jesus teach I don't know man uh well because it's often the people in the middle who really annoy me as well because what's the caricature the ones in the middle then the ones in the middle are like I don't let feelings sway me both sides are caught up in emotions I just stand objectively back and try to decide based on the facts and it's like shut up you don't do that no there that doesn't even exist like you're anyways um so no I I mean I wanna I wanna try to hold things in tension I more and more I don't know what would Jesus say it's I don't know if Jesus would have one standard thing that he would say blanket to everyone because his answers were so personalized yeah there's I can say maybe what Jesus would say to me um and yeah I don't know what would that be is it too personal to share I don't know what it would be but I can tell you what the tension in my head is it would be on the nose and blunt and honest but also with as much grace as his infinitely possible to him yeah yeah it wouldn't crush it wouldn't Crush you it would it would be an Open Door an open window and fresh and I I can't even put it in words it would almost be Aslan roaring in my face and that being the most terrifying thing ever and yet safe maybe not safe he's not a team it would be it would be a terror that was somehow comforting I don't know yeah I what would he say to me go and sin no more yeah well that's that's the beauty of that line is no one has condemned you well then neither do I condemn you go now and leave your life of sin that's that's a line that holds those things in tension go now and leave your life of sin but also I don't condemn you and so so did you know that most well not most but a lot of biblical Scholars today think that that's not part of Canon that it really upsets me that Johnny isn't considered canonical it is debated it was very influential In My Own Story yeah um and so it my general sense is I don't care yeah I think that the original Canon was cured by the spirit working through the community and the authors and so I don't think it's a huge deal to extend that inspiration a little bit to say that story got in there later through the inspiration of the spirit and the community and the church like I I don't see that as a huge difficulty for me even if it's not part of the original manuscript maybe maybe I'm stupid for saying that no no no no I mean a lot of Christians make the Bible into an idol and I don't want to do that um you know I do believe that the the Bible is inerrant there's no error in the Bible and it's infallible and it's a primary author is God as the church teaches I do believe that I just don't think that anyone's actually ever seen the Bible we only have copies of copies of manuscripts faulty manuscripts and faulty translations of those manuscripts and so we have a shadow we have a shadow as Saint Paul said we see as in a broken mirror or as in a glass Darkly and that's that's reality that's reality let's live with reality and just deal with it it's another consequence of original sin and actual sin so I mean that's what we're stuck with let's just let's just uh not turn anything into an idol let's worship God and let's be open to his spirit and I see a book it's catching my eye it's got the holy spirit in the form of a dove descending there can you just talk right above your Hammer oh yeah what is the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the great oh have you read it I read it uh maybe 12 years ago uh with Hans boersma who's I don't think he's Catholic but he's deeply sympathetic okay so it was at Regent for a class was it a good was it a good experience for the book in the class I recall it being my first graduate class and me being terrified and scrambling to get everything done so my my recollection of it will probably not not be great but I did remember enjoying it even if I don't remember what it is that I enjoyed so is that schopenhauer there the will to live is that is that one of your favorite uh philosophers right there oh the the things that are put here are not put for any particular reason I know I'm just taking it I'm just taking a gander I see Nietzsche there I see yeah uh this is kind of My Philosophy section and then it gets more theological up there I see Narnia over on the other side of you you enjoyed C.S Lewis oh yeah I love Lewis a lot he's I regularly tell people that he's the only author I read for sheer Joy um I feel like I have to force myself to read most things but he he's I I read him with ease so yeah it's beautiful it's beautiful the uh the way he can convey very obtuse truths in a digestible form where you feel entertained and and enlightened and it's a real gift I don't know if you know Chesterton if you've read anything by him but he's a funny guy too yeah no Justin's great as well you like it so yeah I mean there that whole line of thinkers back to back to back you know with McDonald Chesterton Lewis McDonald is that uh who's uh oh um so each of them kind of had their own kind of here I'm going to pull up the specific tree of literary Giants or what uh I was thinking of a specific workout so yeah there's kind of this train from McDonald and uh Louis McDonald George McDonald he wrote uh like Lilith and some other stuff and he's he's influential on Lewis um chesterton's influential on Lewis um and they're kind of and then Lewis and Tolkien kind of together it's yeah they're just often put in the same kind of breath I see so yeah pretty cool I was never a huge fan of uh Tolkien myself my Dad read us the first big fat book whatever it was called uh when we were kids and uh you know I somewhat enjoyed that um but uh yeah it wasn't exactly my cup of tea I prefer I prefer Lewis and uh and Chesterton for me is more about the little sound bites like the little catchy witticisms you know yeah you know yeah but I'll look into George McDonald sounds like a very Canadian name uh yeah it is right what's his style is he funny or is he uh insightful or what is he Catholic um I don't I'm gonna look that up I don't actually know um yeah I I think he was yeah I don't think he was Catholic he was um Protestant but I don't know specifically what part of protestant so I'm not an expert on it but yeah so yeah very cool so what about uh uh culturally are you into religious music Christian music and uh Gregorian chant the the organ there's a lot there's a lot in the history of Music That's Christian I like how it's I like how aesthetic your questions have been you know about food and music and it's good I'm as a theologian philosopher the questions are often uh more about truth and not Beauty which is sad um because as a philosopher you should hold those together or at least as a as a platonist or a Christian philosopher um I did not as I said grow up with the Christian Evangelical worship Hillsong kind of subculture so I have never really been on that worship music train I I have encountered uh certain types of music that uh have connected with me on a spiritual level recently I've discovered Sophie on Stevens I think I said that right yeah yeah and that was very that's been very powerful is he religious uh yeah he's Christian no way yeah I love his music he did an album for his deceased uh mother or parents whatever it was do you remember that one oh you did he did he did it yeah okay you remember that one uh so I when I say I've discovered him that's in the last month okay and so I I don't know that much about him yet but I am I've been like laying out and listening to him and looking at the stars at night and it's been glorious beautiful uh the other one that's been powerful for me has been you too um Kerry and Lowell is the name of the album you should look into it Kerry and Lowell okay Stevens Carrie and you'll ice pronounce it Sufjan but it's probably it's probably sufyan I'm probably wrong uh to be I've heard both guys but if you look into Carrie and Lowell that's the album that I first discovered and I really love it it's sad though it's a little bit sad because it's about the loss of appearance of both parents so oh God beautiful though yeah so yeah uh he's been a good experience recently U2 has been a long-running uh one for me I I think they're they're kind of religious story I've just got Bono's Memoir so I'm hoping to read that soon but cool the way that he kind of integrates his faith into everything and yet into nothing is really really interesting um so I uh yeah but anyway well there's something there's something magical you talked about a beauty as one of the transcendentals and uh there's something about a certain arrangement of Music certain harmonies certain Melodies that will bring a tear to my eye like nothing else can I don't know it takes a lot to make me cry but it could just be a certain Melody and it'll bring a tear to my eye so it's undeniably that it's undeniable there's something uh Transcendent in music and in Beauty generally right oh yeah I definitely agree with that and I I think often beauty is seen as important but is secondary to truth and goodness in that sort of transcendental ontological talk yeah and I more and more am thinking maybe that's just not the case like but like maybe you know and someone would critique that by saying well it doesn't matter if you give a poor person nice clothes if they're gonna if they don't have food but um well mate yeah I I could see a poor person giving up food for beauty and will like I I could see someone dying for beauty there's been some literary things that I could think of for that um not to speak for poor people but um I really don't I don't know anymore if goodness is higher than Beauty well they're one right that's the whole point that they are there's a Dogma in the Catholic Church where all of the attributes of God are identical among themselves and they're identical with the essence of God so yeah I love that I love that it's a very uh neoplatonic idea also but um well everyone thinks they are equal and one but yet they don't treat them that way is what I would say you're definitely right that theoretically the Simplicity of God brings all of these things together but if you ever start to try to treat Beauty as equal to morality everyone's like no it's much more important that we be moral and good people um but I mean well for example like in in our churches here everyone would lose their crap if I did some sort of immoral failing right I'd lose my job as a professor at a Christian University all of that but the horrible Aesthetics that we get away with as Christians uh no one cares it's like it's it's the the pre-packaged Wafers that we use for communion make me want to shoot someone have you seen those things that I don't know what what you guys do in the in for your mass but we have pre-packaged communion wakers that are part of the same container we have a little cup uh that has the communion juice in it and you peel back the top and the breads there the little Wafers there and then you peel back the second layer and you get the juice and it's left for you in the seat so before the service someone goes along and puts one for each seat and then you peel back the plastic when it's the right time and you do it and I I know that this is an efficient and easy way to do this especially in these bigger churches it makes sense but the death of beauty the it it feels like any incarnational aesthetic thing that could have happened there is just like and and I don't think that's a secondary thing like the difference between that and when at my church we would take an actual loaf of bread and we would rip it it one that hadn't been cut like an actual proper loaf that hadn't been cut and as each person came up we would rip each individual piece and hand it to them and that tangible textured experience there was something there that was ontologically different does that make sense yeah oh yeah 100 and you're speaking with the Catholic here so yeah we're it's uh the source of summit don't you convert me don't do it I'll get fired and my wife believe me fired and divorced yeah there you go so and then I won't be able to get me remarried because I'm a Catholic so get an annulment easy no so just kidding I shouldn't make fun of uh of my faith but uh it's been amazing meeting you and it's uh you're you're an easy going guy with an affable air about you that's why I've been Ultra casual like with the conversation I haven't been focused in on the Theology and all these sorts of things but um I'm hoping you'll come back I gotta go hang with my wife now or she'll divorce me but um I hope you'll come back and you'll talk to me and we'll talk about Theology and philosophy some more do you and your wife have any intentions you'd like to share with me now next time we'll go into it but no we'll come back it was fun it was amazing meeting you and uh any other Shameless plugs you want to do before I wrap up um well I I guess that maybe I should I keep the book uh monotheism and absurdly arrogant attempt to answer all the problems the last two thousand years in one night at a pub it's on Amazon and all the other places the audiobook just came out and it's fantastic uh I don't say that because I wrote it fantastic it's because the actor does an amazing job with the different voices uh including a hilarious uh Eastern borderline Russian accent that I'm not sure of is offensive but it's very funny even if it is um so check that out on Amazon and also if you are interested in that episode on who's afraid of Catholicism uh check out the spiritually incorrect podcast at spiritually uh because it was a really good episode and he didn't convince us to become Catholic but he made one hell of a case for it and we were blessed by the conversation so amazing it's been great meeting you and feel free to send me guests potential guests including your beautiful wife okay all right all the best all the rest please pray for me mine and I've enrolled you and yours in a Perpetual Mass which means every day till the end of time you're going to be getting flooded by The Graces of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross okay all right well I appreciate it thank you take good care and we'll talk soon God bless you bye